Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Archive for the ‘Bill Gaither’

8/29/09 News Roundup

August 29, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Bill Gaither, Blackwood Gospel Quartet, Gaither Vocal Band, Legacy Five, Mike and Kelly Bowling, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Bowling Family

It’s been another news-filled week for Southern Gospel music. Let’s look at some things that took place in the past few days:

1. Mike & Kelly Bowling have experienced change again. Tenor Chris Whitaker came off the road to be with a sick family member, and stepping up to round out the group is Terah Penhollow. With the personnel change comes yet another name change for the group to The Bowling Family. Read more about it here.

2. Elsewhere in personnel changes, the Blackwood Gospel Quartet has hired a new tenor. Dale Evans is filling the tenor position for the group. The former tenor, Daniel Childs, came off the road due to health issues. The BGQ is currently at work on a new project slated for release sometime this September.

3. The Gaither Vocal Band’s new project, Reunited, is now available for preorder. This highly anticipated project will be available everywhere on Sept. 8, but you can hear it now by getting the download at gaither.com.

Be looking for a review on this blog in the weeks following NQC.

4. Legacy Five is also taking pre-orders for their upcoming Daywind release, Just Stand. The project will be making it’s official debut at this year’s NQC. Lari Goss is producing, and you can tell the guys are excited about this latest effort. One thing about Lari is that if he has a hand in it, it will be a quality product; he’s a master of the production craft. Be looking for a review on that project as well.

Update: They have clips of this and the Jubilee! project with the Booth Brothers and Greater Vision up here.

Upcoming Review: Gold Harbor – It’s All Good

Gaither Vocal Band Taping Set List

July 22, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Bill Gaither, Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Hat tip goes to Nate at Burke’s Brainwork for this one. Nate had a friend who attended the taping and gave him a set list from memory and in no particular order:

Alpha and Omega

There’s Always A Place at the Table (featuring Wes, Michael, and David)

I Am Loved

I Believe In A Hill Called Mt. Calvary

Loving God, Loving Each Other

Better Day

Mary, Did You Know

He Touched Me

Something About That Name

At The Cross

Hide Thou Me

Low Down The Chariot

Cant Stop Talking About Him (featuring Michael and Wes)

The Love Of God

Lord Feed Your Children

Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go

Worthy The Lamb

Where Could I Go?

I’m Forgiven

Go Ask

God’s Church Triumphant

This is shaping up to be an incredible video project. I noticed that some of the songs on the list are ones I haven’t heard of the new lineup doing in other concerts. It will be interesting to hear five parts on “Low Down The Chariot,” “Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go,” and “Worthy The Lamb.” “I’m Forgiven” should be pretty cool as well.

I noticed that a lot of the songs will be featured on the Reunited project, “God’s Church Triumphant” in particular. Seeing that made me wonder if they were going for a combo release of Reunited and this video in September (although, it seems to me that would have been pretty early).

The press release on Gaither.com, however, had this to say:

“… The DVD of this Gaither Vocal Band taping in San Antonio is scheduled for release in January 2010. Watch Gaither.com in late November or early December for the chance to put in your order. This is one you will not want to miss! …”

That would put it right around the time of the group’s project of all-new songs. “This is one you will not want to miss” is right!

Head over to Gaither.com for pictures of the night.

Concert Review: Gaither Homecoming – Lovin’ Life Tour 2009, Charlottesville, VA

May 12, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Bill Gaither, Concert Reviews, Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Music

I had the privilege of attending this April 26 concert. I call it a privilege simply because it was an awesome night.

The concert opened up with Bill Gaither singing “Old Friends” and interacting with the audience. He then introduced Sue Dodge, a native of Northern VA and has been featured on many of the Homecoming videos. She was followed by a three-song set by Gordon Mote consisting of “All That Noise,” “Mercy Walked In,” and “Don’t Let Me Miss The Glory.” The videos that went with Mote’s songs really added to the performances.

Ben Speer was featured on one song. It is good to see a legend like that still chugging along at such an advanced age. Janet Paschal did a two-song set to follow.

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound charged the crowd up with their energetic song list. They brought David Griffith with them to play bass guitar, giving them a complete live band with Kevin Williams on guitar, Grit on bass, Greg Ritchie on drums, and Wayne Haun at piano. The crowd ate it up, warranting several completely live encores of “Get Away Jordan,” in one particular instance. Judging by the response, it is a pretty safe bet that EH&SS will carry out what they mentioned a while ago about adding a live band to their solo concerts. (Side note: Since the time of this writing, they’ve announced that they are adding a three-piece band for their 2009 Summer Tour, at least.)

Another thing I have noticed with EH&SS lately (and this concert further confirmed it) is that their stage presence has definitely matured over time. It’s not all about the choreography and dancing around anymore; rather, that’s become a small part of their set, and they are now more of a throwback to the old quartets. Most of their set was done around two mics, even throwing in an impressively tight-harmony a capella rendition of “Wonderful Grace Of Jesus.” Sure, the energy is very much still there, but they’re giving the naysayers a whole lot less to complain about.

