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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Southern gospel's celebrated Gaither Vocal Band loses David Phelps, gains Reggie Smith

The Gaither Vocal Group discusses the lineup change

The Grammy-winning Gaither Vocal Band (GVB) has announced the departure of David Phelps along with the arrival of his replacement, Reggie Smith.

Phelps, whose powerful tenor has been a defining influence on the venerable southern gospel group for 20 years, is leaving to focus full-time on his demanding solo career. Smith, who has been a featured artist with his wife Ladye Love in Gaither Homecoming concerts for over 15 years, will assume his new Gaither GVB post on April 1.

But Phelps will continue his ongoing relationship with the Gaither organization: the Gaither Music company will release his latest album, Hymnal, on March 22, and he will sing songs from it at upcoming major Gaither events including Texas Homecoming Spectacular, Family Fest in the Smokies and the 2017 Alaskan Homecoming Cruise.

"It has literally been a dream-come-true to be a part of the GVB," says Phelps. "I remember the first time I was standing behind Bill in the group as he began 'There's a line that's been drawn though the ages...'--and knew I'd finally made it."

"Now the journey that's been filled with deep conversations over morning coffee, not-always-appropriate belly laughs, sad tears, happy tears, and always-great music has led us to a fork in the road," Phelps continues. "I've been in school for 20 years. It still shocks--and scares--Bill a little bit when I quote, word-for-word, something he said years ago! But I've been soaking it all in. He is my teacher, mentor, friend, and a welcome critic. We are family. As things change and evolve over this transition, that will remain the same."

Says Gaither: “David is a rare talent and we are so grateful for his presence in the Gaither Vocal Band for all these years. We will continue to include him on the program for our special weekend events as he is available."

Besides being a featured artist at Gaither Homecoming shows and performing in over 25 countries, Smith has appeared on countless recordings including the original The Lion King movie soundtrack. He has also worked as a music producer for country artists like Josh Turner and Michael Martin Murphy.

"I consider this a great honor," Smith says of his new role. "Bill has been a great coach to me for many years, and I am thrilled to be able to work with these talented men who are already dear friends."

Smith now joins current GVB members Wes Hampton, Adam Crabb, Todd Suttles and, of course, Bill Gaither. Since its inception in the early 1980s, the group has nurtured such vocalists as Steve Green, Larnelle Harris, Mark Lowry, Guy Penrod and Michael English--who have since likewise become legends in the genre.

"I love working with so many great singers, and I am thrilled about all that Reggie Smith brings to the Gaither Vocal Band," says Gaither. "His voice folds in beautifully with the other group members, as does his genuinely sweet spirit. Great days are ahead!”



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