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And He's Richer Than Ozzy Osbourne

The Toronto Star lists six things you should know about Bill Gaither. Number five: Bill Gaither has been unsullied by scandal. The others are equally mundane.
September 17th, 2008


And Finally...
A spokesman lists, in order of importance, the improvements at this year's Van Wert County Fair:


Perhaps the biggest change is the lower prices at this year's fair.

"We've lowered the prices. You've got to do what you've go to do but you have to keep the gates open, too," Osting said.

For example, a wrist band is only $10 for access to rides all day.

Other improvements include a new 6-foot privacy fence in the camping area, more free entertainment, tractor and truck pulls and Christian comedian Mark Lowry.

Same spokesman, different take:

One other change this year is the traditional Sunday evening show will be held on Saturday evening. Mark Lowry is a Christian comedian and vocalist and the positive response to his being named happened immediately.

"If the reports and the tickets sales have anything to do with Mark Lowry, it ought to be a great show," said Osting. "Everybody I have talked to has been really, really pleased that we went with him this year."

September 1st, 2008


How Do I Get Janet Paschal to Come to Australia for a Personal Concert?
From the Huntington Herald-Dispatch:

For their 50th anniversary, Mike and Henriella Perry had two days of gatherings, one on Saturday, July 12, and one the next day. One evening, after all the guests left, Mike had a little surprise ready for his wife. He made Henriella think that the grandkids were planning to perform some music in church and brought her there.

Inside, she got a personal concert from her favorite Gospel singer, Janet Paschal. Mike said he knew that Henriella wouldn't want jewelry or to go on a cruise. He knew that she listened to Paschal every day when she did devotions, and he arranged for her to come sing.

"I thought I would faint," Henriella said of seeing Paschal in their old church. After Paschal sang for a while, she invited Henriella and her daughters to sing with her. Then the grandchildren got a chance to sing, and then Paschal led them in prayer. It was perfect.

August 5th, 2008


Help Wanted
An email from Dan Keeton:


Just wanted to let you know that I have some friends that have called me this week and wanted to know if I knew any singers. It made me put into motion a new idea I had. I am starting a website called Southern Gospel Help

Lots of you have told me of singers you know, maybe your friends or your family. Get them listed on Forward this to all singers you know. I am getting more and more calls from group managers asking if I know anyone. I am putting them all in one place, so I can recommend them to those who are looking.

July 15th, 2008


Dottie Rambo and Broken Heart
Google "Dottie Rambo"+"broken heart" and you get back more than 950 websites.


Here's the Tampa Tribune:

"I've had broken hearts, broken homes and broken health," she told me in our interview, "but never a broken spirit. And I'll keep writing songs that reflect that for as long as the good Lord allows."

And The Tennessean:

But in death, as she did in life — beginning at age 8, when she wrote her first song on a Kentucky creek bank — Dottie quickly healed the broken hearts through her music. There could truly be no sorrow for Dottie — only sympathy for those hurting over her death — for those who believe in the tenets of Christianity. The crowd's spirits seemed to lift as people were reminded that she is now where she has always longed to be: with her Lord in heaven, where her back no longer hurts and her heart no longer aches with the disappointments of an earthly life.
May 25th, 2008

Getting Older
Mark Lowry talks to the Dodge City Daily Globe:

I've dropped the 'H.' I'm not hyper anymore. I don't follow my brain around the room. I sit in the La-Z-Boy and watch it, and I know it will be back eventually. I can take a nap with the best of them, and I used to couldn't. Now when I get off stage, I'm tired.
May 25th, 2008


Dottie Rambo (Update)
Dolly Parton has paid tribute:


I know Dottie is in heaven in the arms of God right now, but our earth angel will surely be missed. Dottie was a dear friend, a fellow singer-songwriter and entertainer, and, as of late, my duet singing partner. Dottie, stand by the river and wait for me. I will always love you.

Kyle Boreing has personal memories:

I thanked her for taking the time to discuss a few tidbits about gospel music. What she did next I'll never forget. She wrapped her arms around my neck and said, "You have a very sweet spirit. You'll do great things for the Lord." Here was this legend who has written more songs than I'd ever dream to and won awards upon awards telling me something like that. I was so moved that someone I have always looked up to and admired would do such a thing.

