To a Christian and those who celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Christmas holidays are a special time when friends and family gather around the hearth and celebrate God's gift to mankind.
For Christian music megastar Bill Gaither his "Homecoming" series of concerts, which began in 1990s, evoke a special warmth during the Christimas season.
Gaither and his "Gaither Vocal Band" will be bringing that special blend of worship, faith and praise to the Landers Center on Dec. 10 for "The Gaither Christmas Homecoming." The concert begins at 6 p.m. For tickets contact the Landers Center Box Office at 662-470-2131 or visit ticketmaster.com.
Just a few days ago, Gaither spoke about the need to promote love and harmony this holiday season in his Thanksgiving message to his fans and all the Christian faithful across the globe.
"In the turmoil of this past election, let’s promise that around our tables on this Thanksgiving Day there will be love, forgiveness, and the resolution of differences," Gaither said in his special message. "Let’s remember that this world is not our Kingdom, but we are embedded in it as salt, light, and yeast - loving where there is no love, reaching out across barriers, and believing that God holds us all in the palm of his hand. Believers know that we will never accomplish Kingdom work with the earth’s systems. But we are called to love this earth and those God created and to make a different atmosphere because we are here."
Gaither's music has been recorded by such diverse musical acts as Elvis Presley, the Statler Brothers and Amy Grant.
Gaither's Homecoming tours, which started in 1991, brought together major stars of the southern gospel and Contemporary Christian Music industry, sparking a revival of the musical genre.
For anyone who has enjoyed a "Homecoming" concert, it's like being in someone's living room — although a very large one — beside a crackling fire. Concert-goers have enjoyed "basking in the glow" of these concerts for more than a quarter century.
The tours have sold more than 1.1 million tickets across the world, and have included such notable venues as the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Pollstar listed the tour as selling more tickets in 2004 than Elton John, Fleetwood Mac or Rod Stewart.
Gaither's journey began, appropriately enough, during the Easter season during the dark days of the Great Depression.
The Dove Award-winning Christian music artist was born in Alexandria, Indiana in 1936 to George and Lela Gaither, according to his biography.
He formed his first group the Bill Gaither Trio (consisting of Bill, his sister Mary Ann, and brother Danny Gaither) in 1956 while a college student at Anderson College, to which he had transferred after one year at Taylor University.
He graduated from Anderson in 1959 with a major in English and a minor in music, after which he worked as an English teacher. He married the former Gloria Sickal in 1962. He tried for a few years to manage both a music career and his full-time teaching job, but he quit his teaching job in 1967 and worked full-time in the Christian music industry. He recorded his breakthrough song "He Touched Me" in 1964.
Gaither and his wife, Gloria, have written many songs including: "The Longer I Serve Him," "Because He Lives," "The King Is Coming," "Sinner Saved By Grace", "Something Beautiful," "He Touched Me", "It Is Finished," "Jesus, There's Something About That Name" "I'm Gonna Sing", and "Let's Just Praise The Lord." His songs have been performed by Christian artists (David Crowder Band, Carman, Sandi Patty, The Cathedral Quartet, The Speers and the Heritage Singers), country singers (The Statler Brothers) and pop artists (Elvis Presley).
Gloria Gaither often writes the lyrics while Bill writes the music, although composing is usually a collaborative project between the two. As of 2005, they had composed 600 songs and by 2012 that number had increased to more than 700.
Since Gaither first began singing with the Bill Gaither Trio in the 1950s, he has constantly been performing. The Bill Gaither Trio originally consisted of Bill, his brother Danny Gaither and his sister Mary Ann Gaither. In about 1964 Bill's wife, Gloria, took the place of Mary Ann. The trio sang traditional gospel songs along with original compositions by the Gaithers that gave them a more contemporary feel.
Gaither founded the Gaither Music Company, which includes the functions of record company, concert booking (Gaither Management Group), television production, copyright management (Gaither Copyright Management), retail store, recording studio (Gaither Studios, formerly Pinebrook Studios) and telemarketing for the Gaither organization reside. Gaither also runs a retail center called Gaither Family Resources.
—Information provided courtesy of Bill Gaither