Welcome back, Chris

The Gaitherization continues. Yes, Chris Allman is back with Greater Vision, it seems. Consider this your open thread to rejoice in whatever publicly appropriate way you wish.

Update: Here’s an idea: replace the Sarah Palin sideshow with a Welcome Back Allman showcase (and won’t it be interesting to see if this announcement upstages the NQC news involving our most famous half-term governor?). Because in addition to whatever GV does on the mainstage at NQC to capitalize on Allman’s return, it would be a delight just to hear the GV standards and classics from the Jason Waldroup era – “Just Ask,” “My Name is Lazarus,” “Soon We Shall See” etc – covered with Allman now back in the mix. Another way to say this is that I hope their first table project with Allman is a greatest hits album spanning the best stuff since he left.

Obviously this change is great news for faithful and former GV fans alike. Some of you seem to have taken my initial remark about Gaitherization as some sort of put down of Allman, but noting that the Gaither-established vogue for everything old being new again (most recently in sg personnel changes) isn’t a critique of Allman’s ability. Indeed, quite the opposite. Allman’s arrival may not fix all that’s gone wrong with GV in the past few years - particularly the stagnation of the Rodney Griffin songbook - but it certainly is the kind of new and compelling reason to listen that the group’s music has been lacking for some time now.

Waldroup’s role in the group was as much a function of his youth and the narrative Wolfe built up around him as the gospel ingénue (he stayed preternaturally young looking for a long time, which only reinforced the ingénue idea encapsulated in that story Wolfe told over and over about a wide-eyed young Jason auditioning in the concrete corridor at Freedom Hall) as it was about his voice, which was ever only ok, even at its best. As long as Griffin’s songs propelled the group along, what Waldroup lacked vocally as a tenor – staying power, consistent pitch, fullness of tone, lyrical expressiveness – was no big deal. But part of what has accounted for the group’s style going stale lately has been, I think, the fact that, as the material stagnated, Wolfe alone - both this voice and his personality - has had to fill a bigger and bigger part of the space in which GV has succeeded.

In other words, can you imagine Waldroup doing this? Clearly the intent was for Kitson to be the kind of figure who could stand and deliver in this way – note the way Wolfe tried to make Kitson alone doing acoustical renditions of “Little is Much” a signature solo for the new kid. But obviously that didn’t work out for a lot of reasons.

In Allman, GV gets (back) a grown up who can hold down his own end of the stage all by himself and keep the audience in the palm of his hand. This will, I trust, be a pleasure to watch and experience.

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  1. WB wrote:

    A quick search at youtube found this new GV video with Chris. Must be from a GV reunion, as Jason Waldroup and Mark Trammell are sitting on stage.

  2. Rick wrote:

    Wow! Great move by GV

  3. Alan wrote:

    One of the great guys and great tenors to ever sing sgm. Gerald and Rodney couldn’t have made a better choice. I really can’t wait to hear the new “old” GV now.

  4. Deron J. wrote:

    I’m so, so excited!!! One of my favorite albums of Greater Vision’s is Now and Then, the 15th anniversary special they recorded, with Chris singing on the second half. I can’t wait to see them together again!!!

  5. John wrote:


    Doug, what happened? In that post, you seemed to be a big Chris Allman fan.

    Now, his rejoining GV is “Gaitherization,” whatever that means.

    Seems to me that you cannot bring yourself to say ANYTHING good about SG. If not, as you so nicely put it in your comments about the people in the room in that video clip, be quiet.

  6. RF wrote:

    i had grown very tired of GV over the last few years mainly because of Gerald taking every opportunity to express his political views (and let me say that I don’t care what his views are–I don’t want to hear them) and the really downgrade in their material. Add to that voices inferior to Chris’s and there was nothing new that they did that interested me. Now, I’ll listen. That earlier clip was from a GV reunion, and it was spectacular. Welcome home, Chris.

  7. jgurnett wrote:

    GREAT move by GV. Hopefully Allman will help bring them back to the style they had early on.

  8. quartet-man wrote:

    I saw Greater Vision at one of their first concerts. They had On a Journey, but it didn’t have the cards in them yet. I can’t recall if they only had cassettes and not CD’s at that point or not, but I remember the cards being lacking. I never got one because I wanted to wait and if they only had tapes, I wanted to get a CD.

