Last night I had the privilege of attending a Bill Gaither Homecoming Concert. My best buddy, and former college roomie, Tom, invited me to go with him. He got the tickets weeks ago, and the seats were good. Very good.
We arrived in time to see the "grips" finish setting up the stage and listened to a local Fort Wayne church choir as they opened the show. They were enthusiastic, making up for what was a less than quality performance. Of course, they were amateurs, not professionals. I felt like the song their director chose was wrong for this choir, but, hey, what do I know?
The first part of the concert was made up of different performers. The Isaacs, a gospel group of some renown, performed several numbers. One of the gals in that group plays the mandolin, and she does it very well. The brother of the group plays the upright bass, too, as well as sings with his sisters. Their mom, who must be about my age, sang with them.
They were followed by another brother/sister group, The Martins. This trio sings more contemporary Christian music, and they do it with skill, enthusiasm, and a great deal of talent.
Mark Lowry, a favorite of just about everybody, not only sang his wonderful composition, "Mary Did You Know," he entertained us with his humor and constant, good-natured heckling of Bill Gaither.
For me, the highlight of the evening was getting to hear David Phelps. He definitely outshown every other performer on the stage when ever he was up there. Though it is not a religious song, David's performance of "Nessun Dorma" from the opera "Turandot," was absolutely outstanding and brought down the house. What a voice! (I want to be able to sing just like him when I grow up.)
The Gaither Vocal Band did a fine job singing some old favorites, and leading the entire audience in "He Touched Me," and "Because He Lives." Their energy was catching and soon the entire audience was on their feet.
We were given little battery operated light/key chains upon entering, and it was awe inspiring to look out over a crowd of over 3,000 people and see that almost everyone had their little light burning, and swaying to the old favorites.
This was an evening to remember. Not only did I spend it with a lifelong friend, I got to be in the presence of some of the greatest talent in the Christian music world. It's a time I will cherish for many years to come.