We’re all post-Gaither now

What will the world look like after Gaither leaves the scene? I have no idea, I should say, but in a way, we’re already post-Gaither. The thing about the world after Himself is that, given what he’s done to Chrisitian music generally and gospel music specifically, it’s no longer a question of (with apologies to George Jones) of, who’s gonna fill his shoes. Gaither and the Homecoming franchise have fundamentally altered the sense of what a “legend” or “touchstone” (to use commenter JM’s word) is. It’s not about filling shoes. The whole outfit has changed.

Without Gaither, and all else being equal, pontificators like me would naturally look to someone like Gerald Wolfe as the kind person who could occupy an iconic position in the genre (Roger Bennett would have been as well). And certainly Wolfe probably will age into a kind of grand ole master role: someone who reminds of specific legacies but does his own thing more or less.

But post-Gaither, we don’t just expect a certain number items to be checked off on the What It Takes To Be A Legend list: musical ability, charisma/charm, proven success, appeals to a wide range of audiences and types of fans, recognized beyond genre as a leader in the tradition and style, etc. Now we also expect The Icon to essentially make his career (and I’m afraid it will probably be a “he” for some time to come yet) not just about creating music but also about being a kind of ambassador of gospel music to the outside world; not just about practicing the craft at a certain level but translating it and making it accessible, saleable, to a broader audience.

These are, I think, good things. But the question remains: who will it be after his Billness?

Reader gc thinks Ernie Haase, and certainly all available signals seem to be pointing his way. But kingmaking is a tricky bidness. Gaither’s endorsement and the connection to George Younce are undeniably powerful. On the other hand, Haase is almost entirely a confection of the nostalgia industry that Gaither (and to a lesser degree, Younce) created. Just watch and listen to the EHSSQ shows: beyond the choreography, the next biggest chunk of their act has to do with channeling Bill and George in one form or another. Can a kingship be built around echoes, shadows, and namedropping?

I’m really not sure. I’d be less uncertain if Haase had proven sustainability of his own out from under the auspices of his mentors. There’s a great deal of inside-baseball debates about how “real” EHSSQ’s sales and success are; that is, how much of it comes from Gaither’s coattails and the way Gaither’s product fulfillment translates into SoundScan numbers, and how much of it would persist in absence of the Gaither association. It’s hard to say, but I assume at some point we’ll find out.

Personally, my hunch is EHSSQ has staying power of their own, but I’m not so sure about EH as the new BG. Put aside all the X factors and the inside-baseball stuff, and Haase just doesn’t seem to have the necessary degree and kind of charisma and charm, certainly not to the extent you’d expect from The Icon. It’s not about his ability to be like Younce and Gaither. In fact, if anything, I think his showmanship as an emcee would work a great deal better if he stopped trying to be a pastiche of what he seems to think good gospel emcees act like (there’s a lot of breathy sentimentalism, which I gather comes from Gaither, and a comedy style that mostly seems to be an updated brand of George-and-Glennism run through the Gaither sketch-comedy workshop). Instead, he needs to find his own voice as emcee that fits whatever it is that EHSSQ is doing stylistically (though to be fair, this could be said of many sg emcees).

Because if Gaither has done one thing inarguably well, it’s been to create a performance style that reminds audiences of all the best things they recall of the music’s tradition but in a way that’s not quite like anything before it. EHSSQ is on its way in this regard, inasmuch as this dancing schtick recalls the Statesmenish and Blackwoody past while also clearing new performative ground. But it’s not at all clear how well this particular trick pony will age. Haase is a creative thinker who will figure out how to shift his appeal when something in his current mix goes stale. But vocally, Haase is also the weakest (and, if I recall rightly, the oldest) link in his group. If he has any ambitions to be The Icon, Haase needs to find a way to shift his primary role away from singing and toward being an impressario on stage, because it’s much more difficult to consistently deliver top-notch music arranged around a weak tenor than it is to work around a faux-bass like Gaither.

My money is on Mark Lowry. I saw his Be the Miracle Tour a few weeks ago in Florida and it was astonishingly good. And I say this not despite the fact that Lowry told extended jokes about Jesus and poop, old people sex, and the ineptitude of the Virgin Mary as a mother, but because he told these jokes, and absolutely killed with them. It was a mobscene at his product table – hundred dollar bills and elbows flying. Oh, and the music is often mindblowingly good.

I’ve raved on about Lowry at NQC, and there’s not a lot I would say about his full-length shows that would surprise anyone who read my NQC thoughts (which is why I didn’t do a concert review). But it shouldn’t go without saying: the way Lowry uses LordSong and Stan Whitmire in combination with his own voice and comedy is nothing short of ingenious – both clearly a descendant of the Homecoming tour stage style (and so familiar enough to earn audience’s trust), and yet entirely different from it (just as Gaither’s approach with the Homecoming Friends both borrowed and significantly departed from the singing convention style … and Charlie Waller’s GOGR, depending whom you talk to). And most brilliantly of all perhaps (and this a lesson learned from Giather, no doubt) there’s nothing about this set-up that wouldn’t work with other talent, save Lowry himself of course.

