Gaither Tribute: Award-Winning Artists Honor The Songs Of Bill & Gloria Gaither
Gaither Music Group (release date: August 25, 2023)
By Robert M. Marovich
There’s a maxim that music brings people into the church and preaching keeps them there.
For decades, Bill and Gloria Gaither have ushered saints and sinners alike through the doors of the church on the wings of their more than 700 songs. They are to southern gospel what the Reverend James Cleveland is to African American gospel and Bob Dylan is to popular music.
Gaither Tribute, produced by award-winning veteran musician, producer, and record executive Tony Brown, aims the spotlight on the Gaithers by pairing some of today’s top country, Christian, and Americana artists with classics from the Gaither song catalog.
Each artist brings a distinctively modern touch to the songs while yet honoring the grace and dignity of the originals. Lee Ann Womack’s “Gentle Shepherd” and the lovely sister duet of Reba and Susie McEntire and Sonya and Becky Isaacs on a medley of “He Touched Me” and “Something Beautiful” offer maximum fidelity to their progenitors. Alabama’s “Jesus and John Wayne,” which features The Oak Ridge Boys, could fit just as snugly on country radio as gospel radio, as does Josh Turner’s cover of “Going Home.” The SteelDrivers put an old-time string band feel to “I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary.”
With strings courtesy of Alison Krauss and a restrained brass section, Jamey Johnson’s “It Won’t Rain Always” is at once melancholy and optimistic. I would loved to have heard some old-time two-part harmony on the track. “There’s Something About That Name” by Hillary Scott (of Lady A) and the Scott Family has a delicate melodic beauty and shimmering harmonies. None other than Gloria Gaither herself performs the song’s recitation that she made famous. The galloping tempo of longtime country star Ronnie Milsap’s “I Just Feel Like Something Good is About to Happen” is the ideal accompaniment to such a joyous lyrical sentiment.
CeCe Winans closes the album with a stunning rendition of “The Center of My Joy,” a collaboration between the Gaithers and Richard Smallwood. Winans gives it her all from the opening to the trademark Smallwood big finish.
Gaither Tribute is a big bouquet of roses for Bill and Gloria Gaither. The doors to the church are now open.
Picks: “It Won’t Rain Always,” “The Center of My Joy.”
Five of Five Stars