You’ve surely been discussing what Southern Gospel needs to do to survive another generation.
We have, too. After all, the younger we are, the more we have to lose if Southern Gospel vanishes or morphs beyond recognition. Here are five observations:
1. Recognize and retain what makes Southern Gospel unique musically. Please don’t think you have to sound just like CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) just to reach the kids. If we wanted to listen to CCM, we would listen to CCM. (Besides, CCM is trying to sound just like pop and rock. Why would we want to read a mimeograph of a mimeograph? Oh, I forgot. We’re not supposed to know that word!) We have more music at our fingertips than any previous generation could have even imagined. If we wanted, we could be listening to something else in two seconds.
But something brought us here.
Maybe it’s rich male quartet harmonies. Maybe it’s tight family blends. Maybe it’s the simpler, piano or acoustic-driven tracks.
Yes, we know that genres change over time. But let’s not change this genre so much that all it shares with its heritage is a name.
2. Recognize and retain what makes Southern Gospel unique lyrically. If we wanted the all-too-often mainstream, tolerant, contemporvant, situational, or double entendre lyrics CCM offers, we would listen to CCM. But since we’re here, it’s safe to say most of us are here to hear the solid, Biblically grounded lyrics that proclaim the authority of the Word of God and the core truths of our faith.
We’re entirely in favor of an innovative idea that shares the Gospel in a way we have never heard it before. Just don’t get so innovative that the Gospel gets sidelined!
3. Recognize and retain what makes your group unique. Master and perfect it. If you are Voices Won, don’t try to be Brian Free & Assurance. Be the best Voices Won that ever stepped on stage. If you’re Tribute Quartet, don’t try to be Triumphant. Be the best Tribute Quartet that ever stepped on stage. If you are Freedom, don’t try to be the Gaither Vocal Band. Be the best Freedom that ever stepped on stage.
Capture the essence of what makes your group unique. Refine it. Perfect it.
In this YouTube generation, where virtually every group in the world is a few keystrokes away, it’s easier than ever to blend in with the pack.
4. Talk to us. Engage us on social media, perhaps on your website, perhaps via email.
How good you are musically will probably determine if we hear you for the first time. But more than ever before, whether we connect with you at some level beyond liking a song will determine whether we’ll be back.
5. Live the life offstage that you portray on stage. It was easier to hide things before the days of Facebook, Twitter, forums, and blogs. But in this social media generation, if there is something you would not want us to know about, don’t do it.
Will Southern Gospel survive another generation?
The answer is in as much in your hands as it is in ours.
Daniel J. Mount
Do I have any co-signers?
And do I have any young-at-heart honorary co-signers?