GVB: Day 2 reax

1. I’m inclined to agree with this commenter, who says that the thing to watch in this Vocal Band shake-up is the music they release. The press release hits the reunion album pretty hard, and of course you know my thoughts on what we’ve seen and heard so far from that. But even if you don’t agree with me on the Reunion sound, it’s hard to dispute that this new old lineup must do more than a prolonged nostalgia tour or else the entire thing will pretty quickly descend into sentimentalized farce. All things being equal, the smart money typically bets on Bill Gaither, but then again every indication is that he thought “Jesus and John Wayne” was a great song. So, cross your fingers accordingly.

2. Yes, that “group” shot of the new GVB quintet is hands-down the worst photoshop disaster of the new year in sg.

3. The more I think about it, the surer I am that Marshall Hall got the heave-ho for same reason Lowry, English, and Phelps got called back: it’s all about who puts more butts in the seats. Gaither knows how to make great music, but he also knows that gospel music audiences would rather pay to hear middlin’-to-fair music from beloved personalities than listen to good music for free, and Gaither doesn’t do anything for free. So cult of personality trumps talent. This is the Inspirations principle. Ergo: bon chance, Marsh.

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  1. LYDIA TUCKER wrote:

    I think this story is so bittersweet for all us GVB fans. Guy’s leaving was expected but still such a shock and Marsh departing the group was a blow. He connected so well with the audience and was so nice to meet and talk with. Even if you would see him at concerts in different cities he would immediately recognize you and greet you with so much enthusiasm. Both great talents will be greatly missed but they have great men waiting in the wings to take their places. I’m sure it will also be hard for Wes as he had such a close relationship with Guy and Marsh. My prayer is that all the guys will find a place well suited for them in the future and will be blessed for their work in the ministry.

  2. MityCats wrote:

    It’s just odd about Marsh. And I don’t know a thing about anything to do with Gaither. I just know I liked Marsh from the first time I heard him with the group. He struck me as being the real deal. Just like Guy. I’ve never said more than 3 or 4 words to either of them, but spirits bear witness and their’s just screamed the real deal to me. I’ll miss them both terribly.

    I’ve never been a big ME fan, but maybe he’ll grow on me. Love, Love, Love me some David Phelps. If the boy recorded the phone book, I’d buy it. When you can sing like that, well, you should just SING!

    I like Mark Lowry, but a little Mark goes a long way. If he doesn’t get too goofy, I’ll be fine. I enjoy the comedic breaks, but they get a little tired sometimes.

    And I like Wes, too. He strikes me the same way I’d be if I had ever got to sing with my heroes. He looks like he’s having the time of his life and I hope he continues to do so.

    We’ll see. I’ll be watching and listening. I just wonder who’s going to sing “Give It Away” or “When I Cry” now. Those songs will always belong to Marsh in my view.

  3. jphillips wrote:

    The “new” GVB hasn’t made a single appearance and already people are saying how bad they are. I have tickets for their first concert together in Huntsville - and I can’t wait. Yes, I will miss Guy and Marsh, but over the years as a GVB fan, I’ve missed Buddy Mullins, Jonathan Pierce, David Phelps, Mark Lowry and Russ Taff. I think we all knew that Guy wasn’t coming back. I honestly don’t know the circumstances behind Marsh leaving, but I do wish him the best. Personally, I am glad Wes Hampton is still part of the GVB. Wes came into the GVB under very difficult circumstances and has handled it so good. Wes Hampton doesn’t get the credit he deserves because he is a tremendous singer and has added so much to the GVB. Gosh, it’s almost like God was leading him. And by the way, isn’t that the bottom line? Serving God and being obedient to His will?
    As far as the “first” group photo - don’t you see that this picture was not taken with them together as a group? David’s picture is from his One Wintry Night CD cover and Wes’ photo is from his home page.
    Y’all say what you want about Michael English, but the man can sing. In fact, when Guy first took his time off, I told my wife that in my humble opinion, the only two people who could take Guy’s place were Ivan Parker or Michael English. Have you read Bill Gaither’s statement about why Michael is back? Maybe you should.
    Like it or not - change happens. I saw some of the videos of the GVB when David was filling in for Guy and I thought it was magic.
    Like it or not, we have a new GVB. I choose to support them and pray for them - and anxiously wait for January 29 to see them in Huntsville.

