I will admit, I have never been one to say that every worthwhile song can be found within one genre. A number of songs originally recorded by Contemporary Christian Music artists have done quite well in our genre.
These fall into two categories. The first category—perhaps the more common—is where a Southern Gospel artist delivers a rendition vocally and stylistically similar to the original. Examples would be Ivan Parker’s “I Can Only Imagine” (originally MercyMe), Gold City’s “Mercy Came Running” (originally Phillips, Craig, and Dean), and the Talley Trio’s “Orphans of God” (originally Avalon).
The second category, and the one that I find far more fascinating, is when an artist takes a CCM song and completely re-invents it for a Southern Gospel audience. Good examples of this are the Ball Brothers’ “Mercy Said No” (originally done by Greg Long) and the Dove Brothers’ “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb” (Ray Boltz).
Any number of CCM songs could be done like the original in a (somewhat progressive) Southern Gospel arrangement. What songs might work well totally reinvented for a Southern Gospel audience?
Here’s a few that come to mind (with YouTube links in parentheses):
- “Broken and Spilled Out” (Steve Green). A male quartet like the Kingdom Heirs would absolutely knock this song out of the park.
- “Love Crucified Arose” (Michael Card). This could easily be a power ballad, perhaps tenor-led. I could see it fitting the style of a group like Legacy Five.
- “How Deep the Father’s Love” (Fernando Ortega). The McKameys have already done an Appalachian Gospel arrangement of the song. But the song would also be a great male trio song, perhaps in a fully orchestrated rendition with modulations between verses. Such a version would have sounded right at home on Greater Vision’s Hymns of the Ages project, and if they ever do another, it would be a good song to include. (I doubt I’m the only one hoping for a Hymns 2.)
- “The Great Divide” (Point of Grace). This song would probably best be done by a group that uses tight, complex harmonies like the Ball Brothers or the Crist Family.
- “For the Sake of the Call” (Steven Curtis Chapman). I could see this being a male quartet song. A group like Triumphant or the Kingdom Heirs, or a upcoming group like Cross 4 Crowns, could really go somewhere with this one.
- “How Beautiful” (Twila Paris). This one could be done several ways; I could see anyone from Karen Peck & New River to the McKameys turning in a solid performance of the song.
- “The Final Word” (Michael Card). A male quartet recording a Christmas album and seeking something other than the standards everyone else has already done could pick this one up.
- “Come to the Table” (Michael Card). I know, this list has a disproportionate number of Michael Card songs. His lyrics are scripturally based as opposed to situationally based, making them a natural lyrical fit for the SG genre where the melody permits a SG arrangement. On this song, a male trio arrangement is obvious—maybe even a little too obvious—here, since Card’s original recording had male trio background vocals.
- “Why” (Michael Card). One last Card song. I picture the Isaacs singing this one.
What do you think of these? And make your lists below.