It’s Just My Opinion: My Thoughts On NQC 2018

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.

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It’s Just My Opinion – The $20 CD???

I haven’t written an editorial piece in a while so I decided to fire up the old keyboard and write one. I did not attend this year’s National Quartet Convention (NQC) in Pigeon Forge, TN, but I had several friends who attended. One subject that I wanted to bring up is one that has really puzzled me for some time, the $20 cd.  I had asked a friend if he purchased a certain cd that had been receiving some hype. He replied that he did purchase the cd but mentioned he paid $20 for it. Now, we fans know that the standard cd price is $15, and it’s been $15 since cd’s first came on to the marketplace in the 1980’s.

I also know, as someone who has made several recordings in the studio, that there is a great cost involved in recording a cd. Everything from paying for studio musicians/leasing sound tracks, studio time, songwriter royalties, duplication, photography, graphic design and endless other things that come with recording and releasing a project, can amount thousands of dollars being spent. However, I consider $20 a steep price for a cd that is in a cardboard sleeve that probably cost $2.00 or less to manufacture.

When everyone else at an event like NQC is selling cd’s at the standard $15 and you’re charging $20, it tells me that you’re desperate to make as much money as possible. It’s the equivalent of price gouging, trying to get the maximum amount of money out of people while you have them in front of you. Maybe that works with a majority of our crowd who don’t know any better or don’t care, but there is a segment of fans that will not spend their $20 on a cd when they know they could buy it through at digital music service, like iTunes, or at their Christian bookstore for less.

Do we want to support groups by purchasing their product through them? Yes, but nobody wants to feel like they’ve been ripped off when they see the exact same cd for 5-10 dollars less elsewhere. As bad as I would like to have the liner notes to see who wrote the songs, who played on the tracks and other pertinent information, I would also not like to be wasteful with my money. You don’t have to agree, It’s Just My Opinion.

It’s Just My Opinion: NQC Live 2011 Track Listing Posted

For a number of years, the National Quartet Convention has been releasing live cd’s of some of the year’s best moments. The last couple years have seen a bonus dvd included as well. I just saw the track listing for this years disc, at www.natqc.com in their store, and frankly I’m a little disappointed. Track listing is as follows,

NQC Live Volume 11 – CD/DVD Combo
Tracks Include:
Kingdom Heirs – No Bones About It
Ivan Parker – Twenty-Four Hours A Day
Collingsworth Family – The Resurrection Morn
Kingsmen – He’s Everything I Need – That’s All I Need
Crist Family – I Love Lovin’ Jesus
Jeff & Sheri Easter – Hear My Heart
Tribute Quartet – Homecoming Day
Dove Brothers – I Recall
Talleys – The Broken Ones
Hoppers – All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
Mark Bishop – My Name Is Jesus
Greater Vision – You Were Faithful Yesterday
Legacy Five – Thankful for the Change
Triumphant Quartet – Almost HomeBonus Features:The Dixie Melody Boys Celebrate 50 Years
Antioch Church House Choir

Greater Vision – Looking for a Tenor (aka Looking for a City)

The Perry’s Birthday Surprise!
I Wish I Could Have Been There

Laughin’ With The Swan
Dennis Swanberg

This is NQC!

 
Let me say first that I would, and more than likely will, purchase this cd. It was my first NQC and it was special. Half of this project is good enough, and the bonus DVD material, all but one section, looks great to me.
 
 
Now I know in the last few years, Crossroads has released these projects. 8 of the 14 artists on this cd are under the Crossroads banner. If this was a Crossroads only deal, I could understand why artists like Tribute & the Crist Family are featured. But if this is supposed to be a representation of the best moments of NQC, I disagree with the presence of Tribute, the Crists, and the Dove Brothers. I would have replaced them with the Booths, Mark Trammell Quartet, and The Whisnants or Perrys.
 
I understand there is alot of red tape and much work involved when doing projects like these. It is very possible and even likely that the artists I mentioned or their record companies denied NQC the permission to use their performance on the disc, and that is understandable. Maybe each record company (which is basically only Crossroads, Daywind, & Gaither, to whom the majority of the artists belong) should each put out NQC live performance discs of their artists.
 
