When Grammy award-winning Gospel songwriter and singer Bill Gaither comes to the Colonial Life Arena on Friday night, he’ll bring the things that matter the most to him – his Christian faith, his family and his friends.
The 7 p.m. Gaither Christmas Homecoming Spectacular will include Gaither and the Gaither Vocal Band, featuring Mark Lowry, David Phelps and Wes Hampton, along with The Martins, the Isaacs, Karen Peck and New River, Buddy Greene, Jeff Taylor, Charlotte Richie, Gene McDonald and Kevin Williams.
The State talked to Gaither earlier this week, shortly after he had performed in Indianapolis in a concert that raised about $600,000 for the Wheeler Mission, an agency that serves the homeless and less fortunate in that city. He was thrilled with the outpouring of support, saying he encourages people to look in their backyards to lend a helping hand.
Gaither, now 77, talked about preparing for the Christmas season shows and what gives him joy during this time of year:
Q: You must have done hundreds of Christmas concerts. How do you prepare for the Advent season both through your music and in your personal life, knowing that you will be on the road a lot?
Gaither: We have always had our cake and eaten it too. We are home a lot of the time. We were here around the Thanksgiving table. All of our kids were here except for Suzanne, our oldest, who was in England because both of her children are in college there. Something kicks in at Thanksgiving and it is the theme of gratitude. And gratitude is followed by finding ways to live outward and giving. You say thanks at Thanksgiving and go right into Christmas, saying I’ve been blessed.
Do you have a personal daily devotion time?
In this day and time you grab time when you can get it – I don’t necessarily do one in the morning or one in the evening. I find in those times, you have to grab (personal moments) when they are available. Otherwise, you can just fill your life daily with stuff that needs to be done.
What do you try to convey in your Christmas concerts?
I read somewhere that the Jordan River – and I’ve been there, you could reach down and pick up a fish – is so full of life before it goes into the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus and the disciples lived. Then it flows into the Dead Sea where there is no outlet. The life all dies. I think it is a very good analogy to ourselves if we can’t find a way to live outside our lives. The hardest lesson when we come out of the womb … when we grow and mature, is that this life is not all about us. It is about living outward. There is the vertical praise that goes straight to God and the praise outward in how we relate to people. To love each other, you have got to live outward. The budget of your resources, including your physical resources, your time and money, some portion should be devoted to living outward.
Is this season particularly meaningful to you and your wife, Gloria?
You know, it seems every year of my life has been my favorite. I don’t know of two people who live in the moment more than we do. After we had done the big event on Saturday night, we came back and were together, just the two of us, and we said, ‘this is good too.’ We just built a fire in the fireplace and just sat near the fireplace. I think God is pleased whatever moment we can grab. Even the cold January and February months are great.
What will Friday’s concert be like?
You know what? The crowd will tailor the concert for us. We will sing the basic, familiar songs. But it will take on the flavor of the community.