Gaither's New Women of Homecoming Ventures Outside SG

Gaither's New Women of Homecoming Ventures Outside SG July 26, 2013

Here’s a promo trailer for the upcoming “Women of Homecoming” DVDs from Gaither. Reader Josh VanKlomp has already noted the inclusion of new CCM singer Jamie Grace on the roster, but I’m also seeing other faces like Amy Grant and Kristyn Getty who are outside the realm of southern gospel. This wouldn’t be the first time a Homecoming has included a CCM singer (Avalon performed on a Billy Graham tribute, Natalie Grant has performed on one before, and I believe she is featured here again). However, I feel it’s especially odd to include Jamie Grace, since a) This particular video doesn’t have connections to some personality outside southern gospel, like Billy Graham, and b) Jamie has no connections to southern music and hasn’t even performed a song covered by southern gospel artists (like Kristyn Getty, whose voice introduced the world to “In Christ Alone”). Not only that, but the song she performs (“Hold Me”) has got to be one of the most pathetic offerings of Christian radio in recent years. I can’t for the life of me figure out what she’s doing here. She seems like a pretty girl with a nice voice, and I wish her all the best of luck, but this just isn’t the proper venue for her.

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  • AJ

    While your stab at Jamie Grace sounds pretty harsh, it’s not far off. I kinda think Jason Crabb may have had a hand in that because she is/was on that TBN kids show. To be honest most of those people who sing on their are not all that talented. I saw the show once and the lights and production are what carry the musical performances.

  • Yeah, I really don’t want to come off as personally nasty towards her, because I really do think she seems nice and does have some natural ability. But as a songwriter, she makes a nice singer. I’m absolutely merciless when it comes to judging a song on its artistic merits, and it simply is a fact that “Hold Me” is trite, vapid fluff (I guess that’s redundant, but you know what I mean). I’m not familiar with the TBN kids show, but I’ll take your word for it that it’s worth missing.

  • John Situmbeko

    At least the Hold Me song is a better fit here than the Carmen song on the Homecoming Celebration video, the video Gaither pulled from his vault last year. Honestly speaking, if that video had been released in that same year it was taped, it would have been a big miss. The sound wasn’t that good, the comedy by Lowry was EXACTLY the same as that on the Kennedy Center video released in that very year, and that Carmen song was VERY out of place.
    I don’t mind her presence on these upcoming videos, I’m particularly looking forward to seeing and hearing her contribution on the song The Days Of Elijah, Angela Primm does that on one of the videos and rumour has it that the song went on for 15 minutes as sister Primm encored it several times while in the spirit, kind of like she did the Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody song on Pure and Simple.

  • joshvanklomp

    After doing some sleuthing, I found the following tweets from her:
    Filming with the Gaithers today…. Excuse me while I go giggle in a corner real quick… #isthatcreepy? #dreamcometrue
    martin’s, Isaacs, Amy grant, Gloria Gaither, natalie grant, sandy Patti, Janet pascal, Babbie mason… Who n the world invited me!?! #newbie

  • You say “Ventures outside SG” as if it’s a news flash, but Gaither has been doing that from the very beginning of the Homecoming videos…well, shortly after anyway.
    Also, I would point out that Amy Grant has recorded some Southern Gospel music in the past. She’s not entirely outside SG despite her pop music past. No one called it Southern Gospel because she’s Amy Grant, but it sounded more Southern that anything Janet Paschal has done in the last 15 years.

  • JSR

    I actually don’t mind the song…that being said, I do enjoy a lot of CCM.
    I think I’ve said this before. I’m not always listening to christian music to “be blessed.” I’m looking for clean entertainment. There’s a lot of christian music that I would never sing in church, but I can enjoy hearing it. If you’re looking for a great spiritual blessing, then it’s probably not the song for you. If you want a fun, catchy tune, it’s not bad.

  • I was just trying to think of a quickie headline, and I did mention in the body of the post that Gaither has invited non-SG artists in the past. But I thought my points were relevant that those other artists have tended to be either inspirational (which has really been folded into southern gospel for a long time), country/bluegrass (ditto), or someone invited because the video was deliberately intended to have broader scope (e.g. the Billy Graham thing with Michael W. Smith). I too don’t mind Amy Grant so much because she at least has some connections with country music.

