Gaither Tent Revival Taping And Rain Fest

I just returned home from the Gaither Tent Revival taping at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC. I stayed for nearly four hours, and it was still going strong when I left. The setting was a big tent decorated in the style of the 1950s and 1960s with several classic cars parked outside. The weather played a big factor as well. Guests were treated to a good old fashioned toad strangler of a thunderstorm.

Before the concert, I had a chance to speak briefly with a few artists and Southern Gospel internet personalities. I saw Troy Peach, Harold Timmons, Eric Bennett, J. Chaz, Daniel Mount, and a friend from my college days at Gardner-Webb named Marty Thomas.

When we arrived at the tent, our situation was somewhat disrupted for a while. Two of the four seats I purchased didn’t exist! I thought two of us might have to stand up for everything, but a few minutes before showtime, a lady came around with a clipboard and re-assigned us to another location. We went over there, and someone was already in those seats. By this point, Bill is on stage telling everyone they need to sit down so they can get started.

Finally, they found some seats for us that were mostly blocked by the video platforms in the center of the room…such is the nature of a live video event. Thankfully, they had a video screen set up for us and I there was a guy at a station right next to me switching through the various camera angles. I think they had 16 video sources in all. At least, there were that many buttons on his switcher. I tend to be fascinated with that sort of thing.

I jotted down notes on most of the artists who were featured. Read on for the details…

  1. Dailey & Vincent began with “Daddy Sang Bass.” This song took a comedic turn when Dailey took the bass part and Christian Davis sang tenor. They also brought out Statler Brothers tenor Jimmie Fortune to sing with them on “The Other Side Of The Cross,” an old Statler Brothers tune.

  2. Choir: “Yes I Know” with featured bits by Ivan Parker, Terry Blackwood, Becky Bowman, Taranda Greene, Ronnie Booth, Jason Clark, and Reggie & Ladye Love Smith

  3. “When The Saints Go Marching In” featured Woody Wright, a Dixieland brass trio and Ivan Parker.

  4. Mark Lowry and Bill Gaither did a bit of comedy including Lowry’s “KJV only” joke.

  5. The Gaither Vocal Band sang “Jesus Hold My Hand” with Taranda Greene. Michael English sang the second verse, and then combined his powerhouse vocal ad libs with Taranda for the remainder of the song. This should be one of the highlights when the DVDs are produced.

  6. The Chuck Wagon Gang sang “When He Calls Me I’ll Fly Away.”

  7. The choir sang “Just Over In The Gloryland” with the Hayes Family featured.

  8. Stephen Hill, Joyce Martin, and Woody Wright sang “Life’s Railway To Heaven” with the choir. Taranda Greene was also featured on a verse. She was featured several times near the beginning of the program.

  9. “Down By The Tabernacle” featured Marshall Hall, Sue Dodge, Amber Thompson, Three Bridges, Karen Peck, Woody Wright, and Kim Hopper. They had to sing this one twice due to technical issues.

  10. Amber Thompson sang “I Stand Amazed In The Presence” (the hymn) with the choir. Taranda took the second verse, and David Phelps brought home the bacon on the third.

  11. The choir sang “The Old Rugged Cross” with Ben Speer featured on verse two, and a mixed quartet featuring Reggie & Ladye Love Smith, Judy Martin, and Mike Allen.

  12. “The Ninety And Nine” featured Guy Penrod and the Nelons.

  13. At this point, Bill chatted with George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows. Shea sang “The Love Of God” and they did a duet on “Jesus Whispers Peace.” Cliff also led the audience in “Blessed Assurance,” and Gaither recognized Bev Shea for his Best Of DVD still being at the third position on the Billboard chart for long form music videos as of February. The video is more than two years old.

  14. “Down In The River To Pray” featured Charlotte Ritchie, Tanya Goodman Sykes, Karen Peck, Janet Paschal, Becky Bowman, Sonya Yeary, and Stephen Hill…yep, one guy with all those ladies.

  15. Mark and Bill had some fun at Larry Gatlin’s expense before the Gaither Vocal Band launched into “Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored.” The Gatlin Brothers sang a verse as well. Larry Gatlin was wearing a 1950s style hat (as were several of the performers), and had grown a beard. When I first spotted him on stage, I thought it was Robert Duvall.

  16. The Gatlin Brothers sang “Heartbreak Ridge and New Hope Road.”

  17. Buddy Greene and Jeff Taylor played a tender version of “I Need Thee Every Hour” on harmonica and a pump organ.

  18. Marshall Hall kicked off “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” the choir sang verse two, then Angela Primm and Jason Crabb took over and had church for a while.

  19. Primm and Crabb launched into “I’m So Glad Jesus Lifted Me” and continued having church.

  20. The Hoppers sang “Heavenly Sunrise.” They were joined by Reggie and Ladye Love Smith, Gene McDonald and Charlotte Ritchie.

  21. The Hoppers sang “I’ll Worship Only At The Feet Of Jesus.”

  22. Mitchell Jon sang a slow version of “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be.”

  23. In what is sure to be another highlight on the upcoming DVD, Mitchell Jon and Larnelle Harris combined for “I Don’t Want To Get Adjusted.” They encored this one about three times. Michael English and Angela Primm got involved there near the end.

  24. Larnelle Harris sang “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.”

  25. The Oak Ridge Boys sang an abbreviated version of “Elvira” before launching into “Lead Me To The Rock.” Actually, I think they launched into it four times before they got rolling on it.

  26. Bill brought out Reba, Dony and Destiny McGuire and led the crowd in a few of Dottie Rambo’s songs including “Sheltered In The Arms Of God,” “Holy Spirit, Thou Art Welcome,” “Remind Me,” and “He Looked Beyond My Faults.”

  27. This sequence was delayed for a moment while Bev Shea and Cliff Barrows left the stage. It was about 9:45 at this point, so they had been there for three hours. Cliff asked Bill to have the crowd sing “Sweet Sweet Spirit” before he left.

  28. Reba, Dony and Destiny sang “When I Lift Up My Head.”

  29. Buck Rambo joined them for “Too Much To Gain To Lose.” There were some issues with the mics and a repeated entrance, so they sang this one again. One thing I noticed is that when anything had to be repeated, the crowd and the artists on the platform seemed to always get into it more the second time.

  30. Next up was a tribute to Stuart Hamblen. His daughter and grandson were present. Bill led the crowd in bits of “It Is No Secret” and “This Old House.” The grandson shared the story of how “This Old House” was written.

  31. At this point, the initial wave of rain showed up, but it didn’t stop the show. Janet Paschal sang “Until Then.”

  32. Stan Whitmire was featured on “Do Right & Come Shining Through.”

By now the rain had arrived in earnest. Bill was preparing to launch into “Heaven’s Jubilee.” He brought Ben Speer up and was telling about his songbook when the bottom fell out.

I was sitting right next to the open end of a drop cord that was about an inch in diameter, so I got a little be nervous when the lightning started popping. I made a short video using my smartphone which can be seen on YouTube by clicking HERE. (It’s rather poor quality and jerky, but hey, it’s a smart phone.)

It was about 10:45 PM when the rain tapered off, and two in my group had to be on their jobs the next day at 8:00 AM, so we called it a night. As I was headed toward the car, I heard someone announcing that they had another hour of music to go.

I’ll have to wait for the DVD, I guess. I’m sure it will be great!

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David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both and David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

MusicScribe Comments

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  1. Reply May 04, 02:20 #1 Jason

    Sounds like an amazing event, had to be a lot of energy and excitement in that tent, what with the gasping frogs and all! (Id have found it hard to leave early.)

  2. Reply May 04, 08:51 #2 yankeegospelgirl

    Wow, it sounds like it might be a double DVD. Bill likes to do that. Good song selection!

    • Reply May 04, 10:14 admin Author

      Yes, they recorded two opening numbers, so the plan is to make two DVDs.

  3. Reply May 04, 10:24 #3 admin Author

    When I left after the rain, I missed the following:
    “Old White Flag” by Triumphant
    “In Christ Alone” by Booth Brothers
    “I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary”
    “He’s Alive” by GVB

    and probably a few more.

  4. Reply May 04, 12:08 #4 Russ Burrell

    More songs after you left:

    Collingsworth Family
    Les Beasley (with others)
    Jeff and Sherri Easter
    Calvin Newton/Guy Penrod/Ben Speer/(I can’t remember who) quartet
    Charlotte Ritchie (with most of the other female Gaither regulars)
    Jason Crabb
    Michael Sykes

  5. Reply May 04, 14:36 #5 yankeegospelgirl

    After reading Daniel Mount’s report, I have concluded that the Oak Ridge Boys were obviously the highlight of his evening.

    • Reply May 04, 17:46 admin Author

      It actually wasn’t what I’d call one of the best performances by the Oaks. They did a bit of “Elvira” just for kicks, and then had a few false starts on “Lead Me To The Rock.” Once they got rolling, though, it sounded good. Joe finished it off with one of his trademark trots from one side of the stage to the other. It should come out good on the video.

  6. Reply May 04, 15:06 #6 Pablo

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I live in Argentina, thank you!!

  7. Reply May 04, 16:06 #7 Gaithermusicaddict

    Thanks for sharing! I wish I could have been there! I will do everything in my power to get hold of the DVDs. I just hope I live to see their release, coz they really take long. But its worth the wait. The Gaithers just keep gettin’ better!

  8. Reply May 04, 16:12 #8 Gaithermusicaddict

    What were the two opening numbers?

  9. Reply May 04, 17:47 #9 admin Author

    I believe the two opening songs (one for each DVD) were “When The Saints” and “Life’s Railway To Heaven,” but I could be wrong. I didn’t include that detail in my notes.

  10. Reply May 04, 18:14 #10 yankeegospelgirl

    Ah okay, “Elvira” must have been the one Daniel called “some secular song.” LOL. :-P

  11. Reply May 04, 19:11 #11 Jason

    If given the chance and if for no other reason, Id have gone just to see the Oaks.

  12. Reply May 09, 16:47 #12 jerry gill

    First off Naomi @ myself wish to let you know how deeply sadened of the passing of tony. He will always remain special in our hearts until we see him again in the huge chorus in heaven.As for the last recent Gaither dvd recording Naomi is very hurt that none of the Gaithers bother to include her in any more videos.She is one of the few female legends left in southern gospel music.IIts almost like they”ve already written her off . We pray one day God will lay conviction on Gaithers heart to make this right . Keep us in your prayers & we”ll do the same.God Bless Love Jerry Gill

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