Monday Morning Humor: Radio Promotion Done Right

The Centricity record label (home to popular CCM artists like Aaron Shust, Andrew Peterson, and DownHere) has created some very cute promotional videos for its artists. I featured one before, but I thought I’d feature a couple more for Monday Morning Humor. Label owner John Mays (whose illustrious resumee you can look up for yourself online) runs his own Radio 101 course… in his basement. Here’s the episode featuring Jason Gray.

“I’m the big bad wolf of radio success, and I EAT cute little artists like you for BREAKFAST.”

Check out Part II, also guest starring Jason, where John Mays runs for President of… something. Keep watching to the end!

“I sent an e-mail to Bono. At Is that his e-mail address?”


Youtube Find: George Younce, Cynthia Clawson and Rich Mullins Co-Hosting the Dove Awards

From the looks of this video, the 1989 Dove Awards was a rather clumsily orchestrated affair, but it did honor some great musicians, and for one hour, it brought together a co-hosting team I never would have pictured in my head: George Younce, Cynthia Clawson and Rich Mullins. As Russ Taff says while introducing them over his scripted pages: “I think that the next hosts are very strange. That’s what it says in here.” It’s quite funny to watch. George is far and away the most comfortable person up there, what with Cynthia smirking and cringing over her myriad tongue slips and Rich squirming in his tuxedo (complete with cummerbund and bow tie, and yet he has a mullet also, which is just weird).

Notable moments:

*At 1:04:00, after a couple of his trademark corny jokes, George says a few personal words about Cynthia and Rich.

*This segment includes three of Take 6’s 5 (!!) Dove wins and is very entertaining, prompting more than one joke from George—Contemporary Black Gospel Album of the Year at 1:14:22, back-to-back with Contemporary Black Gospel Recorded Song of the Year for “If We Ever” at 1:18:50, then Group of the Year a bit later at 1:54:10. The bass singer is especially entertaining on Recorded Song: “Doom-doom-doom, skiddly-skiddly, bank-bank. Oh, translated, we’d like to thank all of our parents…” George: “I wonder how old that bass singer is.” They keep having to think of more people to thank at each award. For Group of the Year, the bass singer is sure to include “my dog Spot, who’s in the audience.”

*At 1:21:00, Gold City performs “Midnight Cry,” but it’s George’s intro that’s pure gold as he casually throws the script out the window. “And these young friends of mine… [pauses, looks up]. Let me re-phrase that. I hate young people.” Continue reading “Youtube Find: George Younce, Cynthia Clawson and Rich Mullins Co-Hosting the Dove Awards”

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound Take Your Questions

The guys from EHSS are enjoying some summer time off right now, and Ernie has opened the floor for fans to send in questions for the group. Your question could even appear in a future newsletter! Here is how it will work:

For all of you who have had a question for one of the guys that you’ve been wanting to ask, but haven’t had the chance, well here’s your chance to do just that!
For the rest of the Summer we want you to send in your questions to us and we’ll compile them and send them on to the guys who will answer them as they’re able!
In future newsletters we’ll pluck some of the best questions/answers and let you see them … we promise to protect your privacy and won’t use real names…
So … here’s the deal … if you want your question to be considered please email and use either “Ernie Question” … “Doug Question” … “Devin Question” … “Paul Question” … “Wayne Question” or “David Question” as the subject line depending who you are asking the question of … this will allow us to manage the influx of questions ..
So … here’s your chance …. GO!

Questions and Answers, Father’s Day Edition: “My Son, My Son”

In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a special entry in my too-long-neglected “Questions and Answers” series, where we examine two songs that address the human condition from two perspectives—the one without, the other with hope. Today’s topic is fatherhood. To those whose earthly fathers have brought them only pain and fear, what do we as Christians have to offer? What can we say to the person who says “Everyone I ever trusted has let me down”? The answer is that we have a heavenly Father whose word is sure and whose faithfulness endures to all generations. Continue reading “Questions and Answers, Father’s Day Edition: “My Son, My Son””

CD Review: A Cappella, by The Martins

The Martins Acappella cover

It’s been too long since we had some new pure acappella music from the Martins. Now, perfectly timed in the year that I plan to see them live for the first time, this album grants all our wishes! With Lari Goss, Michael English, and David Phelps all sticking their fingers in the pie, it’s a glorious return to the sound that first put the Martins on the map.  Continue reading “CD Review: A Cappella, by The Martins”

An Interview With Mark Bishop

Mark Bishop

When I noticed Mark Bishop had a new project out, I thought it might be a good idea to run a little interview with him. After reading through a couple other interviews he’d done, I knew it would be a good idea.

As a singer-songwriter who found solo success after his family group broke up at the turn of the millenium, Mark has filled an important niche in a genre traditionally dominated by quartets, trios, and mixed ensembles. I’ll call it “the James Taylor niche.” Where they bring sweeping anthems and barn-burners crackling with energy, Mark offers pensive, carefully crafted lyrics that tell a story—never flashy, always thoughtful, and able to fit more insight than you thought possible into a 3-4-minute nutshell. David Bruce Murray said it best way back in 2008 when describing his song “I Got Here as Fast as I Could”:  “[I]t only took a few minutes for Mark Bishop to kill an entire family, reunite them in Heaven, and make a fine scriptural point.” If you ask Mark a simple question, you’re sure not to get a simple answer. But behind that philosophical bent is a keen sense of humor and a dry wit. In this interview, I ask Mark about his background and writing influences, his writing process, his favorite project, and his latest album. I also discovered a few things you might not have known about him! Enjoy. Continue reading “An Interview With Mark Bishop”

Stowtown: Southern Gospel’s Most Cutting-Edge Record Label?

To show that there are no hard feelings between myself and Chris Unthank, with whom I’ve had a little vigorous banter on some recent posts about songwriting, I’m spotlighting an article of his for Absolutely Gospel called “Record Label Woes.” Chris offers four simple tips for how record labels can interact better with the promotional arm of this industry: Be proactive. Be current. Be available. Be courteous.

I lack Chris’s wide experience with labels across genres of Christian music, so I don’t have as many “woes” to relate from my own brief stint in music promotion. But I thought instead I would point out one record label that goes above and beyond in meeting all four of his guidelines: StowTown Records, the property of Wayne Haun and Ernie Haase. StowTown is…

1. Proactive: I don’t need to drop hints in Ernie’s inbox that I’m waiting around for StowTown’s latest. I get an e-card for every project, and what’s more, I get it well in advance of the release date. That is what we call proactive promotion.

2. Current: Chris comments that while it’s nice to have publishing info, musician info, and the other little perks that come with a physical copy, labels desperately need to move into the digital age when it comes to getting their artists’ music out there. I myself prefer digital copies because my room is messy enough as it is, and I don’t relish the idea of dragging hundreds of physical CDs everywhere I move in my life. And if I listen to a project where it turns out there were really only about three tracks that I loved to spin over and over, I’m especially glad that I didn’t make the extra spatial investment. But here’s the cool thing about StowTown: Not only do they provide CD-quality mp3 downloads of the music for reviewers, they also include complete copyright info in the digital package. So the music is provided conveniently, but at the same time they aren’t skimping on info for reviewers. They understand that we like to know who actually wrote the song we’re reviewing, so that we know who to praise or critique by name.

3. Available: A while back I e-mailed Ernie to see if I could set up an interview with the Taylors. He instantly wrote back and said “Yes, please, I would love to see this happen!” It has not been officially arranged yet, partly since he bounced it to Wayne (and Wayne being Wayne is insanely busy), and partly since they’ve already given recent interviews to a couple other press outlets, so I need to calibrate my questions accordingly to avoid repetition. But that instant, enthusiastic response is a model for how a label should treat those of us who are eager to share your music with the world.

4. Courteous: When I wrote with a question about the timing of Stowtown Radio’s live special the other week, Ernie’s assistant instantly responded thanking me for the question, and actually saying that my writing had led them to correct an error in the schedule. There was no delay or  irritation. StowTown took my request and took care of the issue with humility and graciousness.

Crossroads Music is an example of another label who handles promotion well, so I don’t mean to imply that StowTown is all alone here. But I can think of at least one other major label, which shall remain nameless, that I would rank behind StowTown. I’m not saying they’re as terrible as they could be, I’m just saying StowTown is better—more efficient, more proactive, more available. StowTown is already positioning itself on the cutting edge of southern gospel, and they’re just getting started. In my opinion, this label is a big part of what will carry southern gospel into the future, in no small part because they follow the guidelines Chris is describing so well.

So, there you go, for those who might be wondering whether I just sit around looking like Grumpy Cat all day.

On New Hymns and Perfect Rhymes

A while back, I ran across some new hymns by progressive southern gospel songwriting regular Lee Black. He commented that it was hard to get them cut, but he saw no harm in performing them himself and putting them out there on Youtube. The first two were co-written with Gina Boe, another sought-after contributor to your favorite artists’ catalogues:

The Light and the Glory

That Death May Die:

All Glory To You, Jesus

Any of these new songs would be a classy and welcome addition to a church service. It goes without saying that they’re infinitely more intricate and contentful than the incoherent, monotonic dreck Jesus Culture is churning out (or whoever the kids are listening to, I don’t keep track to be honest). In fact, melodically I would say they’re even more interesting than “In Christ Alone.” So for well-written, yet accessible new church music, this is any worship pastor’s ideal. However, the songwriting purist in me can’t help wondering whether they could be improved in one respect: rhyme scheme.

Continue reading “On New Hymns and Perfect Rhymes”