Video: Original Greater Vision

Greater Vision has posted several videos of the original Greater Vision (Chris Allman, Gerald Wolfe, Mark Trammell) rehearsing. While the video they taped after the practice will undoubtedly be far more polished, many of us enjoyβ€”perhaps almost to the point of preferringβ€”the raw spontaneity and simplicity of the live rehearsal.


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102 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful way to start the day! Thank you for sharing these.

  2. Hallelujah! If I didn’t think I’d wake the wife up, I think I’d take a run.

    This is one of my top three collections of vocalists in the history of gospel music. Boy, oh boy, have they still got it.

  3. The dvd MAY be more polished but we will never know from this site…..because it will not have a live orchestra! Lol, just messing with you and your new policy.

    If it wasn’t wrong to bet , we could take odds on how long before you break that policy, lol

    • I have already said that I will make exceptions from time to time. I think I mentioned the Gaither Vocal Band Reunion as an example I had in mind – something of a particularly historic nature is worth making an exception for.

      This is their second reunion videotaping in the last few years, though, so I’m not sure – had it been the first, it would have been a definite exception.

      • Well I HOPE they put out a CD too – or were CDs included in that policy?

        I could do a guest review on the CD, but it would be a little less objective than what you’d want to publish. πŸ˜‰

      • Studio CDs weren’t, at any rate. I’ve only heard of a DVD being in the works.

      • No, I want a live CD.

      • You asked multiple questions, I gave multiple answers! πŸ™‚

        Studio CDs aren’t against my policy.

        As to your other point – if there were enough like you, they would certainly do it!

      • Oh, I get it. Maybe I’m not awake yet. Or maybe I’m not capable of bouncing between email, news stories, and editorials while carrying on a coherent conversation on an SG blog. Oh, and answering the phone at work. 8|

        What a world we live in.

      • True!

  4. πŸ™ And I can’t see or hear it right now. (I don’t have speakers on my work computer, and YouTube’s blocked anyway.)

    This is the best group out there, if anybody was wondering! πŸ˜€

  5. This is awesome!!!

  6. Chris has such a youthful voice, still. It’s disgusting. πŸ˜€

    • He’s a born tenor; he was born with that range, and he has taken care of it properly. Oh, that we could say that of all SG tenors!

      • I think Wes Hampton should be taking notes. He should try to age like Chris.

      • Chris sounds better here than when he started. I saw one of their first concerts and Chris was their weak link. He seemed to not have much past a Bb and that was not nearly as full as it is now. His voice now should go down in history as one of the greats.

      • When he started the first time or the second time?

      • It would have to be the second time. He stayed in vocal shape between his two tenures, and in fact has been (even since rejoining GV) a studio vocalist singing background vocals – and maybe a few demos – on the Crossroads studio track series.

      • Sorry, “when he started” meant when he first started singing with Greater Vision. I think he was 23, and I admittedly measured tenors against my favorite, Danny Funderburk as well as having expectations that a full-voiced C should be able to be sung, but he wasn’t near the tenor that he is now.

      • I personally think Chris is much easier to listen to than Danny, even though Danny may have more power.

      • I was never that impressed by Chris until I got a hold of “The King Came Down” – specifically the song, not the album. The more I listened to it, the more I loved it, and I was thrilled when I heard he was joining them again.

      • Chris isn’t one of those tenors that belts it out and bowls you over. His voice is just…there. I can’t explain it any better than that. It’s very refreshing.

      • It seems to be a Gerald Wolfe habit to pick tenors like that. I didn’t hear enough of Jacob to state anything firmly about him, but that seems to be GV’s idea on tenors. I like it much better than, say, Old Squeaky. (But don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the other too – in moderation.)

      • I think Jacob was louder than Chris.

        Yes, I’m not real big on the “squeakies” either. πŸ˜‰

      • Well, Chris has enough power and fullness now and I think he is great. I do also love the power tenors like Funderburk and Phelps for sure, but Chris has such a smooth, full voice that makes him great in his own right. He is closer to another of my favorites (Bill Baize). So, I can like both types of tenors.

        I have other projects of Greater Vision’s that I got early on. I am not sure how much or in what detail I listened to them and that was a long time ago. I was basing it on my initial feelings of him from that concert. When I heard him on a reunion thing of theirs years back I was really happy and knocked over by how much better he was.

        In fact, I just remembered the version of “There is A River” they did on a various artists’ video back early on. Chris still had a similar sound then on his high C that he had at the beginning. It is much better now.

      • Strangely enough, the one ‘voice’ I can imagine fitting perfectly with this ensemble is Wes Hampton.

        This is very beautiful, SGM jammin at its best. A DVD of THIS session would be awesome – the NEW HomeComing Series?

  7. That is the first time I have heard Chris…they really sound great together!

  8. OK, I’m starting to get caught up here. I wasn’t aware that Greater Vision was doing a reunion until I saw this morning’s post.

    It’s going to be a studio reunion, then? That makes things clearer.

    • No, it was a live videotaping (with Mark Trammell Quartet as a special guest) on New Year’s Eve or the day before.

      • :sigh: I’ll bow out now. πŸ™‚

  9. Truly a wonderful way to start my Thursday morning… thanks for posting!!!

  10. I have to agree, what a great way to start the day! If that won’t get you going,nothing will.

  11. Did you guys notice how all the younger guys stood around recording this with big smiles on their faces? I thought that was pretty neat.

    • Yes – it is neat – because it shows they realize how special it is, and how neat to have the opportunity to be there for this.

      • Looks like Pat Barker, aka “Gospel Music’s Biggest Fan”, was having himself a time.

        Those young ‘uns just need to watch and learn. Besides Jesus Christ himself, they’ll have no better examples in gospel music whose footsteps they should follow.

  12. oh man, that’s wonderful. thanks for sharing. i was at the live event, but i’m a bigger fan of these “living room sessions”.

  13. This is truly a blessing! Sounding as good if not better than they did many years ago!

    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Talk about giving you the desires of your heart. 20 years ago I opened up for Greater vision at a small country church near my home. They were as gracious as i could have ever imagined. 20 years later I am in the Living room listening to that same line up, and realizing how blessed i am to be singing with one of those members. God is Good!!

    • Yes he is! Thank you for stopping by.

    • That is so neat!

    • Pat, you are truly blessed. You are absolutely in love with southern gospel music and it shows. Thank you for your encouraging words to me and to all southern gospel fans that might come up to you at a concert or at NQC. You were doing the same thing in this video that I would have been doing!! LOL! God bless you!

  15. Chris sings with such ease and it makes his voice so pleasant to listen to.

  16. It has always seemed that these 3 men have built in vocal stacks. (very evident in this video) When you got it you got it! These men have it! Whatever “IT” is they have “IT.” talent, spirit, power, harmony, blend, etc. all the things that make SGM the greatest music of all time! All singers please bookmark these videos, take notes, listen and try your best to crank it out like these 3. Please! You don’t need to moan, groan, dress hot, whine, breathe sexy, or make strange faces. Just sing! Nothing better then singing around the piano, that is if you can sing!

    • Should you not have flat feet too?

      Don’t see much dance practise hereabouts.

  17. I knew this would be good even before I clicked play; I wasn’t disappointed. This depicts what made me love SG music: a live piano, great blend, a certain camaraderie among the singers, and finally, a “sense” that the song — the very moment — was bigger than they were. Look at Gerald and Mark — they could feel it. We’ve all seen contrived “moments” in SG. This wasn’t one of them…

    Chris sounds great! He proves you don’t have to scream and belt high D’s to get the job done. The blend is so much better when the key of the song is dialed down a couple of steps. And, too, show me a group that has a tenor busting high C’s and D’s and I’ll show you a Lead singer that’s probably on the ropes vocally if he’s singing in a “big” Lead voice, or, more likely, allowing the vocal stack to cover for him. In a sense, doing a rope-a-dope.