I'm sure there have been others with similar experiences shared with Miss Dottie. I know several friends who have worked with her over the years and have nothing but the utmost respect for her, but for me, personally, that is a moment that I will always remember and cherish.

Goodbye, Miss Dottie. Thank you for taking the time to share your gift with us.

May 12th, 2008


Dottie Rambo
Dottie Rambo, 74, has died in a traffic accident at Mount Vernon, Missouri. Her tour bus apparently ran off the road and hit an embankment.

Most news so far comes from this brief AP report. Check Google News or Yahoo News for more reports as they arrive.

Doug Harrison writes:


How beautiful, bittersweet, sad, and for us as her survivors, how blessedly fortunate, that she leaves as her legacy a king’s ransom worth of songs that will be a deeply felt consolation to those mourning her loss.

Paul Heil's "The Gospel Greats" newsletter writes:

Dottie's former husband, Buck Rambo, told Paul Heil, host of The Gospel Greats program, that Dottie was apparently asleep in her bunk at the time of the mishap. The force of the impact apparently threw her to the floor, causing injuries which proved fatal.
May 12th, 2008


Now I Don't Want to Go There
From the Anglican Church's VirtueOnline website:

"It (heaven) is going to look a little more like this world than a place filled with cherubs sitting around and singing Bill Gaither songs," [Pastor Scotty] Smith said.
April 24th, 2008


American Gospel Music Experience
Initial planning is under way for the American Gospel Music Experience in Bill Gaither's home town:

Alexandria is the home of Grammy-award winning gospel performer Bill Gaither. His company, Gaither Management Inc., is located there. According to [businessman Neal] Johnson, the plan is to use the land behind the current studio and facilities to create something called the American Gospel Music Experience. If the proposal is accepted and they are given the necessary funds, the project would be conducted in three phases. Phase one would be the construction of a gospel library, museum and theater. Phase two would include a motel and walking trails on the grounds. Phase three would be building more various gospel-related facilities. One such idea for these facilities includes a music school.
March 7th, 2008

The James Roy 'Pop' Lewis Highway
A proposal for a new name for a portion of Georgia Highway 378.
March 7th, 2008


Bill Gaither - "Undeserving" Grammy Winner
This isn't very nice:

Amy Winehouse was the big winner Sunday night at the Grammys, but not everyone is happy. On the red carpet, singer Natalie Cole voiced her displeasure with Winehouse's five nominations, saying the troubled singer didn't deserve the nods.

It got us to thinking about other undeserving winners of past years.

...1973: This was the award show known the night the music died, because Roy Rogers & Dale Evans lost out to the Bill Gaither Trio in the best Inspirational Performance category.

February 14th, 2008

Bringing Folks into the Living Room
On the eve of a concert, Alison Durham Speer pays a fine tribute to the Gaithers:

It was Gaither, Speer said, who influenced her concert style.

"I'm just so thankful for everything I've learned being around the Gaithers," she said. "I've traveled with Bill and Gloria Gaither for about 18 years and watched them so wonderfully create an atmosphere where folks are welcome. It's kind of like they bring you into their living room and everybody is friends and family. Just sit back and enjoy yourselves. It's low key. It's very personal and very relaxed."

February 11th, 2008

Was It Arson?
Arson is now suspected as the cause of the fire at the Whisnant's Southern Gospel radio station, according to the Charlotte Observer

A cost assessment has not yet been done, but the building itself was valued at about $119,000, [John] Whisnant says. The family purchased the station in 1993, and broadcast music seven days a week, from dusk to dawn.

The building was also home to The Whisnants, a popular Southern gospel group that lost 3,000 CDs and DVDs in the fire.

The goal now, Whisnant says, is to get the station back on as quickly as possible, possibly by the end of the month.

In the meantime, he's keeping a sense of humor. "I always said those awards I got for DJ of the year would make great kindling and it looks like I was right."
February 5th, 2008

We're All That's Left
Scott Fowler of Legacy Five tells the Bradenton Herald why Christian pop and "progressive" church services are good for his group:

"The traditional hymns in many cases aren't being sung in the churches anymore," says Scott Fowler...."What's interesting about what that does for our market is, now there are a handful of churches that refuse to stop singing the great hymns, and all of a sudden we're all that's left on the outside that they can bring in to do that sort of thing."
February 5th, 2008


The Message that Tugged at Ivan's Heart the Night He Gave His Heart to the Lord
I'm a fan of Ivan Parker, and I get goose bumps from "Midnight Cry". Ivan says the song has a special meaning for him:

It impressed him the first time he heard it many years ago, and he continues to sing it.

