Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Job 34-35; Acts 15:1-21
If you are going to speak f Gospel music in the latter half of the 20th-century and the early years of the 21st-century, you cannot begin the conversation and not include Bill and Gloria Gaither. Their music has been a powerful force on the scene of Christian music for decades.
Bill Gaither originally gained attention as part of the Bill Gaither Trio in the early 1970s. He truly became famous in the 1990s as people got to know his music through his work on the Gaither Homecoming. Homecoming was a series of home videos and records that showcased Southern gospel stars.
Over the years, before The Bill Gaither Trio, in between the trio and Homecoming and in the years since Gaither has spent a great deal of time writing music. He has written more than 700 songs. His most famous work includes, “He Touched Me,” Something Beautiful,” and “Because He Lives.”
Much of Gaither’s work, writing, producing and performing is often done in collaboration with his wife Gloria. The duo has released dozens of albums. Even more, recordings of music he has written have taken place either as part of the Bill Gaither Trio, the Gaither Vocal Band, or the Gaither Homecoming.
Bill and Gloria’s success has been impressive, some might even say pleasantly surprising. The Bill Gaither Trio was inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2004, the Gaither Homecoming tour was rivaling the ticket sales of well-known secular performers.
Bill Gaither was born in Alexandria, Indiana on March 28, 1936, on the family farm. Gaither has remained a resident of Indiana all his life. In 1956 he began the Bill Gaither Trio with his brother Danny and sister Mary Ann. With his siblings Danny and Mary Ann. The three were students at Anderson University (a private school affiliated with the Assemblies f God) in Anderson Indiana.
Gloria, born and named Gloria Lee Sickal, was born in 1942 and was raised in the area around Battle Creek Michigan. She, at one time, worked for Kellog. Like Bill, she attended Anderson University where she had a triple major of English, French, and Sociology.
After graduation in 1959 Bill went to work as an English teacher. Three years later he married Gloria Sickal. The same year, Danny left the trio and moved to Ohio. Gloria replaced Danny in the trio.
Bill and Gloria didn’t meet at Anderson. They met sometime later while both were teaching at Alexandria Monroe High School. As said above, Bill taught English. Gloria was teaching French.
Bill, in 1963, wrote “He Touched Me,” still a popular Gaither standard, at the suggestion of an evangelist an evangelist friend. The evangelist, Dr. Dale Oldham. The Gaither Trio recorded the song the following year. Since then there have been many who have recorded the song including, Oldham’s son Doug, Elvis Presley, Vestal Goodman, The Statesmen, Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Jordanaires, Lawrence Welk, and even Jimmy Durante, to name only a few. Needless to say, by this point, Gaither was becoming a known name in music circles in general and Gospel circles in particular. In 1967 the demands of two careers, teaching and music, became too much and Bill left the classroom to focus on his growing music career.
The Bill Gaither Trio won their first Grammy Award for Best Inspirational Performance in 1974 for their song, “Let’s Just Praise the Lord.” In 1976 they again won the same award, this time for “Jesus, We Just Want to Thank You.”
The Trio continued working but Bill also had a new interest, The Gaither Vocal Band, formed in 1981. In the years to come, The Gaither Vocal Band won two Grammy Awards in 1991 and 2009 and 17 Dove Awards.
When the Gaither Vocal Band recorded an album called Homecoming in 1991, featuring several other stars in Southern gospel. In a brilliant move, someone recorded these guests and the band trading stories and songs. The result was Homecoming and people loved it. The recordings would bring in some old stars, some new stars, some emerging artists, and have them all talk and sing on camera.
Since 1991 Gloria has focused on Homecoming. On the television broadcasts, she has performed, produced, written, recorded and narrated. She has done the same with the DVD, video, and audio versions.
“Our calling is not just making music… but communicating the reality of Christ. That might mean birthing a song about Him or simply offering a cup of cold water to someone who needs it. Gloria and I have never claimed to have God figured out, but we do know that if He could use two imperfect people like us to communicate His Truth to the world, He can use everyone sitting in the audience, working on our staff or singing with us. If we have done anything right over the years, I hope we have built bridges where people could connect with God and with each other. That is what started us writing and what will keep us going for the rest of our lives.” (Bill Gaither)
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved