Apropos our discussion of what a post-Gaither landscape might look like, longtime reader Ben Harris writes:
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.
An excellent point. For all my carping on and on about how overlooked and undervalued women’s contributions are in southern gospel culture, my own tendency to focus on mainly on BG at the expense of GG unfortunately illustrates how reflexively masculinist sg is. Color me chagrined.
Following up on Harris’s point, reader cdguy had this to say:
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 have no idea how much of the Gaither formula is Bill’s doing or Gloria’s. As with most of these sorts of things, it’s probably a healthy mix of both Bill and Gloria in the shows. And while it’s a mistake to think that Bill’s aw-shucks “just me and my friends up here sangin’” schtick on stage means he’s not shrewdly invested in constructing a wholistic concert experience, cdguy is probably onto something in suggesting that Gloria’s influence plays a big part in the way song selection creates the emotional trajectories of the Homecoming shows.
I’ve heard enough of Suzanne, the Gaither’s daughter, on some of the videos to say confidently she got plenty of her mother’s propensity for sentimental recitations and overlong reflections on the wondrousness of God’s glorious grace. I’m no more a fan of this from the daughter than I have been from the mother, but Suzanne could (and maybe already does), as cdguy notes, probably fulfill some of the same content roles as her mother quite well.
What sort of surprises me is that no one has been consistently groomed to take over the impresario role from Gaither. Rory and Lowry and Gordon … we know these names and faces well from their part in the Homecoming comic relief. But as the premise of our earlier thread made clear, there’s no obvious successor to BG’s on-stage role. I do recall seeing Benji Gaither get some face time on the Give it Away video for his songwriting on that African-flavored song, but he (and Suzanne, for that matter) will need a lot more carefully crafted exposure if any of this is supposed stay in the family beyond the reign of pater and mater familias.Email this Post