An intimate concert at Free Chapel may seem like an impossibility. But when the one playing the show is used to selling out basketball arenas and other major venues around the country, a show at a church, no matter how big, seems like a small thing.
The Gaither Vocal Band is coming to Hall County, making a stop in Gainesville, to perform a night of gospel music millions of people have come to love over the years. The concert will be 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $27 for those 12 and younger or 60 and older. Artist circle tickets are $38 and groups of 10 or more are $25.
“If you've ever been to one of our concerts, a Gaither concert is not just an ordinary concert,” said Kevin Williams, guitarist, humorist and band leader for the Gaither Vocal Band. “It's more of an experience.”
Bill and Gloria Gaither’s vocals capture audiences and they have become, in some ways, the faces of gospel music over their more than 50-year careers, releasing hits like “Because He Lives,” “The King Is Coming,” “Something Beautiful,” “He Touched Me,” “It Is Finished,” “There’s Something About That Name,” “Let’s Just Praise The Lord,” and “Loving God, Loving Each Other” while winning eight Grammy Awards and more than two dozen Dove Awards from The Gospel Music Association. They’ve also earned the title of Gospel Music Association’s Songwriter of the Year eight times.
The Gaither Vocal Band, led by Bill Gaither along with friends Wes Hampton, Adam Crabb, Todd Suttles and Reggie Smith, will bring many of those hit songs to its stop in Gainesville and will even bring some new ones since its most recent release of Good Things Take Time.
“I've always said it all starts with a great song, and we are fortunate that each concert includes great songs that have stood the test of time,” Gaither said in a press release. “With all the musical choices that are available now, there is still a special place for the joy and optimism that reside in Gospel music. Good news never gets old.”
Charlotte Ritchie and Gene McDonald will also perform at Free Chapel.
Williams met Gaither back in the early 1990s and has been working with him ever since.
“In our world of music, this is Elvis that we have on our stage here,” Williams said of Gaither.
He has traveled with the Gaithers to countless shows — they do about 60 each year now — including many of the ever-popular stops on the Homecoming Tour in the Gaither’s prime.
“We're able to go into some places now that we weren't able to go into before when we had this huge Homecoming Tour,” Williams said.
The show in Gainesville will be a more relaxed environment that showcases the songs of the Gaithers for the full three hours.
“In the second half, Bill just comes out and basically sits in a chair and sings what he wants to sing and the whole crowd sings with him,” Williams said. “He doesn't have a setlist or anything and it's just the most charming, wonderful evening you could imagine.”
Many of the songs the Gaithers have become known for have made their way into church hymnals over the years and Williams said it’s one of the best parts of going on tour — sharing those songs with people all over the country.
With each concert, Willliams said he hopes to leave the audience with a little bit of hope and inspiration.
“These are tough times (with) a lot of division,” Williams said. “You turn on the TV and there's political division and there's racial division … let's put all that down and focus on singing to God.”
For the Gaither Vocal Band, a concert is about a lot more than just the music. It’s an entire experience.
“We come in there on a weekend and do what we do for three hours and then we blow out of town,” Williams said. “I hope they get something they can take into Monday or Tuesday that will sustain them.”
This story has been updated from its original version.