› What: David Phelps on A Journey of Faith Tour, with Charlotte Ritchie, Emmanuel Quartet and The Dayspring Trio.
› When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7; doors open at 6 p.m. for VIP entry, 6:15 p.m. general admission
› Where: Collegedale Community Church, 9305 Four Corners Place
› Admission: $25 general admission, $35 VIP in advance; $30 and $40 at door
› For more information: 1-800-965-9324 (to order tickets); 423-396-5464 (information)
› Website: www.collegedalecommunity.com
He's a classically trained vocalist with an operatic range, but David Phelps knew early on that God had a different path in store for him.
"I had several teachers who felt that I should be singing opera or performing somewhere on Broadway," he recalls in an online bio. "In college particularly, I had a teacher who kept pushing me strongly toward classical music, but when she finally accepted that Christian music was what God was calling me to do, that became the turning point for me."
Perhaps best known as a tenor singer for the Gaither Vocal Band, Phelps is on a solo Journey of Faith Tour in support of his new album, "Hymnal: A Journey of Faith Through Hymns." He will perform Saturday, Oct. 7, at Collegedale Community Church with guests Charlotte Ritchie, Emmanuel Quartet and The Dayspring Trio.
He recently spoke with the Chattanooga Times Free Press from his farm outside Nashville. Here are some of the topics covered in the phone conversation.
The new album:
"Hymnal" includes such classics as "How Great Thou Art," "In the Garden" and "Victory in Jesus."
Phelps says he wanted to structure the album like a worship service, so there's a call-to-worship prelude and song suites examining themes of surrender and grace.
"I spent a long time going through song after song," he says. "I really was blessed by reading a lot of those lyrics. There's great poetry that was put on paper through blood, sweat and tears. They really are a labor of love."
When he recognized his gift:
Phelps says music was part of the family culture when he was growing up. "It wasn't forced," he says. "Music lessons were just a part of our education. We were always in the choir. I was singing before I remember."
He recalls a soul-stirring awakening to his talents around age 11 with "my mom playing piano at Sunday night church and me singing with her."
By ninth grade, his decision was made one night after a church singing. "I got in the car with my dad and said, 'This is what I want to do the rest of my life.'"
His time with the Gaither Vocal Band:
Phelps has served two stints with the GVB: 1997-2005 and 2009-2017 (he exited in April of this year).
On his website, Phelps called his time with the band "a dream come true."
His tenure included a changing roster of talent, including Guy Penrod, Michael English and Adam Crabb singing lead at various times, and Mark Lowry, Russ Taff, Marshall Hall and Todd Suttles singing baritone.
Bill Gaither, Phelps says, is both bass singer and backbone of the group.
"It is Bill that makes it all unified throughout the years," he says. "It's his baby. Bringing new people in changes things a bit, but it always has his signature on it."
What to expect from Saturday's show:
Phelps says fans can expect an eclectic program that draws on his childhood influences and audience favorites.
"It's everything from 'No More Night,' a classic gospel song, to 'Nessun Dorma,' a classical aria," he says. Perhaps even the pop ballad "What a Wonderful World." Credit his three-octave range for his willingness to explore genres.
"It's all framed within our Christian worldview," he says of the selections. "The songs we do are the songs that move people in their own way."
Contact Lisa Denton at email@example.com or 423-757-6281.