Gaither Gospel Singers

PHIL JONES, correspondent: In the 1950s, Bill Gaither used to turn on his radio and listen to all the gospel music stars. He was a farm boy with a field of dreams.

BILL GAITHER: I kept dreaming of the day that maybe, just maybe, I could write a song that would catch the attention of somebody or sing a song that would catch the attention of somebody. Am I blessed guy? I mean, I’m blessed. What can I say?

JONES: In 1963, his dream came true. He wrote a hit. Elvis Presley recorded it and won a Grammy, but the lyrics belonged to Bill Gaither.

Bill Gaither singing at piano: “He touched me, oh, he touched me” — Jimmy Durante sang this and he’d go “He touched me” — “and all the joy that floods my soul…”

JONES: Since then, Bill and his wife, Gloria, former English and French teachers, have written more than 700 gospel songs. Many of them are in today’s church hymnals.

ROBERT SILVERS (Former Religion Editor, Saturday Evening Post): What would the Christian world, the gospel music world, have been like if we hadn’t had Bill and Gloria Gaither? And I just felt like it would leave a lot of empty pages in those song books.

JONES: The Gaithers have won six Grammys and more than two dozen Dove Awards for outstanding Christian music, plus they’ve sold more than 20 million videos, and they still are packing the house all over the world…

Gaither DVD:  “…our Homecoming celebration in New York’s Carnegie Hall was a unique…”

JONES: …performing homecoming events with their friends, stars of gospel music past and present. When they were named gospel song writers of the century in 2000, it was said the Gaithers are to Christian music what the Beatles were to pop music. They were among the first to introduce contemporary religious music.

BILL GAITHER: In fact, we had a pretty well-known college that banned their kids in ’68 from coming to see the Bill Gaither Trio because they said it’s worldly music.

Concert Singing: “…swing down chariot, stop and let me ride, swing down chariot, stop and let me ride. Rock me, Lord…”

JONES: Where would you say that you fit into the evangelical world?

BILL GAITHER: I’m not sure we really do. I think we’ve been mavericks from the beginning.

Concert Singing: “…stop and let me ride, swing down chariot, stop and let me ride…”

BILL GAITHER: Are we contemporary? Are we traditional? Are we country? Are we progressive? Labels are so dangerous. I’m a follower of Christ. I believe in the message. I believe in redemption, and if I didn’t, Gloria and I would stop today and go to the mountains and retire and rock on a rocking chair.

JONES: Bill and Gloria Gaither have earned enough fame and money to live any place they choose. They have chosen to stay right here in Alexandria, Indiana, population about 6,000. It was picked by the federal government during World War II to use in the propaganda theme throughout Europe depicting small town USA.

GLORIA GAITHER: An awful lot of our lyrics and a lot of our philosophy comes out of being rooted in a small town with real people and real life.

JONES: There was a time back in the mid-’80s that Bill Gaither felt his trio had peaked, but he wasn’t ready to hang it up. He wanted one more shot to make a gospel hit. So he reached out.

BILL GAITHER: You know, and I called a bunch of the old timers and I said, ah, we’re gonna come in and have fun. We’re gonna have the radio days.

JONES: And they came to join Bill and his Gaither Vocal Band—big stars from all over the country. Little did they know that this reunion with the Gaithers would turn into a concert series around the world called Homecoming. The themes—patriotism and religion.

Gaither DVD: I invite you to travel with us as we return to the origins of our faith…

JONES: What the people see on stage reflects the spiritual tone set off stage. Before each night’s show there is a private prayer with the singers.

GLORIA GAITHER: Lord, we love you, and we are always in awe when people come. We pray that we can be the channel that you can use to speak to somebody who is hurting or discouraged or just plain tired.

JONES: Among Bill Gaither’s fans are some who tell him they are not religious.

BILL GAITHER: I think it’s the music. I think it’s a positive message. I think it’s community.  I think it’s them seeing people care about other people.

VERNA FISHER: I’m here because I love the spirit of worship. I love to watch how they—they’re not there to perform. They’re there to honor God.

JONES: For the old timers, hanging out with Bill and Gloria has kept them from fading into oblivion. For some of the younger folks, Bill Gaither has catapulted their careers. Ask the Booth Brothers.

