A new direction? Let’s hope (II of II)

If Gaither’s having loosened the reins on Phelps signals a broader willingness to diversify the Gaither creative empire, I certainly hope this also is a sign that the Homecoming thing is about to give way to something else. But I doubt it. Gaither did make an appearance at NQC, via a commercial on the mainstage monitors for the new … wait for it … “Homecoming Magazine.” Bleh. Enough with the Homecoming merchandise already. We get it. Homecoming = warm and fuzzy merger of familiar old music, reassuringly happy times around the piano, Gramma Vestal and Grandpa Howard in their wingback chairs … yes, yes. But after a while, I get the sense that the Homecoming franchise has stopped being about mainly southern gospel music and has become the creepy equivalent of Oprah for sg. I understand that the Gaithers’ empire, like Oprah’s, is built in no small part on the salability of the owners’ image, on Bill and Gloria’s character and personality. But after a while it all becomes a little treacly and predictable in its warm-and-fuzziness. I know, I know, I KNOW how much Bill Gaither has done for the careers of forgotten greats, for the wider exposure of sg beyond its familiar borders (no need to email me about that again). That’s Gaither’s legacy, and a fine one it is. But it will be a shame if Gaither’s obit reads: “He was best known for reviving the careers of aging legends and for convincing millions of people that warm-and-fuzzy Homecomings could be recorded, printed, packaged, sold, and shipped to your home in three to six weeks for only six easy payments of $19.95.”

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