Sorry for my lack of posting this week. I’ve been working on a whole bunch of things, but haven’t finished any one single post. I have a couple new series in the works, and I also want to (gradually!) ease into some Christmas posting. But I should probably postpone most of that until after finals, which will be in the week of December 10th. So don’t be surprised if I take a little hiatus here. I don’t think I’ll completely lay off posting until then (for one thing I’ve got a stand-alone piece I’m very excited about that I probably won’t be able to keep from writing when I get a few spare moments), but I won’t post as frequently. Meanwhile… what do you want to talk about? I notice, among other things, that Zig Ziglar passed away this week. I know that he had a great impact for Christianity and was close friends with the Booth Brothers among many others. If you’ve been touched in some way by his legacy, feel free to share in the comments.
Just a few notable things from the week… you guys can fill in the gaps. This week was rather busy for me, as you can tell.
On the Southern Gospel Front
*The GVB is adding three songs to Pure and Simple. Also, they’re cutting two songs from the original list and releasing them in a Walmart exclusive. Sound confusing? DBM tries to explain it all.
*Dove Brothers are getting a new pianist, Andy King, because Joe Lane is retiring to have back surgery. Ouch!
*No, I didn’t watch Michelle Obama’s performance from the DNC because I was busy living a productive life, and I like to avoid inducing nausea in myself if I can help it. However, I did find a terrific fisking of her speech over at The American Thinker. The one misleading thing about the article is that it gives the impression Obama spent his entire childhood in Indonesia, when he actually just spent some formative years there. Otherwise, a pretty crushing blow-by-blow.
*Another week, another irritatingly vapid Russell Moore article (ho hum). This time he’s trying to tell us that a new kids’ movie with Puritan zombies and a main character whose special gift for talking with the dead makes him “not normal” (spawning language and themes obviously meant to parallel situations where kids are gay), plus a casual reference by a male character to his “boyfriend” which is played for laughs… is harmless, somewhat endearing, and not the least bit subversive. Royght. I tell you that guy’s like the little girl with the curl. When he’s good he’s very, very good, and when he’s bad, he’s, well, horrid.
*Could you summarize the gospel in seven words?
While I won’t try to go back and cover everything of note that I missed the week before last, I’ll do a little combining to flesh out this roundup.
On the faith and culture front
*Whether you think that Senator Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments were bizarrely offensive or just somewhat impolitic, I think all pro-lifers can agree that the Republican establishment has done a lousy job handling the backlash. They seem determined to throw a good man under the bus while simultaneously proclaiming loudly and proudly that yes, yes, yes, they do support the rape exception to abortion, as a matter of principle. I’ve been particularly saddened to see Paul Ryan forced to play along with Romney’s less conservative stance on this issue as Romney’s number one campaigner. Here we are and it’s only been a couple weeks since Ryan was nominated. Did I tell you or did I tell you?
*I’ve always said that it’s not enough for Christians to oppose same-sex “marriage” but shrug over civil unions, since civil unions give homosexual couples all the same legal rights, including adoption. There’s been a shocking new development in an old case on this issue. In
2009 2003, Lisa Miller converted to Christianity and sought to separate herself and her daughter, Isabella, from her lesbian partner, Janet Jenkins, after dissolving the civil union. When the court not only upheld her partner’s custody rights but eventually ordered Miller to give Jenkins full custody when she refused to cooperate regarding visitations (the few that she had allowed were highly upsetting to Isabella), Miller and her little girl disappeared in 2009. Now it’s been released that a Mennonite pastor named Kenneth Miller (no relation) had helped the two to flee the country. He has been caught and convicted of aiding in “kidnapping” and will mostly likely be sentenced to prison. Read the full story here. How does it hurt people to give homosexuals marriage rights? Now you know.
*I recently came across one of the most idiotic, substanceless and odious pieces from an ostensibly “conservative” pastor that I’ve ever encountered. The topic was the FRC shooting. Ed Stetzer says, in essence, “Well yes of course we shouldn’t go around shooting people, so that’s bad, but then there are consequences for doing some of the things FRC has done.” Please excuse me while I vomit quietly into the nearest garbage can… while trying to collect my few remaining brain cells.
On the Southern Gospel front
*There’s been a lot of buzz over the fact that the Booth Brothers are going to appear as a quartet with Gene McDonald at the Memphis Quartet Show. Michael Booth said “For those of you who have wondered what we’d sound like as a quartet, we’re about to find out at the same time! This is gonna be fun!” However, you can actually sample that sound already by checking out “Going in Style” from their album Pure Southern Gospel, which features guest vocals from Gene.
*Regular blog frequenter quartet-man contributed a guest review to Musicscribe of Oak Ridge Boys bass Richard Sterban’s new book of memoirs, From Elvis to Elvira. It looks like an interesting read.
*Daniel Mount is hailing Tribute’s new project Our Anthem as their breakout project based largely on the strength of the two standouts “Good News From Jerusalem” and “The Song of Heaven.” Check out samples here to see if you agree! I have downloaded both songs, and they are excellent. “The Song of Heaven” reminds me of Mark Bishop’s “Let the Angels Take the Fallen” in musical composition and showcases Riley Clark’s magnificent tenor voice. Daniel has said “Good News From Jerusalem” is the next “Jerusalem” or “Midnight Cry,” and while I’m not quite prepared to make that comparison, partly because the melody is very repetitious, I think it compares favorably to “He’s Alive.”
*Hat tip to Lauren for finding this video of Kelly Nelon discussing her daughter’s Idol journey. She gives more details about how far Amber went, what kind of future people were predicting for her, and how the judges reacted to her statement of faith.
*Congratulations to Andrew S. for winning this year’s NQC Webcast Giveaway on SG Back Row! The competition came down the wire, but Steve broke the tie by having Andrew and another reader identify southern gospel personalities in a montage of spoken word concert clips.
*Speaking of SG Back Row, Steve has come up with yet another fresh, cool column idea in “What’s In an Album Cover??”. Steve will present a weekly batch of six album covers to be ranked by his readers, and at the end of the “tournament,” he will pick out the ten best and ten worst for final voting. Here’s the first round.
*The Garms Family, formerly known as the Great Adventure Gospel Band, has decided after much thought and consultation to shorten their official group name to the easy and simple “The Garms Family.” Check out their new website here.
*Karen Peck Gooch misses big hair. Anyone else?
*Video of the week: The Sisters singing “It is Well” at Stephen Hill’s homegoing service…
*Rick Fair is reviving the name of the old Rebels Quartet with a fresh lineup, including Fair himself on bass, David Fair on baritone, former Southern Sound tenor Mike Young on tenor, and former Melody Boys/Freedom member Alan Kendall on lead. Aaron Swain has a post with recent concert footage from the group here.
*Some southern gospel kids, including the sons of Brian Free and Michael Booth, have formed a group called Parachute Parade that sounds like anything but southern gospel. Michael Booth warned us about these guys in a webinar a few months back and said that if we liked “our music” (the Booth Brothers), we wouldn’t like theirs! Meanwhile I see Brian Free giving them a hearty endorsement on his Facebook page, so there seem to be some conflicting tastes at work here. As for me… well, I checked out their Reverbnation page and listened to some bits of their music. For the record, my tastes are very eclectic, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what good music in general sounds like, not just southern gospel music. And… I’m with Michael on this one. 😉 [Update: I should clarify that Michael’s initial webinar comment was very humorous, in that signature Michael Booth way, and Michael has since commented that he fully supports the band’s efforts—which I never doubted!]
*The March Madness continues over at Steve Eaton’s. See the latest results here.
*Don’t miss a pictorial Booth Brothers concert review from Southern Gospel Blog favorites, the Garms kids. Great job guys!
*You should read Kevin DeYoung’s Ten Commandments for Commenting on Blogs. Especially if you’re a Star Wars fan. I mean, you should read them even if you’re not, but you’ll enjoy them even more if you are.
*Here’s a funny clip I recently found from Declaration, the trio the Booth Brothers have been mentoring. They attempt to walk across a “bridge.” Uh, guys… we like you. Be safe!
The thread is yours.
*Round2 of Steve Eaton’s March Madness tournament has begun. Sadly, the Booth Brothers were just edged out by Gold City in round one, so I no longer have a horse in the race. 😦
*You can see high quality footage from the Collingsworth family’s NQC 2011 mainstage appearances by watching their recently taped Daystar program on demand here.
*Earlier this week I read the first issue of a new magazine Signature Sound is trying out. It contains part one of a 25th anniversary interview with Ernie Haase conducted by his manager Trevor King. I found particularly interesting the way he just dispelled the rumors of some kind of falling-out between EHSS and the Gaither company. Worth reading.
*Read MN SG Fan’s review of a Signature Sound concert here.
*Kyle Boreing has chimed in on Signature Sound’s new project. Read his review here.
*Ryan Seaton decided to give my Andrew Goldman article a shout-out on Facebook. Thanks to Ryan and all the Union Street guys for their kind words! However, I got some pushback on Andrew’s glasses… to clarify, the white-rimmed ones were the ones that really struck me as dorky, and Andrew has since confirmed they were a one-night only thing. 🙂
*Kirk Cameron is coming out with a new project called Monumental. My impression is that it will be a documentary-styled guided tour through the history of our country’s beginnings, from the first colonizations through the War for Independence. The focus will be what the foundational principles were that made our country great. The tagline is “Sometimes the only way to go forward is to go back.” Watch the trailer here.
Of course I share Kirk’s values, but I’m also a bit concerned. One could approach such a project with good intentions and still end up giving a one-dimensional presentation of how things really were. I have a feeling this could be to American history what Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer biography was to Bonhoeffer. I’ve seen a couple unfortunate clips where David Barton shows Kirk his insanely valuable edition of an 18th century Bible whose distribution was funded by the founders, which is great… but then turns into a “Isn’t it great that people like Jefferson and Hamilton thought it would be a better country if families read the Bible” thing… when Jefferson and Hamilton were not even remotely Christian! [Correction: I appear to have been wrong on Hamilton, who it seems did become a Christian.] Even worse, Barton goes on to refer to the idea of the founding fathers as atheists/Deists/agnostics as revisionist history. Ouch. Jefferson Bible, anyone? So, yeah, I’m sort of worried about some of those issues. It’s already providing fuel for the fire of snarky liberals who do know more history than Cameron, but obviously see this as a great opportunity to patronizingly show up those stupid fundamentalists. When in terms of biblical morality, they’re dead wrong and Cameron is dead right. So it’s a frustrating thing. But I’d still be interested in seeing the film.
*Confession: Once in a while, I like to rock out. I mean REALLY rock out. Like this: And I just recently discovered the definitive driving song… with apologies to all other great driving songs, REO Speedwagon’s “Roll With the Changes” is it. I mean, the other day, it was hot, I was driving home from school, and when the singalong tag kicked in… windows down and whooping at the top of my lungs doesn’t begin to describe it. I’d like to hat tip Tim Hawkins for mentioning the song on Twitter (he was owning the air dashboard organ solo at a stoplight and letting the driver next to him know it), otherwise I never would have discovered it. Yep, it’s retro rock time! (Oh by the way, the aforementioned organ awesomeness starts at around 3:20.)
Now, if you can’t handle relatively hard rock, here is a stripped-down, recent live performance that’s really great too. No piano or Hammond, which is a sad loss, but I could get used to this country-ish-rock sound too. And the song kicks rear end either way:
*Steve Eaton is running a March Madness tournament for southern gospel groups. There was a window of time in which you could pick an artist to represent, but even though that window is past, you can still vote in the match-ups. Round one has already been posted, so head on over and make your voice heard! (Pssssst, and be sure to vote for the Booth Brothers, because I’m representing them. 🙂 )
*According to Brian Free & Assurance’s facebook page, they are set to release a new album in a couple of months. Hooray! That’s going on my wish list already.
*Speaking of BFA, check out The View From the Pew’s review of a recent BFA concert.
*Should I divorce if I’m miserable? For once, Russell Moore gets something absolutely, knock-it-out-of-the-park, spot-on correct in his response to a husband who wrote in asking this question.