RONNIE BOOTH: I mean, it just rapidly got bigger for us, bigger in that we were reaching audiences that we would have never reached before, all because of his platform.

MICHAEL BOOTH: Let’s encourage each other, let’s love each other, support each other, and that is a summed-up way of the Bible expressing how the family of God is supposed to work, and so it’s a little picture of the way the family is supposed to work is how this Gaither thing expresses itself night after night, on stage and off.

LYNDA RANDLE: What I love that Bill says it’s not–we do a little entertaining because it’s fun and people love to laugh, but then there’s the ministry aspect of it.

Gaither DVD: …from the Wesleyan Campground in Fairmount, Indiana, Bill Gaither and friends welcome you to Down by the Tabernacle…

JONES: Gloria and Bill still live in the house they bought back when they got married.

GLORIA GAITHER: We had a marriage interview one time for a magazine, and they said do you ever fight? To which we said, oh, you could sell tickets.

JONES: Their business world has changed dramatically in the past few years. They have built the Gaither Music Company located along the highway leading through the middle of their home town. They travel like rock stars—huge touring buses, sometimes a private jet.

Gloria Gaither with visitors: We’re so glad to have you, and if any of your want to do a studio tour…

JONES: And they’ve added a gift store-restaurant-reception facility for tourists and fans.

ROBERT SILVERS: I’d say if there’s ever been a legend in gospel music, it has to be the Gaithers.

JONES: Are you a minister or a musician?

BILL GAITHER: Yes. Yes. Next question?  My old mentor-buddy used to say that Jesus must have been a pretty good entertainer to hold the attention of 5,000 people on a hillside at the Sea of Galilee without a microphone.

JONES: In these times when the music world is in constant change, it is a near miracle that Bill, now 73, and Gloria Gaither are still doing what they started doing decades ago. To paraphrase those early Bill Gaither lyrics, the Gaithers have been “touched.”

Bill Gaither singing: “He touched me. Oh, he touched me, and all the joy that floods my soul…”

For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, I’m Phil Jones in Alexandria, Indiana.

Bill Gaither singing: “He touched me and made me whole.”

  • gene

    why isn’t your gospel music on sirius radio? (we won’t miss your music on IPBN, every Saturday afternoon)

  • willeen smith

    Hi, Carolyn, This is the Gaithers as interviewed on Religion and Ethics, PBS last weekend. They have a set up in Alexandria (I think) Indiana you and Bob might enjoy visiting, drivable distance. Love to you, Willeen

  • Ora M Peveto

    I have enjoyed your music for many years and recieve a blessing each time I hear it , the words and music just bring me closer to the Lord with praise and worship

  • Dorene Mather

    September 29, 2009
    Bill
    Our church is having a Hymn Sing and I would like your consent to copy the music to There’s Just Something about that name and Because He Lives for our program. If you would kindly email be back and let me know if you consent to me making copies to be used for this event.

    One other thing I have a grandson who I have been sing There’s Just Something about that name to ever sent he was borned. If he cries just sign that to him and he will stop. How blessed we are to have people like you and Gloria.

    Blessing to you and the family.

    Dorene Mather

  • Marcia Harris

    I am longing to get a copy of your dvd, Ichecked everywhere in Jamaica and can’t get one,please help me please

  • joji cakausese

    i have always been blessed listening to Gaither groups gospel music..please I need to purchase your latest releases on DVDs ..help me

  • Carol Plant

    I have about 47 of the Gaither tapes. Love every one of them and I share them with an elderly lady who has no intertainment but her music.They are a blessing to her and also to me i have kistened to them severla times myself. No better intertainment anywhere.

  • Clifford Germann

    I got cd named Bill Gaither I do not want Gaither net i just want know how listen to music or send me cd that plays not have gaither net on it and cannot get off it

  • danny

    I would like to know if you could tell me how a person should feel when singing the song entitled He Touched Me…. if I get the feel for this song and I already have I know I can sing this song as a solist in my church so how would you feel if you sang this beautiful song and know you have sang this song a lot in the past years such a beautiful song indeed one of my favorites so email me back and let me know how I should feel when singing this song if you can give me some advice here Danny in VA

  • Marty

    A year ago I rededicated myself back to the Lord after being out of His will for almost 18 Years. I listened to this song about 15 times this evening and every time I listened to it, I was sobbing my eyes out because Jesus Touched me and Made Me Whole again. I am No longer the same. OH The JOY That Floods My Soul.

