He made a change (I of II)

Scott Bandy’s sogospelnews interview with David Phelps is worth taking a look at. The most interesting exchange concerns David Phelps’s multiple makeovers while with GVB (stay with me here; there’s more to this than hair and clothes).

Scott: “Ok, this has been the discussion of many people. What brought on the sudden image change?”
David: “Man, I’m just myself. This is how I actually came into the Vocal Band dressing. Bill and Gloria came to me one day and said I might want to consider wearing some suits because basically I was too big to look good dressing this way back then. We would be setting up or on the bus watching some of the older videos and I would cringe. I’ll joke around with the guys and say, “Here we go, count down to fat David.” I really just got tired of seeing myself like that. I didn’t want to look that way anymore.”

What’s striking here is what Phelps’ answer says about the evolution of GVB. I have no reason to doubt his account of events, but it also seems pretty clear from the developmental arc of GVB over the last ten years or so (ever since the era of A Few Good Men) that Gaither has been in an elliptical orbit around traditional sg, periodically coming closer to and then moving further away from the conventional spheres of the industry. That’s why you get the pendulum swing projects that are more and less traditionally sg (Gaither likes to toss in “old favorites” style projects between recordings of newer, edgier or CCM type stuff here and there, though of course even the edgier albums always include some more standard style songs to keep the base happy). All of which makes me think that while Bill and Gloria may have indeed helped Phelps slim down, Phelps’s return to the flashier style of performance and appearance that he brought to the group (or at least felt more natural as a role to him) was made possible as much because GVB is currently on one of those outward bound paths away from the stylistic center of sg (the GVB greatest hits thing seems like a set-up for something newer and less traditional). That said, whether or not (or how often) Gaither and GVB return to their roots, so to speak, with old favorites albums and a more traditional look and feel is uncertain, I think - not least of all because of their absence at NQC. As I’ve argued before, Gaither has for some time been deliberately building his own alternative sg universe where he makes the rules and doesn’t have to rely on the fickle or feckless miasma of sg politics. Phelps says later on in the interview that Gaither gave him, Phelps, “an open hand,” which seems to mean he gave him more space to determine his own image and style, which can only be a good thing (thoughMNP was underwhelmed by Phelps’s latest solo project: “I find it very hard to listen to; it’s not at all what I expected. I like track #3, but not much more at this point”). Perhaps Gaither has decided to stop orbiting sg, stop worrying about the silly dress codes and stupid rules about facial hair and neckties or whatever, and do his own thing. Can’t say I’d blame him or hold it against anybody.

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