What Makes Bill Gaither So Special?

There was a recent discussion in the comments section of one of the many southern gospel blogs, where the commenters were wondering who might fill the shoes of Bill Gaither when he retires or is called on ahead to Glory. To properly analyze who might take the torch from him, I think we need to look deeper at what it is exactly Bill does.

It’s easy to say that all Bill does is emcee, sing bass (or half-bass, I guess), and interviews other artists on the videos. But there’s so much more to what Bill does that often goes unnoticed. I think the best description of Bill’s impact was something I heard on one of the earlier Homecoming videos

What makes Bill Gaither so special? Why, in only 60 years, has he been able to change Christian music? Look at him. He doesn’t sing that great, and he’ll tell you that. He doesn’t play [piano] very well, at all…and Ben [Speer] will tell you that. And on top of that, he really stutters. That’s not an act, he really stutters. He gets hung up on a syllable, and that’s why the concerts last so long. But why is Bill so special? I’ll tell you why I think Bill Gaither is special. [It’s] because he’s spent nearly a lifetime making everyone else look good.

–Mark Lowry

Sure, it was meant to be funny, but I think everyone knows that there is a lot of truth buried within the comedic nature of the quote. As was discussed in the blog post I mentioned above, current promotional material for Homecoming Tour features the Gaither Vocal Band, as well as Mark Lowry, David Phelps, Michael English, Wes Hampton, Gordon Mote (their pianist), and Kevin William (their guitarist). Do you really think it was unintentional to include pictures of each Vocal Band member not named Bill Gaither? I believe this is another great example of Bill making everyone around him look good.

Now that we’ve looked a little deeper at what makes Bill Gaither so successful, is it possible to identify someone who will carry the torch once Bill is finished? Personally, I have a hard time thinking of someone.

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5 thoughts on “What Makes Bill Gaither So Special?

  1. Lowry couldn’t have said it better! Bill has spent most of his life promoting other SG artists. I got into SG because of his videos, which I love to death as you can tell. He uses his resources to uphold the God he loves and to help those who share the same passion as his for SG to reach the world.I got into SG because of his videos, which I love to death as you can tell. He uses his resources to uphold the God he loves and to help those who share the same passion as his for SG to reach the world.

  2. bill’s love of others better than himself is what makes him so much more easy to listen to than say ehss. I think mark would make a good second in command

  3. Given the current spiritual health of many (most) churches, I am not optimistic about the future of Southern Gospel music after Bill Gaither has passed from the scene. Not only is he a powerful advocate for the genre on his own, but his homecoming series is the only thing keeping alive the memories of Jake Hess, George Younce, the Goodmans, and those other pillars of Southern Gospel music we all know and love so much. Modern groups are forced to underwrite their own recording projects, and are being crushed beneath the avalanche of contemporary groups. There seems to be a severe shortage of opportunities for artist development and project design. Everything is “indie” today. And, if you’ve noticed, for the most part, major southern gospel concerts seem, at least, to be represented by the same very limited lineup of artists and groups, many of whom are proteges of Gaither. Perhaps God will allow him to remain here until Jesus comes, and this will be a moot issue. But, we really don’t know about that, do we?

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