  • That’s actually rather nice. I like her for that because at least she’s self-aware enough to realize what a silly idea it was! But of course, I still think it was a silly idea. 🙂

  • I guess I might not mind so much if she weren’t doing that song. However, I will take your word for it that Carmen was worse! It doesn’t get much worse than Carmen.

  • I don’t demand that every song be a theological disquisition either, but I set a higher bar even for fun, catchy tunes. I want it to have at least a modicum of musical interest and maybe even be (gasp) somewhat clever or fresh lyrically. Think “He’ll Take Care of the Rest” by Keith Green, or “Still Rock and Roll to Me” by Billy Joel. This song don’t cut the mustard on either count.

  • It just occurred to me that I say this a lot of times but folks still don’t seem to get it…. it’s not that I “demand every song be x” or “demand every song sound like y.” Quite the contrary. I’ve listened to so much good music over the years, in so many different areas, that I have a pretty fair notion of what qualifies as good music for all kinds of different genres. So if I say, “This song stinks,” that’s not code for “This stinks as a theological treatise” or “This stinks as a song that could be translated into southern gospel.” I really mean that it just stinks, period.

  • Well, Jessy Dixon came in early on and stayed with the series until his death, and there were numerous others who came and went without really being connected to SG, country, or bluegrass. The Inspirational side of CCM has been more strongly represented, as you say, but a number of those singers didn’t really have a SG connection.
    Kristyn Getty really isn’t that much of a stretch. Her and her husband’s songwriting is more akin to traditional hymn-writing than modern stuff.
    I’m not familiar with Jamie Grace, so I can’t comment one way or the other on her.

  • They did opera???

  • Right. That’s why I said I could see a case for Kristyn.
    Jessy Dixon was black gospel! Black gospel music and southern gospel have been having a conversation for a little while. It’s all gospel to me. I think it’s way more natural to have a black gospel singer come sing something than a black pop singer. Grace just isn’t a gospel singer. It’s not that she’s terrible as a pop singer, but she’s not like Cece or even Whitney Houston.

  • Har-har, very funny!

  • Dan Green

    Well, it’s ok that you may not be able to stand her singing…because while you have a blog in one of the smallest genres of music out there, Jamie Grace is touring with the likes of tobyMac, Chris August, and other huge name Christian artist reaching to thousands and thousands with her ministry every year. So of course it’s ok for you to have an opinion, but she must be doing something right and God seems to be blessing her life. I have been to a concert of hers and it sounded great and even her messages in between songs were amazing and all 5,000 people seemed to have enjoyed it. So I would have to say you’re in the minority. Sorry!

  • Well, I almost didn’t approve this comment. But then I thought, “You know, I haven’t had me some nice smug commentator in a while.” You were just too much to resist. Sorry, but this is going to be extremely painful… for you. Let’s dig in, shall we?
    1. You should brush up on your reading comprehension skills, because I never said she couldn’t sing. I said she couldn’t write (or at least that this particular song wasn’t a shining example of what writing skill she may have). In fact, I actually complimented her voice as naturally pretty.
    2. You mention the fact that she tours with TobyMac like that’s supposed to impress me. Unfortunately, you picked the wrong person to impress, because I know what actual musical artistry sounds like, and TobyMac ain’t. But then again, as Paul Simon (#realartist) said, when a person grows up eating junk food, you can’t always expect them to appreciate fine cuisine. I’ll give you that Chris August is talented.
    3. Your entire comment smacks of prosperity teaching, like if you’re a great singer God’s automatically going to bless you. I personally know someone with twice Jamie Grace’s singing talent and about five times her writing talent, and guess what? She’s singing to coffeeshops, not packed-out arenas. Maybe God’s just not blessing her enough. Or something.
    4. Your comment is also false when read the other way around, that if you’re popular it must mean you’re extremely talented. In reality, it’s more likely to mean that the right person discovered you at the right time. In other words, luck. Christian music isn’t exempt from this factor.
    5. It’s pretty ridiculous to try to come in and shut down a conversation about the substantive merits (or non-merits) of a piece of art. Intelligent people should be able to have a reasonable discussion about such things, even when the topic is Christian music. I realize this is going to come as a shock to you, but God cares whether or not the art we create is excellent. Just because he uses something that’s mediocre to make somebody feel good doesn’t mean that artistic quality should a non-factor for Christians. God uses all kinds of things, but just because he does shouldn’t place them beyond criticism.
    6. I can’t finish up without getting in a little chuckle at your touchingly pathetic ignorance of southern gospel’s history and influence. Although it’s true that people aren’t talking much about southern gospel as a genre now, it has a very long, rich tradition, and there was a time when it was the hottest thing in town. Ever hear of Elvis Presley? He took southern gospel quartets on the road with him, and people went crazy over them. Do you have any idea how many country singers grew up on southern gospel? Do you realize that Bill Gaither has had people on his videos who are among some of the finest musicians in the country? For that matter, do you have any clue how many videos Gaither sells in an average year? Hint: a lot. But putting ALL that aside… why are we even talking about size as if that’s any true measure of significance, artistic or otherwise? We’re back to the prosperity thing again.
    All right, enough for now. I shouldn’t have spent as much time as I did on that comment, but now that it’s out there I’m going to go do something more profitable. Enjoy your day.