  4. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Here’s a link to an interview with Bill Gaither, conducted by Daniel Britt and the morning crew at Joy-FM in Winston-Salem:

  5. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    By the way, “Jesus and John Wayne” IS a great song.

    Of course, if you have a blanket-wide dislike for all Country music, you can’t be expected to appreciate it.

    People who are tolerant of a wide range of musical styles, though, acknowledge the quality of the lyric and the style of Guy Penrod’s delivery. He excels at that sort of song.

  6. Oldtimer wrote:

    Like most I recognize that Gaither’s track record demands that he be giventhe beneift of the doubt. But there is just something here that doesn’t fit to me. For whatever reason I feel like Lowry, Gaither and English are of one vibe, Hampton is of another and Phelps is of another. They simply don’t come across as being there for the same reasons. Be careful not to read anything into that comment - they just seem to each have a radically different idea of what they want to accomplish onstage.

    The perception from someone with NO inside connection is that Lowry, Phelps and English are coming back licking their wounded pride from solo careers that simply were not ALL THAT and Hampton is probably just proud to be there ( although he would be my choice to listen to over the remaining four.) Of course Guy left of his own choosing and of course Marshall was shown the door. Gaither’s age and heart problems ,etc… have no doubt helped him understand that if this is not his last round-up he better be picking out a saddle because it is not far down the road. I think Gaither has made a decision to surround himself with people that will make his bus for him a joy and to do this last go-round for himself primarily. And - as he would say - why not?!

  7. Mickey Bell wrote:

    I thought this was hilarious - but true!

    [Quote from a message board]
    mrsboyd - 14 January 2009 05:20 PM
    And while I applaud Bill Gaither for what he has done throughout the years for gospel music . . .he is only a man. . …and he’s made quite a lot of money doing it at that. Some of the writing makes him sound like he’s right up there with Jesus.. . [end quote]

    The Reply:
    He may only be a man but he has a proven track record that he knows how to do what hasn’t been done before and make it work. Let me re-phrase that… not just make it work but make what was once unheard of to become the norm.

    And you are correct - To some of these artists, Bill Gaither IS right up there next to Jesus because he has saved a lot of their careers!

  8. Mika wrote:

    Marshall Hall is the subject of many of my southern gospel fantasies. Whatever he does next, I will be paying attention. Sad to see him thrown off the bus as it speeds into the twilight of Gaither’s career.

    Whoever came up with that monstrosity of a create-your-own GVB group-shot should have their Photoshop key code rejected. I just threw up in my mouth a little….

  9. Ron F wrote:

    When Michael English left the GVB I said there is no one who can replace him. And then there comes Guy Penrod. Guy is the Greatest. So now who better to replace Guy Penrod than Michael English.

  10. ricky davis wrote:

    middlin’-to-fair music from beloved personalities? What planet are you on? There is more charisma in the little fingers of English, Phelps and Lowry than the whole quartet convention combined. You are just trying stir up stuff - surely you are more intelligent than that!!! Good Lord, help!

  11. Grigs wrote:

    Mity Cats,
    I’d bet on either Mark or Wes singing “Give It Away” and either Michael or David singing “When I Cry”, but I’ve been wrong before. I’m more curious as to who sings “Jesus And John Wayne” since it was tailor made for Guy.

  12. dmp wrote:

    I really, really don’t think that English can carry the lead all the time. Phelps will push the top higher than that. So, I think that is where Hampton comes in. They NEED wes.

