The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2024

Gaithers and Gospel…

In the early 1990s, the gospel music scene witnessed expansive growth thanks to the Gaither Vocal Band. On Sunday, April 23 at 7 p.m. the long-anticipated arrival of the iconic group will take place on The Niswonger stage. The Gaither Vocal Band was founded by legendary gospel songwriter and producer, Bill Gaither. They have performed in the world’s most prestigious venues, including the Sydney Opera House, The Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall. The list of men who have comprised the Gaither Vocal Band over the past 30 years reads like a “Who’s Who” among the gospel music industry’s best-loved voices, including Steve Green, Larnelle Harris, Mark Lowry, Michael English, David Phelps, and many others.

So just who is this great trailblazer who brought gospel music to the masses? The pages of history have been written by ordinary people who had something extraordinary to say with their lives. Bill Gaither is just such an individual. He is Indiana bred with an insatiable love for music and grew to become an industry leader who would change the course of gospel music history through his written songs and his influence as a mentor for other artists.

An avid fan of gospel quartets throughout his childhood, Bill founded his first group, The Bill Gaither Trio, in 1956, while he was a college student. He began teaching English in 1959 because his musical aspirations couldn’t support him full-time. In 1962, Bill did one of the best things he has ever done. He married Gloria Sickal, who became the best writing partner Bill could have found anywhere. The couple spent the first five years of their married life juggling full-time teaching jobs, writing, singing, recording, and publishing until music became their full-time career in 1967.

The Gaither Vocal Band will perform at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on April 23. Photo submitted

The collaborations of Bill and Gloria have resulted in more than 700 popular gospel songs, including the hymnal standard “Because He Lives,” “The King Is Coming,” “Something Beautiful,” “He Touched Me,” “It Is Finished,” “There’s Something About That Name,” “Let’s Just Praise The Lord,” and “Loving God, Loving Each Other.” Bill and Gloria have collectively won eight Grammy Awards and more than a dozen nominations. They have received more than two dozen Dove Awards from The Gospel Music Association, earning the title of Gospel Music Association’s “Songwriter of the Year” eight times.

After decades of unprecedented musical successes, Bill and Gloria still operate their business from Bill’s hometown of Alexandria, Indiana, and they dwell in the same home in which they raised their family. They live a lifestyle focused on investing their resources into eternal things.

“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 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.”

Van Wert will be alive with gospel music and praise on April 23 as an eager audience from as far as Texas, Connecticut, and Canada converge upon our music city for a Gaither Music Band experience to remember!

POSTED: 03/29/23 at 3:38 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment