Gaither Vocal Band to perform 2014 tour with Phelps/Hampton/English/Gaither lineup

UPDATE, 10/28/2013, 5 PM: It’s official: Michael English and Mark Lowry are both leaving the Gaither Vocal Band.

The Gaither Vocal Band’s concert schedule, posted here, lists the Gaither Vocal Band members and any guest artists performing at each concert venue. As anticipated, the remainder of the group’s 2013 schedule indicates that they will be performing as the familiar five-man vocal lineup of David Phelps, Wes Hampton, Michael English, Mark Lowry, and Bill Gaither. 

This changes for the 2014 season. They have now posted twenty dates for 2014, and each of these dates specifically lists a four-man Gaither Vocal Band lineup: David Phelps, Wes Hampton, Michael English, and Bill Gaither. Since Mark Lowry is not listed as appearing as a group member or as a soloist at any of these dates, this suggests that he will either be leaving the Gaither Vocal Band or taking an extended leave of absence at the end of the year. (Hat tip, Molly.)

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56 Letters to the Editor

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  1. With all the personal appearances he’s doing with Stan Whitmire he probably don’t have as much free time to spend with Gaither Vocal Band.

  2. This news surprises me. I had commented to a friend the other day how much I had enjoyed the Gaither/Penrod/Hall/Hampton lineup and now we learn that Mark Lowery is apparently leaving. With the four remaining members, we have Bill who can (and did in the beginning) sing baritone, but then the bass part is lost. With English/Phelps/Hampton we have what amounts to three tenors. Any possibility that Marsh Hall might be available for 2014?

    • The 2014 schedule lists “Gaither Vocal Band” and then enumerates those four members. Perhaps another will be added, but if not, Bill could hire a bass and move to baritone, or Michael English could stay in the baritone range a little more often when he’s not on a solo.

      • We can safely say that Bill Gaither won’t be singing baritone in the GVB.

      • Have you ever heard some of Mark Lowry’s notes at the end of the big ballads, Bill hasn’t a hope of singing baritone!

      • Then who would sing lead?

      • Michael English already sings lead.

    • English can sing baritone or lead, and Hamton and Phelps can each cover any part from baritone to tenor.

    • They’ve been bringing Gene McDonald out to sing bass in the past couple of years, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that continues to be the case. If so, what we could be seeing in early 2014 is not just a Lowry-less GVB, but also what a post-Bill Gaither GVB could look/sound like.

  3. I think what would be missed more is what Mark brings to them besides his singing. I’ve seen them live once…doesn’t Mark’s comedy and interaction with Bill carry a lot of the program between songs?

  4. Mark will be missed, but Kevin Williams is great at making people laugh also, so like Daniel said maybe he will fill in.


  6. Well I know this for a fact (my fact) to me the current lineup, Hampton, Phelps, English, Lowry, Gaither , is the best it has ever been, is it possible that Mark’s mama is getting worse(God forbid) and maybe he wants to spend a little more time with her , he dose love his mama. Anyway maybe it is just a temporary thing and he will be back. They dont need to bring anyone else in there GREAT as they are.

  7. A dream come true would be for them to hire a young bass like Aaron McCune….

  8. This will be your most read/commented blog post on this site (unless you post a more official update if/when one becomes available)

  9. If Mark’s gone for good..he will be missed…his baritone is very important for the overall blend. I think it’s most sensible if Michael English would fill the open spot….he’s not as high as he used to be, so it would fit him like a glove…plus the man knows how to fill holes others leave like no other.
    I wouldn’t like to see a ‘real bass’ with the VB though. I think that would make ’em just another quartet..just my opinion.

  10. Though Bill is by his own admission the least talented singer on the stage, his ability to orchestrate a concert and market a product are unmatched in southern gospel misic. Without Bill the Gaither Vocal band will never be the powerhouse it is now. At least that is my opinion.

  11. I noticed this yesterday. The Gaither concert website has now changed the wording for each 2014 concert. All it says is “Gaither Vocal Band”. No names are given. I’m guessing a formal announcement is coming soon.

  12. Agree with Mark’s first comment, and could live with any change except Michael leaving. Waited toooo long for his return to southern gospel.

  13. This clip was posted to Mark’s social cam page a few days back.

    He’s talking about who will tour with him in the Spring 2014.

  14. When the GVB first brought back David, Michael, and Mark, their first couple of months were sporatic, where one member was not immediately available to fill the dates that had been booked. I saw them in February of that year, and Mark was not present at that show due to scheduling conflicts. If I remember correctly, all three members traded off parts. Michael and Wes traded back and forth on the baritone parts (if Wes had lead, Michael sang baritone, and vice versa), but I think it was Wes who had the biggest workout, covering everything from baritone below Michael to tenor above David throughout the show.

    If anything, these three vocalists are not only versatile, but know EVERY vocal part in any given song. If there’s a part that needs filled, David, Wes, and Michael can fill it with no problem. In reality, the ideal setup for this group, should Mark leave, would indeed be David on tenor, Wes on lead, and Michael on baritone, with select features that allow each member to really belt out some high notes here and there. This way, they don’t have to kill themselves vocally every night.

    That being said, I have to agree that Mark and Bill’s chemistry is part of what made the GVB so enjoyable to watch live. However, with both Bill and Mark getting older, some of the material is starting to feel a bit forced, with Mark’s on-stage comedy revolving around being older (I’m surprised that Bill hasn’t jumped on some of that, making fun of Mark now that he’s older, but I digress….).

    If the question is whether or not the GVB will need to bring on a fifth member to fill the gap, I don’t think they will. If they need a bass vocalist, Gene McDonald will most likely fill that spot as needed for now, but I see no problem with the four remaining vocalists. In the event that Bill retires, I would not be shocked in the least to see Gene jump in.

    **on a side note we got a taste of what that would sound like on Michael’s “Some People Change album, where David, Wes, Mark, and Gene were the backup vocalists on “I Wouldn’t Take Nothin’ For My Journey Now.”

  15. A lot of what you see here isn’t really speculation, though – it is people talking about days they’ve seen the GVB when Mark wasn’t there, and how they’ve seen everyone else covering and swapping parts. Saying how we’ve seen these four remaining vocalists work out vocal arrangements in person isn’t exactly speculation.

  16. I think sometimes we as southern gospel music fans are so used to a structured group with everybody having defined roles, but that is part of why the vocal band is the vocal band. The mark of a professional singer is being able to sing multiple parts well. Look at Jon Epley and his range as an example. I personally like the fact they switch up. It keeps it interesting.

  17. This post is now out-of-date, so I’m closing comments here. If you’d like to join the discussion about Lowry’s and English’s departures, join us on the current post, here: