Friday, December 07, 2012

The gratitude of Gospel music

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to watch this DVD. It's a huge, staged tribute to Gospel music arranger and producer Lari Goss by a whole slew of Gospel music artists. It was enormously fun with plenty of musical highlights, but what I chiefly want to mention here is what the existence of the project symbolizes about Gospel music--its unabashed, humble, personal thankfulness to the artists of earlier generations. This is by no means the only project that illustrates this. Ernie Haase and Signature Sound have a number of projects that show the same spirit, such as this one, in which the late, great George Younce's solo voice has been combined with backups made by Signature Sound.

The Lari Goss tribute album was the brainchild of Jim Brady of the Booth Brothers. (I'll just come out and say it: The Booth Brothers are my very favorite Gospel music group.) Jim also thought of and put together this project--a tribute to songwriter Squire Parsons. The Parsons album is composed mostly of re-releases of cuts that were already out there. The artists waived all rights to royalties so that the royalties can go to Squire, who has been battling leukemia.

Our country and our world are now increasingly in the grip of ingratitude and the hatred of the past. Everything has to be "progressive," and the universities see it as their job to teach the young to reject America's past and to join in bashing our supposed evil legacy of past -isms. The idea of receiving a torch and passing it on is oh-so-quaint. In commercial terms, of course, everything has to be new-new-new all the time. Change for its own sake.

Southern Gospel music has a different idea. It thinks of itself as constantly receiving and passing on--receiving from the artists of earlier generations and passing on to new generations. We need that idea in every area of life. We need it in literature, in theology, in art, and in cooking. We need mothers teaching daughters their favorite recipes and embroidery patterns. We need families passing on the great hymns of the faith. We need scholars who find themselves speechless with gratitude and joy as they receive the riches of scholarship of the past.

I am grateful myself for the gratitude of Gospel music. It is an encouragement to me to see the unforced and unfeigned love that Ernie has for Glen Payne and George Younce and that Gerald Wolfe (the MC in the Goss tribute), Jim Brady, and all the others have for Lari Goss.

So thanks, gentlemen. Your gratitude is itself something for which to be thankful.

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