Sweet musical harmonies took center stage at the Gaither Homecoming concert Thursday at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City.
Grammy Award-winning Bill Gaither and his Gaither Vocal Band took the audience of about 2,600 people on a musical journey that included time-tested hymns and Southern Gospel favorites of yesteryear, as well as more recent Gospel songs.
The centerpiece of the show was the band's harmonious
With or without instrumental music, this group's harmony took on a life of its own and the band showed its remarkable range with several songs like “Journey to the Sky” and “Jesus on the Main Line.” They needed no music and sang a cappella several times — truly a treat for the ears.
The band features Gaither, comedian and singer-songwriter Mark Lowry, Michael English, David Phelps and the newest addition to the group Wes Hampton. Pianist and singer Gordon Mote accompanied the group on the piano much of the evening, and even performed on the organ during one set. Each member of the band, plus Mote, performed spectacularly, and their solos were amazing.
Phelps' rendition of “Nessun Dorma, (“None Shall Sleep”)” an aria from Puccini's opera “Turandot” was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes and earned him a standing ovation from the crowd.
Phelps sang the Italian lyrics and most of us in the audience had no idea what he was saying, we were moved by the depth of feeling in his voice and his soaring vocals.
Lowry was a crackup, proving why he is a popular comedian as well as singer-songwriter. You could tell the group loves to laugh together and Lowry's jokes and funny stories were hilarious, fitting right in with the evening's fun atmosphere.
My favorite performances of the night were “Greatly Blessed, Highly Favoured,” a glorious Scripture-based mantra, and a sweet, mellow song called “Clean,” both from the band's 2010 album “Greatly Blessed.” Several performers joined the band for the evening, including Charlotte Ritchie, Kevin Williams, Gene McDonald and Joyce Martin. Martin, whom I had not heard sing before, earned a new fan on this night with her performance of “The Promise.”
My grandmother, who watches the “Gaither Homecoming” show on TV every weekend, sang along to many of the time-tested songs that were performed, including “Through It All” and “Blessed Assurance.”
She wasn't alone. The sanctuary often filled with the sounds of people singing the beloved Gospel songs, sometimes spontaneously and sometimes at the Gaither band's urging.
The show lasted from 7 to 10 p.m., with a 15-minute intermission.
That might sound like a long time to some, but I would say that most the people gathered at Crossings could have stayed there a while longer — as long as the Homecoming performers sang to us.