The new Old GVB in action

For those of you curious about the partial return of the new old Gaither Vocal Band (sans Lowry), you might want to check out this reader report from a Homecoming concert posted in comments:

With the high tenor lead, they did some switching between Hampton and Phelps…and it was painfully clear that Bill would just point at the guy whom he wanted to sing…. And they sang. There was a mix-up at one point and Hampton came in almost a bar too late. The crowd laughed and Hampton did a good job playing it up and recovered well. It was also evident that English was not as familiar with this song as the others up to this point. He was guessing at words and notes. “Journey to the Sky” followed this and Wes Hampton did a great job on this one…he truly shined…. I found myself feeling sorry for Wes all night. I felt that the new members were in a way catered to a bit more and overshadowed him.


When the group re-entered, they sang “Let Freedom Ring.” This was the last song of their set, and personally I would have went with something different. Michael had no clue on the words, and it affected their performance. David, however, carried his part and the song did well with the audience. They were stacked heavy enough throughout the night to cover up most of the errors…to the average listener anyways.

I did appreciate their heartfelt performances…I just wish they would have put a bit more time into memorization, polishing, etc……

The full report is here.

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  1. michael bridge wrote:

    I think review critics know least about what the fans like. I usually know if the critics don’t like it I will enjoy it and I hear that from alot of people. Sometimes I wonder if these reviews are written before the movie, concert, etc has even been played.

  2. J wrote:

    Well, when you are paying nearly 40 bucks a ticket, I think its fair for a ticket buying fan(self proclaimed of course) to be critical of some aspects. If you read my entire post, you see I gave the group alot of praise…. I just think that since the press release came out, they have had PLENTY of time to learn this music. I covered a Verdi opera for a baritone friend of mine who got sick and I learned the entire role in one week.. Please tell me that a gospel singer can learn a few Quartet songs in a few weeks….

    That is my only criticism….

  3. michael bridge wrote:

    Honest question, do you think some of the forgetfullness is part of the script? I agree they should learn the music but sometimes it seems like they are doing it on purpose.

    I apologize if you were simply reviewing it as a fan…it is just those who are paid critics that I feel many times are looking for things that the average fan could care less about.

  4. michael bridge wrote:

    one more thing, is the concert stage still in the middle or is it at one end of the arena.

  5. thom wrote:

    “wish i coulda been there” for this debut performance of the new/old GVB. Did Jason Crabb sing with them any? I see him in the photos at but not mentioned in the review.

    the press release said the “10,000 seat arena was packed with enthusiastic fans”, was it 4,000 or 10,000?

    can’t wait to hear them myself.

  6. J wrote:

    Michael thanks for the dialogue. No offense taken and what you point out here is very true. After having watched English for years since his S Americans days to me he looks as out of place as I’ve ever seen him. I want this to work for him so bad–!ut I think at this stage in his life he is going to have to rely on something other than supernatural talent–i love M English and I hope he can make it work.

    About the seating–this was theatre style. The whole civic center faced the stage.

    Have you seen any of the clips from their Huntsville Concert??

  7. noah vaughn wrote:

    you guys are ridiculous,
    just a bunch of burnt out old wanna be singers who are jealous that every vocalist on that stage can sing circles around you on your best day.
    all you guys do is complain, complain, complain. and coming from an unbeliever, you guys do not make me want to become one.
    i thought their show was incredible.

  8. Michael wrote:

    I will take a look at some of the clips. The last time I saw them in concert it was in the round (I think that is what it is called) Do you think it is better on the side or in the back of the arena looking straight at the stage. I don’t like the idea of setting on the floor because unless you are on the front row I think it would be pretty hard to see. We are going to go when they are in OKC.

  9. burt wrote:

    Wes makes a pretty darn good lead singer. I really like Michael but, am just not sure about the chemistry of all this. They’re all switching parts back and forth….maybe it’ll get better with Lowry.

  10. Janet wrote:

    Point #1: The new group rehearsed together 10 days ago for 2 days - that’s all. There’s no way they could adequately cover everything in the VB songbook.

    Point #2: The majority of the rehearsal time was spent creating 5-part harmonies for the songs. Given that Mark wasn’t at the concert, they would have to sing 4 parts. Now, how many of you have learned 2 different parts to oh, about 100 songs, in 10 days? Not to mention that somebody would have to cover the baritone…

    Point #3: Because EHSS was also in the concert, songs were performed from the “Together” project. Both David and Michael had to learn those, as well. (Wes Hampton mentioned in his report from the Huntsville concert how Michael had been memorizing like crazy & was very nervous beforehand.)

