Trading In The Tenor Singer For An Acoustic; Citizen’s Arrest Now Void
I’m sure you’ve heard of the news on the return of former tenor singer Eric Phillips to the MTQ. Because I have.
There’s been a lot of this going around the last couple of years. Former singers or musicans, back with the same groups. The Kingsmen, Brian Free & Assurance, Greater Vision, Anchormen, Gaither Vocal Band, Dove Brothers, and so on and so on. Fans love it. Group owners probably love it. And at a certain level, so do I.
But could it be that there is simply a lack of talent in the southern gospel pool? I’m not talking about a complete lack of talent out there in our Churches. But a lack of talent in aspiring southern gospel singers. Truth is, as much as I love the music, my emotions are hardly renewed by most of it. Some artists talk of an over-saturation of groups trying to make it. These days, a lot of good folks believe they can sing. 28 people tried out for MTQ? And Eric Phillips is back. In no way is that a knock on Phillips or Burman Porter or Chris Allman or Randy Crawford, or David Phelps, or whoever. And in some of those cases, tryouts may have not even been necessary. A call was made and a job was taken. Life on the road ain’t always glitz and glamour. Most of us would agree about that. And there are some young, talented groups. Tribute Quartet comes to mind. And a couple others.
But is the interested youth in our genre slipping? Or the talent pool in our genre? Maybe a case of both. I believe that is a fair question. The talent in our local Churches back in the 70s and 80s have traded southern gospel for an acoustic to lead Worship part-time in our Churches now, stay at home, and work another job. There’s nothing wrong with that. But how is that trend reversed? Does the genre need to pick up the pace a little bit in making the music a tad more relevant to our current culture, while maintaining a distinctively traditional direction? That question is not aimed at change for the sake of change. That question is aimed at the quality of music and the quality of singers. I don’t think the music is dying. I think it is merely surviving, and will for a long time, but at what level of quality or mediocrity? There are talented vocalists in southern gospel who could outsing many of the pop, country, and CCM artists. But how many of those are under the age of 30? That’s a relative question, so you don’t have to try to stand me up. Simply for the sake of argument. While there are a few, I can’t name that many. It just befuddles me to a degree that the best replacement has for a group has taken on the pattern of a former member, some of which may even be begged back.
Or maybe the current groups and “elders” of southern gospel aren’t all doing their part in encouraging the young guns trying to break into the industry. Maybe an enchancement of exhortation and critiquing is what is needed. I know for a fact that the Booth Brothers are trying to do that now with “Declaration” who sometimes tours with them. At another level, Greater Vision has also helped some with “Promise”. If that were tobe a more acceptable and widely used route of ensuring youth , would it eventually lead to a more quality product?
Feel free to talk amongst yourselves. I’m okay with the old guys coming back. It does add excitement. But is it sustaining? I’m simply looking at the big picture. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves and add your own thoughts. This isn’t an argument, just an observation.
But nonetheless, I too, am glad to see Phillips back around, trading in his pistol for a microphone. Citizen’s Arrest no longer needed.