  13. Derek wrote:

    One thing’s for sure…this is just what SG needed to stir up some dust to start ‘09! It’s cerftainly got everybody talkin’! And, you can bet that there will be more people buying tickets to the Gaither concerts in the near future just to see what’s gonna happen! You go Bill! LOL

  14. RF wrote:

    Derek hit the nail on the head. A few years ago, lots was going on and lots of new direction were taken. Lately it’s been so bland that boredom set in. Mercy’s Mark quit, other promising groups disbanded and the rest quit making new recordings. Now, Bill Gaither makes it interesting again. The beloved Phelps and Lowry are back along with English and everyone has something to look forward to. Well, most everyone.

    I personally know a sg promoter who alsays said he watched Gaither to know how it’s really done–making people want to come. Bill has done it again.

  15. WA wrote:

    Day two, and I’m still sort of saddened by all of this. That may be mitigated if it can be proven to me that Marshall wasn’t given the boot, but left on his own. I’ve never been a huge Michael English fan, but it seems as if I’m in a minority. For me, Guy at his worst was light-years better than anything I ever heard from ME at his best. Having Phelps back will fill seats. He’s back where he belongs. The man is in a vocal class of one. Mark Lowry had a wonderful thing going with Stan Whitmire and LordSong. I’ll miss them, if this is the end of their road. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how all of this plays out, but I have to agree with those who have stated that this sure feels like the last hurrah for the GVB. I’ve spent two days trying to hash out who’ll sing what, and I’m no closer in my mind to an answer. Overall, I’m just sad, and it isn’t the sadness of “normal” change. Something about this just doesn’t feel right to me, and I’m having a hard time quantifying why.

  16. quartet-man wrote:

    Guy Penrod at his worst is better the English at his best? I don’t think so. Now, I am a big Penrod fan. Besides the obvious great spirit, the man has a great range and can evermore sing. I once saw a quote somewhere from someone who had worked with him very early on (as I recall) and said that he had more power in his voice than a stack of Marshall amps. (This is all by memory, but it was something like that.)

    However, English made SO many contributions to the GVB and carved out his own place in history. He was very difficult to replace, but Guy brought in his own talents and did his own thing. Nonetheless, I find it a stretch to think Guy at his worst is better than English at his best.

  17. Aaron Swain wrote:

    Since it was said that Mark will fulfill his remaining solo dates, I wonder if that includes his slot at NQC this year with LordSong. I’d imagine so; he’ll be there anyway.

  18. Janet wrote:

    #3 - you are correct. If you look at the looong history of the VB, every change has been met with skepticism by, well, just about everyone across the board. Yet, the groups still work. Hmm. When someone who is “irreplaceable” decides to leave, he is succeeded by someone who makes their own mark on the group. To me, that’s the hallmark of a man (Gaither) who says, “Ok, Lord, what do you have in store for us this time? Lead on!” If Bill had held on too tightly to whatever his “vision” was for the VB in the beginning, they still wouldn’t be around now.

    And sometimes, change comes with no warning, as in the case of the death of Anthony Burger. Now, that was a huge hole to fill, & God delivered Gordon Mote. You know, you just have to trust that He knows what He’s doing!

    I love how some are just so quick to assume that Marshall was given the “heave-ho.” Any evidence of that? Or just misguided “gut” feelings that are based on an inherent dislike of all things Gaither? Really, people. Until Marsh comes out & cries “Foul!,” save the speculation.

  19. Glenn wrote:

    I have only closely followed the Vocal Band for the last 15 years, but I cannot imagine that they will ever sound as good again without Guy. I have always felt that the two best voices in Southern Gospel music were Guy and Gerald Wolfe. I did see the Vocal Band recently with both Wes and David Phelps, and I was not impressed, and that is for the first time in those fifteen years.

  20. onemadeupmind wrote:

    I remember when Michael was done several years ago. All I heard was, “My, Gawd, Who is that long-haired hippie dude freak that Gaither has. this will never go over.” We, Guy Penrod, hair and all went over Big. In fact, to hear people talk about him, you would think he’s part of the Holy Trinity. English will be fine, just wait and see.

  21. David Stuart wrote:

    Well, i wanna see what it’s all about! so i got my tickets for here in Cleveland , Ohio on April 28th. I’m just glad i got to see the final configuration of Bill, Marshall, Guy, and Wes of the GVB this year at the NQC, when they had their showcase.