  • John Situmbeko

    After the comment by Dan Green below I had to see what the fuss was all about, so I went to youtube and found the Hold Me video, I take back my words, it doesn’t fit on the Gaither project. Yes the video has like 5 million views and has several award nominations, but really, if that song is a top charting song in her genre……

  • Dan Green

    Not trying to impress you with a fact that she tours with tobyMac…just stating a fact that touring with him is a pretty great accomplishment in gospel music. Again you can not like his music buuuuut he was the first Christian artist to top the billboards in like 20 years. So again you are in the minority. And second, I never said if you can sing well God will bless you…if you’ll read correctly I stated that “she must be doing something right” (yes I quoted myself) Thirdly, yes southern gospel has a VERY successful and rich history in the past. IN THE PAST! Southern Gospel is my first love and I’d rather listen to Signature Sound sing in perfect harmony then go to you fill in the blank CCM group. My whole statement was just to state that while you are bashing on her God IS BLESSING her life as she is singing in front of thousands of people all year and she is doing a great job spreading the gospel. That was my only intent in the statement. Not to say your opinion is bad or whatever you may have thought I was trying to say. If you read my comment again I never even stated she was a great songwriter. So instead of getting all grumpy and saying I had a smug comment why not show God’s love in your articles and comments. In fact listen to Jamie Grace song called Show Jesus and apply it to your own life.

  • Again, you’re just waving your hand at popularity and Billboard sales as if that Means Something. And it’s not that I personally “don’t like” TobyMac, it’s that TobyMac is objectively not a great artist, and neither is Jamie Grace. Touring with him may not be such a great accomplishment depending on what your perspective is. Yes, I do think these things can be measured objectively. Also, why capitalize IN THE PAST as if THAT is supposed to Mean Something? Bach, Handel and Beethoven had a very successful and rich history in the past. Or as you put it, “IN THE PAST.” Why put such great emphasis on the fact that it’s IN THE PAST if the music is excellent? The fact that you seem to place such great stock in numbers, size, popularity and all the rest is indeed telling. I only pointed out the popularity and influence of southern gospel because I was trying to speak your language, but in reality, I don’t believe those things are what matter anyway. Quite frankly, the fact that you’re a self-proclaimed southern gospel fan makes me all the more disappointed in your comments, since I generally expect a southern gospel fan to be less likely to embrace shallow memes about the importance of current popularity.
    I’m in the minority. I get it. But that seems to be all your argument is boiling down to. “Well, you’re in the minority, so, so, so…” So what? So any criticism of a popular Christian artist’s skill must necessarily be taken as personal and “bashing”? So if I say that it’s a disgrace for a bad Christian pop song to be nominated for Dove and Grammy awards, I’m somehow being un-Christlike? So I can have an opinion, but I’ve somehow forfeited my right to say it out loud by writing in a genre that’s not ruling the airwaves at the present moment?
    I will pull the curtain of silent charity over your completely unfounded/uninformed attempts to attack the extent to which I’m serving God in my personal life, which goes far beyond anything I’ve said about you, Jamie Grace, or anyone else in this conversation.

  • Dan Green

    It is not a perspective suggestion about whether or not touring with tobyMac is a great accomplishment. You may not be impressed with it but regardless of your taste it is a great accomplishment. Why would someone say a quartet touring with Elvis was a great accomplishment? Because a MAJORITY of people said it was. If someone did not like Elvis would that person have the right to say “Only in certain people’s eyes can you call Elvis successful?” No. But based on record sales, ticket sales, and popularity you have to call him successful. I personally do not like Elvis’ music and my dad loves him but I can not take away from the fact that he was extremely successful. You may not like tobyMac but you can not deny the fact that in Christian music he is successful and touring with him would be considered a great accomplishment. Art is all based on opinion. I went to a Hoppers concert and there were no more than 200 people. tobyMac and Jamie Grace had over 5000. I enjoyed Hoppers MUCH more but how can I say that it was a more “successful” concert? Toby reached to over 25x as many people with the gospel…and isn’t that the whole purpose of the music?
    I bring up IN THE PAST because you were trying to use SG accomplishments IN THE PAST to counter my saying it is probably the smallest music genre out there. But my point was SG isn’t doing things like it was in the past. The same amount of people who loved Beethoven and those others you listed still love those songs, but SG isn’t still successful as it was in the past so that argument is irrelevent.
    And yes you were being un-Christlike because all I was trying to do is make a statement how you shouldn’t be bashing people on a website the way you do and you called my comments smug and you try to belittle me. That is very un-Christlike. Yes you can have an opinion and I love America for the fact we can have opinions and argue if we’d like but you don’t have to start name calling and such. That was my point when I made those statements. You can have an opinion but state it as opinion not as if what you are saying is fact. Saying “I don’t think Jamie Grace is a very good song writer” and “Jamie Grace song is one of the most pathetic offerings of Christian radio” are two conpletely different things. Let the worldly media make comments like that but you running a “Christian” blog should use a better choice of words should say it how a Christian should. That is all. Have a great day!

  • Normally when we refer to something as a great accomplishment, the assumption is that there must be a great deal of talent, quality or something with objective merit involved in that accomplishment. Justin Bieber has sold millions and millions of records. Is that a great accomplishment? Well it would be if he hadn’t been discovered by sheer luck on Youtube and had actually worked his way from the bottom up with guts and raw talent. As it is, he’s a star not because of his ability, but because somebody shrewdly and rightly guessed they could package him and sell him like soap. That’s not an “accomplishment,” that’s a marketing hit. Now Jamie Grace does have more talent than Justin Bieber, but in terms of talent and ability there are others far more deserving of the accolades and notoriety she’s received, and I believe she’s personally gracious enough that she would admit that herself. There was definitely a similar process of luck involved in her overnight popularity.
    By contrast, look at an artist like Billy Joel. He had to slave in clubs for years, slowly inching forward and gradually building an audience for his music before he finally gained the superstar status he deserved. He wasn’t conventionally good-looking, he didn’t have connections, in fact the first time he tried making a pop record he got ripped off. He just had talent and an incredible work ethic, and he eventually rose to the top because he was just so dang good people couldn’t help noticing it. Now there’s someone who actually “accomplished” something.
    To answer your question about the purpose of Christian music, no, reaching an audience of x number of people is not the WHOLE purpose of Christian music. You’re completely leaving out the importance of excellence in Christian art. Numbers are not the only measure of success. Good art is valuable for its own sake. I’ll give you an example in another field: There’s an incredible painter out there who does still-lifes in the style of the old Dutch masters. But hardly anyone knows who he is. Yet you would be amazed at the quality of his work if you looked up his website. Is he “successful” or not? Well, if you’re going solely on how many people would recognize his name, no he’s not. But if you’re going on the quality of his artwork, I’ll say he’s “successful” and then some. In fact, dare I say, every piece of art he has ever created is a great accomplishment. And it has absolutely nothing to do with how many hits his site has gotten or how many people have bought his paintings.
    I did call your comments smug, because they were. And if you want to complain that you’ve been belittled, I could just as well argue that you came in and belittled me by dissing my blog and my opinion as irrelevant. Now I wasn’t in fact offended that you did that (I was more amused than anything else) but if we’re going to go there, two can play at that game.
    In closing, I would like to ask whether you sincerely believe there can be no objectivity in the way we evaluate music or any other kind of art. Are you really trying to say that one artist cannot be objectively better or worse than another? That it’s all in the ear of the listener? I don’t think you really believe that deep down, because when you think about it that’s a very hard position to maintain. You couldn’t really look me in the eye and tell me that there’s no objective fact of the matter about how Handel’s Messiah compares to “I Love the Way You Hold Me,” now could you?