    Gerald, post more stuff like this!!

    • “We’ve all seen contrived ‘moments’ in SG. This wasn’t one of them…”

      One word: ouch.

      • To be clear, I certainly wasn’t referring to GV, or frankly, anyone else. Just a general observation that there is a lot of “theatre” in SG, and not everything the audience sees is real.

        I’ll add that most DVD’s are so sanitized that, in my opinion, the “soul” is missing. I’ll throw this one out there: How would really working hard to totally pitch-correct this performance by these guys (if you could) REALLY help it? Not one bit!!

      • Yes, that is how I understood your comment.

        And I’m totally agreed that too many DVDs in SG are far too sanitized. That’s why I instituted a policy a few weeks ago of only reviewing 100%-live DVDs, without soundtracks, since those also *tend* to be a lot less sanitized.

      • No, I didn’t think you were referring to GV.

        But like you said, there is a lot of scripting that goes on in the SG world, or more specifically, the Gaither world.

        I heartily agree with the sentiment about pitch-correcting here. Number one, it’s so good it’s not in dire need anyway, and number two, pitch-correcting would completely spoil the effect.

        That’s why I love to revisit old Cathedrals videos. I keep coming back to Texas, for one, and that hymn medley around the piano. It’s completely rough and spontaneous, but it’s completely glorious as it is, and I wouldn’t touch a note of it.

    • I agree – I’d love to see more stuff like this. These guys are simply so good that they don’t need huge tracks to sound good.

    • What a great compliment…especially coming from one of the greatest tenors to ever sing a Gospel song! Thanks Terry!

      • Gerald, you are such a blessing to so many people. Please continue to post videos like this!!! This is what made me love southern gospel music!!! The beautiful harmonies do wonders for the soul!

  18. *clap, clap, clap clap!*

    Artists need to be careful about making stuff like this public…we’ll start to be greedy! πŸ™‚

  19. WOW! We watched these videos late last night and it was AMAZING! Even Mom liked it, and she isn’t necessarily a GV fan! What a beautiful blend, simple, but powerful harmonies, and wonderful songs. But the best part was the spontaneity and the rawness of the moment.

    Chris Allman has such a good tenor voice-this was one of our first times really hearing him-and we look forward to hearing more from him.

    Thanks for sharing the videos!

    • You’re welcome!

      I think this video would appeal to quite a few people who aren’t necessarily fans of GV’s typical, more heavily produced sound.

      • Yes. I think Mom’s main “problem” with GV is their slightly “harsh” (for lack of a better word!) sound, lots of vibrato, and the fact they aren’t a quartet! πŸ™‚ (It took us kids a long time to convince her to even go to a Booth Brothers concert!) But now, I believe she is more “reconciled” to their sound. πŸ˜‰

      • I think GV is a very heavily Southern-rooted group. It comes through in their voices and the way they sing. Of course, the Booth Brothers are southern-based too, but I think they just have a lighter touch. GV is thicker and more dramatic. I don’t mind it, but some people might who aren’t as deeply into the tradition of pure SG.

      • Oh, don’t get me wrong, Mom absolutely LOVES old-style Southern Gospel, probably even more so than all of us! But GV’s vocal styling isn’t her preference…just like how I (Taylor) love the Isaacs and my sister Leesha barely tolerates them. πŸ™‚ But yes, I see what you’re saying about the differences.

      • I appreciate your sensitivity and perhaps that is a good rule of thumb. However, mostly what you said comes down to taste. It probably isn’t news to Gerald that some people don’t care for their music or style of it. I am not a fan of certain music either. It comes down to taste sometimes.

        Sometimes groups I am not a fan of are really successful and loved by others, but they still aren’t my cup of tea. Besides, I believe you said you were a fan, just not your mom so much. πŸ™‚

      • Goodness! I didn’t know Gerald Wolfe was going to stop by this blog! I hope he wasn’t offended by what I wrote earlier. πŸ™ Honestly, we would do EVERYTHING we could to attend a Greater Vision concert (if they came to Minnesota), as we DO love GV…plus we need Gerald to sign our Cathedral book. πŸ™‚ So Gerald, count on our family to be at a GV concert whether you have tracks or piano only-just please come up to MN sometime!

