September 16th - September 26th, 2005
every writer’s dream. Author and illustrator David Liverett self-published a
collection of sketches and brief biographical stories of famous gospel artists.
Unknown to him, a friend sent the book to Thomas Nelson Publishers, who have now
published the book as
This Is My Story.
David told his local paper that he “created the book originally to tell stories of gospel singers and other musicians connected with Bill Gaither's Homecoming video series.”
Publishers Weekly has given the book an excellent review:
Liverett's drawings are vivid and charming - they recall the Wall Street Journal's illustrations, only Liverett's pictures hum with more life. This is a valuable reference guide for music buffs, a wonderful tribute to Southern gospel music, and a perfect gift book for fans.
Interesting question over at alt.music.gospel.southern:
The Gaither videos are commercial products. I suspect that it boils down to what the powers that be determine will sell. Plus having enough recordings in the can to make an attractive 90-minute video.
And who else might get a tribute video? Any thoughts?
Praise the Lord
The Gospel Hiway online SG radio staion – based in Houston – is still broadcasting. I’m listening right now as I type this. A notice at the station’s website has been advising:
For the next week or more we will be trying to broadcast out of our east Texas facility due to destruction, power outages, and no internet connectivity to broadcast our signal from Houston. We will not be able to do a lot of things we normally do each day like take prayer request, receive emails, etc. We pray we will be back to our fullest as soon as we are able. PLEASE keep all of us in your prayers over the next few weeks. Thank you for your prayer support in advance.
September 25th, 2005
SGM Blog has been
doing some analysis of what Southern Gospel fans are searching for on the
internet. He has obtained 30 days of Google search queries for 48 separate
search keywords and phrases, and the results are pretty clear – people want to
find out about Gaither.
Of more than 56,000 searches, around a quarter were for “Bill Gaither,” “Gaither Vocal Band” or “Gaither Homecoming.” Otherwise, the most popular artists were the Crabb Family, Gold City, Michael Combs, the Isaacs, Signature Sound and Legacy Five.
I guess this accords with my own visitor stats, which consistently show my Gaither Vocal Band page as one of the main entry points for visitors to the site. Presumably most of these visitors come via search engines.
Speaking of things Gaither, an email has chastised me for my less-than-enthusiastic reaction to the Gaither.com website makeover. She writes:
I am a handicapped widow and needed contact with the outside world through some method other than cable TV which offers little entertainment. Please consider this: I have met some of the most fantastic Christians ever in my life!! These folks are the most powerful prayer warriors you could ever hope to meet….I find that for a SMALL yearly fee, it is well worth it and I haven't even begun to tell you about the live chats with artists, Livecast from Toronto this weekend!! and free shipping. I wonder if you wouldn't enjoy this site if you knew a little more about it.
By the way, I have tried to email Gaither.com to thank them for naming Southern Gospel Beat as their website of the month of September, but the emails keep getting bounced back to me. I wonder what their email address is.
The Grand Rapids Press interviews Mark Lowry from Houston, where he is involved in hurricane relief work:
"I don't see any humor in it at all, and I cannot imagine what those people have gone through," Lowry said. "But I don't believe there are any brick walls on the journey, only speed bumps. What may feel like the end of something is the beginning of something new, even though it hurts like heck."
Lowry's new video/DVD, "Mark Lowry Goes to Hollywood," is filled with material he's tested on the road for more than a year. That includes his story of surviving a nearby tornado while staying on a houseboat in Cookesville, Tenn. Several boats in the area were capsized, but there no lives were lost.
"I told the guys on the dock the next morning that I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I knew I was gonna live through it… I like trying to find the moral of the story."
In other hurricane news, Debbie Bennett writes at Roger Bennett’s Midnight Meditations that the couple have arrived home safely after staying at Galveston, “right on the beach!” She reports that Roger’s latest medical check was “uneventful.”
For those (like me) who tend to run away when they hear the words “Christian comedian,” Chonda Pierce has something to say:
Listen, I’ve been in the business a long time. I’ve heard all the arguments… don’t call yourself “Christian” comedian – it will limit your effectiveness for the “big picture.” I fell for that stuff once or twice in my career. Yeah, I read the book: Roaring Lamb. I agree with every word. But, too late! I’ve been calling myself Christian Comedian for so long now – to stop, well, that would terrify my mother!! I recently read where a fellow Christian comedian has decided to call himself “Conservative” Comedian. Folks report that “at last, something edgy, brilliant and in-your-face in the Christian world!” I laughed out loud! Have these people ever heard of Jesus Christ? You talk about edgy and in-your-face! HA!
Read it all at her latest Roadkill Report.
Still embarrassed at
Southern Gospel Beat being named “Site of the Month” by
Gaither.Com, just a couple of days after my less-than-flattering remarks
about the GaitherNet site makeover, I’ve resolved to say something nice. So
let’s have a look at the redesigned Community pages of Gaither.Com. (No links,
as it’s for members only.)
The Blogs section is a great innovation. Already a dozen or so Gaither.Com members have launched their own blogs, including Gaither employee Emily Sutherland. I guess the drawback is that the only readers will be Gaither.Com members.
The Gallery section also has excellent potential. Members can post here – for the enjoyment of fellow members – their prose, poetry, photography, multimedia and song lyrics. So far the main contribution has been some stunning photos of the sunset.
The Community pages also include message boards and a place where you can ask questions of Bill and Gloria.
A few days ago I made a quick tour of the newly designed Gaither.Com (formerly GaitherNet) website. My comments were rather more negative than positive, and I think that “underwhelmed” would probably have summed up my reaction. Now I find that Gaither.Com has named Southern Gospel Beat as its “Site of the Month” for September.
So from me, a very humble thank you.
Avery Fineline has received an anonymous email with the “real awards” for Southern Gospel, as “voted on by a panel of 18 people who are ardent followers of Southern Gospel music; some are professionals, some are amateurs and some are fans. We feel these awards are a true barometer of our industry without the influence of record label voting, magazine censoring or personal bias.”
Many are perceptive, some are funny and several are nasty. For example, there’s “Best Soloist Disguised as a Group” (Crabb Family), “Female Hottie” (Sonya Isaacs) and “Worst Hair in Southern Gospel” (Ivan Parker, Depp Britt and the McKameys).
Here’s the Real Awards’ “Top Ten Reasons Southern Gospel Should Be Proud”:
1. Crossroads Distribution
(Those people are EVERYWHERE.)
Read the whole thing.
My initial impression of the re-designed Gaither.com (formerly GaitherNet) website was not propitious. I wanted a new, better photo of the Gaither Vocal Band for my own website. It turns out that the artist biographies – there used to be lots of them, of many of the Homecoming artists - are gone (or at least I couldn’t find them), replaced, apparently, with voluminous discographies.
So I did a quick tour of the site. And my second impression? That it’s like the old site, only offering less. Admittedly, I don’t use the site a lot since starting my collection of Gaither DVDs. Previously I often used to sit at my computer playing online Gaither audio or video. The latter is still there, and now there’s a list of what’s available, though without descriptions. (So who’s to know what “Rebroadcast Clip From Tuesday Afternoon” is? Or “Great Divide?”) No audio is available (apart from the Gaither radio), though I assume it’s coming.
Instead of giving members the chance to create their own web pages, there is now the offer to start a blog, and some are up already. I never used the message boards, so am not too familiar with what they looked like, but my impression is that there’s a lot less than before. Are the chat rooms still there? I couldn’t find them. And I noticed that the index of transcripts of chats with artists contains only the most recent. Previously, there was a complete list of several years of artist chats. They made fun reading. I don’t see the point of changing that. One of the beauties of the internet is that you can offer file after file of archive material.
The Gaither store is being redesigned too. It’ll be back in business on September 19th.