July 5th - August 10th, 2005
The following email comes from Daywind:
Soundtracks is proud to advise our singers of a once-in-a lifetime opportunity!
Legacy Five, the reigning Quartet of the Year in Southern Gospel music, is
looking for a talented tenor with the call of God on his life. This would be a
full-time position travelling with Scott Fowler, Glen Dustin, Scott Howard and
Roger Bennett (piano). For more information on Legacy Five, go to
How badly is Michael Jackson’s new album, “The Essential Michael Jackson,” doing? Well, according to InTheNews.co.uk, it’s such a dud that it’s getting whipped by “the likes of the Dukes of Hazzard soundtrack and obscure singer Guy Penrod.” And Ireland Online and the official Chinese newsagency Xinhua quote a spokeswoman for Nielsen Soundscan: “Michael Jackson is quite a way down there. Carly Simon sold 50,000 albums more than him. Christian singer Guy Penrod even sold 11,000 copies of his new record.”
I’ve spent three days listening to enLIGHTen, the online Southern Gospel station of satellite broadcaster XM Radio. It’s great music, and I certainly recommend the three-day free trial. But would you pay for it?
XM Radio provides more than 130 digital stations to its satellite radio subscribers. About 70 of these are available online. In addition, several stations are exclusive to the internet, apparently because the satellite lacks further capacity. One of these, available online only, for the time being, is enLIGHTen.
I never got a reply to my email to enLIGHTen [but see the UPDATE, below], so most of what I know about it is from a November posting at Musicscribe. I don’t know when – or if – the station will get onto the satellite. Nor do I know when – or if – Gary Wilson’s Southern Gospel USA Countdown Show will get onto the XM satellite, as has also been mooted.
But back to the three-day trial. It started well, with Janet Paschal, followed by the McRaes, Dove Brothers, Signature Sound Quartet, LordSong, Cathedrals, Palmetto State Quartet, Florida Boys, and so on. I heard all the hits, including the newly-released “The Shepherd’s Call” from the Crabb Family and “Nail It to the Cross” from the Whisnants. It’s commercial free, though I heard several station promotions from personalities including Gloria Gaither, and I thought it was Sonya Isaacs who sang “This is enLIGHTen.”
It was all great. But would you pay $7.99 a month for it? Of course you get 70-plus other stations, not just Southern Gospel, and if you can find a few other stations that you know you’ll listen to regularly, then it might all be worth it.
But I find The Gospel Station – my current online station of preference – to offer the same as enLIGHTen, and it’s free. Sure, it has commercials for the most amazing products: two-foot high bags of Southern Style Pork Rinds, PlakMan cardiovascular supplement - “cheaper than by-pass surgery” - and a whole ark full of weight loss, diet and sports enhancement preparations. For me down here in Australia – craving for some authentic Southern atmosphere - these just add to the experience.
UPDATE – Further enLIGHTenment
Marlin Taylor, program director of enLIGHTen, was on leave when I emailed him. He has now replied with lots of interesting detail, as follows:
Audience re-action has been totally positive … with the major question being “when will it be added to the satellite service?” As for that question, I do not have a firm answer – although the prospect is looking much brighter than it did a couple of months ago….
The Gloria Gaither and artist voices you hear on the channel were all recorded during a Homecoming event last October here in suburban Washington, D. C., where we are headquartered. While we are open, no others have sent us any. We’ll be attending the National Quartet Convention in September with plans to record any and all who are interested in contributing to our on-air format material. By the way, that Isaacs jingle was created by them on the spot.
As we are not burdened by commercials and other “distractions,” we can get a lot of music into an hour.
We have “Powers,” which are the Top 50 of the current "Singing News" chart. Things below the 50, along with other new tracks we feel have potential go into New Releases. I follow a couple of the other charts for guidance.
Then tracks going down from the Top 50 go into Re-Currents for 2 – 3 months. Hits from the previous five years or so show up in “Past Hits.” At the moment, everything older goes into the “Historic” category. As we’re able to locate more old recordings, especially from the 1990’s, I’ll likely break down those two latter categories into four or five groupings.
Each of these categories, along with an “instrumental” group, shows up one or more times in every hour. We also have a growing category simply called “Library,” in which we dump good album tracks that have not reached any kind of hit status, whether or not the group/artist has had hits. These fill three to four slots in most every hour, which gives our sound a certain freshness – which is a comment received from a number of listeners and appears to be greatly appreciated.
Not much will change prior to going on satellite, nor am I sure what we’ll add in the near term….
We’ve received great support from many in the Southern Gospel music community, which I’m sure will grow when we join the satellite lineup – as we’ll then be a true national force here in America.