        But for now, I think I’ll go crawl under a rock…or snowdrift for that matter. πŸ™‚

        Taylor for the Garms

      • Never count on any particular singer not reading (or, occasionally), commenting here!

      • No kidding! What’s that old adage…”Think before you speak”? Seems like I need to apply that before I comment!

      • πŸ™‚

        With how often I do it, I still don’t do it often enough.

      • Whew! I’m not alone.

  20. Interesting that Terry Franklin commented. These two Greater Vision clips kinda reminded me of this GVB clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG2wm7QTXZw

    They followed that up with Terry singing “What A Day That Will Be” a capella. I don’t have time to look that up right now.

    RE: Chris in the early days. I remember an interview where Gerald said that Chris wasn’t use to singing as much as was necessary for a full time group, but once his voice adjusted, he was fine. I do think he’s doing his best singing right now, though. Did anybody else catch his version of “I Know A Man Who Can” a few weeks ago on the concert webcast they did from California?

    • Boy, how weird is that to see Michael feeding lyrics to Mark? Usually it’s the other way around given his propensity to forget the lyrics. I guess it’s because it’s a Rusty song and Michael knew it so well.

      Daniel, I just sent the link to this thread to my brother and sister-in-law, so hopefully you’ll gain a couple more subscribers. These two GV clips are his kind of music–just the guys singing along with the piano.

      • Thanks!

      • Seeing terry post this morning reminded me of the clips at Stamps School. This is one of my favorites, but there are several of them.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjErmmO-qnw

        I thought Terry and Michael’s voices sounded a lot alike anyhow. Of course Mark has a smooth sound and the three blended very well.

        I realize there is a little guitar in here, but it is still pretty bare bones accompaniment where the voices stand out.

  21. GV has always been at their best with Gerald at the piano and maybe a little bass guitar. I love their music but the orchestra on the tracks has begun to drown them out and sound the same. I loved the early days (mostly with Chris) when it was more trio and piano. Awesome music was made then.

    • Thanks for the compliment…seriously… but I can’t imagine being able to keep the attention of an audience for two hours these days with just piano and vocals. Greater Vision has used tracks since the beginning, with a few piano / vocal songs thrown in for variety. If we decide to do a piano / vocal only concert… will you be the first to buy a ticket, and promise not to leave until it’s over? πŸ™‚

      • Gerald I can’t speak for Mark; but I would be there til the end for sure! πŸ™‚

      • If it is within two hours of where I live, and I don’t have another commitment that evening that I simply cannot get out of, I most certainly would promise just that!

      • I’d never walk out on Greater Vision πŸ˜‰ lol. You also happen to be one of my favorite musicians… so there’s NO WAY I would be getting bored!

      • If it was in my area, I would be there!!

  22. I like the picture of George and Glen behind Pat Barker’s head.

  23. I’m going to take you folks up on your offer, and we’ll see if you follow through. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the comment on the painting. That’s the first Artist Proof that was sold of that work by Mitchell Tolle (1/100). When he pitched his idea to the SGMA of doing a series of paintings, no one in the room seemed to be excited about it, so I volunteered to purchase the first Artist Proof…as long as I could reserve the same “number” of each new release. The rest is history. Sadly, the series was discontinued after only three of the planned five paintings were finished, but I’m glad I have the three.

    • By all means! And if you were within an hour of where I live, I’d be coming to see you anyhow. πŸ™‚

  24. I’d love to hear Gerald, Mark and Chris on “Land of Living”

    • YES! PLEASE! lol.

      • I loved that song and when Danny, Gerald and Mark also sang “Have You Visited Heaven Lately”

      • Daddy *insists* on calling the original version of “Land of Living” “Greater Vision,” even though it really truly was the Cathedrals back then. He rationalizes that Gerald and Mark started Greater Vision soon after, so … that’s the way it is.