Lynda Randle followed up with two songs, the latter in tribute to a couple that happened to be in the arena that helped her into a Christian school. Bill Gaither encored it a couple times, and then the lights went completely out. If you’ve read recent concert reviews and kept an eye on Youtube, you can guess what happened next; the new GVB started into “Alpha & Omega,” with the lights progressing up as the song went on.

I came to the concert not knowing what to expect from the new GVB. I’d heard they were incredible, and I’d seen the Youtube clips, but unless you hear something like that for yourself, it’s all talk.

All those who are unsure about the new lineup, go catch a concert soon. I have heard every lineup the GVB has ever had, and I can honestly say that this one is the best. The blend is superb, and each singer is impressive in his own right. David Phelps and Wes Hampton alternating on tenor makes for a great high range. Michael English is sounding more and more like his old self again, and is clearly having the time of his life. Mark Lowry has matured in both voice and stage presence. Sure, he’s still the clown, but his serious side has developed a whole lot since he went off on his own. Even Bill, at the ripe old age of 73, is still sounding good. I was particularly impressed at his bass slide on the end of “He Touched Me.” Tim Duncan was nowhere to be seen, so I was surprised that something that low could come out of Bill Gaither.

The second half was a typical Homecoming gathering, with different singers singing old songs. The concert closed with a powerful version of “Because He Lives,” followed by “Holy Highway.” All in all, it was a fantastic night, and one that showed a bright future for the GVB. I am eagerly awaiting the two projects that they are currently at work on.

My friend Jeremy Bell over at VA Southern Gospel was in attendance and took many pictures, which can be viewed here, here, and here.

Gaither Vocal Band Reunited Tour / Swain’s Musings 2nd Anniversary

April 20, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Bill Gaither, Blogging Community, Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Special Announcements

According to a press release on Gaither.com, the new Gaither Vocal Band will be taking a solo tour starting in September, emphasizing the fact that three of the five were with the group once before. There are about four dates up at the moment, with more to follow.

I’m hoping the tour will be coming to VA so I can catch a GVB-only concert. The GVB hasn’t done anything as headliner group since probably before I was born, aside from an occasional video like Give It Away. It’s been mostly the Homecoming circuit for them, with a smattering of events with just one or two other groups. Count me among those who have been waiting for something like this for a good long while.

Now, on a totally different note, yesterday marked the two year anniversary of when I started this blog in 2007. It’s been quite a thrill watching the opportunities and readership that God has (and continues to) bless me with through this blog. Thank you all for reading!

Gaither To Release "Best Of The Crabb Family" Video

April 15, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Bill Gaither, Crabb Family, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

This new preview video popped up in my Youtube feed today, promoting the June 30 release of “The Best Of The Crabb Family.”

I suppose I did see this coming. Much like the Best Of The Cathedrals video that came out after they retired, Bill Gaither is making a video paying tribute to a group that made an impact on the Southern Gospel Music world. Granted, The Crabbs were not around nearly as long as The Cats were, but their influence on the music in the time they were together is undeniable. And like The Cats, their influence is continued today through groups like Crabb Revival, Mike & Kelly Bowling, Aaron & Amanda Crabb, etc, that “spun off” of them.

Needless to say, I think this group will stay a tad bit more inside the SG realm than did the Reunion they had at NQC this past year, especially since all of the clips shown in the promo video are Gaither video footage.

The New GVB: "I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary"

April 08, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Bill Gaither, Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Music

Hat tip goes to Kyle Boreing for this.

For all those who still think Michael English was a bad replacement for Guy Penrod, check out this recent clip of the group. English’s vocals these days are sounding as good as they did his first time around with the GVB. I think I may even prefer this new lineup’s version to the one with Guy!

Needless to say, this excites me all the more to hear it in person at the end of the month. And, if this is any indication of what we’ll hear on the next project from these guys, it’ll be a “home run” project!

Another video: Here’s another video of the same concert and location of the new group singing “It Is Finished.” Keith Waggoner (tenor for the Liberty Quartet) was there the night they did this and he said that David Phelp’s high note at the end of his verse was the highest he’d heard him go on this song. He estimated it was either a high E-flat or E. It’s fantastic either way.

First "Official" Video Of The New Gaither Vocal Band

February 20, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Bill Gaither, Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG History, SG Music

It would seem that Gaither has discovered the value of Youtube.

After seeing the hype it generated for the GVB Reunion videos, he used it to do so for the new Oak Ridge Boys video.

And now, he’s giving the world a taste of the new five-man Gaither Vocal Band in this video showing highlights of their debut in Orlando, Florida.