  22. WA wrote:

    #16, Quartet-Guy: Remember - I said “For me…” And, I also stated that I knew that in writing that, I was likely a minority.

    My personal preference is based only on the fact that while Michael English had enormous power and emotion in his style, I feel that he can get “sloppy” in his diction, note placement, and the like. I just feel that his style is better suited for solo work. Penrod was just utterly precise, had a better range, and is such a more “winning” personality. I’ll miss him, and greatly. I can’t imagine yet that the GVB will ever be as good again as they’ve been with Guy, but the jury is out, and my mind’s wide open. I might be pleasantly surprised.

  23. ♥Guy♥Marsh♥ wrote:

    Bill said (in his interview) Marsh had a tough job replaceing Mark Lowry. I think that is so not true!!! I love Mark Lowry and he is a good singer, but in my opinion Marsh is WAY better…I think it’s gonna be tough for Mark to replace Marsh!

  24. ricky davis wrote:

    ♥Guy♥Marsh♥ - you are obviously not a quartet fan. Marsh is a great lead singer who had to try to sing the baritone part. The GVB has been more like a boy band without the true baritone voice of Mark. I also ♥Guy and ♥Marsh but it is a no brainer to me that to add singers with truly heartfelt vocals - and not just technical ability - will be the selling point of the new - old - new again Vocal band.

  25. Auke wrote:

    May i remind the one who stated ‘marsh had a tough time replacing Mark Lowry’ was obviously ignoring the fact that Russ Taff replaced Mark Lowry, and Marsh stepped in after Russ left.
    I remember the reaction of hordes of folk who thought Russ taff wasn’t a good choice for the baritone spot…how wrong were they? The A cappella album wouldn’t have been nearly as good as it turned out to be with Russ rough and cracklin’voice. Bill Gaither knows his stuff..and he sure knows about harmony singing…and blend.
    Can’t wait to hear em.


  26. Mark wrote:

    Auke- I think it was Russ not Marsh on the a cappella album.

    I also think it is interesting that Bill said it was hard for Marsh to replace Mark when in fact he was replacing Russ.

  27. burt wrote:

    #24… Marshall Hall is absolutely a baritone singer. This dude has an extremely low voice. Mark Lowry couldn’t even sing harmony when he started with the Vocal Band…..

  28. ricky davis wrote:

    extrememly low voice? wow! I know a good audiologist in Lexington. Make an appointment. Mark Lowry has the perfect timbre for an SG baritone. I do love Marsh, but he has the perfect timbre for Praise and Worship music. His songwriting and solo projects made that perfectly clear. He has been a fish out of water with the GVB. Somewhere beyond his checkbook, he will be happy to go back to his first love.

  29. DMP wrote:

    True. I read that Marsh said he always felt a little out of place. with the GVB…

  30. burt wrote:

    Ricky… I didn’t stutter. Hall has a low baritone voice. I didn’t say he doesn’t have range and that can’t solo. He is definately a baritone…that’s it.

  31. WA wrote:

    I’ve worked with Marsh before his GVB days. He can sing a great lead, he most definitely can cover all of the range that any baritone needs. He can blend very well, and shine a solo. I think that that part of this conversation is unnecessary.

    What I will agree with is that his voice is definitely more suited for CCM or even more especially for P&W music than it is for sgm. But, he fit in well, and I’ll miss him. But hey - Mark’s coming back, and I’ll say again that the guy is one of the more underrated baritones in sgm history. Plus, he can sing a great lead. He himself says that when he came to the GVB from a solo career, he needed to learn quartet baritone harmony, so even he wouldn’t dispute that. But gosh, did he ever mature into a great one. His re-addition is, to me, a very bright spot in this new incarnation.

  32. ricky davis wrote:

    #30 - I, I, I, dddidn’t sssay uuuyou dddid. I didn’t say nothing about solos either . . .

    Excellent range - yes. Extremely talented - absolutely. Extraordinary character - certainly. Southern Gospel Baritone? Not so much.