All this is very subjective, obviously. I guess it sounds a wee bit convenient that an act I like is also my pick for the heir apparent. But Lowry’s is the first gospel music show I can recall in ages that I’d go back to see the very next night even (or especially) if nothing changed. And I suspect I’m not alone.

I’m drawn to Lowry’s irreverence and his unconventional habits of mind as a religious performance artist. Many of the jokes he tells on a given night would be familiar to anyone who’s heard his act recently, and yet it’s not a paint (or dance)-by-number “show.” Lowry spends a great deal of time more or less free-associating with his audience and weaving the main features of the tour’s script into whatever comes to mind that night. It sounds simple, but to watch it happen is like witnessing … well, a miracle.

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  1. FormerDJ wrote:

    I believe the industry will return to the pre-Gaither era. Yes, there was one. I don’t believe anyone has the brilliance of Gaither to pull off what he has done. There are singers with charisma, but none have shown that they can do what Gaither not only did with the Homecoming circus, but before that with the Bill Gaither Trio and all those kids albums. He didn’t need SG, but SG sure needed him.

  2. tim wrote:

    Well thought out article. I agree that Mark is perhaps the most likely to follow up as an entertainer. His comic edge gives him a slight advantage over Ernie. Both are great entertainers.

    The only question is the business aspect of Gaither - does Mark have the business sense to make it work? Probably.

  3. chanter wrote:

    Gaither who? My question is who is going to take the place of avery when he is gone? Who will be left to trash the up and coming? Who is going to make fun of others established groups that deliver the message of hope to a world that is dying?
    It will be a sad place when those who can’t aren’t around to make fun of those who do.

  4. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    It is not what a Ernie or a Mark can do themselves.
    The question is narrowed down to who can build the best working team and the ability to delegate to other team members responsibility to fiish the projects in life.

  5. BUICK wrote:

    All very interesting stuff. FormerDJ said much of what i would have said. Gaither didn’t invent Homecoming - - he stumbled upon it (with Mark’s “help”) as you can see in that very first, very amateurish video with a sketch of the front of a bus on the front of the VHS. Gaither is an opportunist. He has a knack for knowing a good thing when he sees it and then riding it for all it’s worth.

    But the point is not just that there was SG before BG but there was SG before Homecoming. I doubt that any of us saw the Homecoming bus coming before (or even after) that first VHS release. Most of us are not the innovators in SG music. Groups toured for years before JD thought of a bus. Groups toured solo for years before James and Hovie thought of the synergy of traveling together. You may hate stacks and tracks but groups sang for years without them and then someone got the idea of singing with them to enhance and fill-out the sound.

    Before VO there was SG. Before JD there was SG. Before Jake, Hovie, James and Cecil there was SG. And there has been ever since, too. There was SG before BG and there will be after BG’s homegoing. True, the shape of the genre will change with his passing just as it changed with his coming. But it will survive.

    I agree that it is interesting to speculate what the shape of the changes will be. But I doubt that any of us can predict the next change since most of us couldn’t have anticipated the previous ones.

    Now none of this may advance the theme of this thread but there ya’ go.

  6. Al Locke wrote:

    Gaither did package the singing convention that no one else was ever able to do. J.D. once told a Stamps Quartet (publishing company) employee that this stuff is dying (convention singing). That comment he made in the late 50’s. And he was pretty much right. But Bill came along and packaged it as good as it was in its prime. The EH’s of this world are too young to have known what it was like in those days. Whoever steps into Bill’s shoes probably will never again do it like Bill. After the NQC performance this year, my vote would go to ML. Just because he understands what traditional SG music is about. EH is doing it, but I am not sure he understands it. Don’t get me wrong! EH will bring a younger SG fan into our genre with his “somewhat” more traditional style music (less the choreography). I am all for that.

  7. TLW wrote:

    Well my vote would be Mark as well. Their is just something about SG music. As said above, SG was here before the “Homecomming” craze got started. This style of music is like balm to the soul. But if you bring SG groups who can really sing and know how to “sing” what they are singing, then folks will show up. But I agree that EH is just not “seasoned” enough for this job.

  8. Glenn wrote:

    I think that Mark Lowry is the obvious, and a very good choice. I don’t see him going out and forming his own company, show, etc., but I see him taking over a good part of the Gaither empire. I’m sure that Mr. Gather has surrounded himself with a lot of brilliant people who will be there after he is gone. Although I think Mark Lowry has showed a good “business sense” with his own tour, I don’t think it would be a critical deal breaker. He also appears to be very close to Gloria and the entire Gaithter family.

    Also, of course SG music will be here after Gaither, no one would argue that, but it absolutely won’t be the same. He probably reaches more people in 4 or 5 concerts than even the better SG groups do in a year. He is a phenomenon.

