Ask any average Southern Gospel fan, and they will tell you that they do not prefer praise songs. At most gospel concerts, if any artist asks a question about liking older songs the audience is going to respond favorably with applause. Audiences in general love the old hymns and traditional worship.
That being said, one thing that really stood out to me when I got back from Silver Dollar City is how many artists are putting a Southern Gospel spin on praise and worship or contemporary songs. And the audiences love it. Of course, I'm sure many of them might not know that it's a "praise" song.
"Jesus Saves" has become a big hit in Southern Gospel for a few groups. It was definitely a highlight of NQC last year when the Booth Brothers took on the song with both Paul Lancaster and Jim Brady and the Collingsworth Family backing them up. When the Booth Brothers sang it at Silver Dollar City, it was a highlight of the night. The LeFevre Quartet has also recorded the song. At one of their shows at Silver Dollar City when it was time for requests, the audience wanted to hear both "Jesus Saves" and "Days of Elijah." Triumphant Quartet recorded an album last year of both traditional and contemporary songs.
It is funny to me that fans who will say they are opposed to modern, praise songs, don't really act that way when their favorite gospel groups are singing the song. It just goes to show that it's not really about style or age as much as quality of song. Longevity doesn't make a song good. A good song will have longevity; it will last for decades and generations to come.
What do you think? Are you a fan of Southern Gospel groups taking on praise and worship?
And just for fun, here's a clip of the Booth Brothers and Collingsworth Family singing "Jesus Saves" at National Quartet Convention last year (courtesy of Diana Brantley's YouTube).