6/11/2008

an honest living, I hope

thoughts from the couch of kenny bishop |

Since I've worked in both the professional performance and political fields I've noticed quite a few similarities between the two. Like many other gospel singers and most politicians, I've lived a good deal of my adult life in public view. I can't speak for any of the above, but sometimes there is that part of me that wishes I'd never stepped on a stage.

As big a ham as I am sometimes, most days I prefer to avoid the spotlight. Maybe it's because of the scrutiny that's attached. Maybe it's just because I prefer to let others who really want it have it. I've enjoyed the applause and the pats on the back. I've had my picture taken with thousands of "fans" over the years and developed a really stylish autograph that works on just about anything. I've seen my face on TV and recordings and billboards and t-shirts and trading cards and plates and buttons and hats and more.

As much as a southern gospel singer can be famous, I have been. When the really popular peeps in the business know your name, even better, know your number, you sorta figure you're one of them. It's a place that a lot of the aspiring want to be. But if you're going to be, be careful.

Even back when our group was enjoying great success I'd ask myself from time to time if we were selling something that should be given away. Were the folks who managed our datebook really pimps? I'll say here that of the many good people we had business relationships with, the men and women at our booking agency were absolutely the most honest, reliable people of integrity of them all. Even though I brought them up, they are not the subject here.

Maybe there was something underneath everything that I wasn't aware of back then. Maybe our music, our performances and our presence was the product. Maybe it wasn't the message we were selling after all. If that's the case I feel relieved. Maybe everyone else understood it but me. Maybe I'm telling on myself for saying I really believed we were offering sacred, eternal things only to people who could afford it.

I don't question the intent of anyone who ministers professionally. I certainly can't pass final judgement on their motivations. Maybe they've successfully come to grips with making a living using music, performance and personality that just happens to speak to deeply spiritual things - sorta like the free Twinkie that you get only if you buy the other two.

I can't imagine I'm the only person who's asked these sorts of questions or had these kinds of thoughts. Maybe saying it draws attention to the elephant in the room. Maybe ignoring it allows the emperor to keep struttin' his stuff.

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