    Point #4: Everyone knows that Bill controls what is sung & when - and he’s the only one who has a clue what’s coming up next. He must have a whole lot of faith in his group at this point to be able to do that. Will mistakes happen? Most likely, but it wouldn’t be the first time. Case in point: Much has been made of the fact that Wes knew virtually all of the VB material when he joined - parts & all. Still, he got caught flat-footed at the Canada taping when Bill called for “I Bowed On My Knees.” They had never rehearsed it with Wes - he covered fine, but he was a nervous wreck. Multiply that by a factor of 10 & that’s where Michael is right now.

    Point #5: I would think that the majority of the attendees would get the fact that this group is still in its infancy & would be a bit more forgiving of a few errors. Even on their worst nights, they are still hard to beat. Shoot, I’d love to just hear rehearsals & sound checks!

    And, yes, I have checked out some of the posted video clips from the concert. There were a few flubs, but everyone was still smiling. Michael didn’t run off the stage in tears, Bill didn’t throw his mic in disgust, & David didn’t walk off in a huff. So, I’d say it was a success.

    There’s no doubt that God has His hand in this, so you’re just wasting your time if all you want to do is nitpick it to death. How about praying for blessings on all involved, instead? Just a thought…

  11. russell wrote:

    I was at the Huntsville concert. I didn’t know what to expect. I will tell you that I had no thoughts of going until the changes were announced. It is obvious that this is a work in progress. I have been to several Gaither concerts that seemed “staged” or too polished or whatever you want to call it. I will say I was surprised at a couple of things. The guys struggled with their ear monitors all night long. I would have thought that sound check would have set the levels better than that. I was also surprised that there were not video monitors on the stage with the lyrics on them. To me this would have been a no brainer with the guys coming back on such short notice. It’s not like he doesn’t have the resources. This night was not like that at all. It was fun, and you could tell that the guys were having fun. Is it going to get more polished? Sure it is. Is Mark going to change the dynamics of the concerts? Well in addition to taking some of the comedic stuff off of Kevin and Rory, he can flat out sing. During part of the night Bill sat on the drum riser and sang his part or just listened. I think that this will be more and more what he does. If the Vocal Band records new songs and puts the GVB touch on them they will enjoy continued success. In addition, I have to say that EH&SS changed my opinion of them. I am not one to go for all the “staging” that they do, but them boys can flat out sing.

  12. Auke wrote:

    I agree 100% with Janet and Noah Vaughn…2 days of rehearsing…that’s not much…for anyone.
    So give everyone in the vocal band a break…and let’s say we’ll look at them in say a six month period…and please then to leave the magnifying glass at home. These aren’t singers..these are ppl.


  13. Tom Kirby wrote:

    I was at the North Charleston Saturday night concert held in a beautiful venue, the performing arts center; therefore not in the round. Great sound and a great concert. Michael did have problems with some of the lyrics; however, David and Wes covered for him in these few instances. David is so talented he can cover for anyone!!!! All in all, and even though I hated to see Marshall Hall leave, the 2 1/2 hour drive was well worth it. Another incredible Gaither gathering.

  14. GrandmaPam wrote:

    Mike has always had trouble with the lyrics. It’s nothing new. I wouldn’t care if he had to stand there with the lyrics in his hands, just as long as he’s singing.

    Janet’s comment in #10 is exactly right–there’s no doubt that God had His hand in this. I’m grateful beyond measure for what He’s done in this situation, and I’ll leave it to others to critique the performances.

  15. Hello? wrote:

    It’s Bill Gaither’s job to rehearse the songs he’s going to use in upcoming concerts. The GVB guys didn’t HAVE to learn 100 songs in 2 days. They only had to learn the songs they would be using.

    However, if Bill didn’t make those decisions ahead, if he failed to prepare his artists, and threw surprises at them, que sera sera.

  16. quartet-man wrote:

    #15, I have heard before that Bill calls out songs that sometimes weren’t even on the list of ones to rehearse (or something similar.) I seem to remember reading or hearing that after Guy and Mark joined ( two separate incidents) where Bill called out songs not known or practiced. In Guy’s case, he had the melody, but muddled through. In Mark’s case he said he just did the “watermelon” (I think) thing where he just moved his mouth. :-)

  17. DMP wrote:

    You know, for all of the whining on here, you wouldn’t know that they sounded great. YouTube is full of videos from the show, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find much fault. It’s good stuff.

  18. DarrenK wrote:

    Did you ever wonder what EH&SS the Gaithers and other top groups would sound like in concert without stacks their entire concert? I realize you still have to sing but as the critic stated, the stacks were hot enough they should have covered a multitude of errors.

    I will be honest the only rerun of singers through a group that I am waiting for is Brian, Ivan, Mike and Tim.

    Why does God call so many into solo ministry then call them back into group ministry? I have never been able to understand that one.

  19. nonsgfan wrote:

    O YES you guys, the new GVB sound SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO awful……………


  20. Auke wrote:

    to the last commentor…i always grew suspicious of the socalled ‘calling’ to go solo….for a lot it just didn’t work out well enough to keep the chimney smoking.
    I think the new GVB is living proof of that….don’t get me wrong if singers feel the need to do their own thing so to speak…blessings from me they’ll have.
    I can relate (as a Qt singer) to the need to do solo stuff, not only to showcase your singing, but to have creative control over your own thing, picking the songs you feel 100% good about, arranging them to your range and taste..and so on.
    I would love to hear Gold City’s line up that the previous poster mentioned.
    However having said that…i think we’re in desparate need of an new original group…with fresh material…cause we’re going around in circles lately in all of SGM.
    A group like Chosen Few was very promising…they had it all…Crossway was doing good at first too…
    Why does a creative,innovative group like Valor not fully develop into ’superstar status’? They sure are great…but i guess that’s the way in SGM.
    So now again my hopes are set on this man named Bill Gaither…pleaaasseee Bill suprise us not only with a new line up..but with new quality material…get a great producer, different musicians, other writers….and please don’t do remakes no more.
    Now is the times to proof all ppl wrong who say SG songs all sound the same…i defended it a long time by saying ”naaahhh it’s really a different song, take note of the subtle differences etc..but i can no longer do that..cause they’re right!


  21. DMP wrote:

    It’s almost like God can’t make up his mind…

  22. quartet-man wrote:

    #18 DarrenK. I have some thoughts on that. I won’t say that I know for sure, so buyer beware. ;-)

    First, God gets a lot of “credit” for things that aren’t necessarily Him.

    Second, sometimes He wants one thing, but we aren’t tuned in enough to hear His voice. Sometimes we confuse our wants with His will.

    Third, sometimes maybe God wants someone to go solo to reach other people, to develop their skills and become better at singing, staging, emceeing, communication etc.

    Fourth, maybe people get to a point in their careers where they want or need to schedule their concerts to be with children, to a place where in their walk that they are “trained” to go off on their own and form their own ministry.

    Fifth, sometimes He might even mean for a person to leave a group because someone else either needs to be in that group, the group needs them etc. For instance, had Steve Green, Gary McSpadden and Lee Young stayed with the Vocal Band and were still in it today, where would all of the subsequent members be? They may not have gotten the exposure, the training, or ministered to as many had the original guys not left.

    God is just smart enough to know how it all works out and to work it all out for good.

    Now, I am not to say every change is in God’s will, My first reasons should say that. However, it isn’t beyond Him to have a purpose different than what we might like or want or think is best.

  23. Andy wrote:

    If you listen to the youtube video… Guy Penrod is all over some of that, especially At The Cross. Come on… you have a live band… and soundtracks with stacked vocals… Just let them sing! David and Mark are the only good ones in the group now, anyway. I think Wes is a wannabe… and English is washed up!

  24. Tim wrote:

    Does anyone here know any of the guys in the vocal band? …..well………I do. Trust me on that. … So from a a sincere stand point, you never know. Only what the camera wants you to see on a personal level. I’m not bashing ANYONE past or present in the VB; but if you don’t “really” know… don’t know. Only what YOU want to think……..Soooo….

    from a vocal standpoint. Michael English is two in a million. (I won’t mention the other, but he knows. : ) ))) Period. The studio can do wonders; but what about live? If you are a student of vocals you understand. Phelps is amazing as well…..the dynamics of the new group are on the cutting edge and worth the listen…

    Trust me; at 40 years old and a firefighter the last thing I would be looking for is an “internet fight”….but I just ask you to listen, listen carefully…… ever God speaks to you through the ministry of the VB is personal and a deep connection. Respect the same for others that may disagree with ability, as I do you……

    Much love in Christ….in the end we will all sing on that Glorious day! : )


  25. Daniel wrote:

    I saw Michael English a few months ago in a nearby town. I have promised myself that since he is rejoining the GVB that I would not but anymore of their CD’s. I was very disappointed and left in the middle of his concert. It was just before that he rejoined GVB.

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