Essential Christmas Music: SG and Non-SG

Yes it’s been forever, but I have been in the Christmas spirit and still swamped at a new job.  I’m thankful for both of those things, but blogging time has still been slim.  I don’t want to go without posting SOMETHING for you for Christmas, so I decided I’d join the crowd and post my essential Christmas music.  Here’s a list of essential SG albums, and essential non-SG Christmas albums, trying hard to balance classics with “hidden gems” in both lists.

5 Essential SG Christmas Albums:

5. Ball Brothers – Christmas
4. Martins – Light Of The World
3. Gaither Vocal Band – Still The Greatest Story Ever Told
2. Gold City – Voices Of Christmas
1. Cathedrals – A Cathedral Christmas, Acappella

5 Essential Non SG Christmas Albums

5. Take 6 – He Is Christmas
4. Imperials – Christmas With The Imperials
3. Michael Buble – Christmas
2. 4Him – Season Of Love
1. Carpenters – Christmas Collection

Whatever your taste, I hope you’ve enjoyed the Christmas Season, and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!  I have a special Christmas post in the queue for tomorrow that I hope you will all enjoy.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE BURKE FAMILY!!!!!

Josh Ball Departs Ball Brothers

The Ball Brothers have just announced that Josh Ball is departing the group (hat tip, DM).  Here is the press release, written in the Ball Brothers’ own inimitable style:

ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE BALL BROTHERS

Chickamauga, GA – THE SKY IS FALLING! The previous line was intended to make the following statement less shocking. After 6 years with the Ball Brothers, Joshua Ball has retired . . . at age 26. Josh states, “I was going to resign then it dawned on me that retirement made more sense. The guys will have to pay me until Social Security kicks in. All joking aside, I am leaving the Ball Brothers. I will miss all the friends I have made and I will miss singing and being with the guys, but I am definitely looking forward to spending more time at home. I’ll still be the Ball Brothers “#1 fan” but it won’t be as weird now that I’m no longer in the group.” Daniel Ball said, “Most press releases are boring and void of useful information. I read them . . . then wonder what the “real” story was? In order to avoid unfounded speculation, I will seed speculation with misinformation. We fired Josh because he is our families’ version of “Joseph”. Andrew and I were jealous that he was dad’s favorite so we sold him on ebay and told dad that he was eaten. BAM!!! There’s your story! Seriously . . . We’re saddened that Josh is leaving, but fully support his decision. We are thankful for Josh’s hard work and contributions and look forward to seeing what God has in store for Josh and the Ball Brothers.”

The new Ball Brother will be announced soon!

For more information about the Ball Brothers visit:www.theballbrothers.com

(Our sincere apologies to any blog or news editor that has to edit this release.)

Best wishes to Josh and the rest of the Ball Brothers as they transition to a new singer.  Oh, and no editing necessary guys….why mess with a good thing???

YouTube Killed The XM Star

An intriguing phenomenon has been slowly materializing recently in Southern Gospel: concept videos.  The Ball Brothers did one for “About The Cross”, the Booth Brothers just released one for “She Still Remembers Jesus’ Name”, the Dills had “God Is In Control”, and Red Roots also released one fairly recently for “Double Wide Church.”  There are probably more than this floating around on YouTube, these are just the ones I could think of in a pinch.

Those of you who are of my generation will probably recognize the title of this post as a play on the rock song “Video Killed The Radio Star”, which came out shortly after the rise of MTV.  It seems there is truly nothing new under the sun, as the YouTube concept video phenomenon is seemingly a return of the music video, just on the net instead of over the cable “airwaves”.  Of course, this is also not an entirely new phenomenon, YouTube has been creating celebrities for a while now.  Justin Bieber, Rebecca Black, and the entire premise of the Nickelodeon show iCarly (which my 6 and 4 year olds LOVE) have gotten their notoriety due to the influence that YouTube has had on our culture, among others.

During the music video TV heyday, the phenomenon really never took off in Southern Gospel.  I remember watching GMTV on my cousin’s satellite a few times, but it never became readily available, and the quality of videos shown, especially in the early days, left a lot to be desired.  So call me skeptical in the ability of the YouTube concept video to catch on and have any staying power, but you never know.  Maybe the fact that some better known artists are participating this time will create more sticking power.  What do you think?

Singing News Fan Awards

The Singing News Fan Awards were presented yesterday at Dollywood.  You can watch the ceremony and get a full listing of the awards here.  Not unexpectedly, the Booth Brothers and Triumphant cleaned up, with the Booths taking Favorite Artist and Trio, plus the Tenor, Lead, and Baritone awards.  Triumphant took home Quartet, Album, Song, Bass, and Musician of the Year awards.  There were a couple of pleasant surprises as well.  The Gaither band took home Favorite Band, and the Ball Brothers won Horizon Artist.  Good to see the Ball Brothers get that kind of recognition.  I really feel they are the future of SG music.  Congratulations guys!  Courtney Collingsworth Metz also made Fan Award history yesterday, becoming the first person to win both Horizon Individual and Young Artist awards in the same year.  I can’t think of anyone more deserving, but I guess this means I can’t call her underrated or an “unsung hero” anymore.  Libbi Stuffle once again took home Favorite Alto, and in a mild surprise, the Hoppers took home Mixed Group.  I had somewhat expected the Perrys to take home that award, but the Hoppers really aren’t an upset to win.  Congratulations to all the winners!

