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Members include Bill Gaither (born on March 28, 1936, in Alexandria, IN), vocals; MarkLowry (born on June 24, 1958; left group, 2001), vocals; Guy Penrod, vocals; DavidPhelps, vocals; Jonathan Pierce (born Jonathan Pierce Hildreth in Odessa, TX), vocals. Addresses: Record company--Spring House Records, P.O. Box 178, Alexandria, IN 46001. Agent--Gaither Family Resources, 1617 South Park Ave., Alexandria, IN 46001.

Since the early 1990s the Gaither Vocal Band has been just one of several projects that has occupied the time of its members. The band's founder and namesake, Bill Gaither, was a well-known singer and songwriter for more than 20 years before establishing the group. Mark Lowry, a solo performer as a singer and comedian, released several videos and wrote children's books during his decade with the band. The other members of the group, Guy Penrod, David Phelps, and Jonathan Pierce, have also pursued solo careers while participating in the band's projects. Despite the divided attentions of the group's members, the Gaither Vocal Band released more than one dozen albums in the 1990s, winning six Dove Awards and two Grammy Awards during the decade. The group's prolific output continued with the release of I Do Believe and a two-volume compilation of its work in 2000.

As a songwriter and performer with his wife, Gloria Gaither, and as a member of outfits such as the Cathedrals and the Homecoming Friends, Bill Gaither had won several Dove and Grammy awards before forming the Gaither Vocal Band with Mark Lowry in 1991. Born in 1936 in Alexandria, Indiana, about 75 miles northwest of Indianapolis, Gaither grew up in a family of gospel music fans. One of the most memorable experiences of his childhood was a trip the family took in 1949 to Nashville, Tennessee, where the Gaithers attended an all-night gospel concert at the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry. Gaither remained a fan of Southern gospel music from that time onward. While pursuing a degree in teaching, he put together the Bill Gaither Trio; after finishing his degree in 1959, however, Gaither got a job as a high school English teacher and temporarily left music behind.

After Bill's marriage to Gloria Sickal in 1962, the couple started to write gospel songs together. In a few years they realized that their musical pursuit had become a full-time career. As Gloria Gaither told Phil Callaway of Servant, "People wanted us to sing. I told Bill I wasn't a great singer and he said, `I know you're not, but you talk on pitch.' I think God has a weird sense of humor sometimes. We began singing just to communicate our songs and we made our first albums in the hope that `real' singers would pick them up. Never did we dream we would end up being artists over the long haul and we have never really taken that very seriously, even to this day." Through 2000 the Gaithers could claim an estimated 600 songwriting credits and had produced over 60 albums. They received the Dove Award for Gospel Songwriter of the Year in 1970, 1972, and from 1973-1977, along with a Dove Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. Bill Gaither also won Dove Awards for his performances with the Cathedrals and the Homecoming Friends.

In 1991 Bill and Gloria Gaither started a special concert series that featured respected Southern gospel artists. They intended to release a video and album from the project, but Bill Gaither's interest in the Homecoming Friends special turned into an artistic mission. As Gloria Gaither explained to Callaway in Servant, "Bill thought we should wind our careers down. He had done a few dates with the Gaither Vocal Band, but he thought, 'Before we quit, why not do a Southern-gospel flavored album?' Since this was going to be kind of his swan song, and because he had come to the Lord through Southern gospel music, Bill decided to bring in some of the people who had been meaningful to him as a boy.... No one could have planned this." Assembling a permanent lineup with vocalists Mark Lowry, Guy Penrod, David Phelps, and later on, Jonathan Pierce, the new Gaither Vocal Band released the album Homecoming in 1991. A critical hit, Homecomingwon the Grammy Award for Best Southern Gospel Recording in 1991 and the Dove Award for the same category in 1992.

The Gaither Vocal Band was extremely productive over the next decade, releasing an average of more than one album per year; in 1994 alone, the group released I Bowed on My Knees, King Is Coming, and Little Is Much When God Is in It. Based on the group's profile and the Gaithers' continuing promotion of the genre, Southern gospel music encountered renewed popularity. In 1997 Gaither coauthored a book with Jerry Jenkins on the phenomenon, Homecoming: The Story of Southern Gospel Music, which brought a new generation of fans to the bluegrass-oriented sounds of southern gospel.

The Gaither Vocal Band picked up three Grammy nominations in the 1990s and added a second Grammy Award to its collection in 1999 for Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album for Kennedy Center Homecoming. At the Dove Awards the band was a perennial favorite, winning the award for Best Southern Gospel Record in 1994 for "Satisfied", in 1995 for "I Bowed on My Knees," and in 1999 for "I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Cavalry." In addition, in 1999 it earned Best Southern Gospel Album kudos for Still the Greatest Story Ever Told, the following year returning to pick up another award for Best Southern Gospel Album for its release God Is Good.

A prolific songwriter, Gaither does not stint on praise for others' work. He cited one track on God Is Good, "The Baptism of Jesse Taylor," penned by Dallas Frazier and Sanger "Whitey" Shafer, as one of his favorites. The song had initially been a hit in 1973 for country singer Johnny Russell, but Gaither found timeless meaning in its lyrics. "I think, for whatever reason, country writers can say gospel stuff in better language than the gospel writers. The gospel writers sometimes get too much verbiage," Gaither told Billboard. "The old country boy in that song says, `From now on Nancy Taylor can proudly speak to neighbors.' You know what that means. She was embarrassed by his running around.... `Now Jimmy's got a daddy and Jesse's got a family and Franklin County's got a lot more man.' What a line! That's not something that came from a gospel writer, I'm sorry to say. It tears up my guts when I hear it." In an interview with Daniel Hines for America's Seniors website, Gaither further explained his outlook on songwriting. "People are a combination of senses based on experience, emotion, and faith. The greatest song writer of all was David and all of his Psalms are based upon an actual experience that leads to praising God. Many of the songs today cut off the experience that makes the praise possible and needed. I hope that people don't forget the reason for the praise."

In addition to leading the Gaither Vocal Band, Bill Gaither has hosted the Gaither Gospel Hour on the Nashville Network. With his wife and their three children, he also operates the Gaither Music Company and the Gaither Recording Studios in his hometown of Alexandria, Indiana. The Gaithers also operate a Christian retreat center with a restaurant, bookstore, and conference rooms. Gaither Vocal Band cofounder Mark Lowry was almost as busy with his own solo career as a singer and comedian during his stint with the band. Lowry released several comedy videos in the 1990s and in 2000 a video of his concert at the Beacon Theater in New York City, Mark Lowry on Broadway, was a best-selling release on Billboard's video sales chart. Lowry also wrote a series of children's book based on the character of Piper the Hyper Mouse. Citing his full schedule and a need to take time off from performing, Lowry announced his departure from the Gaither Vocal Band in August 2001. As he told Billboard, "I had a meeting with Bill and Guy and David, and I told them what they meant to me. This is my family. I won't be a part of the Gaither Vocal Band anymore, but I'll still be part of the family."

Texas native Jonathan Pierce came on board as Lowry's replacement. As part of its ongoing hectic schedule of recording and touring, the band made an appearance at a celebration of gospel music held on Capitol Hill in February 2002. At the gathering Gaither poked fun at his own career longevity. He mentioned meeting a young fan not long before who asked him, "Bill Gaither? Are you still alive? You're in our hymnal at church. There's only dead people in that hymnal."

by Timothy Borden

Gaither Vocal Band's Career

Group formed in Alexandria, IN, 1991; led revival of Southern gospel music; released more than one dozen albums during the 1990s; made several television specials for cable television's Nashville Network.

Gaither Vocal Band's Awards

Grammy Award, Best Southern Gospel Album for Homecoming, 1991; Dove Award, Best Southern Gospel Album for Homecoming, 1991, The Greatest Story Ever Told,1999, and God Is Good, 2000; Dove Award, Best Southern Gospel Recording for "Satisfied," 1994, "I Bowed on My Knees," 1994, and "I Believe in a Hill Called Calvary," 1999; Nashville Music Award, Best Traditional Gospel Group, 1997; Grammy Award, Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album for Kennedy Center Homecoming, 1999.

Famous Works

Further Reading



Gaither Vocal Band Lyrics

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Visitor Comments Add a comment…

over 13 years ago

Gaither Vocal Band, you are so amazing, i enjoy your music and always when i'm listening and looking at your videos i cry.i love you so much i don't know what to say, keep it up and God bless you more and more!!!FROM LESOTHO.

almost 15 years ago

Jeannette- Thanks for typing the lyrics to that song! Saved me a lot of time! Dave Grand Rapids, MI

about 15 years ago

I am looking for the lyrics to the songe You're Something Special to sing for my testimony tonight.

over 15 years ago

I love the song "Satisfied". The chorus goes like this "Hallelujah, I have found him, etc." Please tell me where I can find the lyrics to his song. Thanks so much!

over 15 years ago

This is a very incomplete and highly inaccurate history of the Gaither Vocal Band. It was formed in the early 1980s with members not even mentioned in this article. It went through changes over the years involving some 15 or so different combinations. I suggest that Mr. Borden (or anyone else) obtain the new GVB Reunion (Vols I and II) DVDs and listen to the history from the mouths of the individuals who actually participated in it. Mr. Borden's timeline is seriously out of whack!

over 15 years ago

is it true that guy penrod is leaving the gaither vocal band and will he be in the fayetteville nc concert?

over 15 years ago

I am trying to reach Jonathan Pierce or an agent for Jonathan Pierce. My mother has terminal cancer and listens to the gaither videos all the time. That and God is what keeps her going. Jonathan Pierce is her favorite singer and I would like to be able to tell him what he has meant to her.

over 15 years ago

you are simply just brilliant, am from south africa in cape town i've just discovered your music. it's good, it touches me. keep it up.

almost 16 years ago

LOOK FOR ME (Rusty Goodman) Verse When you finally make your entrance to that city Of jasper walls and bright golden avenues As you behold all its beauty and its splendor Remember there’s just one request I make of you Chorus Look for me for I will be there too I realize when you arrive there will be so much to view After you’ve been there ten thousand years A million, maybe two Look for me, for I will be there too Verse As you go down your list of firsts there’s no question We’re gonna have to see our loved ones, me and you And when you feel you’ve shared your story with the last one Who wants to hear just how you made it through Chorus Look for me for I will be there too I realize when you arrive there will be so much to view After you’ve been there ten thousand years A million, maybe two Look for me for I will be there too Look for me for I will be there too I will be there to

almost 16 years ago

I really love your songs, they are so inspiring. Keep on with the work of the Lord. I would love to meet you one day if God allows and my prayer is that one day will sing togather in heaven. WIll you please come to Zambia and comfort us, we're mourning our beloved president. Please, please come to Zambia Africa. I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YO LATEST ULBUM.

almost 16 years ago

I love the Gaither Vocal Band, all there songs touch my heart especially 'i will go on, my past i leave behind me' in 'give it away' ulbum. Gaither i love yo wife Gloria and i love the way she speaks, her words are natural and uplifting. Could you please tell her to give me some of the words on what music can do to many souls. Gaither could you please consider coming to Zambia, you have many funs.

almost 16 years ago

I love the Gaither Vocal Band, all there songs touch my heart especially 'i will go on, my past i leave behind me' in 'give it away' ulbum. Gaither i love yo wife Gloria and i love the way she speaks, her words are natural and uplifting. Could you please tell her to give me some of the words on what music can do to many souls. Gaither could you please consider coming to Zambia, you have many funs.

almost 16 years ago

I like the album Do you believe

almost 16 years ago

My mother is an amazing christian and she love you all and she wants to sing with you we have been watching the gaithers for as long as i can remember we live in Canada and we love you guys thank you for coming to saint john and please get my mom to sing with you she deserves it.

over 16 years ago

Are you going to publish for choirs, the music and music track for "Amazing Grace" DVD & CD. Very moving video. I woulkd love our church group tp be able to do it, for the older folks but also for our younger families who know all the "new" music but have to look at the screen when we sing the old ones that have a melody. Thank you and God bless. Might get to see you in Tulsa in May visiting my younger sons in laws. All my 3 grandchildren are hoosiers 2 in Indy and 1 in Evansville. My younger son and his family attend the same church as Ryan Seaton, though they have never met. We miss you here in S.E. PA.

over 16 years ago

I have been wondering what Bill and Gloria Gaither's three children are doing.

over 16 years ago

I am looking for the lyrics to the song Give it away... and I can't find it anywhere.... Please can you help me????

over 16 years ago

Child Forgiven

over 16 years ago

I am looking for the lyrics to Rusty's song "Look For Me"