*There’s a new book out called Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, an Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship by Christian Reformed pastor and author Ted Kluck. It’s a fresh, hilarious and insightful look at discipleship, telling the true story of his relationship with an ex-con named Dallas and how they both grew in the process. Denny Burk has posted a widget with the intro and 1st chapter for free. Recommended reading.
*Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week or so, you’ve likely heard of this new video “Kony 2012” that’s going viral right now. For both of you who have no idea what it’s about, essentially the purpose is to “expose” this Ugandan war leader who recruited child soldiers and taught them to commit unspeakably horrible violence on innocent people. It sounds like a good cause, right? However, there has been some controversy over the video, and I found this blog post, which quotes responses from Christian missionaries who are actually on the ground in Uganda today, to be very helpful. I think that if you read what these people have to say, it will put the whole thing in a better perspective. The bottom line is that this campaign is all about good will… and more good will… and more good will… but ultimately has no concrete, practical relevance. Boy, does that ever sound familiar. Not to mention that America’s young people could do a lot more good standing outside an abortion clinic than clicking “Like” on a Youtube video. But I digress…
*Today is the fifth anniversary of Roger Bennett’s home-going. Here is an older clip of him in his prime, thrilling George to a rousing medley. I like it already:
By the way, Legacy Five is offering a huge discount on a bundle of Roger-related products in their store for the month of March, so check that out while it lasts.
The thread is yours…
*I haven’t heard much of Cross 4 Crowns, but I really liked the little snippets I’ve found here and there, and they had an incredible tenor singer in Matt Felts. Sadly, they are disbanding. We wish them well!
*Brian Fuson is asking people to rank their top quartets. Head on over and contribute your thoughts here.
*For the third time in a row, by popular demand, EHSS is slated to sing the National Anthem at the NASCAR race this September. Press release here. This is so exciting for southern gospel! I hope they continue to win new fans.
*Brian Crout is on the verge of breaking into his top ten personal favorite SG albums of all time. Sitting at #11 is the Mark Trammell Trio’s Once Upon a Cross.
*I want to thank everyone who took time to vote and comment in my poll earlier this week about the blog. I will be leaving it open indefinitely, so if you still haven’t cast a vote, you can do so. Results were very useful and interesting for me. In the first poll, a little over 50% of you told me you were just interested in southern gospel related posts, but that was much closer than I had anticipated (which actually pleased me). In the second poll, overwhelmingly the two most popular categories were reviews and singer-focused posts. However, I was surprised to see several people choosing cultural commentary. I will keep these results in mind as I forge ahead. Thanks to all!
*Kirk Cameron has been taking some heat for daring to say that homosexuality is “unnatural” and “destructive to the foundations of civilization” in a television interview with Piers Morgan. Some of his most vocal critics are Hollywood actors enjoying their chance to boo someone they’ve probably detested for a while. In other news, the sky is blue and the left is deranged. Thankfully he’s standing his ground. His response to the furor is even better than the original interview clip.
*I refuse to discuss anything having to do with Rush Limbaugh this week. So this is me not talking about Rush Limbaugh.
*I’ve been busily checking items off my “to-do” list for spring break. Sadly, it looks as though I will not complete everything I had hoped, but I’m coming closer than I had anticipated. The downer is that I’m coming down with a cold to cap off the week, just before school starts back up. I can see myself now, incessantly blowing my nose in philosophy class… ah well, c’est la vie. Meanwhile, one thing I have checked off is watching Simon & Garfunkel’s Concert in the Park. Attention, you who appreciate great music: This. Concert. Rocks. I mean like rocks. My face, my socks, everything. Sure, the keyboards are a little dated, but ooooh, la-la. They don’t make music like they used to. Expect stuff from this concert to crop up in any future “Great Music” posts.
*I’m in the process of dissecting the piano part to “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” trying to really learn it inside and out. In the end I’ll take a little bit from several different pianists, but one pianist I’ll never be able to imitate in a million years is Richard Tee. Wish I could… be nice… but alas, it cannot be.
*Have just finished my first album review in ages. Hoping to get through more if I can sleep well enough tonight and fight off the aches, chills, and other nice things that are beginning to set in, in between scrambling to do next week’s calculus homework. Will publish the first on Monday.
