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October 15, 2013
It had been 5-6 years since I had been with Gloria and Bill Gaither, and their tour of musicians, singers, songwriters and ministers. It had been 9 years since I was actually on the tour itself. So when I walked into the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in South Carolina last Friday, I didn’t know what was going to happen.
It was as if I had never left.
The Booth Brothers, The Easters, Gene McDonald and The Martins all greeted me as if we’d had dinner before a concert the night before. Greg Ritchie, drummer and husband to the now-famous Charlotte has not aged one day. There are new babies, of course, and the babies from a decade ago are now big kids or teenagers.
Buddy Greene is still one of Nashville’s treasures. The Isaacs career is booming: Ben now produces recordings for Bill among other singers and musicians – and the band sounds better than ever.
There are always treats and surprises at a Gaither event. It’s commendable the way they treat those who have passed on. I’ve always enjoyed hanging out with the staff – Deana, Rob and Hugh, who make life easy for a wannabe like myself.
Allison Durham Speer is a talented vocalist, continuing the Speer family tradition. But now she’s become a talented stand-up comic! I DON’T NEED THE COMPETITION!
The Nelons, The Browns, Angela Primm and Matthew Holt were newcomers that have incredible upsides to their careers. But the real star of any event like this is The Gaither Vocal Band, and Gloria.
Bill is the best boss I will ever have, and has always treated me with more respect and dignity than I deserve. He and Mark Lowry are a comedy team that cannot be matched in today’s world. They’re better than The Smothers Brothers or the Wayans or even Abbott and Costello. Their magic extends beyond their ability to play off one another and make people laugh. Their music is timeless. Kevin Williams is a great comic in his own right, but as musical director he has unbounded enthusiasm and an incredible gift of patience, enabling him to work with all the artists, making everyone look good (even when something goes wrong!). Michael English and Wes Hampton are the “newest” members of the GVB, but who would know? They sound as if they’ve been touring with Bill for decades! And there are no words to describe David Phelps. Back in 2001, after joining the Homecoming tour, an ex-business manager of mine came to see our event in Anaheim at the arena there. He told me “David Phelps is the best vocalist I have ever heard!” Since this man managed Van Morrison among other notables, I’d call that a ringing endorsement.
Gloria Gaither holds a singular place in the world: a lyricist, a successful writer and speaker, a businesswoman who has raised a family and now has grandchildren, her communication skills can’t be matched. She’s still finding new premises, she’s incredibly tuned in to the world as it was while having a breadth of knowledge (she was a teacher) on socio-topical events of today and The Bible. She is worth the price of admission by herself.
Last, there is no audience on the planet that is more attentive, responsive and loving than those who come to see a Gaither event. I’m humbled that I got to be a small part of this.
I’m back SOLO this Sunday, October 20th in Voorhees, New Jersey. Tickets are FREE! But you have to make reservations (the seats are almost gone). Click here to reserve yours.