  • Ron Williams

    I live in Wigan, Lancashire. England. We love to watch your homecoming videos, and on the sky channel on the TV, especially Ernie Haase and Signnature sound. It makes us feel so joyfull

  • Suphai Star

    hi..Uncle Bill, i’m too much excited above u and your whole freedom band members, i bought every videos of yuor and watch every time. God bless u, your family & freinds….. do try to visit our state, Meghalaya India. thats what i eagerly wants..bye

  • Buster Evans

    Hello Bill Gloria Gaither ( I hope this note gets to you)
    I have loved your music since I was first introduced to it through your Bill Gaither Trio Live album in the early 1970′s. this album had..the king is coming, Since Jesus passed by ( with Gloria telling the story), the night before easter, and many more (a 2 record set).
    I want to thank you for all your dedication and hard work,and all your contributions to the Gospel music world . I have traveled a long road since those days and that album, but your music has always brought a great comfort to my soul when I hear it or even sing it to myself.
    I have heard the Gaither Vocal Band and find them to be just as empowering, and inspiring, as your music was then.. I want to commend you all for KEEPING the beauty and GLORY of GOD alive in this world today through your music. May God bless and keep you always in his care….

  • judy – carnesville ga

    My husband and I go to many of the homecoming concerts. We are always inspired and touched by the singing. My father, aged 94, sang gospel songs on the radio in the 1930′s and his voice continues to be strong and a blessing when he sings. Gospel quartet and convention style singing is very popular in NE Georgia. Thanks to you for the years promotion gospel singing and keeping it alive. The concerts have done so much to help gospel music. Everyone gives you the credit for all these years of keeping our favorite music ongoing!. May God bless you and keep you always in his care.

  • Susan Olsen

    Dear Bill Gaither,
    II love listening to your singing.I also enjoy singing
    Ever since Ive been a young girl I have been singing.
    I have been lamenting in prayer to God as to his will for my life
    The LORD has put a burden on my heart for the youth to sing worship music
    I joined the worship team at my church on Sunday, New Life Fellowship A/G and I help singing worship music on Wednesday witch is for the youth.
    Since I have followed what GOD has been telling me I have received songs.
    The words and the music. I have never gone to School for music. I know this is from the Holy Spirit, I want to follow the vision I have been given, and pour this blessing back to God in worship and at the same time help those who need to hear about Jesus.
    I wold Love help and direction with this from some-where could you help?? In Gods will be done.
    I have been doing my part in this trying to get a song ready to record. I’m open to see this vision become real and I Pray to keep this vision moving forward.I
    Your sister in Christ ,Signed Blessed with a vision in Massachusetts

  • Maureen Tooher

    Hi there Bill and Gloria…
    I am writing to you just to say, i have since a small girl of four loved
    gospel music , my mum and dad were both singers and with eight kids,music played a big roll in or lives.
    i have always been the singer in our house, parties.. weddings funerals…the works. however 5yrs ago i joined a gospel choir here in my home town and the feeling i get when i sing gospel music is just amazing ..however!!! i got to learn a bout the gathier gospel choir through searching the web….what can i say OMG!!!!! what music and voices, i really could go on with so many amazing words to describe both ye and the music …. but i wont just let me say i cry every time i watch the home coming and i am so moved … i simply love ye all…….xxxx. Ireland

  • lynda priester

    Where do I send written songs for Gaither’s to review?

  • William Noser

    Dear Bill Gaither

    My wife and I own a bunch of your CD’S and listen to you every Saturday and Sunday. Also we went to Tampa to one of your concerts.

    Is there any chance that Guy Penrod will re join you. We sure hope so. We miss him!

