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TRACEY EVISON: Bill Gaither has another hit on his hands

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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Bill Gaither has yet another hit on his hands. Since the beginning of the Homecoming series in the late 1980s, Gaither has been responsible for renewing an interest in southern gospel music and artists that extends across North America and probably worldwide.   

With the late 2016 release of “Gospel Pioneer Reunion”, he also had another No. 1 album on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart. 

Released from Spring House Productions and produced by Ed Smith, Bill Gaither and Donald Boggs, “Gospel Pioneer Reunion” contains 20 tracks from a number of gospel greats. 

The album opens with a full chorus singing “Highway to Heaven” and moves into “Yes, God is Real” and “Jesus Loves Me”, featuring The Barrett Sisters. Like all the projects in the Gaither Gospel Series, the songs are a collection of favourites that will appeal to listeners.  Other tracks include “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus”, “The Wicked Shall Cease Their Troubling” (featuring Gaither series regular Jessy Dixon, among others) and Doris Akers’ “Sweet, Sweet Spirit”. 

The only disadvantage to this CD project is that it is recorded from the corresponding DVD. Knowing there is a video, I’d like to see it, too. However, the audio album employs every aspect of gospel music, from elaborate organ styles, emotionally drawn out choral numbers, and hand-clapping, foot-stomping tracks that are sure to please fans of this genre.

Kari Jobe is a well-known American worship artist. Over the past year and a half, Jobe has endured some personal struggles that have significantly impacted her life and, consequently, music. Jobe and her sister were both pregnant, expecting their children mere months apart. Sadly, Jobe’s sister delivered a still-born baby girl at seven and a half months, devastating the family. Through the struggles and heartache of this time, Jobe celebrated the birth of her son, Canyon, but remained sad for her sister’s loss. Looking at her garden, she saw the signs of ivy (her niece’s namesake) that reminded her of God’s faithfulness. 

Says Jobe, “Ivy is the most resilient plant there is. It can grow in the harshest of climates; it can grow in the harshest of situations…. I’m standing in this garden. There’s ivy growing, and I just started to realize, ‘God, You’re moving in a way that is different than what I asked for, but You are moving.’ He’s at work and doing things we can’t see.”

From that experience, Jobe began to allow those emotions to emerge in song. Through the creative process, God began to heal her heart.

“The Garden” is the album that resulted from that time. Produced by Jeremy Edwardson and released from Sparrow Records, “The Garden” presents fourteen tracks from Jobe. The album opens with “The Garden”, a track which speaks to the theme of the entire project. “Lover of My Soul” is a song of surrender and renewed commitment to God. “Closer to Your Heart” is a plea to keep being drawn closer to God. The album is one that fans will enjoy.  

Tracey Evison, a musician and educator on P.E.I., writes this column for The Guardian every second Saturday.  She can be contacted by email at trevorandtracey@pei.sympatico.ca.

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