The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Community

May 21, 2013

Jim Bailey: Gospel concerts both fun, ministry

Every now and then a performer in Christian music of whatever stripe is asked whether he or she considers their craft to be entertainment or ministry.

The late Hovie Lister, founder of the electrifying Statesmen quartet, used to answer: “Yes; yes. Next question.”

Bill Gaither, lifelong Alexandrian and founder of the popular Gaither Vocal Band as well as the Homecoming concert tour, likes to reply that they are asking the wrong person. “You should ask the people who buy the tickets and come to the concerts,” he says.

I’ve always described gospel music as entertainment with a message. Typically, gospel performers get the audience’s attention with popular up-tempo numbers, or high tenor and low bass parts, and slip in plenty of humor. GVB baritone Mark Lowry loves to leave his audience in stitches before he begins to slip in nuggets of profundity on the real meaning of life. And the concertmasters work their way into numbers that address the things that are really important to people caught up in their difficult journeys through a lifetime.

Admittedly, through history there has been a tendency on the part of many critics to debase anything that smacks of fun in the name of religion. The Statesmen, for instance, were considered cutting-edge for their time, and on occasion a disc jockey would smash one of their records on the air. Ernie Haase and Signature Sound faced criticism over their gyrations on stage as they appealed to younger audiences. And as newer genres of contemporary gospel musicians have crossed the cutting edge with daring strains of rock and heavy metal, criticism has continued to mount.

But Gaither may have the right idea. What’s really important is the impact of a concert on the audience.

Gauging that often comes from feedback received in the electronic media as well as handwritten communiqués. Concertgoers are not shy about sharing their experiences with the performers they have come to admire.

One recent e-mail received in Gaither’s office provides a perfect example.

Before a Homecoming concert in Milwaukee this spring, Bill was contacted by representatives of Shepherds College, a college in Union Grove, Wis., for young adults with intellectual disabilities. For one of the young men at the institution, to say he is a “Gaither fan” is something of an understatement.

“He requests Gaither songs in his classes and prays for ‘all the Gaithers’ on a regular basis,” said the college representative informing them of 22-year-old Sean’s prospective attendance at the concert.

Bill followed through, arranging for Sean to meet members of the Vocal Band backstage before the concert. Then during the concert, lead singer Michael English pointed at Sean in the audience while Lowry said, “We met a young man tonight. Sean, this song is dedicated to you.” The song was “He Touched Me.”

It’s safe to say the lasting impression left on this young man transcends questions of entertainment vs. ministry.

Jim Bailey’s column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by e-mail at jameshenrybailey@earthlink.net.

1
Text Only
Community
  • FEA - HB0724 - Amputee Support - JC 3 Supporting limb loss awareness

    A small group of amputees gathered for the Second Annual Show Your Mettle Day at Frazier’s Dairy Maid on Friday. The event, which offered free ice cream to amputees thanks to Prevail Prosthetics and Orthotics, served as a meet and greet to help support limb loss awareness in the community.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Jim Bailey: Now if Grace beats Bethel... Fans in the United States are just now waking up to the complexities of World Cup soccer, which is a lot more popular around the world than it is here.

    July 24, 2014

  • Community Briefs: July 24 A compilation of community news items as published in the Thursday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 24, 2014

  • NWS - HB0723 - Fair Food - JC 3 The 'fairest food of all' Rides along the midway and 4-H animals may be a big draw for the county fair, but there's plenty of food people look forward to and indulge in during the Madison County 4-H Fair.

    July 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • Community Briefs: July 23 A compilation of community news items as published in the Wednesday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 23, 2014

  • FEA - HB0722 - SAVI - 1 Staying strong during adversity

    When doctors told Judy Best she had cancer she was shocked, but she never lost hope.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Community Briefs: July 22 A compilation of community news as published in the Tuesday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 22, 2014

  • Community Briefs: July 21

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

    July 21, 2014

  • FEA - HB0721 - Rotary Exchange - JC 1 Foreign exchange program builds lasting friendships Paulina Berger returned to her hometown in Olpe, Germany on Friday, but she left something important behind: part of her heart. The 16-year-old spent a year living with three host families in Anderson as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange program.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • FEA HB0721 ISU Normal Hall Work underway to restore ISU's Normal Hall The sounds of heavy equipment, impact drills and even a large wrecking ball are evidence of a renovation underway at Normal Hall, Indiana State University's oldest academic building.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

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