It’s an open thread…
*Update on Tim Greene: Turns out not only did he sever some muscles, he also broke some ribs, and according to the latest update via the Greenes’ Facebook page, he has a bruised lung and there are concerns about pneumonia setting in. He could be in the hospital into next week. Meanwhile, Stacy is in pain from his minor breaks and fractures but appreciates your prayers. It looks like he won’t need surgery. We have more info about the accident too—it was not a collision, it was a rollover caused by a gust of wind on muddy ground.
*The Palmetto State Quartet is a quartet no more. They are now a powerhouse assortment of six singers, including the rarity of two basses. Look for some interesting music from this new lineup.
*Wes Burke is one of my favorite bloggers, but duty has called him away from the blogosphere for a month or so. But he’s back now! Stay tuned for more good stuff from him.
*DBM made it out to a Michael W. Smith concert recently. Read his review here.
*Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney split the delegates in Michigan… or at least they should have. They split the regular delegates, and the two at-large delegates would ordinarily be split between two candidates who came out as close as Santorum and Romney did. But in a sleazy back-room move, the GOP voted to give both candidates to Romney. We can only guess what their reasons may have been. I swear, people seem to think Santorum is some kind of “GOP insider.” What a joke. This just goes to prove that even his own party is against him. Santorum has apparently filed a protest, but I doubt it will come to a thing.
*Well, the Oscars have come and gone. I know, yawn. However, I was surprised at how many decent movies came out this past year. Granted there was a ton of garbage too, but quite a few of even the most popular films were actually (gasp) watchable. And not merely watchable, but some of them actually (double gasp) good. A number of well-made films were directly targeted to a family audience, including Steve Spielberg’s War Horse, The Adventures of Tin-Tin (which one reviewer described as “not a typical kid’s movie,” meaning not loaded with crudeness and smut), and Hugo. And other films that weren’t necessarily directly aimed at families could still be reasonably enjoyed by some conservatives. Of course, everyone’s standards are different, and “watchable” by my standards could still cross a line for some people, but I consider myself squarely in the conservative demographic for movie-going audiences, and there are perhaps a half dozen to ten films from 2011 that are either on my “have watched” list or my “to-watch” list. Be watching for a few upcoming posts in which I discuss/review some of these films. To whet your appetite, here is the picture that won “Best Animated Short Film.” It’s all about books. It should warm the cockles of any committed book-lover’s heart, and it is truly gorgeous. You won’t regret the 15 minutes you spend watching it:
[Edit, 10/14: This link is broken and has been removed.]
It’s an open thread! Discuss away!
It’s been a long week, but I feel ready to tackle my midterms. Looking forward to a weekend of rest and preparation. Meanwhile, let’s look at the week as it went down in the rest of the world…
*Devin McGlamery is back on the bus with EHSS, but he’ll have to keep his arm immobile in a sling for three weeks, then go through half a year of physical therapy. Moral of the story: Maybe intense weight-lifting isn’t such a good idea?? We wish Devin the best as he continues to heal on the road.
*Dove Awards: Kyle Boreing has the scoop here, showing that southern gospel is faring rather well as far as Dove nominations are concerned, with nominations in several major categories like Song of the Year (“Please Forgive Me,” “Celebrate Me Home,” “I’ve Been Here Before”), Group of the Year (Gaither Vocal Band). Also, I saw on Beyond the Ashes’ twitter that they’ve been nominated for New Artist of the Year. In the Song of the Year category, “Who Am I” was also nominated, but I have no idea why, since it’s a decades-old song that just happened to be covered by Jason Crabb in 2011! At any rate, I’m still plumping for “Blessings” to take home the bird this year. It’s the strongest nomination by a margin. (By the way, can somebody, anybody, explain why this bit of pablum continues to get recognized by anyone and nominated for anything, let alone a Grammy AND a Dove?)
Also, Wayne Haun has raked in his usual dozen or so nominations, though Jason Crabb’s publicist apparently jumped the gun by saying that Crabb was leading the number of nominations. His eight are impressive, but still, Haun is leading by a very wide margin. I’m not sure how this happened or how involved Jason himself was in the press release, but I hope someone gets this right.