  9. Joe wrote:

    Well, my lone vote would be against Mark Lowery doing this in any way. I know Michael Lord and Stan Whitmire personally, and they are both serious Christians.

    But I draw the line at Mark’s “irreverence”, as you put it; no matter how many hundred-dollar bills go flying at his product table. THAT is not a reason to excuse spiritual mis-behavior.

    Whatever happened to the fear of the Lord, which is, by the way, the “beginning of wisdom”? How long does Mark really think he can get away making jokes about the Lord Jesus, His humanity, his mother, etc.? These, after all, are jokes which, to many, border on blasphemy, or even cross the line into same.

    If LordSong and Stan were a hundred miles away and we had a free evening, we’d make the trip. But if Mark was across the street, I’d stay home. If God is “greatly to be feared by the assembly of angels”, then He needs to be feared even more so, by Mark Lowery.

    The human being who thinks he can take liberties making jokes about the Almighty, in any way, shape, or form, has gone way too far.

  10. gc wrote:

    BG is a genius. whoever obtains his war chest will be succesful. His mailing list is the key to me. He has the e-mail and address of every dollar spending SG fan in many areas of the world. Mark and Ernie already benefit from BG. That is the main reason they draw so well (and the fact they are good).They have a direct line to the consumer thru the BG enterprise.

  11. DamonfromKY wrote:

    Joe, I’m sympathetic to your thoughts, but I just don’t agree. There are times when I cringe at Lowry’s jokes, but I think I am cringing because I have been conditioned by today’s church to be so high-minded and holy that any joke that is really funny must be offensive. Do you think Jesus laughed? It is easy to say “Sure”, but what do you think he laughed at? Sex between married partners is not automatically a taboo topic for Christians (see literature for the last 2000 years). Bodily functions may be crass, but does that make it sinful? I’m not saying that Mark Lowry does not sometimes make jokes that I would not tell myself, but I hardly think his humor comes out of a lack of “fear” toward almighty God.

  12. RF wrote:

    It’s a little premature to suggest who will be Bill’s successor, but my guess is that it will be a team comprised of Mark, Guy Penrod, Ernie and someone we haven’t thought of.

    Gaither is almost as much of an icon as (Heaven help me) Elvis was. My in-laws are Catholics and I was surprised last Christmas when during gift opening, they were playing a Homecoming audio tape. I had to ask why and my sister-in-law said because it was so good and it was Gaither. Where else would a Polish family find an icon? Boggles the mind.

    If you remember, after Elvis died, JD and the Boys tried to do a tour and they even put out a 2-LP album made up of Elvis songs and some gospel–just like Elvis “would have done” if he had been on tour. It didn’t sell out. I look for the Homecoming Tour after Bill’s death to be similar. Mark will be there and the GVB with numerous guest basses, but after that it will die a slow death. It’s sad, but no one has the historical knowledge to pull this off again. i sometimes watch a DVD of the the series and marvel of the songs that they did. All stuff I remember as a child, and wonder how he put this very successful thing together. I marvel at how a guy like me who was away from sg music for so long got pulled back into it because he knew what we all wanted to hear. Somehow he did it. I fear for what is to come, but am somewhat confident that the music will go on. Someone will have to take control because when Elvis died, the music stopped. Oh yes, the commercialization began, but eveything was focused on “E” and not the music. I hope this isn’t the case with the Gaither Homecoming.

  13. JERRY MOSS wrote:

    I’ve talked with lifelong friends of BG. About the Gaither fr porch with an old piano, and Danny and friends singing and Bill “producing” What he does so well has been in his blood forever. SG will go on but no one will fill those shoes. I live close to BG. See him now and then. Don’t really know him, but the thought of losing this Icon chills me to the bone God has sent great message thru him.

  14. Jim E. Davis wrote:

    For every person who wouldn’t cross the street to hear Mark there are a hundred who would…and they do. His set at NQC was one of the most memorable of the entire week. Let’s put it this way. If the homecoming troupe came to my local arena and Bill Gaither was not on board (personally, I enjoy Bills predictably unpredicable emcee style) and Lowry was host - I would be just as excited to attend. Before this post, it never crossed my mind but now it seems like a V8 moment. Mark understands and works the same bridge between southern and inspo that Gaither helped create so I’ll agree that it would be a natural transition. And a smart one.

  15. CVH wrote:

    Interesting topic and good comments. I think Bill had a combination of honest, down-home folksiness mixed with education (he and Gloria both for that matter), a love for creating music that people could relate to, and an intuitive sense of business that was uncommon in the late 60s and early 70s. That’s the other factor: the time period in which they came into the business. Everyone talks about the 1990s until now, and with the Homecoming video/concert franchise and all that’s brought to the genre, it’s natural to focus on the success of his more recent endeavors.

