Southern Gospel Music Videos

Southern Gospel Music Videos April 19, 2011

When was the last time you saw a really high quality music video from a professional southern gospel artist?
My guess is you’re casting about for an answer right now, because the truth is that there really aren’t that many southern gospel music videos out there, good or bad.
Here are a few that I have found, in no particular order. (Important note: We are not counting Mark Lowry’s many and sundry comedic masterpieces.)
I’m a Jesus Fan (by The Paynes—No comment on the song…)

I’d Like To Go Home Again [Update: This link has been removed] (by The Spencers—Beautifully done. Skip intro, video actually begins around :50.)
Praying (Also by the Spencers—LOVE this one. Again, skip intro.)
Famine In Their Land (by The Nelons—This would be my personal pick of the lot, but it has unfortunately been removed from Youtube.)
Welcome to Heaven (by The Singing Americans—WOW, Clayton Inman looks young!)
This Ole House (by the Cathedrals—Kind of odd, but cute nonetheless.)
Behold the Lamb (by David Phelps—Nice cinematography, but conceptually…meh. IMVHO of course.)
Arms Open Wide (also by David Phelps—Ditto.)
John In the Jordan (by Signature Sound—I’ve always liked this one. Cute stuff.)
Somebody Like Me (by Jason Crabb—Best cinematography of the bunch.)
Feel free to add more in the comments as you think of them. I’m running out myself. The reason this intrigues me is that this is not the case in CCM. From established artists to up-and-comers, it seems that whenever somebody puts out an album, a concept video is created for (usually) the record’s lead single. Not every artist does this, but it seems to be pretty common practice.
Why is this such a rarity within SG? Well, I’m only guessing as to the reasons, but two plausible ones that come to mind are budget and subject matter. First, music videos cost money, and even established southern gospel artists understandably would probably be hesitant to make that kind of investment. Because CCM reaches a wider demographic, my guess is that the average CCM artist’s income is greater than that of the average SG artist. This means that CCM singers have more freedom to create something like a concept video. The thrown-together, low-budget look of the Cathedrals’ “This Ole House” might be some support for this theory, as they were arguably the most popular group in their field at the time, yet inexplicably couldn’t seem to produce something higher quality. (They didn’t even bother to make the singers in the audio match the singers in the video!)
My second thought is that the subject matter of SG songs doesn’t seem to lend itself as readily to concept videos as other genres of music. For example, there are more story-songs in the realms of country and even CCM. Gospel songs tend to be more doctrinally focused, which limits the possibilities for creating something with visual interest. Either that or they deal with biblical stories and characters, which would be difficult to recreate convincingly.
Still, I think myself that it would be fascinating if some of gospel music’s top-tier artists (e.g. GVB, EHSS, Booth Brothers, BFA) began investing in high quality concept videos for selected, appropriate songs as they released new material. What do you think? I can think of some songs already out there that would have been perfect for the purpose. For example, imagine a concept video for Signature Sound’s “Until We Fly Away,” or the GVB’s “Always a Place At the Table.” Or with more recent songs, imagine the possibilities for something like the Booth Brothers’ “I See Grace.”

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  • quartet-man

    The Kingsmen made one on their “You’re not Alone” video I think.and it seems like they did another. Gold City did one for “The Patriotic Medley” Here is one too:

  • Oh my word, how perfectly awful. See that’s part of my point—sometimes when someone in SG does a video, it’s so bad as to be laughable. We’re looking for quality here.

  • The Speers shot one for “City Comin’ Down” that featured cameos from the Singing Americans, including a very young-looking Mike English.
    Speaking of English, he has shot several concept videos for his music, although I guess they could qualify as CCM.
    “I Bowed On My Knees”
    “I Surrender All”
    “Gospel Ship”
    The the Vocal Band shot a video for “America The Beautiful”, but it’s more of just a “singing” video than a concept video….

  • New England gospel fan

    Karen Peck and New River did a decent one for Four Days Late, I first saw it at a Gaithersburg concert they were at. Also not really related the GVB had clips from Even Almighty played when they sang Build An Ark

  • Yeah, I knew English had at least one, but he was in CCM by then as you said, so I didn’t include them.
    I like “City Comin’ Down!” Is that Jimmy Fortune and Jason Crabb sitting at a table together around 3:57? Michael makes his appearance in the red shirt at 2:28, right? He does look young.
    I’d have included that Vocal Band video if I’d thought of it, but like you said it’s not really a concept video anyway.

  • Someone did a video of Until We Fly Away for a class project: [Edit: Josh, I think you accidentally put the wrong link in, so I’ve replaced it with the one I think you meant. Let me know if it’s not it. — YGG]

  • Steven

    I’m not sure why, I know budgets are tight and all, it just seemingly like some in SG have “good ’nuff” syndrome. I’m a huge fan of our music, but look at some of the “quality” products on some of the artists tables with Poor Packaging, Poor Cd Covers, Spelling Errors, Poor mixes ect, but it was still good enough.
    Something else that pops in my mind is that some artists do not have a grasp of technology and the quality that can be produced. While some artists are now making video/music videos in HD…other artists are just figuring out how to use their handy cam – maybe they can open a business 🙂

  • “Good ‘Nuff Syndrome.” I like it. 🙂 But I see what you mean. I’ve run across more than one website for top-tier groups that have misspelled lyrics.
    The technology aspect could be an issue as well. Often I see videos from artists in other genres that technologically are of a very high quality, even though (typically), the songs are mediocre at best.
    What frustrates me is that there’s no shortage of good songs in SG, and some would make great concept vids, but there seems to be little motivation. Another thought I had is the SG demographic. Grandma doesn’t care if the latest Gaither Vocal Band song comes with a concept vid or not, she just likes the song. A genre like CCM is targeting on average a far more youthful audience, who’s going to be perhaps even more attracted by something visual than something auditory.

  • quartet-man

    Yeah, I realize “quality” is what you were looking for, but just concept videos in general are fairly rare. One problem is there isn’t much of an outlet for them like there used to be pop and country videos. Secondly is budget (lack thereof) and also most singers don’t seem to be good actors.

  • quartet-man

    I thought of the Speers before making it back here. YGG, imagine a concept video for “Death Has Died”

  • I like that idea. Ernie is planning to re-cut that one of these days, so perhaps something may happen then!

  • I know, and that was my first point, namely that any kind of concept video is a rarity to start with. I already mentioned the budget issue in my post. Actors is something else I hadn’t thought of. 😉

  • This somewhat goes along with what my recent blog post was talking about too.

  • I must say, I agree with Steven’s comments 100%. Some of what is considered “quality” product today is littered with not just the poor packaging or mixing. It’s the overall approach to recording. Where mainstream (and several top-tier SG groups) will spend months working on an album, many artists are spending no more than a week in the studio, with the mindset of (according to Daniel Mount), “That’ll tune,” or “That’ll phrase,” relying on an engineer to fix a subpar performance.
    I understand the problem of budgeting. It’s an ongoing circle. We can’t afford to create a top-quality product, so we are hitting the road with subpar recordings, resulting in a subpar stage presence, and ultimately subpar flats, which means that they can’t afford to create a top-quality product the next time, and thus the circle continues….
    Then again, perhaps the problem is that SG audiences TOLERATE “good ’nuff” instead of DEMANDING higher quality….

  • I think the phrase you’re looking for there is “vicious cycle.”
    I have not had the kind of experience you’ve had with SG. I imagine that if I listened to a wider range of artists, for as long as you have, I would see what you mean. Myself, I’ve encountered pretty HQ stuff from the likes of the GVB, EHSS, Collingsworth family, Booth Brothers, etc. There are newer groups who seem to have it together too.
    And certainly I’m finding a lot more music that I simply enjoy within the realm of SG than within the realm of CCM today.

  • I think that guy with the mustache at 3:57 is Jeff Easter. Could be wrong, though.

  • I think Aaron’s right.

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  • It’s kind of funny that one year to the day of you publishing this post, Legacy Five posted their concept video of “Ask Me Why”

  • Cool! Thanks for the heads-up.

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  • Famine in Their Land is back on Youtube:

  • Awesome! I wish the audio were higher quality though. I just e-mailed Kelly offering to create a clean audio version instead, but I don’t know if they’ll take me up.