  • By the way, just so you know, I don’t actually think you’re a jerk, personally. I realize my first comment came off that way, but that was because your first comment was worded in a way that got my back up. I realize that I tend to respond quickly when I’m annoyed and I apologize if I treated you like a troll at first. You may not be a troll, but I do believe your thinking is shallow and confused, and you really need to reevaluate the arguments you’re making. They’re just not cogent or effective at all, and you don’t seem to be considering the substantive points I’m making.

  • Tad Kirkland

    Why can’t all God’s children just get along. Seriously, who cares? And why should it matter more that Amy Grant at least has country connections as opposed to another singer who sings R&B? How about a group of Christian ladies getting together to worship God through good music?

  • You’re assuming “Hold Me” qualifies as good music.
    Sorry, couldn’t resist. Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with a group of Christian ladies getting together to sing music. But if that were all it was, there’d be no reason not to invite just as many CCM singers as gospel singers. There’d be no reason not to invite hardly any gospel singers at all. But it’s a Homecoming video, which understandably makes fans expect something more specific. Things should be what they are.

  • John Situmbeko

    I’ve given it some thought and came to the conclusion that Jamie’s inclusion here is a marketing strategy targeted for the strictly CCM crowd. A lot of SG fans are going to buy these videos, but so will CCM lovers. If you look at the trailer, we southern gospel fans know it’s an SG thing, but CCM fans who have heard little or nothing about Gaither and Southern Gospel cannot tell, especially when they see Jamie, Amy, Natalie, Getty and they hear Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone, Days of Elijah. If I was a huge CCM fan, I would buy the videos after looking at this trailer, and I think that is what Gaither is trying to achieve, because I really can’t imagine him and Gloria placing Jamie’s number one hit on top of their playlist and going for the repeat button everytime it ends.
    With the Gaither show on many networks, including the infamous giant TBN, I predict these videos are going to be high on the charts once people get to see the show .

  • That’s rather cynical, but I fear you may be right. The trailer certainly doesn’t show a proportional balance of CCM to SG to the actual video. In the trailer it’s about an even split, but in actuality the CCM women are far outnumbered by southern gospel. Perhaps that’s because the vast majority of the southern gospel ladies don’t have much face recognition outside of the Gaither fold.
    I don’t mind using marketing strategy to sell more videos. I’m a capitalist through and through. But my sense of artistic integrity rises up in indignation when the quality starts suffering for it, as I think is the case with including Jamie Grace.

  • John Situmbeko

    Well, that’s one of the cons, the quality suffers. But one of the pros is that a new audience gets to be attracted and introduced to Southern Gospel. The SG ladies featured on these videos are highly talented and easily impress. Looking at the track listing of the videos, I’m confident that many listeners will be very pleased.