    But if you look back over the years, from the trio with Danny, through the transition years in the late 70s and 80s up to the 90s, his writing, co-writing, publishing, recording and business ventures always gave him an edge over a lot of other good people in the business. And long before he began honoring the heritage of SG with the Homecoming franchise, he was mentoring and helping develop the careers of many artists who are themselves household names today.

    That’s why I’m not sure that anyone will ’succeed’ Bill in the sense of taking over the Homecoming tours, being the bridge between genres and ethnic and religious groups, because so much of what he has accomplished is a direct result of his unique combination of gifts and skills. Sure, over the years, those have become a bit of schtick on-stage, but I don’t think there are too many smarter people in the business then he. And as I look across the landscape of SG today I see a lot of tremendously talented people, great emcees (Gerald Wolfe, one of if not the best), better vocalists than Bill (yes, Ernie and many others among them) and good packagers (people who have the ability to pull seemingly disparate things together and make them work as a cohesive whole). But I don’t think any of the names mentioned here, as much respect as I have for each of them, will be the ‘next Bill’.

    The Christian entertainment media will shift and evolve and a variation of the Homecoming product will emerge; more new groups will rise to the top and more of the heritage groups will phase out. I think it’s possible that the Homecoming phenomenon will end and be remembered as an important era in the wide and varied history of SG music.

    I do agree that Mark has an amazing command of style and performance. If he picked up the franchise it could probably survive and thrive to some degree, but like so many things, it will never be the same.

    I had the opportunity to talk with Gloria this past summer and from what she told me, everything ‘Gaither’ is full steam ahead, including diversion into some new and perhaps unexpected areas (not necessarily in the Christian music end of things). The time will undoubtably come when the question of ‘what next?’ becomes reality but I have to believe, given the propensity for long-range strategic planning that is ‘Gaither et al’, what can continue will, what can’t won’t, and everything else will be determined by facts and circumstances we don’t yet know.

    On the dark side of the conversation, it’s well-known that major media outlets maintain continuously-updated obits on major personages ready to go on the air the moment someone leaves this mortal coil. I wonder if somewhere deep in the Gaither Video vault such a piece exists?
    Not that a major network would necessarily cover the story but certainly it would be expedient to have such material available. Sorry if that sounds a bit morbid but it’s just another aspect of the conversation.

  16. pastorjohn wrote:

    I know I’m dating myself here — but do any of you remember in the “secular” realm — a few years ago there was an extremely successful and long-running show called the Lawrence Welk Show? Lawrence Welk gathered together a series of talented soloists and groups, and were a Saturday night TV fixure for many years.

    Welk had a lot of talented people, but when he retired (and eventually died) the show split up. A core of his group stayed together, toured, and eventually ended up in Missouri (I think that was the place) and may indeed still be together. Others have gone their seperate ways. A lot of them are still living off the Welk name (and rightly so). But my point is, after Lawrence Welk was gone, the magic and the show was gone. He was the glue that held it together and even though he had a lot of people were capable of “taking his place,” they really couldn’t becasue the show ultimately was built around him as a person.

    I suspect something similar will happen when Bill Gaither either goes Home or due to age and health reasons, has to retire from what he is doing. The Gaither name and association will undoubtedly keep certain members of the Homecoming Family together, and there may even be some mini-Homecoming groups, or a Homecoming reunion, but I doubt very much that the Homecomings that we have today will continue. Yes, Mark Lowrey, Guy Penrod, Ernie Haase, etc. all have their particular abilities, insights, and talents. But they are not Bill Gaither.

    The Gaither videos will go on, just as the Lawrence Welk syndication still goes on — but when the central personality is no longer there, the very heart of “what it was” is no longer there. Those who like Gaither’s Homecoming format need to enjoy it — but be realistic. It will not — and really, it cannot — go on forever.

    That’s not to say that something new, different — and maybe even better — may one day rise up. We will have to wait and see.

  17. Joe wrote:

    Damon from Kentucky #11-

    I was only going to post once on this, but since you responded to mine, I’ll reply to yours.

    No- there is not a single Biblical record of Jesus laughing. Or even smiling. Never did He tell a joke. In fact, He is plainly called “the Man of sorrows”. He did weep; several times. He sighed. He was troubled in His body, soul, and spirit, as we see in successive chapters in John. But no humor.

    Christians rationalize this kind of behavior with this…”well, God MUST have a sense of humor…” Do you know the only time in the whole Bible when it says that God, personified as eternal Wisdom, laughs? He will laugh at the fear of the condemned, when they finally understand their sentence and doom for rejecting Him (Prov. 1:26).

    I may be hard-line on this, but I have heard many people who are positively turned off by how far over the line Mark goes. I have heard from those who know him that he too, is a serious Christian. But not when he gets on stage. The fear of the Lord applies there, too…

  18. jake wrote:

    Joe (#17),

    You are technically correct that the Bible never gives us an example of Jesus telling a joke, smiling, etc. But you also need to remember that the Bible often gives us basic outlines of what happened. When you place the particular Bible story into life, understanding not only the culture of the day, but the human personality as well, obviously emotions and feelings were present.

