As a young child, I remember going to the National Quartet Convention in Nashville, TN. When I was very young, 4 or 5 years old, I remember seeing glimpses of groups like the Rambos, Hinsons and JD Sumner and Stamps electrifying the stage at the old Municipal Auditorium.
Fast-forward a few years later and the 80â€™s were when my interest for music, particularly Southern Gospel music, sparked into a full blown obsession.
NQC was still in Nashville, and groups like the Nelons, Gold City Quartet, Kingsmen, and a newly formed quartet called the Gaither Vocal Band mesmerized, inspired, and set my brothers and myself on a journey.Â
It was a journey to be a part of something wonderful beyond the walls of a little Methodist church in Missouri and music was our key. I wonâ€™t further bore you with my walk down memory lane, but I do feel that a little bit of history gives perspective.
Itâ€™s been a part of my history, my perspective of what great music is all aboutÂ and the history, but more importantly future, of Southern Gospel is interwoven with this very important gathering as well.
Make no mistake; the NQC is still the premier, pinnacle event in Southern Gospel music. Every other event simply fades into the background in comparison. It would be accurate and honest to state that the temperature/health of Southern Gospel music rises and falls with the successes and failures of this event.Â
And what is the temperature of Southern Gospel music? Itâ€™s a somewhat complicated answer to a very simple question. Sadly, I feel that the Southern Gospel genre is on the decline.Â Not because it isnâ€™t one of the greatest forms of American born music filled with decades of history and talent, but rather due to neglect of one huge percentage of the population. The young.
One can argue that the NQC â€œpowers that beâ€ do attempt to attract a younger audience, but I believe it is somewhat disingenuous. Further, I feel that the NQC and Southern Gospel are guilty of the â€œday late and a dollar shortâ€ saying in regards to youth involvement of the industry and event. Does that mean Southern Gospel and the NQC is doomed? I believe that question is yet to be definitively answered.
Within my series of â€œblogs and ramblingsâ€ I will attempt to play the role of King of Southern Gospel. Instead of pontificating about the woes of the NQC or SG industry, I will attempt to give free, very practical advice on what I would do if I were in charge of the industry and convention. None of my solutions are short term fixes, band-aids will not help.
Long term solutions for long term results is the only way to insure this great music will remain alive for generations to come. By offering what I feel are real world, practical solutions could quite possibly change the course of a great genre of music. Could I be completely wrong, arrogant, and out of touch with reality? Possibly, but I really donâ€™t think soâ€¦.
Stay tuned for more from Tim Mills next month. Comments or suggestions? We’d love to hear them!
The National Quartet Convention is a week of Southern Gospel concerts held in the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center, Louisville, Kentucky. Billed as “Gospel Music’s Largest Annual Event”, the September festival draws thousands of fans, artists and industry personnel. More information can be found atÂ http://www.natqc.com/
Tim Mills, member of The Southern Brothers, has been in and around Southern Gospel for most of his life. Over the next few months, Tim offers his unique perspective on the event, the industry, and Christian music in general.