NQC Schedule And Controversy

In recent news, the NQC has announced their main stage schedule here.  This has sparked some pretty heated discussion, as the Board cut down the number of artists on each night, and in doing so, eliminated some artists from the main stage altogether.  By far, the elimination causing the most controversy has been the Dixie Melody Boys.  Complicating matters is the fact that this year is the 50th anniversary of the Dixie Melody Boys, and the group had hoped to stage a “mini-reunion” with their set.

A few of the other omissions are notable to me as well: Soul’d Out, Liberty Quartet and the Ball Brothers.  I really feel like the Ball Brothers represent the future of SG music, so it’s a shame that they won’t be appearing this year, Liberty is the best quartet the average SG fan has never heard, and Soul’d Out is the reigning Horizon Group of the Year.  The 50th Anniversary of the DMB is the most unfortunate situation though, and I hope that the NQC Board will find some way to get them a slot to allow them to celebrate such a milestone.

That being said, look, the NQC Board is also really in a no-win situation here.  Every year we hear complaints about how attendance is dwindling, and how the evening concerts continually run into the wee hours and are way over the scheduled time.  The “stop light” and fines have helped some, but the concerts still seem to run long.  Credit the NQC for trying to address the situation.  The only real way to do so is to cut back the number of artists on the main stage each night.  In doing so, someone is by necessity going to have to be left out, and the artists and fans be upset by their omission.  If it’s the DMB, their fans would be upset, if it’s the Pfeifers, their fans would be upset, or the Primitives, or whoever it is.

My suggestion somewhat dovetails with Kyle’s above, but I’d suggest setting aside 2-3 slots that are reserved for a single slot for the “second-tier” artists, and let them rotate years.  Maybe one year you have the DMB, Primitives, and Chuck Wagon Gang, then the next year you have Liberty, Ball Brothers, and HisSong.  You could even merge the two suggestions and allow the groups without a prime time slot to have the “opening” slots that year.

Either way, the NQC Board is at least trying something, and there’s something to be said for that.  I’d rather see them trying new ideas than to be content to turn a blind eye and let the status-quo continue.

NQC ’10: Thursday Recap

There’s quite a bit more to talk about today.  So, continuing our bullet point format, here we go:

  • First, Sarah Palin.  Several artists tweeted that they were given the opportunity to meet her and have their pictures taken together before Palin made her keynote speech.  Her speech itself seems to have been well received, even if the only artists she mentioned were the Nelons and Amy Grant (?).  By most accounts, she came across as having a very genuine faith.
  • The Ball Brothers made their debut mainstage appearance to mainly positive reviews.  Good to see them get the exposure they deserve.  I really think these guys have quite a future ahead of them as pacesetters in SG.
  • The reviews have been mixed on the “cheesiness” of the song, but either way the Booth Brothers and Sisters collaboration called “Brothers and Sisters” was very much notable, and nothing but positive about the performance of the groups.
  • Several commentators have noticed that song selections on the whole last night just seemed to be disjointed.  Not that the songs were bad in and of themselves, but the sets just didn’t seem to flow very well.
  • Chris Allman continues to impress with his tenor vocals for Greater Vision.  To start their set, a YouTube clip was played of them singing “Too Near Home” from 1995, and at the conclusion of the clip, Stan Whitmire kicked in the piano intro and away they went with the full song.  Allman truly seems to have stepped out of a time machine vocally.
  • The Perrys sang a couple of new tunes from their Blue Skies CD, the title track and “His Love Lights the Way”.  Tracy Stuffle again joined them for two songs, and it’s good to hear that his health is holding up so well during such a stressful week.
  • The Greenes, and specifically TaRanda Greene, also had a quite impressive and notable set based on several accounts.  TaRanda continues to cement her place as an elite vocalist in SG.
  • Buzz of the Night Award:  The Collingsworth Family.  Again.  The Collingsworths have really seemed to be the buzz of the convention, and their set last night was apparently no less impressive, especially their acappella rendition of the classic hymn “Take Time To Be Holy.”  This group may just come out of the convention with the biggest jump in esteem and popularity, as people have been gushing over their performances this week.

Complete NQC Schedule Released

The NQC has released their full schedule for NQC 2010, you can find the master schedule here.  Noticing in the evening concerts that the Collingsworth Family, Crist Family, Ball Brothers, and Liberty Quartet all are making mainstage appearances.  Nice to see these up and coming groups continuing to get some love from the NQC!

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