"I remember the feeling I had the first time I heard that song," he said. "I just could not get away from the message. It meant a lot to me because it was the message that tugged at my heart the night I gave my heart to the Lord."
January 19th, 2008

Southern Gospel - Temptation is Still There
Donnie Sumner talks to "The Southern":

"There's no such thing as a superstar, it's all in the audience's mind. After awhile you begin to believe it and you turn into not the kind of person you should be because you think you're better than everybody else.

"That's the chain of events that happened from struggling artist to big artist. Reality is home, church and friends."

Even when performing in a southern gospel group, temptation is still there.

"I had been involved in the drug culture ever since I entered the industry. It was more or less a social thing for the first few years and it progressed," Donnie said.
December 23rd, 2007


An Easy Job

David Phelps reflects on life with and after the Gaither Vocal Band, in a brief interview with Christianity Today.

The GVB was an easy job. I stepped on the stage, they handed me the mic, and I sang.
December 7th, 2007


Faith Like a Mustard Seed
Robin Milby of The Milby Family singing group has taken pity on me, down here in Australia, and with no Southern Gospel. So he has sent me a copy of the family's latest recording, "Faith Like a Mustard Seed". It's lovely music, happy and bouncy, with great harmonies. I much appreciate it. Thank you.


You can listen to several of the songs here.
November 26th, 2007






I've Never Seen a Miracle
Mark Lowry explains:

Lowry's new tour is called "Be The Miracle," titled after one of his earlier music CDs.

"Since I'm Baptist and have never seen a miracle, I thought I'd go out and be one for somebody," he reasoned.

October 28th, 2007


Don't Call Me a Comedian
Mark Lowry talks to the Toledo Blade:

I wish I was a comedian. But I don't tell three jokes, change the subject, tell three more jokes, change the subject. I'm not Jerry Seinfeld....I consider myself a storyteller, and in telling the story, there's some humor along the way.

October 21st, 2007


Barbie Doll
She "has long been one of the most popular members of the Gaither Homecoming Tour. She was the tour’s blonde-headed Barbie Doll..."

Who? Click here.
October 15th, 2007

The Coolest Thing in America
What's the coolest thing in America? Harley-Davidson dealer Ricky Kelley is planning to build a new amphitheatre in Tennessee. He tells his local TV station:

I think the coolest thing in America would be to have Skynyrd here on Saturday, Bill Gaither here on Sunday. How much fun is that?

(Does Bill Gaither do concerts on Sundays?)
October 12th, 2007


I Was Hacked
If this site looked a little strange recently - huge banner ads at the top of the page - it's because I was hacked. So, it seems, were lots of others. My web host company has abruptly changed all our log-in passwords.
October 12th, 2007


Bill Me Later (Much Later), Bill
"Try a Complimentary Issue of Homecoming Magazine" says the subject line of an email from the Gaither Club. And when I click through to the website, I read:

TRY HOMECOMING MAGAZINE FREE Order your no-risk free trial issue right now! Just choose the 'Bill me later' option below. There's no risk or obligation.

Of course, as expected, when I scroll down to the bottom of the page I find that the "Bill me later" option is for US orders only.


It's tough being a Southern Gospel fan outside the US, and for some reason I find my own interest waning. I used to listen to online SG radio all say. Now I never do. I have a big collection of Gaither DVDs which I seldom watch any more. I used to spend a lot of time at the website. Now I never go there.

What's a jaded fan to do?
September 17th, 2007


BBC Goes to Gloryland
This might be good:

The British Broadcasting Corp. will be filming a documentary about Southern gospel music during the 50th annual National Quartet Convention at the Kentucky Exposition Center next week,

The documentary will include interviews with many of the musical format's pioneers and promising young artists.

The documentary, titled "Gloryland," is expected to be broadcast later this year.

"A form of music that is often ignored by the mainstream media, Southern gospel has a long history as rich as other more celebrated genres," Sebastian Barfield, producer of the documentary, said in a news release.

