Distribution Oddities: Gaither’s Gospel Pioneer Reunion

Distribution Oddities: Gaither’s Gospel Pioneer Reunion

0617884929725_p0_v1_s272x272If you visited a Christians bookstore yesterday or today, you may have noticed a “new” Gaither DVD and/or CD titled Gospel Pioneer Reunion. I haven’t seen the full release yet, but I’ve seen portions of it on Dish Network’s Gaither channel.

This footage was recorded in the early years of the Gaither videos as you can see from the people involved. We know it was no later than early 1995, because Doris Akers who appears in the footage passed away in July of that year. At this point in time, Bill Gaither was positioned to duplicate the formula that was already working so well for traditional white gospel with traditional black gospel artists.

The production was completed, duplicated, and packaged; there would have been two VHS format titles. As you can see from the cover artwork posted below, the design is similar to other VHS-format Gaither title from the same era.

For some reason, the release was stalled at the point of distribution.

We may never know why this footage remained in Gaither’s vault for more than twenty years or what circumstance finally changed that allowed it to officially be seen now.

We can only speculate on what might have happened if the release of these videos had not been stalled at the eleventh hour. Perhaps the artists who appear in these videos would have seen their careers reinvigorated in the same manner as groups like JD Sumner & The Stamps, the Happy Goodmans, and the Statesmen.

15036430_10208308383210754_8044967263722072120_nEven more importantly, the success of the early Gaither videos helped pave the way for groups like the Martins, Talleys, Isaacs, Jeff & Sheri Easter, and so many others. Of course, the Gaither videos have always blended styles effectively, but it’s always been against a traditional white gospel backdrop. Jessy Dixon, the Fairfield Four, Stephen Hill (a white guy who could really showcase a black gospel style), Angela Primm and others were featured often, but Lynda Randle may be the only traditional black gospel singer who saw her career really elevated by participating in Gaither’s videos.

Imagine how many more new careers might have been launched if the legends seen in Gospel Pioneers Reunion had made regular video releases over the years. It’s great that we can finally see it now, but think of the opportunities that were lost.

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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 SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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  1. Reply November 19, 12:30 #1 stuey

    probably about the money, and how to divide it.

  2. Reply November 19, 12:34 #2 stuey

    I saw previews of it, looked good, but can wait till it’s on TV, don’t need to own that one.

  3. Reply November 19, 16:45 #3 Bobbie

    I subscribe to the Gaither TV and use a Roku to watch it on my TV. It has worked good for me, and I am rewatching lots of those I never saw years ago. This preview looked interesting/ will be looking for it. Are these artists familiar to you David?

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