Bill Gaither, a Christian music executive who has written over 700 songs, won 8 Grammys, and sold over 40 million gospel concert videos, knows how he wants to be remembered.
Mr. Gaither, 86, said in a phone interview that he hoped his eventual epitaph would highlight the connections he made in the industry.
“I want them to say he’s a bridge,” he said.
Millions of people who sang “Because He Lived” or “He Touched Me” as adults – not to mention the nursery rhyme “I Am a Promise” – will have a chance to recall Mr. Gaither and his Wife/Collaborator Gloria airs “Gaiser: The Musical Legacy” on TBN Friday night at 8pm ET.
The commemoration paired Gaithers with TBN hosts Matt and Laurie Crouch, the network said.
Mr Gaither, who said he and his wife still live in the house they bought decades ago as young high school teachers, said their astronomical success – represented by the global impact “because he was alive” – had not been through at all. calculate.
The song’s lyrics talk about Jesus’ coming as a baby, and liken it to the birth of a newborn “because he (Jesus) lives so he can face uncertain days”.
Written in the tumultuous days of the early 1970s, the song’s message exploded into what Mr Gaither called “an international phenomenon”.
“You’re not going to sit down and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to write this song. The whole world is going to sing in their own language. You write this song just because something is in your heart and you feel like you have to say it Get out. If you don’t get it out, you’re going to explode,” he said.
This year, when his company wrote the “Because He’s Alive” video in multiple languages, Mr. Gaither said, “When that happens, you’re like, ‘Wow, that must be God’s thing.'”
The “things of God” portion of the Gaithers’ career, which began with Bill and Gloria in 1962, is a recurring theme as Mr. Gaither recalls their decades in the music industry. years before marriage.
He said the late George Beverly Shea was a miracle, the Canadian-born gospel singer best known for singing at Rev. Billy Graham’s Crusades conference, and he even considered their songs.
Mr. Shea will only record royalty-free songs, such as classic hymns written centuries ago by the likes of Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley and John Newton.
“How do you compete with the dead?” Mr. Gaither asked rhetorically. “It’s too hard, it’s too hard.”
But Mr Gaither, his wife and his brother Danny (who died in 2001 at the age of 62) formed a trio who achieved “in the making” by teaching songs to audiences at concerts Great success.
The tunes were then transferred to other church settings, catching Mr. Shea’s attention. The Gaither trio sang at several of Graham’s events and their music took off.
The trio created the Gaither Vocal Band, a group of gospel singers who embarked on many solo careers, and then began the “Homecoming” concert event Mr. Gaither produced and video-recorded, which sold the aforementioned 40 million copies.
On top of that, there’s the Gospel Music Cruise, and Mr. Gaither said he and his wife are leaving for Alaska next month.
Measuring Mr. Gaither’s impact on the Christian music industry can be challenging, said Don Cusic, a professor at Belmont University in Nashville, who has studied the field for years.
“He’s a giant of the white gospel music scene,” Cusic said in an interview. “He’s a pivotal figure, and probably a pivotal one, in terms of contemporary Christian music.”
Mr. Cusick said the 1973 album “Hallelujah! “Praise Party” sold more than half a million copies and became a gold record, marking a turning point in Christian music. However, he said that while the Gaisers broke ground, it was not pushing the limits.
“When you listen to his music, you’re amazed at the familiar music,” Mr. Cusic said. “It’s not earth-shattering, but it’s comfortable.”
Mr Gaither concedes that this level of comfort is not without its challenges. The recent “worship war” about how “contemporary” Christian music should be today is something he wants to address.
“I don’t believe in any form of segregation” of worship, such as “contemporary” services for one age group and “traditional” services for others, he said.
“I think older people need to be with younger people. I think older people need to learn some of the things that younger people are learning, including culture and music. And I think older people should relax,” he added.