Looking Back: Guy Penrod’s Country Attempt

Looking Back: Guy Penrod’s Country Attempt

In late 2008, Bill Gaither made the announcement that Guy Penrod would be taking a sabbatical from the Gaither Vocal Band. By the end of the year, however, that sabbatical had turned into a complete departure. For the next several months, Guy kept a low profile. Many folks wondered what he was planning next. Retirement? A solo career?

The answer came in the summer of 2009 when Guy released Breathe Deep, a pseudo-country album with songs about faith, prayer, and God, but in a more abstract approach, backed by a modern country sound produced by country studio veteran, Brent Rowan. As I noted in my review of the album back when it first came out, it seemed like Guy was making an effort to venture into more “positive country” music without alienating his gospel fan base, resulting in an album that firmly straddled the fence between the two. The album didn’t get a wide release until early 2010 (by Gaither Music Group), but even then, it didn’t seem to really move any mountains from a sales and marketing standpoint, missing Billboard’s Country Top 40 by one spot (although it did make it halfway up the Top 200 and as high at #7 on the Christian chart).

It wasn’t until 2012 that we got Guy’s follow-up album – Hymns. Instead of recording a country follow-up, Guy went back to where he was best known and recorded a gospel album for the Gaither label (albeit with straight-up country stylings). Two years later, we got his third solo effort, Worship, which again was a gospel album with a country flair. Now, at the end of this month, Guy will be releasing a live album, titled Hymns & Worship. I’ll give you one guess as to which songs are going to be featured.

I’ll admit, while I wasn’t immediately blown away by Breathe Deep, it has grown on me over time, and I think that, had Guy continued forward with this “positive country” approach, he may have eventually found an audience. Instead, the country thing seemed to have been abandoned entirely. Not a single song from his debut solo effort is included on Hymns & Worship (not even the ones that would fit in such a setting). In fact, aside from some television appearances, no real promotion was put into Breathe Deep – not even on a Homecoming video.

In recent years, Guy has taken on somewhat of a similar approach as Ivan Parker – record popular songs by non-SG artists, thus bringing them to a SG audience, and mix it with well-known classics. That’s definitely what appears to have been done with his latest live album. At this point, would it be safe to say that Guy’s debut country music effort is to be his only, and he has settled himself in as a gospel artist for the long haul?

Kyle Boreing

Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a gospel music soloist, occasional quartet singer, and church music director who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with artists such as Mercy's Mark, the Dove Brothers Band, and The Oak Ridge Boys. Visit his website at www.kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.

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  1. Brandon
    Reply January 13, 16:52 #1 Brandon

    Guy performed the song Breathe Deep on the thanksgiving themed gaither video. I’m not sure if that counts as promoting his country album cause I don’t remember how long after the release they filmed that video.




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