Gaither Vocal Band

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Gaither Vocal Band
Gvb.jpg
Gaither Vocal Band, 2014
Background information
Also known as New Gaither Vocal Band (1981–84)
Genres Christian, southern gospel, contemporary Christian
Years active 1981–present
Labels Spring Hill Music Group
Associated acts Larnelle Harris, Russ Taff, Steve Green, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Mark Lowry
Website Gaither Vocal Band
Members Bill Gaither
David Phelps
Wes Hampton
Adam Crabb
Todd Suttles

The Gaither Vocal Band is an American southern gospel vocal group, named after its founder and leader Bill Gaither. As of February 2014, it consists of David Phelps, Wes Hampton, Adam Crabb, Todd Suttles, and Bill Gaither. Although the group started out recording contemporary Christian music in the 1980s, it became known for southern gospel after the popularity of the Gaither Homecoming videos.[1]

The lineup of the band changes often, with artists leaving to work on solo careers, and new ones coming to replace them. Besides Bill Gaither, singers with the longest tenure in the band include Guy Penrod (1995–2008), Mark Lowry (1988–2001, 2009–13), and Michael English (1985–94, 2009–13).

The band has released 27 albums (not including compilations), at least 19 of which have charted. The band has also released 10 DVDs, which feature many other Christian artists as well. The Gaither Vocal Band has been honored with 2 Grammys, and 17 Dove Awards.

History[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

The Gaither Vocal Band is named after gospel legend and leader, Bill Gaither.[2] It was the successor-group of the Bill Gaither Trio. By the 1980s, Bill Gaither, along with wife Gloria Gaither, were both very successful songwriters.[3] For example, their song, "He Touched Me" was covered by Elvis Presley, after which he even named his album He Touched Me. Presley won a Grammy for the album.[4] Bill Gaither felt that his trio had reached its peak in the mid-1980s, but his desire to make another gospel hit kept the trio going.[2]

The original Vocal Band (called the New Gaither Vocal Band) was formed spontaneously, backstage of a Gaither Trio concert. It consisted of Bill Gaither and Gary McSpadden of the trio, along with two of the trio's backup singers, Steve Green and Lee Young. The quartet sang "Your First Day in Heaven" on stage that night.[5] Their debut album, the self-titled The New Gaither Vocal Band, debuted in 1981.

According to the liner notes of the CD compilation The Best of the GVB, the term "Vocal Band" was used instead of "quartet" because it did not limit Gaither in terms of sound or number of group members. According to Steve Green on the Gaither Vocal Band Reunion video, he came up with the name and convinced Gaither to use it because he, at the time, did not want to be associated with "quartet music". The name did indeed allow for a wide variation in sound, ranging from contemporary, adult contemporary, inspirational, classic and southern gospel. However, in terms of group members, the number was limited to four up until 2009.[citation needed]

Lee Young left the group in 1982, and Jon Mohr was hired as the new bass singer. They then recorded the album, Passin' The Faith Along. Later, tenor Steve Green left and Larnelle Harris was hired. This group cut the New Point Of View album before Mohr left.

Widespread popularity[edit]

Michael English was hired as the new lead singer, so McSpadden was moved down to baritone, and Gaither dropped to the lowest part (Gaither stated that it was not bass at the time as it was not a true bass part).[citation needed] At this point the group dropped the "new" part of their name. Although the previous album (New Point of View) had been more contemporary than its predecessors, the album with this version of the group (One X 1) took it even further. After this album, Larnelle left and was replaced by Lemuel Miller. The group did not record an album with Lemuel before he too left. He was replaced by Imperials alumnus, Jim Murray. This line up cut one album (Wings) before Gary McSpadden left to start his solo career. Mark Lowry was convinced to replace him. Along with a great voice, Lowry added comedy to the mix. Their Gospel roots project Homecoming in 1991, caused most Southern Gospel fans to welcome the Vocal Band with open arms. Jim Murray left and was replaced by Terry Franklin. The album Southern Classics was released in 1993 with the hit I Bowed On My Knees.