*Some of you may or may not have been following the story of pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who faces execution in Iran for becoming a Christian. His execution order was just recently issued. We should pray that his life will be spared, but we should also pray that he will come to a fuller knowledge of God than he has now, since he disavows the Trinity. On one hand, his willingness to suffer martyrdom should be rightly admired. On the other hand, there is a sense in which he isn’t a true Christian. Either way, he needs prayer.
*Here is a great and very funny article by Doug Wilson on the potential dangers of fasting over Lent. Anyone with Catholic friends will completely relate to this.
*While browsing through Kevin DeYoung’s archives for February yesterday, I saw that he posted a couple more great car ads from the Super Bowl. I still haven’t found anything to top Ferris Bueller’s return, but these are pretty good:
*And finally… this blog has a birthday coming up! Be watching for a special post next week. 🙂 Just so there’s no confusion, I won’t be doing a giveaway or anything like that, but I do want to thank some people properly. So, as I said, look for that next week—in fact, Monday if I’m not mistaken.
It’s an open thread! What do you want to talk about?
*NQC has announced a new awards show. Naturally this will be seen as a replacement for the Singing News Fan Awards, which now appears to have landed in Dollywood indefinitely. The question is… do we need it? DBM has a discussion on his blog. Read the comments thread for further details from Clark Beasley himself.
*The second piece of NQC news, which I am MUCH more excited about, is a GVB Reunion showcase encore. It was such a smash last year somebody had the bright idea of bringing it back. Guy Penrod apparently WILL be at NQC, but so far it’s too early to specify who will or won’t take part in the showcase. However, I think it’s safe to say that there will be many eyebrows raised and questions asked if Guy doesn’t participate. Hopefully this means they can stage songs they didn’t stage last year, like “I Believe In a Hill Called Mount Calvary,” “The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference,” or “It is Finished.”
As for the other no-shows last year (including former tenors Jonathan Pierce and Terry Franklin), I think it’s an open question whether they’ll come, but I would be very happy if Terry could somehow squeeze it in around his worldwide ministry schedule. I joked on Swain’s blog that fingers crossed, Terry won’t be in Uzbekistan or something during NQC week. 🙂 His voice is still supple and strong after all these years, and he would add immensely to the showcase.
*Devin McGlamery had surgery on his left pectoral muscle this week and is recovering at home. He’s still in a lot of pain, and he’s been fighting nausea on top of that, so continue to keep him in your prayers.
*Want to see Wayne Haun smile? Finally, you can. Shhhhhh, no comments on the fishiness of the photo.
*Poet Voices: I will be watching one of their re-launch concerts this evening and writing something up afterwards. Who’s planning to be there with me? [Update: The concert for Saturday night has been canceled.] [Further Update: Technical problems plagued the ASGM team, and they were unable to broadcast on the 19th either. I don’t know if the 17th was a success or not.]
*I didn’t watch the Grammys, and I don’t really give a hoot about Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj or whoever has been making recent Grammy headlines. Perverted products of a perverted culture. Though I am disgusted by liberal Christian attempts to guilt-trip other Christians into “forgiving” Chris Brown, just like the Grammys “forgave” (read: re-marketed) him. Number one, why exactly do WE have to forgive Chris Brown, especially when some of us barely give any thought to his existence, and number two, since when has renewed elevation and celebration coupled with trivialization of past wrongs become the new definition of “forgiveness?”
Meanwhile, the really big news from the Grammys as far as I’m concerned is that Laura Story’s song “Blessings” captured top honors in the “Contemporary Christian Song” category. I am blown away. Not only am I blown away by the fact that a good quality Christian song became popular enough to be nominated for a Grammy (especially looking at a few of the other nominees), but I’m blown away that it actually WON. Way to go Laura. You can read a nice piece on her win here, which also details some of the backstory that inspired the song. In celebration of her victory, here is “Blessings”:
I hear this is also becoming a popular worship song, so the wasteland that is contemporary P & W has gotten a little boost in quality too.