The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Community

May 25, 2013

Jim Bailey: Gospel historian hangs onto his roots in Alexandria

At the edge of Alexandria, a new sign proclaims: “Welcome to Alexandria, Home of Bill and Gloria Gaither.” It’s where Bill has lived his whole lifetime, and they’ve lived in the same house for half a century.

Bill has long regaled his audiences, whether live or watching the Homecoming videos, of his boyhood days on the farm when he rose early to milk the cows and tuned in an old radio to stations that carried Southern gospel artists. Or his regular trips to Joe’s Record Shop in Anderson to pick up specially ordered records of his favorite quartets.

In a storage closet in the Gaither Music Co. warehouse just north of Alexandria, many of those old 78 rpm records are stacked high among more recent vintage masters and leftover long-play records of the Bill Gaither Trio from the ’60s and ’70s. A few of those old 78s are cracked or broken as those brittle 10-inch discs were wont to do if not handled carefully. But even among those, the labels still list the names of singing groups long dead or disbanded, singing songs that have become classics in the gospel music field.

“Get Away Jordan” by the Statesmen more recently was revived by Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. Another Statesmen recording was “If God Didn’t Care.”

Then comes an album by the Stamps Quartet, the original V.O. and Frank Stamps singers rendering numbers such as “If We Never Meet Again” and “God Put a Rainbow in the Clouds.”

There’s a record by Leroy Abernathy and the Homeland Harmony Quartet, “Everybody Ought to Know Something.” The Harmoneers with “Lord Build Me a Cabin in Glory.” The Wally Fowler Quartet with “Dig a Little Deeper in God’s Love.” Red Foley with the Jordanaires singing “He’ll Understand and Say Well Done.”

A LeFevre Trio record contains “I’m Feeling Fine.” The original Blackwood Brothers – James, Roy, Doyle and Roy’s son R.W. – do “My Journey to the Sky” and “That Glad Reunion Day.” The Jordanaires sing “The Old Ship of Zion.” Stuart Hamblen renders “These Things Shall Pass.” The Sunshine Boys are heard on “Go Down to the Jordan.” V.B. “Vep” Ellis sings “I’m On the Battlefield.” And the Humming Birds, a black gospel group, sing “Wonderful Time Up There.”

I even have a copy of one of those old records, the Dixie Four singing “He’ll Understand and Say Well Done.”

Those individuals and most of the groups are long gone. But if you follow Gaither’s Homecoming videos you’ve heard most of those songs revived.

For Gaither, an incurable historian, these songs tell a story of a craft that has carried the gospel to the masses for a couple of centuries.

“Not all of them were good songs,” he admitted. “Some were pretty bad, just like pop and other fields.”

But it’s a piece of Americana that he’s glad to hang onto.

Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by email at jameshenrybailey@earthlink.net.

1
Text Only
Community
  • FEA - HB0822 - PHHS band - DH - 001 PHHS marching band, Directors Jazz Orchestra to perform The Pendleton Heights High School Marching Arabians Band and Directors Jazz Orchestra are putting on a show for the community at 6 p.m. Sunday at Falls Park.

    August 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • United Way wants community to pull together United Way of Madison County decided to encourage the community to pull together – literally.

    August 21, 2014

  • Community Briefs: Aug. 22

    A compilation of community news items as published in the Friday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    August 21, 2014

  • FEA - HB0821 - camera exhibit - DK - 016 Historical Society opens camera, photography exhibit Photos freeze moments in time to look back on, and now the public can catch a glimpse at how photographic technology has evolved.

    August 21, 2014 5 Photos

  • Jim Bailey: School days, school days, good old August dog days Those of us who didn’t start school until after Labor Day are still trying to digest all the changes in the school calendar as educators tell us kids are more likely to retain what they learn if they aren’t off too long in the summer.

    August 20, 2014

  • Community Briefs: Aug. 20 A compilation of community news items as published in the Wednesday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    August 19, 2014

  • FEA - HB0819 - Mommy Monday - JC 3 Mommy and me time

    Babette Bargo of Anderson said she brought her daughter to Community Hospital’s first Mommy Monday to meet other mothers and children after her sister-in-law told her about the event.

    August 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Community Briefs: Aug. 19 A compilation of community news items as published in the Tuesday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    August 18, 2014

  • FEA - HB0818 - Park Place Arts - 007 Drawing parallels A collection of Stephanie Cochran's work is on display at Park Place Arts’ newest exhibit, “From the Smallest Among Us…” The show opened Aug. 1 and runs until Sept. 13.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Community Briefs: Aug. 18 A compilation of community news items as published in the Monday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    August 17, 2014

Reader Pet Photos


We're looking for your best pet photos! Share your photos of your favorite non-human companions in our new photo gallery. Click here to upload your photos

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin