Three of the four singers traveling with gospel legend Bill Gaither during his latest Homecoming Tour are ex-members who have returned to the fold. When asked if their return was similar to a grown child returning home after college, he laughed.
"I don't know about that," he said. "Mark [Lowry] said they were like warts. You can't get rid of them. But he's a good example of what happens. He had been with us 13 or 14 years and was worn out. He wanted to do something else, and he is a very good comic as well, so he did his own touring."
Lowry is joined by David Phelps and Michael English as the returning singers. New to the group is Wes Hampton.
"Wes has survived," Gaither said. "He is the young kid, and I was afraid with all those all stars he might get lost, but he has held his own."
Gaither, who has had a number of personnel changes with the Gaither Vocal Band, calls this lineup the best he's had.
"I know I'm expected to say that, but if this particular group is not the best, it is certainly up there with the best," he said.
He said having such a collection of singers makes things easier, even when it comes to keeping so many talented people happy.
"If you can't cook up a meal with that group, you can't cook.
"I'm a sports fan. To me it's like the basketball coach. There is only one basketball. We don't seem to have that problem with egos. All of these guys are so good that I think they are happy to sit by sometimes and enjoy."
Gaither said that in addition to sitting back and watching members of the Vocal Band shine, the crew takes every opportunity to watch The Isaacs as well.
"The Isaacs are unbelievable," he said. "Our guys sit back and listen to that intricate harmony. Iit's a great night."
The Gaither Homecoming will stop by Saturday at UTC's McKenzie Arena.
If You Go
* What: Gaither Homecoming Tour 2010.
* When: 3 p.m. Saturday.
* Where: McKenzie Arena, Fourth and Mabel streets.
* Admission: $29.50 and $39.50.
* Phone: 266-6627.
* Website: www.tickettracks.com.
* Gaither Vocal Band (featuring Wes Hampton, David Phelps, Bill Gaither, Michael English and Mark Lowry)
* Buddy Greene
* The Isaacs
* The Martins
* Gene McDonald
* Gordon Mote
* Karen Peck & New River
* Lynda Randle
* Charlotte Ritchie
* Greg Ritchie
* Kevin Williams