  33. Auke wrote:

    Where did i say that Marsh was on the A Cappella album Mark? I tried to say that that album wouldnt be the same without Russ’s rough/cracklin voice.
    About Marshall all i can say..that he is a very good singer and i always (before he actually joined) was my pick as a replacement for Mark L or Russ..i hate to see him go. And as far as the discussion goes whether he’s a good SGM baritone..all i can say is yes…the best outthere today. His voice is versatile he can do anything.
    As a previous poster said “Bon Chance Marshall’.


  34. Mark wrote:

    My bad Auke. I reread your post several times and must have just misunderstood what you were saying.

    I will also second that as far as a quality voice you won’t find one as good as Marsh.

  35. Auke wrote:

    Mark..no problem…i’ve reread it myself about 10 times too…and i recognize room for misinterpertation..lol.


  36. cynical one wrote:

    Marshall Hall given the heave-ho? Since he and Benji Gaither were best buds before he joined the GVB, I’d venture to say the parting was amicable, no matter which party initiated the parting.

    And who know? Maybe Marshall wanted out, for some reason. Maybe he (and maybe Guy) needed to be home more.

    Let’s face it, Guy has sons who are now in (and/or approaching) their early teens. Not an easy time, even if they’re good kids. They need both parents at home as much as possible. I know from experience.

    I’d bet Bill knows what he’s doing. He hasn’t lost on many ventures since he got “He Touched Me” recorded by the Imperials, and then some guy named Elvis.

  37. afan wrote:

    New GVB photo here http://www.weshampton.com/page5.html

  38. LW wrote:

    I think that Marsh can stand on his own and have a wonderful solo career if he so chooses. I have always loved Mike English but, I don’t think his vocals are what they used to be. However with that said I still love to listen to him as I am sure others do too. David Phelps is a wonderful singer but bringing him back as part of the GVB I’m not so sure about that. Too many egos. Only time will tell. I would love to hear some new fresh music from them. I think they have become very predictable and tired. So I hope they will do some interesting new things. Otherwise it will get boring fast.

  39. cdguy wrote:

    LW — Don’t you suppose Bill’s smart enough to put together a new GVB album, with new material? All but Wes may be past their vocal prime, but let’s face it, they’ll fill seats and sell cd’s. And they’ll bless our hearts and spirits!

  40. Auke wrote:

    LW wrote: “I would love to hear some new fresh music from them. I think they have become very predictable and tired. So I hope they will do some interesting new things. Otherwise it will get boring fast”.

    I couldn’t agree more…i’m not worried about clashing egos…or Wes not being able to stand next to David.
    I’m worried about the music…i’m very excited about the five-part deal.
    But i pray and hope that the GVB will not only reinvent the parts, but also their music.
    I’d love to hear him sing some real progressive harmony like the Manhattan Transfer or New York Voices. Either way i hope they will do SGM too..but new stuff..or maybe obscure older numbers songs that need a dustbuster bad…hope Bill will not make this an extended farewell tour that runs for a couple of years..where they dig into the great yet predictable and eroded GVB songbook.


  41. gvbfan wrote:

    Hey guys… I like the new pic of the group posted at gaither’s site. The photoshop thing should have never been released. Also, I just finished watching both vol.’s of the “Reunion”.. I enjoyed it greatly.

    I know 3 members weren’t there… Does anyone have any ideas why those 3 weren’t present???

    I know Terry Franklin is busy w/ his ministry and family. Jonathan Pierce is prepping for one more solo project and has an interior design business, and I’m clueless about Lemuel Miller.

    Anyway, I did feel that Bill made a big mistake when on the DVD he brought up the “Imperials” connection to the GVB. Mainly how Russ Taff, Jim Murray, Gary McSpadden… were former members of the Imperials and also became GVB members. Although that is true… I felt that it was wrong of him not to mention Jonathan Pierce as a part of that group. After all, Pierce was apart of the Imperials for 2 projects… “Big God” and “Stir It Up”.

