Keeping the Gospel in Gospel Music

Last night, Michael Booth did an online presentation on Keeping the Gospel in Gospel Music. It was a paid workshop, presented in conjunction with the American Society of Gospel Music.

He began with the story of how he became involved in Southern Gospel music. The Booth Brothers first sang together in 1989, singing part-time through 1995. At the 1994 Grand Ole Gospel Reunion, Eddie Crook offered them a recording contract. They turned it down. In the following year, it got harder to tour part-time and work a regular job. In 1995, Ronnie and Michael decided that if Eddie Crook offered them a contract at the 1995 Grand Ole Gospel Reunion, they would keep going—and if not, they would disband. Eddie Crook offered the contract, and they went full-time.

Things started slowly for them, but took off once “Still Feelin’ Fine” caught Bill Gaither’s attention, and they became Homecoming Tour regulars. But after several years, Michael started to realize that he was running on raw talent, and running dry.

Several years ago, a friend (Darrell Toney) challenged him. “”Michael, I love you, but I gotta tell you some things.” He told Michael that he was shooting from the hip; he had to get in the word, get a deeper grounding in theology and doctrine. He needed the power of God and of the Gospel in what He was saying. He was using the effectiveness and anointing of songwriters who were in the Word and wrote the words, without studying the word of God himself.

Booth observed, “If you’re born again you’re going to grow in the Word. And if you grow in the Word, you’ll look for the Word.”

As he started getting into the Word, he became very aggressive in his presentation. He was inspired in part by Paul Washer, but then he realized that Washer had an hour and a half to do heart surgery, but concerts only allowed ten minutes. He realized that he had to be concise, and to approach topics appropriately for his venues.

After about twenty-five minutes of an introductory talk, he took questions for nearly another hour. He was amazingly candid in his answers, admitting areas where he’s currently struggling and questions he can’t answer. He discussed theology, songwriting, culture, and even answered a few lighter-hearted questions.

It was a fascinating glimpse into the heart of one of Southern Gospel’s most beloved personalities. Since the audience appeared to be largely fans, more than performers, it was more a glimpse inside Southern Gospel than a challenge to those already in the genre.