When selecting material for a project, should a Southern Gospel group select the best new songs possible?

Well, of course, you might think. But it’s not that simple.

Thirty years ago, that literally happened. When the LeFevres, Happy Goodmans, or Florida Boys were about to head into the studio to cut a new recording, they selected the best possible new material to fit their group’s sound. Literally. Even if a few of those had been cut by other groups.

And if they were the best new songs for their sound, why not?

So let me repeat the opening question. Would Southern Gospel be better off today if groups selected the best song possible?

In the last two decades, Southern Gospel has borrowed secular rock and pop’s formula of treating a good song as belonging to a particular group. But why can’t some songs belong to the genre?

David Bruce Murray has a good post up currently about dominant radio singles being dead. [EDIT, 6/6/12: Broken link removed.] That’s a flaw of the system, not of the songs. It’s only a few per year—just like in the good old days, incidentally—but there are songs out there that are good enough that a dozen groups could record them without the song losing any of its power. Take Legacy Five’s “Faithful to the Cross.” It’s that rare song that fits anything from a high school graduation to a wedding to a funeral.

Would Southern Gospel be better off if we forget the formulas that gave secular rock and pop their (lately-economically-crumbling) place in the sun, and go back to the formulas that got us to where we were in the 1960s and 1970s?