Friday’s Homecoming Convocation at Liberty University featured an appearance by gospel music legend Bill Gaither, who opened the event in prayer. He was joined by David Phelps, Christian vocalist/songwriter/arranger and member of the Gaither Vocal Band, who performed the special music.
Afterward, Gaither and Phelps headed to Elmer L. Towns Religion Hall to speak to a crowd of about 500 from Liberty's School of Music. They participated in a question-and-answer session concerning how students could develop their art after graduation.
When Dr. Vernon Whaley, dean of the School of Music, asked Gaither if he considered his work a ministry, the singer quickly affirmed, telling the students to focus on matters greater than the music itself.
|Bill Gaither (left) and David Phelps (center) are joined by Dr. Vernon Whaley, dean of Liberty University's School of Music as they address a crowd of about 500 music students.|
“The music got my attention first (but) the music isn’t enough,” Gaither said. He told students there are truths deeper than the harmony of a song and urged them to move beyond their boundaries and open their eyes to the world around them.
“There isn’t anything so sad as music being your only world,” Gaither warned. “You need to broaden your world to missions, you need to broaden your world to world conditions, (and) you need to broaden your life to other people’s needs.”
At the end of the session, Gaither was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Center for Music and Worship. Whaley cited Gaither’s positive influence on the lives of pastors, educators, and musicians, his foundation to aid retiring gospel artists, and his humanitarian efforts.
Later that night, the worship choirs from the School of Music joined the Gaither Vocal Band in concert at the nearby Thomas Road Baptist Church. They sang with the band on several numbers and performed two songs on their own.
Bill Gaither has received more than 30 Dove Awards, six Grammy Awards, and is a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Along with his wife, Gloria, he has composed more than 700 songs, including such classics as "Because He Lives," "The King Is Coming," and "He Touched Me." His songs have been recorded by several Christian artists, such as David Crowder Band, Carman, Sandi Patty, and The Cathedral Quartet, as well as country and pop artists, including Elvis Presley.