    Also, I never see Terry or Jonathan at any Homecoming tapings since there departures… I’ve always wondered why?

    Anybody have any thoughts on this??

  42. cdguy wrote:

    Terry was on a video or two, but not many. And if I recall correctly, ALL the videos were done after his departure.

  43. gvbfan wrote:

    Thanks cdguy… Yes your right. Terry did leave around 94′, so the videos were still in their infancy. However, we don’t see him much after that. Nor J. Pierce after his departure.

    And then for both of them not to show for the “Reunion”??? It’s just always been one of those things I’ve been curious about.

    Any further thoughts guys?

  44. Auke wrote:

    I just watched Vol 1 of the Reunion DVD..later tonite i’ll watch Vol 2…but i caught myself misty eyed on more then one occasion.
    Michael,Michael…that bonus cut of Daystar..pfewww although the vocal power seems to be less…i loved it sooo much…the vocal power might be less…but the power of God was evident throughout that tune.
    Buddy Mullins was of all the leadsingers present at that taping the best…buddy remains one of my favorite singers.
    Larnelle is amazing, as Phelps is too.
    Steve Green wow….great.
    But Michael English impressed me most…just by being present….and there’s no one in the world that i love to see happy then Mike. His friendship with Mark Lowry is so evident and so sincere…magical.
    I’m glad that Bill G didn’t maximize on overdubs…and let us in on a ‘jamession’ between some of gospelmusics seasoned veterans. They should have named the DVD’s not ‘Reunion’ but simply ‘A Few Good Men’…cause that’s what they are…a few good men…all of em.

    Stop please with weighing words and splitting hairs..about David saying something bout money…and couple it to his sincerity as a Christian..that’s so sad.
    Here’s a guy who could have the world at his feet…would he have gone secular.
    You doubt his sincerity no longer…he’s the real deal.


  45. wackythinker wrote:

    Auke- I’ve watched both the reunion dvd’s, and I’M WITH YOU! Just a “few good men”. And as for some of them not being in their vocal prime, I say there’s not a bad one in the bunch. It was SO good to see my old friends Steve & Jon again. I’ve missed them.

  46. Auke wrote:

    Vol 2 is great too! Michael sounds great on ‘Give Up’. And i love ‘New Point of View’.
    Mark Lowry at the very ending of ‘Make it Real’ has some profound things to say..quite ReMarkable…that really,really minister to me…and the DVD is worth every buck for it…even if the music was awful (which it ain’t). I was reconfirmed in my faith, and in my terminal state of just being me.
    Bill did it again…and the Vocal Band is embarking on yet an historic journey…mark my words!


  47. Ken Gunderson wrote:

    I sure would like to see and hear more of Ernie Haase & The Signature Sound on the Homecoming hour. Also a question - Is
    David Phelps now back as a regular on the Hoemcoming Hour?

  48. gaithergirl wrote:

    I have to whole-heartedly agree with 15.
    wa and 19. glenn! Guy can sing ME under the table! Michael just “strains” to much for my ‘last nerve’ to handle! Guy makes it
    all so easy… . He will be greatly missed!
    As far as I’m concerned he and Ivan Parker
    are the two best SG voices out there!
    Not only will his voice be missed, but even
    moreso his spirit.
    Having never really been a ME or Phelps fan I am sittting back and watching for a
    Penrod website to appear!

  49. Not Likely wrote:

    The only thing I had a problem with on the Reunion DVD was that Gaither brought up EH&SS to sing the last song with them, rather than either former GVB basses or tenors.

    Sometimes it just gives the impression like Ernie’s a mere amateur looking for any chance to jump in the limelight - which isn’t true. They’ve got their own gig. Work it. That was time for the GVB and former members to shine, not Ernie and Signature Sound.

  50. englishfan wrote:

    Just seen the Gaithers in Little Rock,and English may not be what he was in his early years,but he can still sing circles around any former GVB member or any singer in Southern Gospel Music period, he’s got something that Ivan Parker,Guy Penrod,ETC… wishes they had,He’s got style…He knows how to put the right”ENGLISH” on it….

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