The documentary will explore the impact Southern gospel has had on other musical forms, Barfield said.
September 6th, 2007

Gorgeous, Mesmerizing - You Need to Hear Sonya Isaacs
"Some women you need to hear," writes Chet Flippo at the Country Music Television website:

I also want to recommend Sonya Isaacs, the lead singer of the country-gospel group, the Isaacs. She is a truly gorgeous vocalist. I just watched her this afternoon singing with the bluegrass group Cadillac Sky on a heart-rending version of "Homesick Angel" for an upcoming segment of CMT's Unplugged at Studio 330. Totally mesmerizing.

August 12th, 2007


Signature Sound Groupies
Bobby and Hilda Jo Woods have attended over 50 Signature Sound concerts since 2003:

“We love how they dance around the stage and perform an energy-packed concert,” said Hilda Jo. “One of my favorite things they do onstage is kick the microphone stands up with their feet.”

...The Woods get involved with the group during the concerts. They have even become a prop for the group to play off of.

“I always yell ‘Get it right’ to one of the members onstage and they play off of that,” said Bobby. “They always expect it and play along as if they never heard me say it before.”

The Signature Sound Quartet always makes a point to speak to the Woods every chance they can.

July 20th, 2007


I'm Not Black?
Gordon Mote, prankster:

Such as the closing night of the recent Gaither Family Fest in Gatlinburg, Tenn., where he walked in LEADING Gaither (who had donned sunglasses) from the dressing room to the stage. Or the comic routine where soundman Rory Rigdon hands him a book upside down and he promptly turns it right side up. Or feigning confusion on the keyboard, removing his sunglasses to peer at the keys before finding the right note. Or the transition from piano to organ with instructions from Gaither to tune it for a “black” sound. When guitarist Kevin Williams made a remark about a white musician trying to play “black” music, Mote feigned shock. “I’m not black? Nobody ever told me,” he gasped.
July 5th, 2007

Drawing a Fine Line
Jeff Easter talks about touring with his 18-year-old son:

"It's fun to have him out with us," Easter said. "But it's not a perfect situation. He's not just playing with us; he's our son. It's a fine line that's drawn. When we're right in the middle of something, he'll say, "Dad, I'm going to make a sandwich.' I don't mind slowing down for him. He's keeping us up to date. He loves Pro Tools. He's into the John Mayer type of guitar playing. The bottom line is that he comes up with great melodies and great lyrics. It's hard to believe that he just graduated high school."
July 5th, 2007

Their Blood on Our Hands
I've received an email from Parrish Nichols, telling me about his new CD, "Their Blood on Our Hands", which he has recorded with Marty Raybon. You can read more about it here.
July 5th, 2007


René Diekman - Dutch Southern Gospel Singer
René Diekman is a Southern Gospel singer in the Netherlands. He has a website, and though I don't read Dutch, it seems that he's pretty active.

He has released a CD. Two weeks ago he participated in a special church service based on the gospel songs of Elvis Presley. And he spends this weekend performing at a gospel music festival that includes the participation of The Isaacs.

I asked the Babel Fish translation tool to translate into English the introduction on René's website. Here is what it gave me:

Welcome on the Internet site of René Diekman - Southern gospel zanger Since a number of years I have been aktief as a zanger. The gospels of Elvis Presley have always fascinated me. Also songs of other gospelartiesten from the Southern gospel (for example the Bill Gaithers of 50 and the 60er years) addresses me a lot. On this Internet site you can listen to also a number of samples of my debuut CD. You have interest for a CD, use then of e-mail/establishment form.

I hope this doesn't sound like I'm making fun of René. I'm not. I wish we had guys like him here in Australia promoting Southern Gospel. (And by the way, when are The Isaacs coming to Australia?)
June 22nd, 2007


Michael English - My Greatest Fear
Michael English is interviewed by the Grand Rapids Press:

Singer Michael English says his greatest fear is not that he'll yield to temptation and once again get hooked on painkilling prescription drugs.

"I believe God has done a number on me and taken away the desire for those things," English, 45, said in a phone interview from his home near Nashville, Tenn.

"But the problem for me is, if I ever get into an accident or need surgery, I won't be able to take the stuff," he said.
June 16th, 2007

When I Get Old
The Worcester Telegram & Gazette profiles Bill Gaither:

At 71, Bill Gaither isn’t even thinking about retiring.

