Thursday, March 29, 2012

Retro SGM Radio: Southern Gospel's Young Artist Feature - July 2007

Since the beginning of Southern Gospel, groups have consisted of every age, from the old to the young. Second and third generation singers have been brought up through the ranks of family groups like the Happy Goodmans, the Rambos, the Hoppers and the McKameys. Today more than ever, we are seeing a burst of youth on the Southern Gospel scene and these young people are making their mark for their generation. With a desire to reach the lost, hone their talents, and present a fresh new sound, the new wave of Southern Gospel is taking the best of the past and forming it into a style that is finding an increasingly larger audience.

SGM Radio recently talked to some of these Young Gospel artists, and asked them to share their hearts with us. Each one we talked to has their own story to share, just as each has their own style of music and how they see Southern Gospel. We hope you enjoy an insight into the music and souls of Young Gospel.

The questions we asked the Young Gospel artists were: What is the biggest challenge facing your generation in Southern Gospel? And, what is the biggest challenge of having a career in music? Here are their answers.

Stewart Varnado, The Dixie Echoes (pictured above): “I don't really know of any challenge facing my generation in SG. I think it was probably hard for those in the early days of SG, but we've got it made compared to them [eg] Buses instead of cars. Other than being away from home sometimes too much. I can't think of any reason to complain.”

Daniel Ball, The Ball Brothers: “The biggest challenge we face is trying to reach our generation. We have the challenge of bringing in new fans or Southern Gospel music will die out. For us, we'll continue to honor the tradition of those who have gone before us, yet at the same time carve our own new paths with our music. God is constantly opening new doors for us that are bigger than we ever dreamed. We are excited about what the future holds for the Ball Brothers and all of Southern Gospel.”

Jason Funderburk, Driven: “"I feel the biggest challenge facing our generation in Southern Gospel Music is for people to take us serious about what we do. It is easy for me to feel that a good many people look at us like we are trying to change the way it used to be, but in reality we are trying to worship just as they did or in some cases worship period.
"The biggest challenge in having a career in music is that people or fans in general only get to see about 20% of what it takes to travel and be a singer, musician. They see us grace a platform, sing and then talk to people, but the hard part really takes place the week before and after in preparation for a concert, not including before and after a concert.
“If not for the fans and Southern Gospel supporters we would have a more difficult time trying to present our ministries to a group of folks that have never experienced a true anointed filled evening of music and worship".

Kevin Mills, Soloist: “[The biggest challenge facing my generation is] changing Southern Gospel music to fit into today’s market-place without overly compromising the originality of it’s sound. [The biggest challenge of having a career in music is] Ego. This is something that everyone is at risk of in any career but it especially becomes predominant in an overly public profession such as the music industry. I’m not talking about confidence, since there is nothing wrong with realizing and taking gratification for something you feel you accomplish well (i.e. work, job, performance, etc.) . Ego becomes detrimental when it isolates you from those around you. Pride, or thinking about yourself “higher then you ought” really will bring you to a fall. That is why we must run to Christ and realize who we are in Him: A creature created in His image and for His Glory. We were never meant to live our lives pursuing our own motives and careers, but rather to strive to glorify God in all we do.”

Aaron Minnick, The Johnny Minnick Family: “The biggest challenge we face is making sure there will be a ‘Gospel Music’ in the future. We need to do things that will grow the industry, pull in new listeners and carry the Gospel to those who would otherwise not listen to the message.”

Josh Singletary, Tribute Quartet: “I think the largest challenge that faces my generation in Southern Gospel music is getting the older generations to see how serious we are about this music. I come from a generation that is influenced by MANY genres of music - And good music. You can't really get away from the music of today. Everywhere you go, there it is. But, I think sometimes it's assumed that because we are of a younger generation, we let those outside influences influence what our heart truly is...and that’s simply not the case. I, along with many other young people in this industry, TRULY want to see souls saved and to sing God's message through a music that we love - Southern Gospel.
“The biggest challenge in having a career in music, I think, is, well, money - to put it bluntly. It can be pretty tough at times. I've always said, "You have to be called to do this. AND you have to love doing this because, if you're not and you don't, you're nuts!" It really is a matter of trusting the Lord...And he has NEVER let me down. The payoff is out of this world!”

Mike Kofahl, Austin’s Bridge: “I think the biggest challenge facing our generation and Southern Gospel is that there are not nearly enough who know about it. What we
have found is that our generation is constantly bombarded by media encouraging them to listen to anything and every thing but SG music. This is why I feel it our responsibility to reach out to them and show them that there is great music being made in southern gospel,
that caries a message of hope.”

We hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into the world of Young Gospel. Be sure to hear these artists the next time they are in your area and support the next generation of Southern Gospel Music.

By Lorraine Walker
First published July 2007 on

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