    If Jesus had been a serious, never smiling, never relaxed person, it is safe to say that children would not feel welcomed and safe with Him. Yet the Bible does state that children came to Him. That in itself would argue against Him being a staid, stoic, long-faced and always serious individual.

    Mark Lowry immerses the story in humanness. Granted, he may go a little overboard at times. but I think it is safe to say that Mark’s purpose is to enable normal people like us to be able to see the Bible, Bible stories, and most of all, the Lord Jesus, as real, not some kind of dull history book figure.

    Mark has a style all his own, but when you listen to him closely, you can tell that it isn’t a lack of love for or reverence toward God, but simply him using his own style to portray Jesus as both God and man — and in His humanity, one that we can identify with.

    You may not appreciate Mark’s style — and there is nothing wrong with your personal preferences — but just as we all have different tastes in musical groups and talents, likewise we all have different tastes in humor and storytelling. Mark is able to connect with a particular type of people, and is spreading the good news of the Gospel through the medium of humor (and song) that God has given to him. If you don’t care for him, fine. But don’t write him off. He does click with some people, and God is using him.

  19. Joe wrote:


    I agree that mothers would not have brought their little ones to the Savior had He not had a kind, soft demeanor. This is precisely why they climbed into His arms.

    But it was not humor or irreverent joking that attracted them to Him.

    I am not “writing Mark off”, for he has a lot of good points. However, his humor is totally unnecessary to his act/songs, and crosses all sorts of lines.

    The world says “anything goes”, and makes allowances for anything and everything. NOTHING is wrong anymore in the eyes of the unsaved; but we are called to far higher standards.

    Mark does NOT need to make humor at the expense of the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, he should be far more prone to “take off his shoes in His presence”, for this truly IS holy ground.

    That’s all I am saying. This humor is unnecessary, unscriptural, and does not glorify the Lord Jesus. Therefore, a line must be drawn.

  20. A. Nonymus wrote:

    To Joe,
    In regards to your posts, I admire your stance, however, I would feel its safe to assume that Mark Lowry, through his humor, has probably led more people to Christ than many of your popular full-time artists. Sure, he gets close to the line sometimes, but come on man, don’t be so stoic and so “heavenly minded” that you’re no earthly good!

    You go to a Mark Lowry show and I GUARANTEE you that you will see more people there than you would at many major groups concerts.

    Just unbutton you top button (maybe even the second one, too) and enjoy the laughs you get, and I’m sure that in the end you will see Mark Lowry’s underlying message…the love, compassion and forgiveness of Christ and His promise of eternal life if we only accept Him.

    In Christian Love,

  21. cynical one wrote:

    No disrespect, Joe, but just because the Bible does not include every minute aspect of Jesus’ life, that doesn’t mean those details were’nt there. He is all God, but he was also all man. If he didn’t have all the normal human emotions, actions, and re-actions, the Bible lies. The Bible doesn’t discuss bodily functions, but that doesn’t mean no Bible charater uninated (hope that bluntness doesn’t offend anyone). If he was as human as we believe he was, he had to have all the normal human responses. In time of joy, he would have smiled or laughed, just as in time of grief, he cried.

    Thank you, Jake, for reminding us of Jesus’ exchange with little children. You’re right. Kids would not be drawn by someone who frowned all the time. They’re not today, so why should we assume they would have been 2000 years ago. In fact, not just children, but nearly everyone would rather be around a person who smiles a lot.

    I love the speculation herein. It would be interesting to know if Bill and Gloria have made their wishes known. Bet we won’t know until until it happens.

    Blessed Christmas to all!

  22. Glenn wrote:

    Come on Joe, we were going for a record, a full subject with no “I’m a better Christian than you are” post. Since you know Stan and Lordsong so well, do they say that they are better Christians than Mark Lowry? Otherwise, they might not take the “evil” man’s money.

    Also, pastonjohn, that was a great commentary.

  23. Dee Dee wrote:

    Mark Lowry as a replacement for Gaither, not a bad choice. Guy Penrod great guy but not sure if he would even be interested in going there.

    Ernie Haase, gag me with a spoon!!!!!

  24. dkd wrote:

    Dee Dee #23..I couldn’t have expressed it better myself! Thank you for saying what I was thinking.

  25. jck wrote:

    To Dee Dee (#23) and dkd (#24) –

    I’m curious. Any time Ernie Haase’s name comes up, you and others get very vocal about not likeing him. Not so with other artists. Sure, everyone has their own cup of tea, Ernie may not be yours, but why the vociferous feelings toward him? Have I missed something here? Does he claim to be the second coming of Christ or something? Is Tim Duncan the devil personified, or does Doug Anderson have too big a head to enter the room? I seem to have missed out on something, there is such a bad feeling about EHSS. I’m just curious. What gives?

  26. Joe wrote:

    OK folks- this will be my last post, and I comment only because I seem to have offended so many.

    I initially reacted to Doug’s comment “I’m drawn to Lowry’s irreverence and his unconventional habits of mind as a religious performance artist.”

    Being unconventional is one thing. Representing the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and being irreverent while attempting to do so, is quite another.

    Please look up “irreverent”. It means “mocking, derisive, rude, derisive…and ungodly”. The opposite is “respectful”.

    Now how can it possibly mean ungodly? Because Ps. 111:9 states “Holy and Reverend is HIS Name”. (makes one wonder how so many sinful human preachers and ministers can affix one of GOD’s Names as their own…)

    If Mark Lowery’s humor is “irreverent”, then it also is, by definition, ungodly. And the humor both I and many others I know have heard, is truly irreverent.

    So then, for stating what I see as truth, I have been labelled here “I am a better Christian than you are”. His humor has been justified here by statements such as “hundreds would cross the street to hear him”, he is just addressing the “humanness of Jesus”, and “hundred dollar bills fly at his table”.

    Sorry people- the end NEVER justifies the means. Never.

    This humor IS irreverent. It is totally unnecessary. It is not God-honoring. It is not worthy of the precious Name Mark Lowry bears. Just re-look at Doug’s comment “Jesus and poop” in the same contextual sentence, describing Mark’s humor, and then try to re-justify it.

    Sorry. It just simply does not work.

    And with that, I bow out of this one.

    Eph. 5:1-4

  27. AD wrote:

    You know…it’s one thing to say “I personally don’t believe this or that or think this or that”, and then another to say “they’re wrong because I believe they are”. ad

  28. dkd wrote:

    #25 JCK…my feelings towards EH are my own. I have my own reasons and don’t believe that I have said anything negative (lately anyway) about him. Since you brought it up I do think he is arrogant and Pompas and a weeeeee bit of a Narcissist. That said he’s a really great guy.

  29. cynical one wrote:

    I’m not sure I’d classify Mark’s humor as “irreverent”. He is probably one of the greatest thinkers in the Christian music world today. Just because it doesn’t conform to the norm, that doesn’t mean it’s irreverent.

    I’ve had opportunity to chat with him at length, and I REALly think he’s just trying to make some points we’ve missed for a long, long time. Jesus was human. He did all the things humans do (other than sin). He had all the human emotions and feelings we have. Preachers have been telling us this at least as long as I can remember. Mark just puts a little different twist on it, to drive home his point. He was very human, yet He was all God.

    And yes, I’m sure there were times Mary questioned why God chose her to be the mother of the Savior. Yes, she had to change Jesus’ dirty diapers (or whatever they used 2000 years ago). That’s natural. Most people in ministry positions go through the same questioning, at one time or another, why all this grunt work?

    I’m not so sure I’d be so quick to castigate Mark. He’s not questioning God or the deity of Jesus. Or the miraculous virgin birth. He just driving home points in a little different way from most preachers/teachers today. God bless him!

  30. cdguy wrote:

    dkd: love your #29 posting. I’m not a huge fan, although I’ve heard some things from EHSS I’ve liked. Ever since EH first joined the Cathedrals, I’ve felt he was week. Still sings flat a lot. So do I, but I’m not the Gaither stage.

    The last album they did before joining the Gaither label could have had more “fixes in the mixes”. Maybe that’s why they now do so many stacks — to hide in concert what they can’t fix with autotune?

    Ouch, I’m bad today! Merry Christmas to all!

  31. dkd wrote:

    And a Merry Christmas to you CDGuy#30.

  32. shanjenkins wrote:

    I know that Joe says that he has checked out of this discussion. But let me just say this for what it’s worth. Because I used to attend church with a lot of closed-minded people, I spent a large portion of my life believing that God was some grandfatherly figure setting on His throne in heaven, just waiting for me to mess up so He could chastise me. I have since surrounded myself with folks who do not put God in a little box. They pull him outside of that box and say maybe we need to look at God this way…

    That’s what Mark Lowry does. He makes you realize that Jesus was all human and all God at the same time. Until we truly understand how human he was, we can’t begin to understand how awesome He really is. Mark works to open our minds in thinking that He truly understands us. And I believe that He is certainly not waiting to chastise us, but rather he is waiting to hear from us…to hear us say that we love Him…to take time out of our day just to spend time with Him. So, I say you can throw all of your definitions for “irreverence” out the window. If I were around folks who thought and talked like you all the time, I’m not even sure I would have a desire to go to church or be around other Christian people.

    God bless Mark Lowry for making us stop and take a closer, maybe different look from what we did before. This is how we truly discover what we believe and who God really is.

  33. Glenn wrote:

    Although I don’t know you, I have loved every posting of yours that I have ever read. Amen.

  34. Ben Harris wrote:

    Maybe a better question would be who is going to take Gloria’s place? From all I have heard from people who were often on the Homecoming series, she was the one with the plan.

