They ‘write the songs that make the whole world sing’
Profile of Bill and Gloria Gaither, who received The Salvation Army’s Evangeline Booth award in 2011
By Jayne Thurber-Smith
The Gaither hymnal comprises the soundtrack of the lives of many Christians.
The Salvation Army showed Bill and Gloria Gaither love in April 2011, and the feelings were mutual. The husband and wife songwriting duo received the Evangeline Booth award for Lifetime Achievement in Gospel Music at the National
Advisory Organizations Conference. Bill graciously accepted by saying “I’ve always loved your spirit of caring.”
This 75-year-old is not resting on his laurels and shows no signs of slowing down. He hopes to keep on working and performing with his Homecoming choir until his own personal heaven homecoming.
“I want to make the most of this opportunity to communicate a faith that has made a major difference in my life,” he says. “It’s priceless to be able to reach so many people across the country and, in the last 20 years, around the world. We spent a lot of last year in Europe, Africa, Australia, South America. To go to somewhere like Brazil and hear our songs sung in Portuguese is amazing.”
They are a songwriting match made in heaven: Gloria the poet writes the lyrics and Bill the musician writes the accompaniment. When asked about the total count of songs he has written over more than 50 years, he responds that he doesn’t keep track but his copyrighters tell him it’s over 600.
“Writing isn’t difficult for me; otherwise I wouldn’t do it,” he says. “The crafting part I sometimes have to hammer out, but the inspiration is the God part. Having a deadline isn’t fun, but when we do have one God shows up most of the time; sometimes we have to wait on his timing and postpone it.”
Surprisingly, Bill’s favorite song isn’t one of his own.
“I love Andrae Crouch’s song ‘Through it All,’” he says. “It says so much. Of my songs I don’t have a favorite but the voting of the people is usually for ‘Because He Lives,’ ‘The King is Coming’ and ‘He Touched Me.’”
On December 26, 2012, Bill and Gloria will celebrate 50 years of a blessed marriage that has survived a lot of road miles.
“We took the kids with us on tour sometimes,” he remembers, “and when we couldn’t, Gloria’s mother and my parents helped out. We had the best of both worlds. We caution the young artists these days to not let the lights of the stage burn brighter than those at home. We have three wonderful kids and seven grandkids and you don’t do it all right but we tried to do as much right as we could.”
Besides being a faithful husband, father and grandfather, Bill is also one of the most successful Christian executives in America as he runs the Gaither empire. From the songwriting have blossomed concerts, DVDs, CDs, books, magazines. He claims the Bible is his go-to business manual.
“Good sound business is built on good sound Scripture,” he says. “The Bible is full of applicable wisdom in the Proverbs, and throughout the Gospels in the words of Jesus.
You learn about many things including integrity, how to treat people well. Our ministry would fall otherwise.”
Bill’s Homecoming Friends production is an expensive investment that always pays off with fans from all over. It takes seven or eight buses for the Homecoming performers along with three semi-trucks full of sound equipment to get to their venues. Bill is a true road warrior.
“I like the bus,” he says. “I sleep well on it. It’s not easy, but it gives us such joy.”
“Loving God, loving each other,
Making music with my friends;
Loving God, loving each other,
And the music never ends.”*
*Copyright Gaither Music