Follow-up: Michael Booth on Declaration

Two days ago, several other bloggers and I posted a mega review of Declaration, the Booth Brothers’ latest CD. Via Nate Stainbrook, tenor Michael Booth sent and gave us permission to post some fascinating follow-up thoughts (via Nate Stainbrook).

He explains why over half of the songs are from other genres:

There are truths that I can’t get to in our concerts because of time. I talk enough as it is, so I cannot take any more time away from the music. I shared this frustration of truths un-proclaimed with my close friend Scott Fowler. He suggested that we sing the truths in songs. Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?

The problem was finding songs that contain certain truths that I was wanting to proclaim, that would fit our audience. One might think that gospel songs cover everything that needs to be covered but I TOTALLY disagree. Many SG songs have fallen short of seeing truths (such as God’s wrath) through in a concise way. I have never heard a SG song address this truth in an effectively concise way. If I did, then I can’t remember.

Fundamental truths are sadly taken for granted and left unclear too often in gospel songs. Now I realize the almost impossible task of clearly presenting some truths in three to five minutes, however I still believe that we can do better. So with Declaration we made an attempt at growing to a new level of intelligible, concise doctrine and theology in music.

. . . We feel good about the truths in Declaration. Our hope is that it will influence others to take note and pursue an effort in growing the level of material on future recordings.

He discussed the choice of Lari Goss as producer:

Someone asked when they heard that Lari produced the recording if it sounded like everything else that Lari does. It made me laugh because that “Lari sound” is why we went to Lari! We wanted it to sound fundamentally like all of Lari’s other recordings—but we believed that we could make it unique enough with our sound and input. Lari is one of a kind.

Another thing is that we recognized the Cathedrals’ Symphony of Praise recording has lasted and continues to sustain its initial impact. Meaning that if Declaration is anything like SOP then it will last and sell a LONG time. That is why we could justify the great expense of this recording. We put three times more money into this recording than for any of our past recordings.

He also addressed an issue Brandon Coomer raised in his summary, the percentage of ballads:

Now the negative issues.

It’s too heavy for simple listening. My mother said that is wears her out to listen to all of it. It does the same to me also. We knew that this would happen. The problem, as one of you said, is that it is an in-your-face-ballad, lyrically-heavy recording. I agree! The problem was that it was almost impossible to find up-tempo songs that could hang with the ballads on this recording.

To ask the average SG up-tempo song to stand beside one of these diamonds would certainly prove to be unfair and would diminish the purpose of a fresh sonic approach. However it was made more challenging to record an up-tempo that would be palatable to our current audience and sonically fit with the Goss ballads. This was one of our greatest musical challenges in our entire career. We “almost” did it. I think at the least ONE more up-tempo would have helped—BUT then we would get into higher production cost, royalties etc. At some point ya just gotta stop! Also…. I just couldn’t find another uptempo song. Not at the time anyway.

So far the recording is working very well in concerts and people are being impacted by the truths. That is all that we could ask for.

. . . Your positive comments are greatly appreciated and any negative comments, I feel, were accurate.

The last sentence is astonishingly humble—after all, this is the Tenor of the Year from the Group of the Year talking to a bunch of (mostly) amateur bloggers. (Even though one of us does have a day job in the industry, all of us run these sites on an amateur basis on our off hours.)

Several years ago, the Booth Brothers started sweeping the Singing News Fan Awards consistently. For the first year or two, they did the typical acceptance speech routine, thanking the fans for their support.

But somewhere along the way, they realized that it could be a God-given platform to challenge the industry to move to the next level. So, for the last year or two, they have been urging groups to bring more Scripture into their concert emcee work. This statement goes even farther, urging groups to carefully re-examine the theology in their songs.

Perhaps more than any previous group who has been Group/Quartet/Trio of the year, the Booth Brothers are redefining what the role can mean. Challenges like this one, if heeded, can reshape a genre into what it could and should become.