Later Michael English left. He was replaced by Buddy Mullins. Mullins was only a temporary fill-in, but he was included on the album Testify. Terry Franklin soon left and was replaced by yet another Imperials alumnus, Jonathan Pierce (formerly known as Jonathan Hildreth, his first and last name—then changed to his first and middle name). Strengthened by the popularity of the Homecoming video series, the Vocal Band added Guy Penrod at lead. After Pierce's departure, Gaither hired David Phelps at tenor. After Lowry's departure, Imperials alumnus Russ Taff sang baritone for a couple of years. Marshall Hall was his replacement. Wes Hampton succeeded Phelps in 2005.

The group has had two number one songs on the Singing News chart. "Yes, I Know" held the top position from July to October 1997, as did "I Will Go On" in November 2006. The group has routinely performs classic Southern Gospel songs including many written by Bill and Gloria Gaither like "He Touched Me", "I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary", and "Sinner Saved By Grace."

Reunion[edit]

In July 2008, the vocal band recorded a reunion DVD at the Gaither Studios—The Gaither Vocal Band Reunion, Volumes 1 and 2. Except for Jonathan Pierce, Terry Franklin, and Lemuel Miller, the rest of the former and present members appear and perform. The two CDs debuted in the top two positions on Billboard’s Contemporary Christian Album chart, marking not only the Gaither Vocal Band's first No. 1 on the Christian Album chart, but also their first No. 1 debut on that chart as well. The DVDs of the same title debuted in the No. 1 and No. 2 positions on the Music Video charts as well.[6]

The quintet[edit]

In January 2009, Marshall Hall and Guy Penrod left. Gaither brought back some former members: Michael English as lead vocal, Mark Lowry as baritone and David Phelps as first tenor. The first album by this five-member version was Reunited, released in September 2009. It was also the first album of the vocal band ever to feature only songs written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. A live album called Better Day was released in January 2010. In August 2010, they released the long-awaited album called Greatly Blessed, followed by I Am A Promise, a children's album, released in August 2011. Their most recent album is Pure & Simple, released in September 2012.

In October 2013, it was announced that Mark Lowry and Michael English would be leaving the group to devote more time to their solo careers.[7] English's departure was immediate whereas Lowry stayed on through the end of 2013. Their last album as members, Hymns, was released in March 2014.[8][9] After their departure, several guests filled-in until two new members could be found. In January 2014, it was announced that Adam Crabb (of The Crabb Family) would join the group as the fourth member and lead singer.[10] Todd Suttles joined the group as the baritone singer one month later.[11]

Members (past and present)[edit]

Line-ups in eras
1981–1982

(Under the Name "The New Gaither Vocal Band")

  • The New Gaither Vocal Band (1981)
1982–1983
  • Jon Mohr – Bass
  • Green – Tenor
  • McSpadden – Lead
  • Gaither – Baritone
  • Passin' the Faith Along (1982)
1983–1985
  • Larnelle Harris – Tenor
  • McSpadden – Lead
  • Mohr – Bass
  • Gaither – Baritone
  • A New Point of View (1984)
1985–1987

(Under the Name "The Gaither Vocal Band")

