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Do Gospel singers have the safest and best lives?


Bill Gaither trio in 2011 -- left to right David Phelps, Gordon Mote and Bill Gaither: Wikipedia/ruthdaniel3444

Gospel singers (left to right) David Phelps, Gordon Mote and Bill Gaither in 2011: Wikipedia/ruthdaniel3444

[by Dean Smith] According to a report by Dianna Theodora Kenny of various musical genres, Gospel singers have the safest and best lives. Kenny is a professor of Psychology and Music at Australia’s University of Sydney.

In her study, reported in The Telegraph, Kenny tracked the deaths of 12,665 musicians between 1950 and June 2014. The singers represented 14 different musical genres including gospel, rap, country, rock, metal, punk and pop.

She broke their cause of death into basic categories — the top five being accidental, suicide, homicide, heart and cancer.

Kenny found that overall Gospel singers had lower rates of death in 4 of the top 5 categories than even the average American. And in the one category where they were higher — heart related deaths — it was only marginally higher.

When compared to other musical genres gospel musicians soared to the top.

If suicide rates is a measure of contentment with life, gospel musicians were 21 times less likely to commit suicide than punk rockers. Gospel musicians were also 7.5 times less like to commit suicide than the American average.

The highest suicide rates were among metal musicians where 19.3% of deaths were attributed to self harm, followed by punk rockers at 11%. As a comparison, only .9% of Gospel musicians died due to suicide.

The most dangerous genres were Hip Hop and Rap where over half died because of homicide at 51.5% and 51% respectively. As a comparison, 3.6% of Gospel singers in this period were murdered.

In terms of accidental death (including drug overdose), Metal musicians filled the top spot with 36.2% of deaths blamed on accidents, followed by Punk at 30% and Rock at 24.4%.

According to Kenny’s research, 56 was marginally the most dangerous age for singers with 2.6% dying at that time of life. This was twice the rate of the mythical 27 age that some have popularized as the most dangerous age for musicians.

Kenny believes it gained its reputation because of the fame of the musicians who died at that age, not the numbers. In the 1970s, Janice Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimmy Hendrix died at 27 within months of each other. More recently, Jazz singer Amie Winehouse died at the fabled 27 age.

Pop star prophets?

As we look at the Bible, it also references gospel pop stars. It is believed that many of the prophets sang, and it appears some had good voices. This included the Prophet Ezekiel who though no one listened to his prophetic words nevertheless seems to have attracted crowds because of his singing ability..

31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. (Ezekiel 33:31-32 NIV)

Some suggest God called Ezekiel due partly to his musical ability. Because people came to listen to his melodic voice, Judah could not claim they never heard God’s prophetic warnings (v 33).

Miriam, Moses’s older sister, was also considered a prophetess and sang some of her prophecies (Exodus 15:20-21).

Percentage cause of selected deaths by muscial genre between 1950 and June 2014

  Source: Kenny

Suicide

Homicide

Accidental

  Average 6.8% 6.0% 19.5%
  Blues 2.0% 3.5% 9.2%
  Jazz 2.7% 1.9% 10.6%
 Country 4.7% 1.6% 15.8%
  Gospel 0.9% 3.6% 13.3%
  R&B 1.6% 5.0% 11.5%
  Pop 6.4% 2.9% 19.0%
  Folk 5.5% 4.4% 15.9%
  World Music 3.4% 9.6% 12.7%
  Rock 7.2% 3.6% 24.4%
  Electronic 5.0% 10.0% 16.7%
  Punk 11.0% 8.2% 30.0%
  Metal 19.3% 5.9% 36.2%
  Rap 6.2% 51.0% 15.9%
  Hip Hop 7.4% 51.5% 18.3%

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