    May God bless you and yours

  • olivia brantley

    Dear Mr. Bill,
    My daddy loves your music, as do I. I am 16, and me, daddy, and my sister love to sing old southern gospel songs at church. God has blessed all of us with the ability to sing and harmonize, but I thnik my daddy has the best ear of us all. He can hear about every part! SO i was wondering if somehow my daddy could meet yall, could sing with you. Daddys dream was really to be in a gospel quqtet, but he became an agent because it was what he could do for his family. So i thought that maybe if he could get to sing with one the great groups like yall, Gold CIty, Catherderals, Legacy Five, or anyone, that a part of hi dream could come true. Hes a great CHristian man and took me to church so I could learn about God, and I thought I owed it to him to do something special. I know i named a lot of other groups, but you and the Catherderals are his favorite, so i wanted to ask you. If this isnt possible, thanks for takin the time to read this, and thanks for goin after the gospel and tellin peopl about Jesus through song. God bless all yall up there!
    yours truly, olivia

  • amara solomon kabia

    Hi gays
    I want you to help us to worship and precise God forever , why i do so becouse we have a local church in sierra leone the people leave us becoue we are lack of musical insturments in our church.
    The name fo our church is GOD IS OUR REFUAGE CHURCH.
    Then we need helpers to help us to get the insturments frpm you people.
    Thank you gays.

  • toby simpson

    i love your music and i love george younce i am a bass singer myself old southern gospel i love it i would love to come to one of you homecomming events

  • rexie rahn

    i heard a song by one of your groups about a life celebration of a companion. it described the couples early courtship and lets have a party. i really enjoyed it and i would love to have a cd or dvd with this on it. however, i only heard it one time. thanks. rexie rahn

  • Larry Groom

    Dear Bill and Gloria Gather,

    My wife Gail and I are interested in taking the cruise to Alaska out of Seattle this summer if we can. My question is from the brochure is how much singing do you all do on the trip or is it mainly sight seeing? I have enjoyed your music since back in the dark ages.

    I am a Christian Police Officer that was diagnosed with ALS over a year ago. So far I am still able to get up and go to work but each day it gets a little tougher and for those nights I can’t sleep I put on one of your Homecoming DVD and the music helps me make it through the night. You all have been an inspiration to millions over the years and I praise God for your ministry. I am just a country boy that grew up on a ranch riding, breaking horses and riding the bulls in the rodeo’s and I might not be very bright but bright enough to know that without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ there is no hope for man kind.
    Larry Groom

  • mariana[fiji]

    thanks too the bill gait.her group singers especially to gloria and bill.i have been love listening to it an love watchingf it since it giving a message to me and my family .we have a great collection of homecoming videos with us..thank you so much…may god bless you all and keep up the good work,,,i am listening from fiji……….

  • Kini

    I am forever blessed everytime I listened(watched)your CDs (DVDs).Ain’t it amasing how God can magnify your songs?I mean,most of your songs,I guess were composed out of your personal experiences,but it also relates to me on the farthest corner of this world(Fiji).We do serve a miracle GOD.
    God bless you and your family and your Gaither Vocal Band especially Wes,David,Guy and Marsh Hall.

  • Mary Singleton

    Oh how all you have blessed me in song,comdy, talking ,I use to watch the gaithers all night
    on my Tube and I cannot find em any more I suffer with COPD and really bad depression
    yes I am a christian and listing to you all hour after hour I could relax and go to sleep
    I pray you will add that on again I have tapes now do not have a VCR I guess they are un available
    any more I love you and Jesus love you Mary Singleton from Hickory NC

  • julia smith

    please i need help in song written and some one to support me in singing song to get started to raise fund for Faith Evangelistic Ministry to buy a building to start this ministry for God , this load have been put on my heart for a while now ., i live at 1212 langley street south east., Grand Rapids MIchigan 49508..,, i love your music and see you two on tv all the time .,

  • Ron Burley

    Met bill at his home by accident last summer in Alexandria. Humble man living in humble surroundings. Very impressed with his focus on life–family, friends and ministry. His popularity has not changed or destroyed him like many others.

  • Linda Berger

    Impossible to put into words what their music and the music of their large family of friends means to me. Watching/listening has helped me through sadness and rough times as well as adding to my joy when all is well.

    First of every week I scan the menu (Direct TV) and auto-program their shows to come on no matter what time of day or night it may be or how many times I have seen the same episode. I’ve never ever not been blessed by their shows, DVDs, CDs and websites,etc. If anyone can watch without a lot of smiling, a few tears, a little laughter and peace, you seriously need check up. Something is wrong with you!

    Love and best wishes to the Gaithers~