    At the time, Chris was okay, but I was a huge Funderburk fan and Chris was no Funderburk. My impression was that he had an okay Bb, but not much more. However, when I heard the reunion songs several years ago, I was very impressed with how much his voice had filled in and how solid it had become. It sure sounds like he has done some work, or at the very least maturity and experience has helped. Nonetheless, he is now in my opinion one of the best tenors out there. This is a great move from Greater Vision. I agree with Doug’s other post that having him do a hits package would be great. I would love to hear the songs with him on them and I would think it would be pretty easy to pull off.

  9. John wrote:

    I stand corrected. My apologies.

    “Gaitherization” sounded like a critique to me, and I jumped the gun. I am sorry.

  10. Oldtimer wrote:

    I’ll say it- Chris Allman just saved Greater Vision. They had been for four or five years hurdling down the Dixie Melody Boys/ Kingsmen/ Florida Boys road of a group that you might sit through if they were on a program that you wanted to hear but not one that you would go to a lot of trouble to hear. And that was increasingly sad because 10 - 15 years ago they appeared on the way to ruling to Southern Gospel roost. With the addition of Allman, they become not a gimmicky group riding average songs and folksy(?) emceeing in an attempt to cover just okay vocals to a headliner. They are now to be seen as one of the standard old groups - it almost feels like Allman has been there 20 years. He is a premier status and with him Greater Visin stands poised again to be a premier group. This is the smartest move I have seen by a group since the Inspirations replaced Archie with Dallas ( who they have now replaced with Jodi in what I think is an absolutely uninspired decision - but I digress.)

    Welcome Chris Allman and welcome back Greater Vision. We have missed you.

  11. NonInsider wrote:

    Great move by GV nuff said…

  12. quartet-man wrote:

    #10 Oldtimer, I am shocked. All these years of ministering, songwriting etc. and Greater Vision wasn’t saved? ;-)

  13. Aaron Swain wrote:

    One thing is for sure; if a group can get the proverbial thumbs-up from Dr. DH, they have it made! ;)

  14. Videoguy wrote:

    On March 29, 2010, at 4:00:00, J. Kitson said on greatervisionmusic.com: “I will begin traveling as soon as Greater Vision has a man in the saddle!”

    Fast forward one minute, fifteen seconds later, the following is posted on the same site: “An announcement concerning Greater Vision’s new tenor will be made next week.”

    Hmmmm…..just wondering: Did Jacob know about the new tenor? Did Chris go looking for his old job back? If so, was Jacob given his walking papers?

  15. J-Mo wrote:

    You forgot one thing in your list of important elements Waldrup lacked….sideburns.

  16. brett wrote:

    GV is boring.

  17. Deron J. wrote:

    Exhibit A as to why I’m absolutely elated on Chris being back…


  18. Wade wrote:

    #14 V Guy… All Good Things Come Together for the Good of…ahhh… Greater Vision!!

    In Time ON Time EVERY TIME!!! oh that’s GCQ not GV… Hope it comes together for them soon!! So maybe they can sing it a dedicate it to GV.

    But they both recently had the SAME Blessing!!! They both had walking papers ready for their Tenor and was able to serve the The Blessing when some one better was recruited.

    Think FILLING A VOID was one way it was put it! Loving it when a PLAN COMES TOGETHER!!

    #13 AS… Yeah it doesn’t hurt!!

  19. Kitten wrote:

    It looks like Gerald Wolfe may have taken a page from Ernie Haase’s playbook … difficult to make at the time, but good for the longer term. Fortunately for GV, Jacob didn’t have as rabid a following as Ryan Seaton did, so they won’t get as much flack.

  20. jgurnett wrote:

    I actually had the thought that this might be a strategic management move on Gerald’s part. If GV has seen their popularity dip, subsequently resulting in lower sales and lower flats/offerings, it would make sense to pay Kitson to go away, knowing that the move to Allman would pay for itself long-term if not sooner. Having said that, I could be completely wrong and this could have all been instigated by a genuine desire by Kitson to leave. However, that seems unlikely to me and if this played out like I think it may have, I give Gerald props for making a sound decision (pun intended).

  21. CH wrote:

    I really don’t care why Jacob left. All I know is that Allman is back and that is SWEET! This is like when David Lee Roth came back with Van Halen. And I’m sure this reunion will last longer than Van Halen’s (3 months).