    • Oh Dear! “Land of Living” – a better intro to GW than [even] “Champion of Love” way back when!!

      Oh Dear, Oh Dear! “Two hours…”

      Not even 24 hours would do; What about a GV/L5/MTQ World Tour Gerald? :-), or even just a Greater Vision mini-tour?

      We promise to buy tickets for all the family.

  25. Is the picture of the “Man and the Little Girl” part of the work by Mitchell Tolle?

    • Yes. The man playing the piano is Hovie Lister. The little girl watching is actually Mitchell Tolle’s grand-daughter. That painting was the first in the series. The Artist Proofs are signed by twenty-five Gospel Music Legends. Most of the signers have since been promoted to Heaven.

      • We have two Mitchell Tolle works, the Hovie Lister and Glen and George paintings. Would never sell them, would not part with them. I treasure these paintings.

      • Where could someone get one of those paintings?

      • check out Mithcell Tolle’s site: [EDIT, 6/5/12: Broken link removed.]

  26. I enjoy everything about Greater Vision! From the orchestrations to the sounds of the “Everyday People” and “Memories Made New” albums… but there is something about the simplicity of a piano and voices that’s just special. I guess it sort of allows the lyric to speak for itself. I’d drive a long distance to hear it… and pay for a ticket too! πŸ™‚

  27. Gerald…..you were being a little bit of a smartaleck! hahahaha I think many of your fans would like the piano only thing though!

    Actually I was just saying that in the early days you used more of that than you do now. Of course, you have always used tracks. I’ve been to a few concerts in recent years where you hardly touched the keyboard…..we just like your playing! Your touch is refreshing in contrast to others.

    As far as paying….since I am singing on several dates with you in June I just will wait till then to hear you…..goodness knows I will be hawking enough tickets to those concerts to earn me a listen from the back row! lol

    • Thanks again Mark…the compliment is very much appreciated.

      What dates in June were you referring to?

  28. Hudsonville and clarkston, MI gerald.

  29. What is the history of the song “Sailing Away”? I have found neither lyrics nor mention of it to the extent of the internet. It sounds so familiar, yet so difficult to find.

    • Brian, the only info I can find is that it was written by former Cathedral Roger Horne, I believe with a publish date of 1988. The only other recording I see evidence of is by the Songfellows on their project “Love That Gospel Music”.

    • I felt the same way after hearing the song. I assume you know already that Greater Vision recorded it on The King Came Down. That was my first exposure to it – I mean, I thought it was, but it still sounded very familiar. I eventually remembered that I’d heard an amateur group sing it. It must be a good song; it sure seems to make an impression on people!

      • Actually, we recorded it on the “You Can Have A Song” cassette (1991), and was never released on CD until Dec. 30, 2010. The song was not on “The King Came Down” CD.

      • Oops. Well … I’m obviously confused. I believe I must have been thinking of an MTT album. And in researching the song back then, I found that GV had recorded it, but I don’t think I even have that album. 😳 Thanks!

      • Don’t worry about it Amy! Not very many people have that original recording. There were only about 2000 cassettes ever produced of it. That’s the recording we released on a limited-edition CD back in December. We are discussing making it available on iTunes later this year.

      • Well put me on the list of people that want it. I didn’t know there was a CD … I might try to get that if I can get some spending money together.

      • Gerald,

        There’s very few times that I’ve listened to a song/arrangement on the very first time and had the hairs on the back of my head just stand up in sheer awesomeness and amazement.

        And this song is one of those instances. You definitely knocked it out of the park here. Excellent job!

      • Hey Amy, you may be confusing “Sailing Away” with “Stormy Weather” from “The King Came Down” album. Easy to do. You’d be surprised of a certain gospel singer who also got the two songs mixed up. Both are smooth, mid-tempo songs featuring ships and water. ha…

      • It may have been a subconscious thing! I’m pretty sure I had the right song playing in my head, but I very possibly could have misplaced them that way. I like “Stormy Weather” too!

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