The beginning of the end?
Of the Gaither Vocal Band, I mean. I confess, that was one thought that crossed my mind when I saw Guy Penrod is taking a “sabbatical” from the GVB. I don’t know anything to make me think there’s more to this than meets the eye. Rather, it just seems like a particularly visible evidence of the Vocal Band’s diminishment and the general decline of the Gaither brand in recent years.
Lovin Life, the GVB’s latest album, might as well have been phoned in. More energy and thought appeared to have been put into the lighting, makeup, and hairstyles of the cover photo for the album than anything else. Indeed, the album art rather nicely captured the album itself: highly coiffed but largely vapid.
Rick Hendrix sent round an email this afternoon saying Penrod is fine and just wants to take a few weeks to rest, and maybe that’s true. But it’s hard to believe he doesn’t have one eye on the door, and hasn’t for some time. He was intimately involved in creating the music and image of the GVB at the height of its Homecoming fame, so he knows which way the wind is blowing for the group in these sunset years.
Meanwhile, it’s gratifying to see that my crystal ball is not entirely crusted over and that Jason Crabb will indeed be making some appearances on the Homecoming tour. Daniel Mount wonders what Crabb will sound like in a male-quartet, and I myself raised questions back when Crabb signed with Spring Hill about what kind of fit he’d be with the Homecoming set. But lately it occurs to me that, thanks to Russ Taff’s stint with the GVB, we’ve already seen what happens when you try to make a histrionic emotionalistic
diva divo do ensemble work. The more I think about it, the more I imagine that, like Taff, Crabb will generate some minor excitement among the faithful at first, and then just as quickly make people miss the other guy. And evidently Gaither might suspect this too, since Lowry and Phelps are sharing Penrod’s workload with Crabb.
Gimmicks and nostalgia … GVB’s starting to look more and more like just another gospel group.