The guys sound fantastic, Michael English especially. This is much better than he sounded in the first clip of the Reunion video, and he sounds a lot like he did in his first GVB stint. He sounds great on “Let Freedom Ring” especially (which sounds like it has been lowered half a step. It still sounds just as powerful!)

I am greatly looking forward to seeing this group for myself in Charlottesville, VA on April 26th.

New Interview With Bill Gaither

January 15, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Bill Gaither, Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Daniel Britt of the Morning Joy Ride on JOY FM did an interview today with Bill Gaither about the recent news, which David Bruce Murray posted about here. I encourage you to go listen to it. It answers many questions straight from the horse’s mouth.

Further Thoughts On The GVB Changes

January 14, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Bill Gaither, Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Music

1. The Completely Unexpected Departure Of Marsh Hall As I stated yesterday, I think everyone pretty much expected Guy Penrod to part ways with the GVB. (That is in no way a knock on Penrod; his new direction will fit him perfectly.) However, I think that all of us were completely blindsided by Marsh leaving the group. Many have commented on various blogs and websites saying that they thought the press release made it sound like he got canned. That does not seem to be the case, however, after reading this excerpt from this blog post from Emily Sutherland:

“In spite of all the mixed emotions you probably feel, I do want to tell you that I spoke with Marshall today and I’m anxious for you all to hear from him. I’ll work on that, but in the meantime, you need to know that he says performing on-stage has never been his “sweet spot” (though he has done an incredible job of stepping up to the plate for the Vocal Band)! His true love is leading worship… and he is very much looking forward to finding the right situation where he can do that. He is not mad, and he is keeping in touch with Bill as they work together to make this transition smooth and positive. More on that later.”

It appears that a worship leader position is in Hall’s future.

2. The Beginning Of The End? With this recent change in direction, a lot of people seem to think that Bill Gaither has gathered this true “super group” to let the group go out on top, a la The Cathedrals with Ernie, Glen, Scott, George and Roger. Honestly, do you expect him to call Mark, David, and Michael away from their solo careers just to carry out a Farewell Tour? Somehow, I doubt it. I do believe that Bill has a plan for this group to carry on the name after he retires, and possibly bringing in a younger bass when he does do that to keep the five-man thing going.

3. Below Par Vocalists Popular opinion believes that the three alumni Bill has brought back are no longer the great vocalists they were in their prior tenures with the GVB. OK, David Phelps has been counted out of that statement in every such comment I’ve seen.

However, I beg to differ about the other two. I’ve heard Mark Lowry many times since he embarked on his solo venture, and he has actually improved as a vocalist and performer since being on his own. And Michael English still has chops as well.

Which brings me to another point. I realize I ripped on him a little, perhaps more harshly than I should have, in a post about the “Satisfied” clip from the GVB Reunion video. I said that I was very disappointed in English’s performance in that clip. However, I have seen some clips of recent concerts of his on various websites and I must say that he really hasn’t lost all that much vocally. He sounds much better in those than he did in the Reunion clip.

Sure, he lost a little in his upper range, but his emotion and pathos makes up for that and then some. I imagine that once the new GVB group gets rolling and he performs more in that setting, one will be hard-pressed to tell that he even lost anything.

Well, enough from me. I hope to catch the group when the Homecoming tour comes to Charlottesville in a few months

Gaither Vocal Band Announces Changes

January 13, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Bill Gaither, David Phelps, Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music


Several changes have come for the Gaither Vocal Band.

First off, Bill Gaither has announced that Guy Penrod has departed the group to pursue a solo ministry career.* If you have spent any time reading comments about Penrod’s hiatus from the group, you’ll know that many of us saw a departure coming. Thankfully, it is not from singing completely. I for one am excited to hear future efforts from Guy. I’ll also say that I appreciate the fact of his longevity with the group: 14 years is quite a remarkable feat nowadays. I wish Guy well in this new endeavor.

Secondly comes perhaps one of the biggest announcements in GVB history: the group has expanded from four to five members, with a great lineup of voices. Returning to the group are three of its most popular alumni as well. The new lineup is: David Phelps, Wes Hampton, Michael English, Mark Lowry, and Bill Gaither.

When I read the press release, I literally said “WHOA!” out loud. I’m very excited for this new group. It is absolutely great to see the three alumni returning. I wonder how Phelps and Hampton will handle the tenor part. Perhaps Bill has plans for two different tenor parts to give the group a very full-sounding upper range. For sure, the GVB’s next project will be one of the most anticipated release or 2009 or 2010.

I do wonder what Marshall Hall’s future plans are. His departure is very shocking to me, actually. He was one of the finest vocalists to come through the group. The press release did not mention very much about his departure, so I’m hoping another will be sent out announcing what he will be doing.

* – DBM points out that Penrod’s future plans consist of doing a family friendly Country music album. Therefore, it is more of a solo career instead of a ministry.