  • Michael English – Lead
  • Harris – Tenor
  • McSpadden – Baritone
  • Gaither – Bass
  • One X-1 (1986)
1987
  • Lemuel Miller – Tenor
  • English – Lead
  • McSpadden – Baritone
  • Gaither – Bass
1987–1988
  • Jim Murray – Tenor
  • English – Lead
  • McSpadden – Baritone
  • Gaither – Bass
  • Wings (1988)
1988–1992
  • Mark Lowry – Baritone
  • English – Lead
  • Murray – Tenor
  • Gaither – Bass
  • A Few Good Men (1990)
  • Homecoming (1991)
1992–1994
  • Terry Franklin – Tenor
  • English – Lead
  • Lowry – Baritone
  • Gaither – Bass
  • Peace of the Rock (1993)
  • Southern Classics (1993)
1994
  • Buddy Mullins – Lead
  • Franklin – Tenor
  • Lowry – Baritone
  • Gaither – Bass
1994–1995
  • Jonathan Pierce – Tenor
  • Mullins – Lead
  • Lowry – Baritone
  • Gaither – Bass
  • Testify (1994)
1995–1997
  • Guy Penrod – Lead
  • Lowry – Baritone
  • Pierce – Tenor
  • Gaither – Bass
  • Southern Classics: Volume II (1995)
  • Lovin' God & Lovin' Each Other (1997)
1997–2001
  • David Phelps – Tenor
  • Lowry – Baritone
  • Penrod – Lead
  • Gaither – Bass
  • Still the Greatest Story Ever Told (1998)
  • God is Good (1999)
  • I Do Believe (2000)
2001–2004
  • Russ Taff – Baritone
  • Penrod – Lead
  • Phelps – Tenor
  • Gaither – Bass
  • Everything Good (2002)
  • A Cappella (2003)
2004–2005
  • Marshall Hall – Baritone
  • Penrod – Lead
  • Phelps – Tenor
  • Gaither – Bass
  • The Best of the Gaither Vocal Band (2004)
2005–2009
  • Wes Hampton – Tenor
  • Hall – Baritone
  • Penrod – Lead
  • Gaither – Bass
2009–2013
  • Michael English – Lead
  • David Phelps – Tenor
  • Mark Lowry – Baritone
  • Hampton – Tenor
  • Gaither – Bass
  • Reunited (2009)
  • Better Day (2010)
  • Greatly Blessed (2010)
  • I Am a Promise (2011)
  • Pure and Simple (2012)
  • Hymns (2014)
2014
  • Adam Crabb – Lead
  • Todd Suttles – Baritone
  • Phelps – Tenor
  • Hampton – Tenor
  • Gaither – Bass
  • Sometimes It Takes a Mountain (2014)

Discography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result
1991 Southern Gospel, Country Gospel or Bluegrass Gospel Album Homecoming Won
1994 Southern Gospel, Country Gospel or Bluegrass Gospel Album Southern Classics Nominated
1998 Southern Gospel, Country Gospel or Bluegrass Gospel Album Back Home in Indiana Nominated
2003 Southern Gospel, Country Gospel or Bluegrass Gospel Album Everything Good Nominated
2004 Southern Gospel, Country Gospel or Bluegrass Gospel Album A Cappella Nominated
2007 Southern Gospel, Country Gospel or Bluegrass Gospel Album Give It Away Nominated
2009 Southern Gospel, Country Gospel or Bluegrass Gospel Album Lovin' Life Won

GMA Dove Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result
1992 Southern Gospel Album Homecoming Won
1994 Southern Gospel Album Southern Classics Won
1994 Southern Gospel Song "Satisfied" Won
1995 Southern Gospel Song "I Bowed on My Knees" Won
1999 Southern Gospel Album Still The Greatest Story Ever Told Won
1999 Southern Gospel Performance "I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary" Won
2009 Christmas Album Christmas Gaither Vocal Band Style Nominated
2000 Southern Gospel Album God Is Good Won
2001 Southern Gospel Song "God Is Good All The Time" Won
2001 Southern Gospel Album I Do Believe Won
2002 Southern Gospel Song "He's Watching Me" Won
2003 Southern Gospel Song "More Than Ever" Nominated
2003 Country Album Everything Good Nominated
2007 Southern Gospel Song "Give It Away" Won
2007 Southern Gospel Album Give It Away Won
2009 Southern Gospel Album Lovin' Life Won
2010 Southern Gospel Album Reunited Won
2010 Southern Gospel Album Greatly Blessed Won
2010 Song of the Year "Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored" Nominated
2011 Southern Gospel Song "Better Day" Won
2013 Southern Gospel Performance "Glorious Freedom" Nominated
2013 Bluegrass Song "Come to Jesus" Nominated
2013 Southern Gospel Album Pure and Simple Won

References[edit]

External links[edit]