Gaither Vocal Band, Guests, Bring “First Class” Gospel Music

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

GVB 2016-235Singer Adam Crabb of the Gaither Vocal Band was part of group founder Bill Gaither's 80th birthday celebration last week. "It was a surprise party, and it went really well," said Crabb, 36, from near his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Crabb is a relative newcomer to the celebrated group, which Gaither began in the early 1980s – a successor of sorts to his original Bill Gaither Trio. Crabb and fellow singer Todd Suttles joined the group just two years ago.

"When that first Gaither (Homecoming) video came out, that's what hooked our family into music," Crabb recalled of he and his four siblings who for many years sang as The Crabb Family. "We loved the music and the sound and the message. It's pretty wild how eventually God brings things full circle and now I'm singing with the group that really inspired me."

The Gaither Vocal Band and several other artists are coming to Grand Rapids on April 8 for a concert at Sunshine Community Church.

A LONG-LIVED LEGACY

Crabb now has a stake in the Grammy-winning ensemble that has such notable alumni as Steve Green, Larnelle Harris, Russ Taff and Michael English. He and Suttles came on board in time to sing on the album "Sometimes It Takes A Mountain" (also on video); and they re-cut the "Hymns" album, which was nominated for a Grammy last year.

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The pair is also part of the new Gaither video "Happy Rhythm."

"The neatest thing about the Vocal Band is ...you've got two of the greatest tenors ever (David Phelps and Wes Hampton), and Todd who has a real gift for communicating a song, and then Bill, of course. We're all different but when we come together it's pretty cool."

Throughout its 35- year run, the Gaither Vocal Band has carved out a repertoire that includes old -time hymns, Southern gospel standards, contemporary anthems, and Gaither's own classic compositions (co-written with his wife Gloria) such as "Because He Lives" and "He Touched Me" (The latter was recorded by Elvis Presley).

Several trademark ballads showcase the singers' vocals, including as "I Believe In A Hill Called Mt. Calvary" and "'Til the Storm Passes By."

Crabb and Suttles replaced long-time members Mark Lowry and Michael English. Crabb technically sings lead vocals (although each of the singers has turns with leads) and Suttles is a baritone. Lowry's "funny guy" role is now handled by guitarist/music director Kevin Williams.

"I really love some of those older songs like 'I'm Free' and 'Daystar,'" Crabb said of two of the hundreds of songs the Vocal Band has recorded over the years.

HIS OWN MUSICAL HERITAGE

Adam Crabb, his twin brother Aaron, older brother Jason, and sisters Kelly and Terah grew up in Beaver Dam, Ky. in a small church where their father Gerald was pastor. "Dad started writing songs and The Crabb Family was birthed," said Adam.

With numerous Southern gospel hits (such as "Please Forgive Me"), the family group sang for more than a decade before breaking up in 2007. "We felt God calling us to do different things," Crabb said.

His sister Kelly is singing with her husband in the Bowling Family. Jason is a successful solo artist. Aaron and his wife Amanda sing as a couple but have also begun a church in Tennessee.

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"We all still get together once a year and do some Crabb Family reunion concerts," Adam said.

Even with his Vocal Band duties Adam still has some time for a solo music ministry. He is now collecting songs for a new solo album and later in April is headed for Sweden for a series of concerts.

CARING FOR THE MUSIC

At the Grand Rapids concert (which also features Charlotte Ritchie, Gene MacDonald and Matthew Hold), Crabb said the song list will be a mix of old and new.

"Bill always does a good variety – and in the second half of the concert you never know what's going to happen," he said of the impromptu look of the various artist combinations and songs.

Crabb offered his thoughts on the continued popularity of the Gaither brand. "It's what Bill brings to the music – He keeps it fresh and he loves the old songs but loves to have an edge to his sound and keeps it first class.

"Bill's got some die hard fans and I've met quite a few of them. His music is just always good and top quality. When you're around him, you can't help but just love him and his love for the music."

Concert details:

Gaither Vocal Band with Charlotte Ritchie, Gene MacDonald, Matthew Holt and Kevin Williams
7 p.m. Friday April 8 (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Sunshine Community Church, 3300 E. Beltline NE
General admission tickets $25, with discounts for seniors and students. Advance group rates may be available. Charge by phone at 855-484-1991, or visit online.
Author Information
Terry DeBoer
About:
Writer: West Michigan Christian News August 2011 – Present (1 year 6 months) Monthly publication and web site with news, features, and information of interest to the West Michigan Christian community Feature writer: Muskegon Chronicle April 1996 – Present (16 years 10 months) Writer: Kalamazoo Gazette July 1991 – Present (21 years 7 months) beat includes convering contemporary Christian and Gospel music feature writer Grand Rapids Press May 1988 – Present (24 years 9 months)

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