  22. The Gospel Stache wrote:

    #21…or this is like when Jordan came back out of his first retirement and lit up the New York Knicks for 55 points, and then proceeded to win 3 more NBA Championships! Pippen couldn’t do it without MJ, Rodman or Kukoc couldn’t do it without MJ, Phil Jackson couldn’t do it without MJ (well now with Kobe he can)…but their sound will be great, no doubt, but he is a songwriter and now that he’s back in the industry, he’ll be able to write more and help create fresh, new music.

  23. RF wrote:

    Bear with me here, but the loss of Chris was a major blow to GV. Jason was fine, but not spectacular. Then, due to the political leanings of the group, led by Gerald’s pontificating, put Rodney in a funk and the whole thing became predicable and well, boring. The last good album by GV was “Quartets” and since then I haven’t bought anything by them because the material was simply less than I expected.

    Enter Allman a few years ago on “Then and Now.” The group was revitalized. Chris brought back memories and Mark was part of that. They sang the old songs and they were superior to the new stuff they had been doing. It was a joy. Then the group went back to business as usual and the public yawned. GV performances became dark and almost morbid. Kitson didn’t bring them out of that funk and I think Wolfe realized this and went for the magic that Chris could bring them.

    I hope it works out because GV was a joy ten years ago, even when Jason first joined. They need that back and Chris may be the guy to bring them out of the “funk.” If not, then so be it.

  24. Charlie Sexton wrote:

    I, personally, only heard Jacob once w/ GV. It was at the recent Legacy Five annual thing at Roswell Street Baptist in Marietta, GA. I’ve always like Gerald & Rodney. They are great guys, but I admit I’d grown somewhat restless with Gerald’s banter and Rodney’s writing. I was SO encouraged to see and hear them with Jacob. He just seemed to be having the time of his life on that stage that night. I remarked to our friends who were with us that “GV is BACK!!”

    I was very disappointed the other day to hear that JK was no longer with the group. I always liked Chris, and I thought pretty highly of Jason, but there was just something special about Jacob, and it saddened me that he was moving on.

    I don’t know or care about ‘the hows and whys’… I just know that I’m gonna miss JK, and hope he does well in whatever service for The Lord he undertakes.

    I did have this thought about Chris returning to the group, though. He is a great composer in his own right. Match him with Rodney, and hopefully they’ll individually and collectively bring some fresh, new tunes that will bring honor and glory to God - and bring GV back to the forefront of SGM.

  25. justafan wrote:

    Has anybody thought of this…as excited as we all are about the notion of Chris Allman’s return, who’s to say that he’ll have the range that we remember or that we expect? As tenors age (and I’m not calling Allman old), the voice typically lowers. I’m supposing that Allman has not been singing in the upper tier of the range for the last several years. He hasn’t traveled full time singing for what…16 or 17 years? Therefore, how will his voice react to suddenly singing night after night in the upper portion of his range? Yeah, yeah, I know that GV doesn’t key their stuff up in the rafters. Nevertheless, it’s still something to keep in mind. Greater Vision knows what its doing. He wouldn’t have been hired had he not been capable. However, it’s something to think about. He’s not getting any younger. I hope that he sounds great though and reinvigorates Greater Vision’s “it” factor.

    I was actually watching Greater Vision in concert last night and caught myself experiencing the following odd feeling…Gerald did his usual hefty allotment of talking, telling stories and jokes that he delivers with sage tact. Anyway, there was a break in the program where Gerald played the piano as the church took up a love offering for the group. Once that was finished, Gerald delivered the product pitch. I would guess that he talked for 5-8 minutes - possibly longer - before they resumed singing (it may have not all been product pitch…honestly, I don’t remember). Most of Gerald’s jokes, I had heard before. He still delivers them as if it’s the first time he’s told them - pausing with effortless effectiveness, inserting a smirk or chuckle appropriately…with near-flawless timing. He’s the best emcee in the business. It makes me wonder if he simply studied George Younce’s every movement as he sat on stage with him for two years. Regardless…however, the “odd feeling” that I referenced had to do with the fact that I was actually left a little empty when the group resumed singing. The reason for that wasn’t because Greater Vision was bad. They were adequate vocally. Rather, it simply has to do with how good of an emcee that Gerald Wolfe is. He’s really why I even went to the concert. I would have rather have sat there and listened to him talk than to hear them sing 80 percent of the songs they performed. That sounds like such a silly notion, but it’s true. And if the audience were being truthful, I’ll bet 80 percent of them would have said the same. I make that statement, and I don’t believe that I ever laughed out loud (simply smiling from time to time-since I had heard much of it numerous times before). I simply studied Gerald. I don’t care much for Greater Vision’s recent material. Jacob is a solid vocalist (nice rounded tones - almost overdoes it though), and despite the closeness in sound of a lot of the GV songs and my own indifference to their material for the last 4-5 years, Rodney has forgotten more hooks than Bill Dance will ever shake a jig at. With all of that conveyed, that shows me just how good Gerald Wolfe is..and his vocal work wasn’t overly superb last night. Of course, his off nights vocally are what most of the SG artists can only dream about. It’s his emcee work that makes the difference. That’s why GV is so wildly popular. That’s why they win fan award after fan award. They can try to pat Rodney on the back and divert attention away from Gerald, but the artist that he has become is the group’s meal ticket. Rodney has written some great songs, but GV would be recording great songs with or without Rodney Griffin. Gerald is too good of a business for that not to be the case. I hope Chris Allman becomes a nice side dish to Gerald Wolfe’s entree, maybe a hashbrown casserolish type of tenor…though the green beans that I had at Caney Fork Fish Camp after the concert were superb.

