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GMA WEEK PROPS AND FLOPS
[ by kim flanders ]

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Switchfoot Welcomes Us To GMA - Click for our photo gallery!The year 2004 marked my first time in attendance at the Gospel Music Association (GMA) Week. I have a lot of friends in the music business that had attended in the past, so I had a small hint of what the adventures would hold before I drove the twelve hours to Nashville. Most of those people are radio and retail folks; my purpose, however, was different. I came as a music fan, as someone with a desire to learn some more about artist management and concert promotion, and as a member of the media.

GMA week is held every year in Nashville, TN and culminates with the GMA Music Awards (originally the Dove Awards). It is a place for all facets of the music industry to connect. I attended the MAPS track for Managers, Agents and Promoters, while also squeezing in time for artist interviews. Music abounds this week between artist showcase luncheons and more showcases all around town at night. I did not make it over to Rocketown, but I heard they were hopping with activity. There are many other outlets in the "Music City" for all variety of music, signed and unsigned artists, to express their craft to the masses.

RadioU's Obadiah Makes A Silly Face - Click for our photo gallery!I entered the week with an attempt to forget all expectations that loomed around my brainwaves. A clear mind was my goal. By the end of the week, as I made the trek home, I had many thoughts and ideas swirling about in the synapses. Some good thoughts, some bad thoughts. Here is the recap as it flowed out of my brain and onto the paper.

Props to RadioU and TVU for having a booth with no walls right at the entrance to one of the main hotels of the event — what a way to be more radio friendly!

Flops to all the other radio stations that broadcast live from the event and hid the bands behind high glass walls during the interviews.

Props to the GMA for the evening showcase of worship at the famous Ryman Auditorium on Sunday night led by Michael W. Smith and Martin Smith (delirious?) with a large choir of big time and small time artists. A small taste of heaven that the attendees will not soon forget.

KJ-52 gives a holla to the press room. - Click for our photo gallery!Flops to the GMA for not letting the guys from Rock and Roll Worship Circus down in front, giving them some instruments, and allowing them to play as well. Was the GMA just hiding them in the back because the band dressed differently than the likes of Amy Grant and Steven Curtis Chapman?

Props to Todd Agnew who, at the World Vision evening showcase, explained that the GMA wanted him to play his popular songs, but he chose to introduce us to some lesser known songs. I just love the non-conformists at the GMA week!

Props to Tooth and Nail for sponsoring a late night showcase. Triple Props for Tooth and Nail artists KJ-52 and Jeremy Camp for scoring GMA Music Awards for the first time ever! Some have speculated that Brandon Ebel, President and CEO of Tooth and Nail Records, has added more "radio friendly" artists for more exposure. All I know is that Tooth and Nail deserves more recognition for some of the best music out there!

Pillar Onstage for Meet The Press - Click for our photo gallery!Props to the GMA for inviting Pillar to play during the awards ceremony. Flops to the GMA for requesting that they perform the acoustic version of "Further from Myself." PROPS to Pillar for not giving in to their whims and adding some rock to the song!

Flops to the GMA voters for granting Mark Hall of Casting Crowns the Songwriter of the Year award. How hard is it for a youth group leader to write worship songs? I know many that do, they just haven't been signed yet!

Flops also for the GMA voters to let Mercy Me win both Artist of the Year and Group of the Year. Why? Can't we spread the awards around a little bit? And besides, wasn't 2002 the big year for Mercy Me with their mainstream success of "I Can Only Imagine?" Well, at least the GMA is not opposed to the whole mainstream "crossover" thing.

As the final thoughts empty out of my gray matter, I will express that all in all it was a good experience, and I would consider doing it again (as soon as my bank account is back up again). I was encouraged throughout the week by the little glimpses of thoughts and ideas that seem to be closing in the gap from what people are listening to and what is considered "Gospel" music.
- Kim Flanders
June 2004

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