Know Your Audience
The Imperials were always out there blazing new trails and singing original arrangements for our fans. We had established ourselves as a group that was unpredictable and that made every new release an instant success. Young people loved our songs because they wanted to hear new expressions of their faith done in a unique way. So many groups played it safe. We didn’t do that. When Greg Gordon joined us in 1970 we were in the middle of the new recording of Time To Get It Together. We were working with a new producer, Michael Omartian, and he brought us some fresh ideas. He had written the song, Jesus Made Me Higher which debuted on this project. He also put together a great medley with Bridge Over Troubled Waters combined with Rock of Ages, My Sweet Lord, Let It Be (The Beatles), Amen, and ended with Sweet Song of Salvation. It was an amazing medley and a huge part of that great release. Other noteworthy songs on that release were Teach Your Children, first recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, This Train, featuring James Burton on guitar, and Everything is Beautiful, written by Ray Stevens.
Our producer thought it would be a great idea to try these songs at the National Quartet Convention! This turned out to be a BIG mistake! We were too naïve to disagree, so we arrived in downtown Nashville at the Coliseum for the evening concert and we are dressed in the same blue and white jumpsuits we wore on the Mike Douglas Show. In a sea of conservative suits and ties for the men and dresses and pantsuits for the ladies in attendance, needless to say, the medley bombed! We bombed. They couldn’t get past the jumpsuits to listen to our music. We finished our songs to deafening silence! At the end of our stand, we left the stage in utter humiliation and learned a valuable lesson that night. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!!! Give them songs they want to hear and not what YOU think they should hear. They are the ultimate judge of what you do. Your validity and relevance lay in the acceptance of your presentation to the audience to whom you sing. We had come a long way since 1967 but sometimes you have to take a step back and remember from where you came. It was a valuable lesson for us; one we never forgot.