When was the last time you saw a really high quality music video from a professional southern gospel artist?
My guess is you’re casting about for an answer right now, because the truth is that there really aren’t that many southern gospel music videos out there, good or bad.
Here are a few that I have found, in no particular order. (Important note: We are not counting Mark Lowry’s many and sundry comedic masterpieces.)
I’m a Jesus Fan (by The Paynes—No comment on the song…)
I’d Like To Go Home Again [Update: This link has been removed] (by The Spencers—Beautifully done. Skip intro, video actually begins around :50.)
Praying (Also by the Spencers—LOVE this one. Again, skip intro.)
Famine In Their Land (by The Nelons—This would be my personal pick of the lot, but it has unfortunately been removed from Youtube.)
Welcome to Heaven (by The Singing Americans—WOW, Clayton Inman looks young!)
This Ole House (by the Cathedrals—Kind of odd, but cute nonetheless.)
Behold the Lamb (by David Phelps—Nice cinematography, but conceptually…meh. IMVHO of course.)
Arms Open Wide (also by David Phelps—Ditto.)
John In the Jordan (by Signature Sound—I’ve always liked this one. Cute stuff.)
Somebody Like Me (by Jason Crabb—Best cinematography of the bunch.)
Feel free to add more in the comments as you think of them. I’m running out myself. The reason this intrigues me is that this is not the case in CCM. From established artists to up-and-comers, it seems that whenever somebody puts out an album, a concept video is created for (usually) the record’s lead single. Not every artist does this, but it seems to be pretty common practice.
Why is this such a rarity within SG? Well, I’m only guessing as to the reasons, but two plausible ones that come to mind are budget and subject matter. First, music videos cost money, and even established southern gospel artists understandably would probably be hesitant to make that kind of investment. Because CCM reaches a wider demographic, my guess is that the average CCM artist’s income is greater than that of the average SG artist. This means that CCM singers have more freedom to create something like a concept video. The thrown-together, low-budget look of the Cathedrals’ “This Ole House” might be some support for this theory, as they were arguably the most popular group in their field at the time, yet inexplicably couldn’t seem to produce something higher quality. (They didn’t even bother to make the singers in the audio match the singers in the video!)
My second thought is that the subject matter of SG songs doesn’t seem to lend itself as readily to concept videos as other genres of music. For example, there are more story-songs in the realms of country and even CCM. Gospel songs tend to be more doctrinally focused, which limits the possibilities for creating something with visual interest. Either that or they deal with biblical stories and characters, which would be difficult to recreate convincingly.
Still, I think myself that it would be fascinating if some of gospel music’s top-tier artists (e.g. GVB, EHSS, Booth Brothers, BFA) began investing in high quality concept videos for selected, appropriate songs as they released new material. What do you think? I can think of some songs already out there that would have been perfect for the purpose. For example, imagine a concept video for Signature Sound’s “Until We Fly Away,” or the GVB’s “Always a Place At the Table.” Or with more recent songs, imagine the possibilities for something like the Booth Brothers’ “I See Grace.”