“I’ll think about that when I get old,” Gaither cracked when recently reached at his office in Indiana.
May 28th, 2007


Fiery, Joyful, Glorious, Hopped-Up, Roof-Tearing Jessy Dixon
Not much doubt about one of the highlights of this week's Paul Simon tribute concert in Washington DC. Here's the Washington Post:

But for every hiccup or yawn, there were as many glorious highlights -- such as Jessy Dixon's hopped-up duet with the sensational Yolanda Adams, in which each gospel star sang lead on "Gone at Last" before they kicked into a fiery call-and-response exchange. Such joyful noise.

And the Washington Times:

Yolanda Adams and Jessy Dixon nearly upstaged everyone with the roof-tearing gospel of "Gone at Last."
May 25th, 2007


As Much a Blow to Our Culture
I don't know what a biological anthropology concentrator is, but Steven T. Cupps ’09 is one, and this is what he says in the Harvard Crimson:

Removing the churches from the Boston skyline would be equivalent to creating a New York without skyscrapers. Forgetting Southern gospel songs would be as much a blow to our culture as if we turned our back on jazz and rock ’n’ roll.
May 24th, 2007


Fast Food Jingles
Marshall Hall once sang fast food jingles to pay the bills. The time spent belting out little ditties for Long John Silver's and McDonald's was steady work and it led, in less of a roundabout way than you might think, to his current gig as baritone for the venerable Bill Gaither's vocal band.

I know a lot more than ever before about Marshall Hall after reading the profile in the Charleston Daily Mail.
May 12, 2007


How Far Would You Walk for an Ivan Parker Concert?
Kenny Hill has cerebral palsy:

Because his disability prevents him from driving a car — he's subject to seizures — most of the time he must walk to get where he wants. He said he's walked as far as 35 miles to Hillwood Baptist Church in South Huntsville to hear his favorite gospel singer, Ivan Parker, perform.

May 5th, 2007


Making a Roomful of Baptist Deacons Laugh
Chonda Pierce issues a challenge:

"We don't have the aid of a couple rounds of alcohol to get our audience loosened up! As a matter of fact, I share with my comedian friends who primarily work comedy clubs that if they want a real challenge, come try to make a roomful of Baptist deacons laugh without a two-drink minimum! Then we'll see how funny you really are!"
May 5th, 2007


Gaither Homecoming Music - Expensive & Cheap
Word is one of Australia's two large Christian bookstore chains. Their latest catalogue has just arrived in the mail, and with it came a 12-page "Gaither Homecoming Catalogue 2007". (If you're interested, you can see a pdf file here. Remember that all prices are in Australian dollars.)

You might like to know what we pay down-under for our Gaither music. Here are some examples. I've changed all prices into US dollars (at the current rate of A$1 = US$0.82) and for comparison purposes I've shown the price at (where, for obvious reasons, I generally buy my Gaither DVDs).

* Give It Away (DVD)
Word - $24.56 - $15.99

* Get Away Jordan (DVD)
Word - $32.76 - $17.99

South African Homecoming (DVD)
Word - $32.76 - $13.99

Israel Homecoming (DVD)
Word - $28.66 - $17.99

Canadian Homecoming (DVD)
Word - $24.56 - $17.99

But this is interesting - on page 12 of the catalogue Word is offering a "Special 10 Pack" (check it out here) at what seems to be an absolute bargain price of A$125 (US$102.50). It features 10 DVDs, including Live from Toronto, Mark Lowry Goes to Hollywood, Red Rocks Homecoming and Best of the Cathedrals, along with half-a-dozen others.

I don't normally check Word's online "bargain bin", but when I took a look just now I also found the Live from Toronto  and the Gaither Homecoming Classics Vol 1 CDs both selling at an incredible A$7.95 (US$6.52).

Word say they ship worldwide (add 30% to the purchase price for international shipping, with a A$10 minimum). It could be worth checking out.
May 4th, 2007


We Don't Give It Away
The London Free Press previews Saturday's Gaither Homecoming concert:

But where does he get off charging ticket prices -- reasonable as they may be for a four-hour show -- on a tour that's subtitled Give It Away?
May 4th, 2007




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