ImageA friend of mine argued that even churches that think they are contemporary in their worship style, start repeating the music that they have enjoyed sooner or later. Thus, while something that was published this year is contemporary, something that has been published 10 or 15 years ago cannot carry that label anymore.

Last year while my wife and I were visiting Alaska, we found out that half of the people on our cruise ship were there because they wanted to listen to the music of Michael W. Smith.  Among those people was my wife who greatly appreciates this contemporary singer.  While in Alaska we found out that one of the few musical groups who can get an entire cruise sold out in advance is the Gaither Trio. The Gaither trio is comprised of Bill Gaither, his wife Gloria and his brother Danny.

The Gaithers have succeeded where few have, by remaining a part of the contemporary music scene for decades. The trio has been in existence for over 40 years.  They have toured throughout the United States and Canada and have done some tours outside the USA. Their Homecoming tours sold out soon after they were announced.

When one listens to the Gaithers sing, one becomes aware that while they are very talented at composing new songs, they are even better at blending all styles of music to praise the Lord.  Some of their best-known songs are "Because He Lives," "He Touched Me," and "There's Something About That Name." However, their albums also include some of the more traditional songs, some regional songs and some types of music that are not well-known.

Christianity Today featured an article about Bill Gaither, written by Mark Allen Powell, in 2004. Gaither is the driving force behind the Gaither Trio and has had many successes as a solo artist, author and entrepreneur. The article illustrated that Gaither is a rare commodity in the modern music scene – he recognizes and appreciates those who came before him and finds joy in nurturing up and coming artists, without fear of competition. He has invited numerous artists to join him for his Homecoming and Praise Gathering programs, which feature Christian artists from every style of music. Artists such as Sandi Patty, Amy Grant, Carmen, Toby McKeehan and Michael W Smith have performed with and been encouraged by Gaither.

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

Gaither's influence stretches far and wide. In addition to creating over 100 albums with the Gaither trio, the Homecoming group, and as solo efforts, he has also written several books and founded the Gaither Music Company, a company which manages the recordings and concerts of the Gaithers. In addition, he runs a retail center and produces albums for other Christian artists.

Gaither's musical style is often described as "Southern Gospel." As a result of this, his largest fan base can be found in Southern Baptists. However, Gaither has a universal appeal, perhaps best confirmed by his second largest fan base – Roman Catholics. When asked about his seemingly universal appeal, Gaither said, "The older I get, the fewer things I know, but those things I do know, I know with certainty. And I know that people are drawn to that picture of Christ that I learned in Sunday School, standing with his arms outstretched and saying, ‘Come, come.' I am moved to share that Christ…"


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George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...