Question of the Week: Gerald Wolfe

Daniel: I recently featured a video of the original Greater Vision, plus Pat Barker, singing “Wedding Music.” You posted a comment that there was an interesting backstory involving Greater Vision. Any chance you could elaborate on that?

Gerald: In March of 1991, we were on an In Touch Bible Study Cruise, with Dr. Charles Stanley.  The Talleys were also one of the groups on the cruise.

One afternoon, I was sitting at a table on the Pool Deck, and Kirk came walking up and said “let me sing you this new song I’ve just finished with Phil [Cross].” He proceeded to sing “Wedding Music,” and I immediately knew it was a “hit.”  I told him “we’ll do it!”, and asked him to hold it for us, since we wouldn’t be going into the studio for several months, having just released our first Riversong CD, On A Journey.

A few months later, we were on a concert date with the Cathedrals, and Roger asked me to come to their bus to listen to their new recording…they were in the “final mix” stage of finishing it up.  You can imagine how surprised I was to hear the now-classic version of “Wedding Music”, with George’s signature voice singing the second verse.  Of course, it was immediately obvious to me they did a better job with it than we ever could have, but I was still a little bit surprised that Kirk had sent it to them, without letting me know.

When I called Kirk to “rake him over the coals” about the song being “on hold”, his response was short, to-the-point, typically sarcastic, and very true… “they’ll sell more CDs than you will.”

I replied, “you’ve got a good point”, and we both laughed.  Thankfully, they did record “Wedding Music”, and it became one of the most-requested songs of their final decade of touring.

Looking back, I’m glad I got to be one of the first to hear what would become another “Cathedral Quartet Classic.”  Nobody can sing it like they did!

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25 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Maybe this song is one they could use if a second Quartets is ever recorded !

    • …and after that video, I know the perfect bass singer for the guest solo!

  2. I’m hearing what it would have sounded like as a Chris Allman feature. It would have been great, but yeah, you can’t get any better than George and the Cats.

    • I have to agree. It was meant for George to sing. Of course, we might never have known that if he hadn’t done it first, but it definitely was their song!

    • Yep, I agree. There will never be another George! I do appreciate the tribute songs that the Cats alumni guys sing.

  3. Love this story. It would be hard to imagine any one else making the song famous besides George and the Cathedrals. Did Gerald say who would have sang the lead on the second verse? That would be interesting to know too. Thanks Gerald for taking time to inform all of us Southern Gospel nuts! 😉

  4. So, y’all, let’s put our thinking caps on for a little while.

    Just suppose Kirk had honored the Greater Vision hold, and Greater Vision had cut it. Gerald knew it was going to be a hit even before he heard the Cathedrals’ version. So suppose it was the first #1 hit for Greater Vision, and a breakout hit that took them to the top even faster than expected.

    The Cathedrals would surely have found other great material – say, “He Left it All,” which we know they were staging the year before.

    Isn’t it interesting to ponder how history could have been different?

    • Another interesting sub-point might be the irony of 2 Kirk Talley songs on that next release, “It’s Just Like Heaven” in ’92 as they recorded “Always Enough” and “No Army Big Enough”. He must have felt the necessity to give them something…there’s your conscience.

      • Well said!

      • We already had those two. 🙂

      • Interesting!

  5. Leaving aside the justice or injustice of breaking a hold (or whatever the terminology is) without getting permission, I doubt it would have gone that far with GV.

    They had a different style back then, which I loved, but I just don’t think they were destined to break out that soon. And while the song made a nice addition to the career of an established, beloved, going-out-on-top group, I don’t think that it would have been a break-out for GV.

    Not that you saying it would; I know you were looking at it hypothetically!

    • You are right. It would not have been as big with GV at the time. Kirk knew what he was doing! lol. Every writer in the world would have dropped that hold at that pint and time to get a Cats cut!

      There was magic those last few years of the Cathedrals tour when the would open the concert with Wedding Music. That simple intro roger played as they walked out…..I miss those days.

      My guess is Mark Tramell would have sung the second verse. Actually all three of them would have been great taking the solo. Those 3 voices in GV are about as perfect as you can get. Of course Rodney is very good as at his job too. I have become a fan again of GV with Chris back. I think they are recharged too.

  6. What a great story! It seems like Gerald Wolfe has a little connection with just about everything that goes on in SGM!

  7. There’s no question the song ended up where it was supposed to be. No argument here. Just sharing the story.

    • And I’m glad you did. Not only do I always love hearing stories like that, but it answers the question on whether it was pitched to the Cathedrals when Mark was still in there or not.

  8. Gerald, does that happen often? Groups think they have a hold or lock and then find they didn’t?

    • Mark, I know of it happening at least once. I’ll share what I know with Daniel and see if it’s ok to post…

  9. I can think of two or three times where more than one group got a hold of the same songs. I don’t know if one of them thought they had a lock on them or not.

    Back in the sixties and seventies (for a while), the songs were the stars and you would see several groups doing the same songs. Sometimes they shared a chart slot I think and other times they each fought for the top slots. Now, I wasn’t listening back then (not even alive during some of it), but that is what I see from studying the history.

    • Quartet-Man, I was born on 1970, but I’ve seen charts from back then and your are right. There would many songs on the chart that had several artists listed behind them.

      • Then I was a toddler when you were born.

  10. Tony Rush posted this on the old Southern Gospel Usenet group on a thread about groups recording songs that they barely knew:

    “In fact, I may have mentioned that Gold City was already finished
    selecting songs for their “Are You Ready” project. They actually were
    finished cutting tracks when Kevin McManus called Mark Trammell into the office and said, “Hey, you ought to hear this…”. After one
    listen and some quick publishing negotiations, Gold City went back out
    into the studio, did a quick arrangement and cut the track.

    LOL…sadly, it was “Get Up, Get Ready” a song that the Anchormen had
    reserved for their next project. But, it was in Kevin’s publishing
    company and it makes sense to pitch it to a group that would get the
    most mileage out of it. It just reeked a bit at the time. LOL

    Either way, Phillip Hughes had already written one called “Jesus Is
    Coming, Get Ready” that was a great substitution. In fact, I think
    it’s the Anchormen’s next single.”

    This worked out well in the end for both groups IMO.

  11. yeah amen to that my loving brother and Gerald Wolfe i love that is that wedding music song it’s my #4 all time favorite song that legacy five sings too the the king’s men quartet.and speaking of legacy five they are going to be coming here to fergus falls mn if you Gerald Wolfe can spred the word about it for me please thanks.

  12. Just now finding this thread….Gerald asked me to hold it for them but I never agreed to hold it for Greater Vision, knowing all the time who I was gonna pitch it to.