  26. The Gospel Stache wrote:

    Chris Allman losing his range. That is an easy assumption for many, and rightfully so, given the duties of a SG Tenor singer. But I was a member at his church in NC for quite some time…and the real question is, when compared to his early years, is “was this guy really that good back then?” He recorded with them as a 21 year old kid in ‘91. He had a nice tenor tone, still a little raw, with a little drawl in style, and yet to hit his peak, but with professionals such as Gerald Wolfe and Mark Trammell by his side, it was a great blend. Fast forward to ‘95 (the year he left) and you get a grown up, smooth, utterly beautiful voice with extended range. He may have been the best overall tenor in SG music from ‘93-’95. But The Cathedrals were the big dogs of that era and took home virtually every award in every category, thus leaving Ernie Haase a lot of “bling” (if we can call a Singing News Fan Award, bling). I’m not making the argument against Ernie, but GV was only 5 years old when Chris departed. He did a lot of solo work, later became a pastor as well as taking full reins in the music department. If you ever listen to a Jeff Collins or Roger Talley produced album, chances are, you’ll hear his voice in the background as he has maintained some work in that field, as well as producing, and writing songs.

    With that, fast forward to right now, and being able to hear him every 3 times a week or more, singing SG, Contemporary, Praise and Worship, adding bits of Jazz, and blues infused works both musically and vocally, and you have a well rounded tenor…in which his voice and his range has grown exponentially since ‘95. He’s gotten much, much better with age. And Rodney is a great songwriter, but Chris can now add some of his stuff to the mix, with Gerald doing a great professional job emceeing as always. If you’ve seen “God on the Mountain” or “I Can Only Imagine” on youtube, check it out. I don’t know if you have a facebook, but there is a video posted of him tearing up the national anthem at a baseball game. That was as recent as last summer. I think one of the main reasons for his range increasing, was when he left and began a solo music ministry, he learned to carry the music all by himself. He didnt’ have Gerald, or Rodney, or Mark to add anything. It was just him and he had to learn…and grow. He also doesn’t sing with his throat, rather using his headtones, thus saving his voice in later years.

    The current Chris Allman is lights out. Light years from what he once was and he was very good then. April 21st my friends.

  27. quartet-man wrote:

    #26, I agree from what I have heard. Admittedly, before hearing him again on the reunion DVD a few years ago, I was basing my idea of him on one of his first performances with the group (I heard them early on) and although okay, I was more of a Funderburk type of tenor man. When I heard him on the DVD, man he had really developed and I have heard nothing to the contrary to think he isn’t at least that good now. It will be cool to see him back in the group. It is a great move.

  28. Nate Stainbrook wrote:

    Well Doug you got your wish… Greater Visions first table project with Chris will indeed be a greatest hits of sorts… But unfortunately it does not have as many “hits” on it as you would like… I will be getting it however… The songs included will be “You Were Faithful Yesterday”, “He Is Loved”, “I’ve Been To The Bottom”, “The Source Of My Song”, “I Want To Know That You Know” and “It Pays To Pray” Which are all from their “Not Alone” CD… Other songs include “God Wants To Hear You Sing” (I can’t wait to hear Chris sing this one), “Never Been”, “God So Loves Me”, and “Without Jesus”. Those are from their recent live album… They will be studio cuts… And they are including “It Is Well” and “Statement Of Faith”

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