This past weekend was quite controversial in the Southern Gospel Community as the schedule for the 2018 National Quartet Convention was released. As has been the case the last several years, fans scoured the schedule looking to see when/if their favorite artists were on the schedule for Southern Gospel Music’s Premeire Event. There were quite a few names missing, but none bigger than The Booth Brothers. Voted Trio of the Year for the past 10 years consecutively by readers of The Singing News, it came as quite the shock to many fans that their favorite artist would not be part of the schedule.
One post on Facebook concerning this topic received over 400 plus comments from fans, artists, and other industry leaders. Some expressed their disappointment, others voiced their frustration and accusations. As a fan I am a bit disappointed; the Booths are my favorite SG artists because musically they are unlike any current artists in our genre. However, things like this happen and seem to be happening more frequently in recent years. Other artists who will not be a part of NQC 2018 are The Collingsworth Family, Brian Free & Assurance, and The Browders to name a few.
I want to try and be as fair and impartial in this post as I possibly can so I want to present both sides of the issue. For the organizers of the NQC, it is impossible to generate a program that will please everyone. There will always be fans complaining about artists who are not on the program, its part of the territory that comes with organizing an event. One board member, Mark Trammell, weighed in on the situation saying “Real truth…. REAL truth…. They (Booth Brothers) were invited. Not once, but twice. Real truth… Undeniable truth…. If you don’t see an artist on the schedule, don’t assume its the fault of the “board.” It might be that the “artist” just isn’t interested in spending the extra time away from home. They may have “outgrown” certain events. Or at least they think they have.” Now the board invites the artist, but the artist may reject the invitation. Maybe its not advantageous to them financially, maybe they just would rather stay home or they already have been booked elsewhere. I’m not saying thats the situation here because I do not know but those are usually the reasons given.
But here’s what I do know, the groups who are getting featured the most at NQC happen to be the groups whose members are on the NQC Board of Directors (Greater Vision, Mark Trammell Quartet, Jim Brady Trio, Hoppers, Second Half Quartet). As a fan, when I see that the Booth Brothers are not on the main stage, but the Second Half Quartet has two slots, which is a secondary group with 3 members of Greater Vision and Trammell himself in the group, something doesn’t seem right to me. Certainly there are other artists who would benefit from time on the main stage (Master’s Voice, The Williamsons, just to name a few), yet the board has the authority to decide who goes on the main stage and they have made their decision.
As consumers, we all have the right to voice our opinions about a product. Whether good or bad, we live in a free country with and we have the right to voice our opinions freely. Except if you’re a Southern Gospel Music fan on social media. Many artists and their family members took to the defense of the board, basically sending the message “if you don’t like it, don’t buy a ticket and stay home.” Certainly they have the right to voice their opinion as well, but the bottom line is this. These events are only gonna stay around as long as the fans do. No matter your opinion, alienating your fan base is never a good move. Politics always rears its ugly head and it ultimately never has a good result. For many fans, this is the first time they have witnessed the politics of the NQC Board on full display. Below is Trammell’s full post, which I believe is important to read in its entirety.
“Real truth…. REAL truth…. They were invited. Not once, but twice. Real truth… Undeniable truth…. If you don’t see an artist on the schedule, don’t assume its the fault of the “board.” It might be that the “artist” just isn’t interested in spending the extra time away from home. They may have “outgrown” certain events. Or at least they think they have. Haters are gonna hate. I have been on both sides of this fence. Spent almost 44 years “paying my dues.” I sometimes get sick to my stomach hearing what some of you think you deserve. All the while, you don’t mind at all berating someone who has paid their dues and honored God to the best of their ability. Even some of you go to the exaggerated extent of acting like you know what you are talking about. And you don’t. NOT At all. I will defend to my grave the men and the process. They care FAR more than any of you would even be aware. I challenge any of you to sit in that room and watch as these men labor over what should be easy. All of this garbage is the core of the reason that the world no longer will even look toward a “Christian.” I even wonder if satan is anymore concerned about stopping us. All he needs to do is sit on the sidelines and watch us destroy each other. Such a sad day for me… Oh and by the way. I’m saying this as one of the “old timers.” I am in no way saying this on behalf of the NQC board of directors. They are Godly men and they certainly do not deserve this kind of garbage. I’ve never been ashamed to tell my Tax preparer that I’m a Gospel Singer. Please, Please don’t make me change my mind. Proverbs 17:10 thru 13. It would behoove ALL of us to spend our energy telling people that Jesus is coming and it will likely be soon.”
Although Trammell may claim he was “not saying this on behalf of the NQC board of directors”, he is a member of the board of directors and his statement is very telling of a/the board members attitude towards the fans, the ones who financially & physically support this event. This is not the first instance of an artist telling a fan, “If you don’t like it, don’t come.“, and it won’t be the last. I agree that some comments were made in a negative, possibly hateful manner. Criticism that is not constructive is just complaining. However, if you are paying for a product you should not be shamed because you voiced your opinion/displeasure with the product. Will the board listen? Do they care about the fans opinions? Obviously they are hearing the negativity but they do not seem to be interested.
So this begs a question. As a fan, why should I continue to support an event where my opinion is not valued? There are so many other things that a person can do with their time instead of paying for traveling expenses, accommodations, meals, NQC event tickets, and product from their favorite artists. In fact, staying home and not attending (and now buying the webcast) could save families quite a bit of money. Perhaps, the board of directors should think about that as well. Regardless of who is or is not there, NQC will go on.
In my opinion, there is an understanding that must take place with both NQC and the fans. The Board/shareholders need to understand that their event’s existence is not guaranteed, fans do have a choice of where they can spend their money and they may choose not to support NQC in 2018 or beyond. Continuing down the current path of apathy towards public opinion is not wise. Not everyone is right, but someone might just be. For the fans however, they need to understand that the board runs the show. They’re gonna do what they want and if the fans really want their opinions taken seriously, they might need to take a year off to send a message to leadership. The board might have to change course if attendance drops dramatically. Change needs to happen and the sooner it doesn, the brighter the future for NQC. You don’t have to agree, It’s Just My Opinion.