Has the Homecoming Series Come to an End?

Has the Homecoming Series Come to an End?

Once upon a time, you couldn’t walk into a Christian retailer (or many Walmarts) without seeing a collection of Gaither Gospel Series videos and DVD’s for sale. The popular video series also aired in one-hour edited form on weekends on The Nashville Network (until it’s demise in the early 2000’s) and later on various television outlets, often as an infomercial for the final product.

The series, which began with the initial taping for the Gaither Vocal Band’s early 90’s recording, Homecoming, became a marketing phenomenon. Gospel music fans got to see their favorite artists of years gone by on stage once again, often joined by newer, up-and-coming talent. The series turned the Vocal Band (at the time known primarily as a pseudo-contemporary group) into southern gospel mainstays, gave a platform for a new generation to enjoy the music and artists of the past, and made a KILLING in sales. In addition, Bill Gaither also had Spring Hill Music Group, which was a label home for many of the Homecoming artists old and new. Many of the stars appearing on the Gaither Gospel Series also had new releases on Spring Hill, creating a circle of marketing that was unparalleled in gospel music.

Over time, the series became so popular that Gaither began releasing multiple videos at one time – two volume sets were being released up to twice a year, flooding the market with four new releases each year. However, the inevitable began to happen as more and more of the gospel music heroes left this world in favor of the ultimate Homecoming. The luster of seeing the “old guard” on stage with new recruits faded, and while the output increased, the appeal went in the opposite direction, and with the re-organizing of Spring Hill Music Group, many of the artists have jumped ship to other labels or simply gone independent.

It appears now that the Homecoming series may have run its course. The last “Homecoming” title to follow the traditional Gaither Homecoming model (gathering a large number of artists together to sing as one big choir, with multiple artists featured individually) was the Women of Homecoming collection in 2013. Prior to that was the Tent Revival tapings done at the Billy Graham headquarters, and that was in 2011, which means that 2012 was the first year since the mid-90’s that did not see a new Gaither Homecoming video release, and following Women of Homecoming, we’ve not seen a “proper” Homecoming release.

The focus at this point appears to have been shifted to individual artist presentations (often with special guests tacked on), with the most obvious being the Gaither Vocal Band. While Homecoming titles have slowed, the GVB has continued to release live DVD presentations (often as companions to studio recordings). In fact, one might make the argument that the current Gaither Vocal Band is now primarily a video artist with accompanying studio releases rather than vice versa.

Other Gaither-signed artists have followed the same formula – release a studio album, then shoot a live DVD to coincide with it. Guy Penrod, Jimmy Fortune, Alabama, David Phelps, and Goodman Revival have all followed this model (although Penrod’s DVD was more of a compilation of his previous two albums in a live setting rather than a true companion project).

The latest project to be released under the Gaither banner is Let the Glory Come Down, which appears to be presented SOMEWHAT like a Homecoming release (in that there are multiple featured artists backed by a choir), but there is no video listed in conjunction with this release, and the choir is in fact the Prestonwood Celebration Choir. This will essentially be an audio-only release designed to coincide not with a video, but with a choral presentation released by Brentwood Benson. In fact, there’s no indication that this was even a continuous live event, and while the Gaither Vocal Band is pictured on the cover, they are not credited as being a part of the project (only Phelps and Adam Crabb are).

So the question remains – has the Homecoming series come to an end? Obviously no announcement has been made (and I don’t expect one to be), because they may decide to revive the series somewhere down the line, and for the time being, Gaither appears to be raking in plenty of money from the many compilations being released in the last few years using the Homecoming banner. Heck, he could probably release several “new” project just from unused footage of old performances if he wanted to (I’d love to see what’s in the Gaither Music catalog….).

I just wonder if this means that any new tapings will happen, or if we have seen the end of the Homecoming series….

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Kyle Boreing

Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a musician, producer, arranger, and occasional quartet singer, who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with many different artists. He also really likes movies that are "so bad they're good." Visit his website at www.kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.

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  1. Reply April 26, 23:20 #1 Justin McLeod

    I personally would like to see one “Grand Finale” to top ’em all – get as many former Homecoming artists as possible, get them packed like sardines in that one little room that the videos in the nineties made so familiar, and let ’em sing away the classics. Just laid back, let Bill do what he does, put together some true mixed groups and just have some fun and go out with a BANG. Make that announcement official, and I guarantee you – the popularity will pick back up for the final one to beat ’em all. Maybe even a Cliff Barrows appearance.

    • Reply April 28, 17:23 Ron F

      Justin, I love your idea but they better hurry Cliff Barrows is really aging last time I saw him on something.

  2. Reply August 16, 14:24 #2 Pablo

    It seems there’s a New Taping on the way :)

    Take a look to the first date of Russ Taff’s schedule tour:


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