  • Very true, I’m not officially affiliated with Southern Gospel and I was so confused as to why I was there! Lol. However when Bill Gaither called to invite me after seeing me on The View, how could I say now? The View was another outlet that was odd for me. I performed with Kirk Franklin and Donnie Mcclurkin… I’m not a “gospel” artist but what I loved is that when it came to music it wasn’t about who was in what genre but who was serving the same King. Secular festivals and events always have rappers, rock bands and pop singers performing. I think it’s time Christian music expands to that as well! It’s okay if you’re not rockin to Hold Me, it’s a love song to my Savior and it’s only a plus if someone clicks it on iTunes. However, thanks for posting this blog. I literally had not idea this video existed! Loved watching it, brought back incredible memories. Wish you could’ve been there to enjoy it with us!
    Oh! PS, I have covered southern gospel songs. I used to only sing Babbie Mason and Janet Paschal. My first performance was Janet’s “Born Again” on top of Stone Mountain where people with my skin color weren’t always allowed to go. At 7 years old I got to sing that song for the Easter Sunrise service. A very diverse crowd. Such a blessing!

  • Hi Jamie! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I appreciate it that you took the time. Let me take this opportunity to say that I admire your personal graciousness, and I just want to make it clear that I’ve never had anything against you personally. But if you’ve ever watched the Pixar movie Ratatouille, the trouble is that I can sometimes be to music what Anton Ego is to food—a pretty grumpy critic. And sometimes grumpiness just gets in the way. Looking back over my comments, I can definitely see a couple that I would take back if I could, because they came off sounding too harsh. I do want to reiterate the positive things I said—that you do have vocal talent and that you seem really sweet. I would say too that I think you yourself have written better songs than “Hold Me,” and they might even be songs that mean more to you personally. Sometimes it can be surprising what turns out to be the big hit! I think you’re going to grow as a writer, and I don’t want you to stop honing your craft.
    In my debate with the other commentator, I said that I thought you would be gracious enough to admit that you’ve been blessed with a lot of good fortune in getting your break, and I believe you’re living up to that right now. And that’s something I hear a lot of artists say, so it’s definitely not just you. I remember watching an interview with Garth Brooks of all people where he said that he felt like he got lucky while there were tons of better musicians and singers who never had his opportunity.
    Now that you do have this platform, I think you’re using it to be a good role model for other Christian young ladies, and that’s certainly a valuable thing. I’m glad you made good memories at the Gaither Homecoming. Like you I still wonder how you got invited to that particular taping (and I’m glad you yourself were scratching your head over that because it shows it wasn’t just me!) but I can imagine it must have been a great experience. And you’re completely right that all of you were singing to the same King. Amen to that. All I was saying was that it seemed like a style clash to me. I actually felt the same way about Natalie Grant when I first saw her on a Homecoming. I hadn’t known that you covered a couple southern gospel songs, but I’ll have to look around and see if I can find them out there.
    I wish you all the best, and I know you’ll continue to grow spiritually and artistically in the years to come. Thanks again for reading and for choosing to use your talents in service to God. God bless!

  • Tad Kirkland

    Bill has never tried to pigeon hole himself into one genre and videos have never included or excluded those from a genre. There have been African American bent videos and Bluegrass videos that have included artists from across the board. I don’t see what the ruckus is about now.

  • Both bluegrass music and black gospel are frequently incorporated into southern gospel and feel natural on a Gaither homecoming, as does old-school inspirational pop or the occasional 90s MOR. “Hold Me” never fell into any of those categories lyrically or musically, hence the style clash.

  • thegospelgirl

    Hi everyone! I am not making a yea or nay for Jamie Grace, but I would like to say this. I would much rather hear Anointed Christian music weather it be Contemporary, S.G, Bluegrass, etc… When your in a concert or at church there should be a change in the atmosphere when praise & worship is going on, lives will be touched and changed. So much of the Christian music today has no anointing on, just music with good lyrics. I remember when I was first saved coming out of the world (1985) and heard Christian music for the first time, it moved me! I think some artist use it as a stepping stone to the next level. As far as Amy Grant and Carman (don’t know if were talking about the same Carman) they had some great music. I love Carman’s , The Champion and Lazarus. These songs moved you upward in faith. I love songs that use scripture or stories from the Bible. They are faith builders for sure and in this day and time the Church needs as much faith, hope and love that it can get. Another great artist and his music is so inspired by the Holy Ghost is Phil Driscol, “In His Presence” cd. Years ago I heard this couple sing, The Hawaiins and oh my it was something! There are some people that God calls out and places his hand on them to bring the Church into His presence.