Bill Gaither Honors Legendary Heroes of Gospel Music

Aug 4, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Some great performances by some of gospel's greatest legends.

Cons:Some might question Bob Cain's inclusion, performance still great

The Bottom Line: They have delighted our souls for years. Now Bill Gaither pays tribute to some of the legendary heroes of gospel music.

During the last decade, some of the greatest names in gospel music have bid adieu to this earthly dwelling. Their vocal abilities will have lasting impact on the music business. Their chairs are empty now on that grand homecoming stage. But thanks to the musical genius of Bill Gaither, those who cherish their musical accomplishments can recall with great fondness a time when those chairs were alive with their being.

The CD has 3 song selections for each of the 7 (8 counting Vestal and Howard separately) heroes being honored. These performances were some of their greatest, and each person honored is a giant in the gospel music industry. The honored are George Younce, Jake Hess, Bob Cain, Rusty Goodman, Rex Nelon, Brock Speer, Howard and Vestal Goodman. Their voices have delighted millions for years. While they have been silenced, their influence endures. Thank you, Bill, for honoring my heroes.

George Younce
George Younce had one of the most powerful bass voices ever to record gospel music. The only person I have ever heard who could sing with such resonance at such a low register was J. D. Sumner. As I play this in my computer, my desk is vibrating as is my chair. The beauty of his rich baritone/bass found a welcome home in gospel music where for thirty-six years George was part of the Cathedral Quartet. George is all about good gospel music. His son-in-law is the rising star Ernie Haase. George left us on April 11, 2005.

In this tribute CD, you will hear the great recordings of This Ole House the classic Stuart Hamblen song. Many people have recorded this song including the Statler Brothers, but no one does it with the enthusiasm of George Younce. You will also hear the Bill and Gloria Gaither written Thanks To Calvary and Suppertime. This last song is one of my favorites. The Ira Stamphill song finds George doing a recitation toward the end in which he talks about the great suppertime in heaven when God will call us to “the greatest suppertime of them all.”

Jake Hess
To say that Jake Hess is a legend would be to understate the case. His exacting pronunciation of lyrics earned him renown as part of the Statesmen Quartet from 1947-1964. He then formed what he felt was the perfect group which he called The Imperials. The Imperials even backed up Elvis on his How Great Thou Art album. The Imperials recorded 40 albums charting 14 singles. His moving lyrical presentations and somewhat exaggerated facial expressions won him the praise of many in and out of music. Elvis was said to favor his singing. He was honored by the family by performing at the memorial services of both Elvis and Hank Williams, Sr. Few individuals have influenced an industry as much as did Jake Hess. For many years he hosted a gospel music show on the CBS affiliate in Nashville. His death in 2004 has left a huge void in gospel music.

In this tribute CD, you will hear his wonderful rendition of Henry Slaughter’s song God Takes Good Care of Me, I Know Where I Am Now written by Gloria and Bill Gaither, and the extremely lighthearted Come On and Sing. Bill keeps giving Jake the wrong cue, and they left all the out takes in the CD recording. It is historical and hysterically funny.

Bob Cain

While not as well known as the other voices on this CD, Bob Cain had a remarkable story. A talented trumpeter and band leader, Bob had made his way in life through music from college to his famous Alabama restaurant that served as a entertainment spot for famous acts like Pete Fountain, Bob Hope and Boots Randolph. The Cane Break was very renown as was his band of the same name. His Christian conversion brought new challenges. He recorded an album entitled A New Song that was brought to the attention of Bill Gaither by Jake Hess. Gaither included the showman in his homecoming chorus. His popularity with the crowds, singing his bluesy rendition of newer songs, was astounding. His expert usage of the trumpet was amazing. His husky baritone seemed more reminiscent of the nightclub crooners than the gospel stage, but the audiences loved him.

On this tribute CD, you will hear the song that brought him to the attention of Bill Gaither, I’ve Got A New Song To Sing written by Aaron Wilburn,One More Valley written by the legendary Dottie Rambo and the Country Hall of Fame member Governor Jimmy Davis. The third selection is a stirring rendition of the Kris Kristofferson song Why Me.

Rusty Goodman

Few families are more associated with southern gospel music than that of the Goodman Family. The Goodman Family, led by Howard began playing in the 1940s and became gospel music royalty. Howard’s marriage to Vestal brought a richness of sound unmatched in gospel music. One of the family members in and out of the group through the years was brother Rusty. Known for his own abilities, Rusty sang with the Goodman family and with other groups until his death from cancer in 1990. Some of the favorite Happy Goodman recordings have Rusty on them.

On this tribute CD, you will hear that wonderful, happy voice of Rusty Goodman singing I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey the Happy Goodman theme song written by Charles Goodman and Jimmie Davis. You will also here his self penned How Much Does He Love You and Me a duet he did with Larry Gatlin as well as a song he wrote entitled Leavin’ On My Mind.

Rex Nelon

Rex Nelon spent forty years in gospel music. As one of the outstanding bass singers of his generation, Rex was part of The LeFevers. They later changed their name to the Rex Nelon Singers and are now just known as the Nelons. His rich bass singing endeared him to audiences the world over. His contributions to gospel music brought him induction into its Hall of Fame. Rex’s work also introduced Janet Paschal and Karen Peck to gospel music listeners. Rex passed away in 2000 in Europe while on tour with the Homecoming group.

On this CD Rex Nelon selections are I’ve Come Too Far written by Nancy Harmon, Walk Right Out of the Valley written by Hazel Trubee, and All Aboard.

Brock Speer

The first family of gospel music for years has been the Speer Family. Their rich tradition of four part harmony was begun by Pop Speer many years ago. Family harmonies are hard to beat. Brock was a vital part of that family tradition. Brock began singing when he was just a child with his family. He formed together the Speer Family and began recording in the 1940s. He is considered the patriarch of the Speer Family Singers. He is a member of the GMA Hall of Fame. Brock departed this world at age 79 in 1999.

On this tribute album, you will hear Brock singing He Touched Me the classic Gaither song. Luther Presley and Virgil Stamps wrote the great song When All God’s Singers Get Home which is the second song included. He sings the second verse with that classic, aged baritone. Child of the King the classic Cindy Walker song is the third entry in tribute to Brock Speer. George Younce also sings on this song.

Howard and Vestal Goodman

For some fifty years, this couple delighted audiences all over the world with their happiness and joyful southern gospel sounds. They have been at the forefront of southern gospel since its inception. At home in a small church or on the prestigious stage of the Grand Ole Opry, Howard and Vestal Goodman were much beloved. Howard passed away in 2002 followed by Vestal in 2003. They worked right up until the end and have given us a rich body of work that will not be soon forgotten.

On this CD is What A Lovely Name a song written by Charles Wycuff. This rendition features Vestal with the Homecoming Chorus. The second song is the great Homer Morris, James Rowe hymn Won’t It Be Wonderful There. The final song is the John Taylor song When God’s Chariot Comes. This is just classic Happy Goodman singing.

Final Thoughts

Gospel music is a treasure that many never find. When found, it is priceless in joy providing many hours of renewal. Those who delight us become a part of our family. Each passing is a personal loss. Those who have been honored on this CD by Bill Gaither, have delighted masses of people for decades. They have honored us by their presence; their voices have honored God. Their memories are precious.

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