Thanks so much for your interest. This is likely more than you wanted or needed to know. However, I do get wound up and am passionate about this format. I’m waiting for final confirmation on broadcasting the SGMA Hall of Fame Awards ceremony on a week or two delayed basis, along with another major S. G. special we hope to announce shortly.
August 3rd, 2005
A weekly round-up of the Southern Gospel blog beat:
It takes discipline to keep an audio blog regularly updated. So all credit to Anne Downing, who does it. This week sees her at the baseball.
Avery Fineline has a huge amount of interesting stuff. Just keep scrolling down.
After a hiatus of several weeks, the CrossWay Blog is updated, with news from British Columbia.
Buses are of the devil, writes John Rulapaugh.
David Bruce Murray gives us biographies of Janet Paschal and the Nelons.
And Kenneth Kirksey tells us why he’s wild about Harry (Potter).
I launched Southern Gospel Beat early in July. I told few people, and didn’t seek out publicity, apart from placing advertising on top of each page of my other website, Martin Roth Christian Commentary (which hasn’t been updated for more than 18 months).
I’m busy right now with other work (real work!), so I thought I’d slowly and gradually build up the site, then around September I’d start trying to publicise it.
But I’ve been sprung.
I happened to be in correspondence with Barbara of Tidbits and Treasures, and told her what I was doing. She placed a link on her site.
Then, a couple of days ago, Saint at Dogfight at Bankstown found the site and welcomed me back.
I’m now getting hits from all these sites.
So I guess it’s time to come clean:
1. I love Southern Gospel music, but don’t really know such a lot about it, and don’t have strong opinions on it. I see my site more as a kind of regular update of happenings in the business, from a Down Under perspective, rather than as any kind of commentary. I was originally going to call the site Southern Gospel Update, but thought that sounded bland, so decided on Southern Gospel Central, but thought that sounded arrogant, so at the last minute went for Southern Gospel Beat. (But I’d already uploaded stuff to the site with SGCentral in the URL, and couldn’t work out how to change it.) I’m not even sure if what I’m doing is blogging. If you want to see a real Southern Gospel blog, check out Avery Fineline (Douglas Harrison), who to my mind is the model of a very fine blogger – knowledgeable, opinionated, sympathetic, sometimes controversial and an excellent writer.
2. I’m a freelance writer. According to this article, the median annual income for writers and other creative types in Australia was $11,700 in 2000-01. I make several times that, which must mean that I’m highly successful. Yet, for several years I haven’t been making enough to support my family. I read a posting titled Earning a Six-Figure Income from Blogging? on former youth pastor Darren Rowse’s site, and was inspired to see if I too could make money from the internet. I decided to start with something I knew and liked, and something that could be tacked onto my existing website. Hence Southern Gospel Beat. It’s an experiment. I wouldn’t expect to make much from this site (and wouldn’t be comfortable making much from a Christian site). But if I find that I can make something, I might then try launching something new.
Good to have all that off my conscience.
A quick round-up of the week in blogdom:
Avery Fineline solves two SG mysteries.
At the Crabb Family Blog, Krystal Isaacs shares her joy that five-year-old Cameron has accepted Jesus into her life.
The anonymous Me Blog SG wonders why it took David Phelps so long to go solo.
Roger Bennett writes about seals, whales and his health.
Are we to see less of Mark Lowry? According to the latest edition of his “whenever I get around to it” email newsletter (subscribe here):
I think I'm becoming a hermit, and I like it. (Sounds like a song). But, I really love being alone. I love the quiet. The peace. The solitude. I used to hate all that. I still love being around people but the older I get, the more I like being with just me. I can write, think, work on my Web site - on my own time.
I’m older than Mark. I know exactly how he feels.
A quick look at the Southern Gospel blogosphere over the past week.
Douglas Harrison, ever-willing to probe behind the scenes, wonders lengthily why more groups don’t handle their own bookings – like Signature Sound Quartet and Gold City - instead of using expensive agencies. He concludes:
If booking agencies don't innovate and adapt - if they don't start sending scouts and contacts out to religious and church music conferences, to pastors conferences and denominational leadership training seminars - in short if they don't invigorate their exhausted databases with new churches and other venues that haven't heard of sg's headliners, more groups are going to start following SSQ and Gold City. It's just a matter of reaching a point where the potential benefits outweigh the risk and cost, and I think we're nearing that point.
Read it all.
Meanwhile, Chris Unthank reveals his top five all-male trios, and tells us why they’re the best.
The anonymous gospel music commentator asks:
Is it really worth it for a regional group to rent a booth, make the trip, or even be on a showcase at NQC? …This is an honest open question that I would like some comments on. I really don't know one way or other if it is worth it or not. I can see a few advantages, but I see more cost than profit from it.
And finally, Ann Downing posted an audio blog last Friday, thanking God that it was Friday.