Treasures: Bill Gaither’s finest bass moment
In his bass vocal work with the Gaither Vocal Band, Bill Gaither has tended to keep his vocals far out of the spotlight. Truth be told, he’s a far better singer than various bass singer jokes make him out to be. Though he does not rattle the subwoofers, he tackles complex parts that other bass singers would hesitate to attempt.
Even so, he hires singers so exceptional that, standing next to them, he can sometimes come across as average. This may be completely intentional—he tends to convey an average-guy persona on stage—but it tends to lead us to forget just how good he is.
Case in point: On the Gaither Vocal Band’s recently released DVD Better Day, the Isaacs appeared as a featured guest and sang two songs. One was the familiar hymn “I Will Praise Him”; the other was a folk song popularized by the Browns over fifty years ago (original rendition here), “The Three Bells.”
On “The Three Bells,” Bill Gaither joined the Isaacs, singing a rhythm bass part. His voice was so smooth and the blend so precise and natural that it wasn’t until the tenth time or so through the song that I realized it even had a bass part! It appears that he is doubling Lily’s part, an octave lower; it’s either that, or he’s singing Lily’s part and Lily is doubling Becky’s alto.
The Isaacs are known for high trio harmonies—soprano, alto, and high tenor—and for a bass to join them and sound as good or better than he sounds with his usual group is no small feat.
Gaither’s finest bass moment?
Perhaps. But it’s certainly one of the best.