I am also highly disappointed that the all star choir that backed Squire Parsons on “Sweet Beulah Land”, will only receive a brief 45 second or more appearance in a compilation video of the weeks best moments, which is called This Is NQC. I would scrap the Dennis Swanberg routine (which has pretty much never changed in the past 25 years), and put the Squire & Friends performance in full as a bonus feature. It was a once in a lifetime moment that people should be able to see in its entirety.
 
You say, man you’re really critical of this. My reason being, when you attend something like this, and you think you heard better moments or better performances, its kinda disappointing the direction they went with the track selection on content they included.
 
But hey, It’s Just My Opinion!

It’s Just My Opinion: Are You Doing Your Part????

I have decided to start a new series of commentary articles, called “It’s Just My Opinion”! This is my first article, and your feedback is appreciated and welcomed!

I was raised on Southern Gospel Music, I’ve been going to concerts for as long as I can remember. Yet I’m troubled by what I’m seeing as a trend in at least my area. Here in the Metropolitan Detroit area, we are not a mecca of Gospel Music, yet we have had great concerts through the years. The Cathedral Quartet was a mere 5 hours away, in Stow, Ohio, and they would regularly come to our area. Through the years, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, and the Booth Brothers  have become some of the most popular artists in our region.

What I have noticed lately is a lack of attendance at many concerts. Now there are a multitude of reasons why attendance is suffering, some answers I don’t have. But because I am a person that trys to think of logical reasons, I put together a list of complaints I hear.  In some cases people say they cannot afford to purchase tickets to the concert or fuel to make the trip, and with the economy the way it is, especially here in Michigan, it is understandable. Then there are some flat-out ridiculous excuses like, “Oh, I heard them once 10 years ago” . Then my personal favorite, “I wish you would have this artist for a concert, i would come hear them“.

So I am going to address these things, one at a time.

1. We all understand the hardship of the economy, and how things are complicated by a lack of income.  Theres nothing to be embarrassed about, many people find themselves in the same situation. I have told people this, and other promoters I know have as well. If you don’t have the funds, but you want to come, call me and talk to me and we will work something out. I remember Michael Booth telling a story about sneaking in to a church to watch the Cathedrals. He said knowing what he knows now, he would have simply told George or Glen he didn’t have cash for a ticket, and they would have helped him. I have no problem helping someone who truly wants to hear the music. There have been great people who invested in my life to fuel that fire of love for Gospel Music, and I want to do the same for others.

But on the other hand, there are some who complain about the price of tickets, I was told recently “I just can’t justify paying that much money to hear a gospel group“. Ok, point taken, $16 is not free. BUT, the same people who complain about a $16 ticket for a gospel concert have no problem whatsoever going to a sporting event or maybe even a secular concert and paying more than $16 for their ticket, but they also pay for parking, concessions, and other amenities. People spend money on things that they like or that matters to them. If you don’t like Gospel Music, that’s your prerogative, but don’t tell me it’s too much money when you spend double or triple the amount on the entertainment you enjoy!

2. The “Oh I saw them once 10 years ago” excuse drives me insane.  I’m glad you saw Greater Vision 10 years ago, but guess what. THINGS CHANGE! They are not the same group they were 10 years ago, they sing different songs, it’s a different experience! I, personally, love the current group, and enjoy them now more than I ever have. Don’t rob yourself of a blessing because you saw a group once in 1997.

3. If i have to book a certain artist to get you in the door, you won’t come, especially if you’re not coming to concerts now! A local pastor I know, who is quite a Southern Gospel fan, has always been vocal about the groups he would like to see in our area, yet when those groups come to sing, he doesn’t support the concerts. Then there are some people I haven’t seen at a concert in a long time, yet I run into them at Tigers games.  I value the input of those who love the music, but if you’re not supporting it NOW, you won’t do it later!

My whole point is this, it doesn’t matter who is singing, if you can go, GO! WE NEED TO SUPPORT GOSPEL MUSIC!!! It always bugs me when I hear local gospel groups from my region talk about how they would love to sing for a promoter yet they don’t support that promoters concerts. If prices keep rising yet attendance keeps declining, this music will only be a memory to those of us who love it. Fellow bloggers, this goes for you as well!! Support Gospel Music in your area!!! We need to do everything in our power to promote and preserve this music for future generations, and if we do all do our part, I believe the Lord could do great and mighty things!

Hey, it’s just my opinion!!!