Has the gospel music industry abandoned its ‘roots’?

Has the gospel music industry abandoned its ‘roots’?

I’ve been wrestling with this for a few years and I want some of you in the music industry to try and help me out, here. Maybe this isn’t the forum and direct to whichever/wherever it happens to be…Roots Gospel music is banjos and fiddles?!? The Recording Academy created the Roots Gospel category to: “provide a category for traditional Southern gospel and other “roots” gospel albums as both a protector of the heritage of this music and an acknowledgement of the growing interest and support of these genres.”

The parameters for nomination consideration are straight forward which easily explains why black traditional gospel artists have almost never been considered: 
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of newly recorded, vocal, traditional/roots gospel music, including country, Southern gospel, bluegrass, and Americana recordings.

The rub seems to be access to the music. If traditional black gospel music isn’t on the airwaves, most people don’t even know it’s available. But what about black quartets that travel and sell hard copies of their cd’s each weekend? Is it an accounting issue? Does the gospel community seem interested in helping artists thrive? Should artists expect more from GMWA and SAGMA or are they on their own? 

Since its inception in 2015, past winners include: The Fairfield Four (a legendary black quartet), Joey + Rory and Reba McEntire. The gospel music community seems disinterested in the preservation of its roots in its quest to increase its foothold in the mainstream marketplace. Meanwhile, traditional artists not named Pastor Shirley Caesar or Bishop Rance Allen (two artists beloved artists) sometimes struggle to remain visible in this new industry. The sound of the church choir has also been replaced by smaller ensembles and “praise and worship” artists who sometimes change their sound and group composition in hopes of recording deals and radio airplay. 

I’m not sure how the gospel community solves this problem. I can’t even guarantee that as a whole, the industry is concerned with engaging The Recording Academy about it or increasing awareness within the gospel community. In the meantime and for another year, the Roots Gospel Category is not reflective of its roots. 

Read about gospel music’s roots in Bob Marovich’s “A City Called Heaven”

This year’s nominees in the Roots Gospel Category are: 

      Jason Crabb

 Clear Skies
      Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

• Favorites: Revisited By Request
      The Isaacs

• Still Standing
      The Martins

• Love Love Love
      Gordon Mote

Exactly which ‘roots’ are we talking about, here?!? I mean because Thomas A. Dorsey was a blues musician before he changed his tune to what is now known as gospel so, I have three questions:

1) Why is roots gospel being defined as roots, Americana and Southern Gospel which are not a form of gospel music. Those genres closely resemble country music. 
2) Why don’t we see any black quartet/traditional gospel groups in the category?
3) Are the Blind Boys of Alabama the only black gospel quartet the Academy considers in this category? What are we missing?

It needs to be said, the GRAMMY Awards and the Recording Academy are not the Stellar Awards or SAGMA. They have very different criteria, respectively. However, are we at an impasse when we seek to define what roots gospel music is? Apparently, Roots gospel music is not traditional gospel music or “Quartet” music. 

Isn’t “Roots Gospel Music” the kind of music, Melvin Williams has been recording the last few years and two albums?!? He’s got a whole documentary about it. But the banjos and fiddles are at it again in the ROOTS Gospel Category. Don’t use the excuse about “it’s on the artist and their team.” It is, but this is where the gospel industry continuously comes up short! Another instance of suburban sprawl…while the industry went chasing a ‘mainstream’ sound and discounted a real connection with listeners in the church, we don’t even have consideration in the most basic category, AGAIN!

Our recap of the 48th Annual GMA Dove Awards

Our recap of the 48th Annual GMA Dove Awards

On last week, our correspondents descended upon the campus of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee for the 48th Annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. The night celebrated every genre and sub-genre within the Christian and Gospel music communities.

Full 2017 Dove Awards recap

Continuing its trend toward diversity, the award show made sure to not only award but showcase the various genres throughout the show and pre-show.

Believing that though the genres and musical styles differ, the message of Jesus is what they all have in common. This year’s theme was “Sound the Remedy” and GMA President and Executive Director Jackie Patillo said of this year’s event:  “We believe that Jesus is the remedy. This is an opportunity for us to come together as a united front and proclaim the name of Jesus. We’re celebrating our Christian soldiers on the front line.”

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners. You can watch the telecast and re-broadcast on TBN.

For a detailed report, visit our radio division which was on hand for the night’s festivities. 

Karen Peck & New River Win Big At 47th Annual GMA Dove Awards

Karen Peck & New River Win Big At 47th Annual GMA Dove Awards

agpublicity2014Popular Group Also A Featured Performer During Gospel Music’s Biggest Night


Grammy Nominated Southern Gospel powerhouse Karen Peck & New River was honored at the 47th Annual GMA Dove Awards. The popular family quartet took home two trophies at Gospel music’s biggest night.