  35. Dee Dee wrote:

    To jck #25, I’ve never posted on this site about EH so it’s not me you are referring to as saying those things previously. That being said I do agree with dkd.

    Attitude is everything, confidence is to be commended, overconfidence breeds uncomplimentary opinions.

    I know he has many fans but to put him in the ‘legend’ status is more than I would be willing to do.

    Had his personal life not intertwined with those of the Younce family I’ve often wondered if his tenure would have been as long as it was with the Cats. And had he not, I believe many things would have been different

  36. shanjenkins wrote:

    I’ve enjoyed your’s, too, Glenn. Especially the line about taking the “evil” man’s money. hehe

    Merry Christmas!

  37. cdguy wrote:

    Ben, I don’t know about her having the plan, but I do know she has a heavy hand in selecting the songs. She has for many years, not just on the homecoming projects, or GVB, but even dating back to the trio days. Not saying it’s a bad thing, just saying that’s the way it is. In fact, I happen to think she’s done a good job. Except that they have been rehashing a lot of the same songs, in recent years. They could at least do new tracks and new arrangement, now and then.

    In that regard, I think Suzanne and Amy could step in to help Bill. Suzanne seems to be similar to Gloria in writing style. Maybe she also inherited the gene that would help in the programming.

    Don’t know if you’d noticed, but the earliest homecoming videos were not as structured, just sitting around the piano calling out song titles. Once they started programming them, I think the content got better. Probably Gloria’s influence, rather than Bill just playing with his friends.

    I hear a lot of people who don’t like the newest videos from the last couple of years, but I think that’s mostly older people who watched for the Vestal’s and Jakes of the world. Now that they’ve passed on, there’s only so much footage you can rehash. I like the new ones, too. I’m a fan on contemporary s/g, as much as the traditional.

  38. TLW wrote:

    This topic has really stirred the pot! First off I think we need to remember that we don’t answer for ML. With that being said, If someone has such strong feelings about ML, well he has already solved his problem by saying he wouldn’t go see him. Done Deal! But if you feel ML is really doing all the terrible things stated, then why not pray for him? Now that’s a novel idea isn’t it? After all ML is reaching a lot of people. I like ML just fine. I think he makes fun of himself more than anything and his own shortcommings as a human. So ML is a little radical, SO WAS JESUS in his time! The religous didn’t accept Jesus either. ONe thing to remember that there is GRACE is God’s Kingdom. But I thought this topic was about when and IF BG is passing the torch. I’m sure if that does happen BG has someone in mind. But this topic sure has given many something to “chew” on.
    Merry Christmas to all and Peace!

  39. BillyBob wrote:

    Quite the thread, this. First, my opinion on things post-Gaither. I doubt that it would ever continue after Bill retires. He’s just too much the glue that holds it all together. Now if indeed it was to continue, I also think that Mark would be the one to carry it on. Guy Penrod is a great guy, no pun intended, but his emceeing work is just an unknown. As for Ernie, nah…I’ve seen him a number of times, and he’s just not the one who’d be able to carry on at the level that Bill has. Not to judge, but he and his men just seem way too full of themselves. Bill’s the master of the aw shucks kind of an impresario, and he makes the heavily scripted seem very off-the-cuff. His is a rare art form, for sure, at least in sgm. My two cents on Mark. Does he go a bit too far at times? Probably. But, I’ve also seen him enough to know that he’s the real deal, and has an honest desire to portray Jesus as both a real man, as well as the Son of God. He wants to make Him accessible, and to show Him as the loving Savior that He is. His concerts with Stan Whitmire and LordSong are seamless and thoroughly professional, and like him or not, he attracts people who have no clue who Jesus is. Some of his shtick does cross the boundaries, I think, but God forbid that I judge the man. But I’ve sat and cringed a few times myself, and wished that he’d back down around 15% on a few of his comments. To me, anyway, if he would, there’d be no one in his class. Shoot, there isn’t anyone even close to him as it is. Of all the Gaither alumni, no one has come as far as Mark. So, he gets my vote, for what it’s worth.

  40. Faith wrote:

    EH??? YUCK. I totally agree with #35, Dee Dee. “…had his personal life not intertwined with those of the Younce family…” no one in SG would have wanted him! Ahh, gotta love nepotism.
    EH is probably one of the most overrated individuals in SG today. Let’s face it, he couldn’t fit on any stage smaller than Gaither’s with that swollen Barry Bonds head of his.

  41. dkd wrote:

    #40 Faith….i don’t know who you are but you are my Hero!

  42. brad wrote:

    I started watching the Gaither videos in the beginning but dont really watch them anymore but i think BG has done a great job keeping gospel music alive.i would love to see other artist on the videos.its always the same ones.But i believe one lead singer for Gaither gets over looked dont forget Michael English spent 10 years with Gaither and has a voice like no one else.i know that many of the new Gaither fans dont remember the beginning of the Gaither explosion.

  43. CVH wrote:

    RE: #42 Brad…

    English is still a pretty fair vocalist although I think his best work was done 10 or more years ago. Despite his personal struggles, he’s been working to come back for a while now and, for whatever combination of reasons, the industry hasn’t been overly impressed or receptive. I don’t know about fans. I’m not sure if it’s hesitancy over the morals questions (which, forgiveness/restoration assumed, shouldn’t be an issue…they wouldn’t be in any other genre of music) or that his new material just doesn’t have what it used to. Regardless, Gaither’s loyalty to people over the years exemplifies grace more than the actions of many in the industry.

  44. wackythinker wrote:

    ME has been on a few of the Homecoming projects, and has done some concerts with the troupe, but not as consistantly as I’d like to see. He is still a great singer. And my wife thinks he’s still easy to look at. :-)

  45. Glenn wrote:

    CVH (#43),
    I agree very much with your comment, and wachythinker, I don’t care what you say (althought I agree), I love your moniker.

  46. Poppi (pop-eee) wrote:

    I know this is a ‘pass the torch’ discussion, but I, my wife, and several of our friends do not care to attend the Gaither Homecoming Concerts. We did attend one eleven years ago and when we left decided we wouldn’t make that mistake again. Now hold on….wait just a minute. We do like good gospel quartet singing and have since the late 40’s. We purchased most of the Homecoming videos and enjoy most of the singers and songs. What we didn’t like was the deafening sound, especially the ‘canned’ background so-called music. There is no way the lyrics can be heard if one is not familiar with the song.

    I am convinced all the LOUD background noise, oh I meant music, was added to drown out the mistakes. We’re not rock and rollers.

    I like Ernie Hasse, but Ernie is not an emcee, not even for SSQ. Ernie tries to be funny like his father-in-law was, but that’s impossible. Mark Lowry would probably be a good replacement if he wasn’t overly silly. There’s a big difference of being funny and being silly. It gets old in a hurry.

    Good gospel quartet sound of days gone by, has become tarnished with what is called SOUTHERN GOSPEL. SG is nothing more than a Nashville country/western sound and we’re not country music fans.

    Give me good quartet harmony singing a song accompanied with a piano that reaches inside me and feeds my heart and soul……. and I still have my hearing when I leave.

    Leave those drums and ‘crying’ steel guitars in Nashville!!!!!!!……….with the country/western sangers

  47. cynical one wrote:

    Poppi — #46 — I’m surprised you like the videos, if you don’t like the concert. It’s the same music. Maybe not as loud, since I don’t know how loudly you play your TV at home. But the “canned” music in the concert is the same “canned” music you say you enjoy on the video.

    I can understand your concern for inappropriate volume, but it has nothing to do with the instrumentation used. It may have to do with where you sit. I often see people sit right down front, directly in front of the speakers (especially at church concert — open seating), then complain it’s too loud. That irks me to no end.

    The last time I went to a Homecoming concert, the idiots behind us gave a running commentary (not too softly, I might add) on each song and each performer. It was at Christmastime a year ago, and at one of the quietest, tender moments, the lights went down, and the harmonica began playing “Silent Night”. Real loudly, this old man (imagine the most hick southern accent you’ve ever heard) said, “I’ll bet that’s Jeff Easter playin’ the har-mon-eekee, right there!” It was as though they thought they were at home, watching a video, giving each other a running commentary on each song. At the end of “White Christmas”, one of them let out a real loud “AMEN!”


  48. Miss Priss wrote:

    Joe, I couldn’t agree with you more. You are right on target with what you said in post #9. God bless you!

  49. Poppi (Pop-eee) wrote:

    cynical one:

    I said we enjoy(ed) ‘most’ of the songs and singers, not ALL of them on the Homecomeing Videos. Also you said….”I can understand your concern for inappropriate volume, but it has nothing to do with the instrumentation used.”…. That’s hogwash! It most certainly does have to do with the instrumentation used along with the volume too loud. Just because there are some like yourself who likes loud banging drums and steel guitars drowning out the lyrics, does not justify your statement of ….. “has nothing to do with instrumentation”.
    I hear and read about what is called SG music having its’ problems. If these groups, and there are several of them, would realize that this loud canned so-called music, which is a bunch of noise, has greatly contributed to SG’s problems. Listen to me now! The groups that have done well in the past and those who are doing well now are the ones who has the goods. Not a bunch of loud noise.

    I cannot stand loud drums and steel guitars. Too much of Nashville sound.

  50. Shari Chumley wrote:

    Do you happen to remember the name of an album that they released in the 70’s that had Sunday School Songs? I grew up listening to them and would like to share it with my children. It had a song about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; David, and many many more.


  51. John Doe wrote:

    I do believe what we have here is a failure to communicate! Benjy will arrive and take over! Come on peeps, get with the in knowledge and listen up for once in your life! It is Benjy all way! By the way, I used a fake name, to keep my source confidential!

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