Since their start in 1981, the award-winning Gaither Vocal Band has blazed a trail through the world of gospel music that has forever raised the standard in four-part male harmony. Now, for the first time ever, past and present group members join together in this two-volume Gaither Vocal Band Reunion to celebrate more than a quarter-century of songs which document their rich legacy. Hosted by Bill Gaither, this historic gathering includes a treasury of great music, countless stories, moving performances, and power-packed harmonies that feature some of the finest voices in gospel music history, including: Gary McSpadden, Steve Green, Lee Young, Larnelle Harris, Jim Murray, Jon Mohr, Michael English, Buddy Mullins, Mark Lowry, David Phelps, Russ Taff, Guy Penrod, Marshall Hall and Wes Hampton.
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Gaither Vocal Band [Reunion Volume 1]| Posted February 02, 2009 [MAIN REVIEW]
The Gaither Vocal Band, led by legendary artist Bill Gaither has always been among the staple performers of Southern Gospel music since it’s beginnings as the Gaither Vocal Trio back in the late 50’s. Originally comprising of Bill, his younger brother Danny and sister, Mary Ann, the Gaither Vocal Trio, the new Gaither Vocal Band on up to it’s current name of just plain Gaither Vocal Band, the Vocal Band (for short) has featured some of the most gifted and talented vocalists of our time.
Some of those include, Steve Green, Gary McSpadden, Larnelle Harris, Michael English, Guy Penrod, David Phelps and Jonathan Pierce. 2009 marks a special release for the Gaither Vocal Band, reuniting for one show the biggest names to share the stage with Gaither. The reunion concert, broken up into two albums (or DVDs) showcases the former members singing songs from a time when they were with the group. While I am more familiar with the GVB material from the late 90’s until now, even some of those songs sound different from the original recordings spanning as far back as the 80’s. My introduction to the GVB came mainly with the release of the 2004 release Best of the Gaither Vocal Band, a two-disc set that comprised of many of the hits from the past, but re-recorded with the lineup of 2003.
So when I went to listen to some of the songs I was familiar with, I found that they sounded worlds apart from the ones I had come to know. Nonetheless, I was quite impressed with the fact that Gaither was able to get most of his earlier members together with the exception of Jonathan Pierce. I was also shocked when I found out that 2009 also marked another rather big change within the band. In January 2009, it was announced on the GaitherNet.com that long-time lead vocalist Guy Penrod had left the group, and was replaced by Michael English. Also gone is Marshall Hall (Baritone).
Penrod was a fan-favorite and had been the longest tenured member of the Vocal Band in its 40-year history first joining the group in 1995, second only to Gaither himself. Good news still remained though. I was excited to find out that long-time member and comedian Mark Lowry had made his return as well as David Phelps (formerly of Word Records) with Wes Hampton also staying on board.
The Reunion albums comprise of hits from the past and present. I think any GVB fan will be impressed with this new collection of music, brought forth by some new and some older, but familiar faces. Some of the tracks that I enjoyed from Volume 1 are “Can’t Stop Talking about Him”, “Your First Day in Heaven” and “There Is a River”. “Build and Ark”, “Mary Did You Know?” & “I’ll Meet You in the Morning” were the tracks that I enjoyed off of Volume 2. There was however one particular track that was missing from both of these albums that I felt should have been included. “Alpha & Omega”. In my opinion there was no other GVB song that best portrayed the vocal and harmonies as this song did. I was quite surprised that this track wasn’t included on these releases. Nonetheless, I was still pretty impressed with the overall presentation of this project.
Not only was the show recorded onto two CDs, but it was also released simultaneously on two DVDs as well. So whether you like to watch the show, or listen, there is a format for everyone.
While Southern-Gospel is not my favorite style of music, I have always enjoyed the harmony of the vocalists from the GVB. I think this release really showcases the talent from past and present and brings it to the listener/viewer in a way where the old tracks become new and alive again. With the current lineup of the GVB I’m anxious to see how this group jives together. They certainly have the talent, that’s for sure.