American magazine reports on Southern gospel expanding its traditional audience.

AN ARTICLE in an American trade magazine has documented the unprecedented expansion of interest in Southern gospel music. The article Back On the Map: New Territories Are Opening Up For Southern Gospel in the September 6 issue of Christian Retailing magazine chronicles how the market for Southern gospel exploded when in 1992 Bill & Gloria Gaither launched their series of 'Homecoming Friends' videos. The article spoke about Southern gospel now appealing to younger as well as older gospel music fans. Said Randy Ross, music buyer at an Iowa-based bookshop, "Southern gospel is no longer just four guys in suits singing harmony. The Crabb Family is a prime example. They are to Southern gospel what Nickel Creek was to bluegrass. You don't have to be a Southern gospel fan to pick up a Crabb Family CD and know that this is incredible music. David Phelps, Cross Way, the Martins - they all have Southern gospel roots, but they are not making Southern gospel music [in its original form]."

Ed Leonard, vice-president of New Day Christian Distributors, commented on the geographic expansion of Southern gospel, "maybe it just requires some cross-merchandising, or even renaming the section I'm not sure the term Southern gospel is all that helpful. After all, some of our biggest markets for Southern gospel are Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania." CR

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