The group won its first Dove for Southern Gospel Artist of the Year during the pre-show, and later in the evening wonSouthern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year for their #1 hit single “I Am Blessed”. Group founder and namesake Karen Peck Gooch won an additional trophy for co-writing “I Am Blessed” with critically acclaimed writers Kenna Westand Michael Farren.

Karen Peck Gooch responded, “We are very thankful and honored to receive these GMA Dove awards. This year Karen Peck & New River is celebrating 25 years of ministry. We have had a lot of incredible moments over the years and today will definitely be one of the most special. We are so grateful to the Lord for this season in our ministry. As the song says, ‘We are blessed beyond measure.'”

Karen Peck & New River was also honored to be a featured performer during the program’s main show. The group was featured on the song “Amazing Grace” during the Gospel Music Hymn Sing portion. Other performers featured during the segment included the Isaacs, Greater Vision, the Kingdom Heirs, Joseph Habedank, and more.

The trend-setting group has won a total of six Dove Awards in its storied career. Most recently this year, the group’s critically acclaimed recording Pray Now was nominated for a Grammy Award and won Album of the Year at theAbsolutely Gospel Music Awards this past April.

The group will be returning to the studio to record the follow-up album soon. The group’s current single, “Calling”, recently spent two weeks in the #1 spot on the AbsolutelyGospel.com Top 40 Weekly Chart, the Southern Gospel industry’s most watched weekly chart.

To learn more about Karen Peck and New River go to :

You can follow the group on Facebook or on Twitter

About Karen Peck and New River
No doubt the most popular mixed trio in Gospel Music, Karen Peck and New River is a music powerhouse in the music industry. With hit after hit and multiple number one songs, they are one of the most sought after groups today. Karen is known country flair and for having possibly the finest soprano voice in any genre of music. Karen was also recipient of the Susan Unthank Memorial Award, an award given by Absolutely Gospel Music only to women who have excelled in their work in a man’s world. Karen had a feature role in the hit movie “Joyful Noise”, starring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah. New River’s hit song “Four Days Late” has become a classic in Gospel music.


Award-winning Jeff & Sheri Easter Garner Two 2016 DOVE Award Wins

Award-winning Jeff & Sheri Easter Garner Two 2016 DOVE Award Wins

GRAMMY® -nominated Group Honored for Album and Song at the 47th Annual GMA DOVE Awards
Two-time GRAMMY® nominated and multi-award-winning Jeff & Sheri Easter were honored with two 2016 GMA DOVE Award wins at this year’s awards ceremony held Tuesday evening at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
The group took home award honors for Bluegrass/Country Album of the Year for Small Town, Celebrating 30 Years of Music & Marriage (Spring Hill Music) as well as Country Recorded Song of the Year  for their No. 1 radio hit “Small Town Someone (Lunch), written by Sheri Easter, Kenna Turner West and Jason Cox.
“It’s so exciting to receive something like this for our celebratory 30th anniversary project,” stated Sheri.  “The entire project is about the simple offering of oneself to God’s work and watching how He multiplies those gifts into something big. I’m so grateful after all these years that our music still touches lives!”
The Small Town recording, produced by Jeff and Sheri Easter, Madison Easter and Greg Cole, features 11 songs, several of which were co-written by Sheri along with some of Nashville’s most noted songwriters. 
“To receive a DOVE Award for a song I’ve written WITH Sheri is one of the greatest honors of my career,” stated acclaimed songwriter Kenna Turner West.  “Fifteen years ago I was a new songwriter at Spring Hill, and Jeff and Sheri Easter recorded my first cut.  That song became my first single, my first No. 1 hit and my first DOVE Award nomination, ironically in the same category as this win.  To be able to write WITH Sheri for their group after all these years and to have this song be received like it has been this year from the No. 1 song to this DOVE Award is one of the greatest moments of my career.  It is indeed an honor.”
Small Town Celebrating 30 Years of Music & Marriage is exclusively distributed by Capitol Christian Distribution and Universal Music
Jeff & Sheri are the recipients of eight GMA DOVE Awards, 15 Singing News Fan Awards, three Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music Association Awards and two International Country Gospel Music Association honors.
For further information visit www.jeffandsherieaster.com or Twitter.com/@JSEaster orwww.facebook.com/jeffandsherieaster.  For further information about the Gaither Homecoming family of artists visit www.gaither.com.
Two-time GRAMMY®-nominated Jeff & Sheri Easter are Gospel music treasures, featured regularly on the Gaither HOMECOMING videos and international HOMECOMING tours, in addition to their own heavy schedule of appearances.  Jeff & Sheri are the recipients of eight GMA DOVE Awards, 15Singing News Fan Awards, three Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music Association Awards, two International Country Gospel Music Association honors, seven AGM Ovation Awards, 16 Voice Awards, four Southern Gospel Music Fan Fair Awards, five SGN Scoops Diamond Awards, four Hearts Aflame Awards and three Cash Box Awards.
Spring Hill Music Group/Gaither Music Group
The SMG Report