Adam Crabb joins the Gaither Vocal Band

In an email newsletter distributed this afternoon, the Gaither Vocal Band announced that Adam Crabb has officially joined the group. Crabb grew up singing with his family, The Crabb Family. After they disbanded in 2007, he launched Crabb Revival with his sister, Terah Crabb Penhollow, and toured with them until they disbanded in 2011.

Gaither Vocal Band bass singer and manager Bill Gaither commented, “For decades now, we have reinvented the Gaither Vocal Band again and again, and in the process we have found some of the most incredible male singers and wonderful human beings on the planet. Adam is a very exciting addition to this 30-year legacy of excellence.”

The Gaither Vocal Band will have several vocalists filling in the fifth vocal part over the next few weeks, and plans to announce the fifth vocalist later this year.

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Daniel J. Mount is the founder and editor of Southern Gospel Journal.


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86 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Was Adam Crabb hired as the new lead or the new baritone?

    • They didn’t say. It might depend on the vocal range of the fifth singer hired.

    • That’s a very good question. Up until now I’ve been assuming they hired him to replace Michael English. It never crossed my mind that they’d use him as a baritone.

      It’s also not at all impossible that they’ll hire another guy when similar range. Then they’ve got two tenors and two leads, and their vocal arrangements will be closer to SATTB than TTLBB. It would make sense. Phelps can routinely go higher than the average tenor while Bill is at best a choral bass.

  2. Bill gaither is an amazing director. He will make sure the vocal band continues. And he must be a good boss. Because people leave and come back all the time to the Gaithers.

  3. Well, I must say, I’m surprised. Not that Adam Crabb was hired, I mean, that was pretty much a given. But that he announced it before they had a fifth singer.

    Congrats to Adam, though, what a great choice!

    As an aside, this is the first time in GVB history that I am older than a GVB member. It was a close call with Wes Hampton, who is one month and two days my senior.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve known with Adam for at least a few weeks. I would guess their preference would be to wait till both were nailed down, but since they’re getting ready to do some concerts with a fill-in, they probably concluded that it was wisest to make at least one of the parts official.

      • Yeah, that’s very likely. Perhaps Bill didn’t realize how long it would take to find a fifth person.

  4. I’m excited to hear the first GVB project with Adam Crabb! I wonder if we should expect to hear “Through the Fire” sang by the Gaither Vocal Band.

    • Along those lines, notably, they recently recorded “Please Forgive Me.”

      • I could see Gerald Crabb writing a few songs for the new lineup honestly. I guess time will tell!

  5. I am glad to hear this! Thank you. :)

  6. Hey Daniel, Me and my Dad were just pondering this and I was wondering since Adam Crabb has joined up, will Bill re-record vocals of the Hymns CD with Adam on it in Michael’s place?

  7. Is it possible that the Vocal Band is going back to a 4 part harmony sound? Maybe a 5th vocalist won’t be hired.

    • The press release, which I quoted in the story at the top of this page, said they are still looking for and planning to hire a fifth member.

  8. Congrats to Adam! I’ve known he and his brother since the were 5 years old. Although a grown man now, I still see a little boy with a sheepish grin singing, “Hal-lay-Lu-ya.” Love those Crabb kids, all of them! I have it heard this from anybody that is connected, but I’d say J. have dank will likely be your 5th singer. Just got a feeling…..

    • Stupid auto-correct! Haven’t heard from anyone connected, but the word on the stret is J. Habedank will be the 5th member.

      • NO WAY! That would be icnredible!

        Only thing better is if they could grab Jason Crabb as well! :))))

      • I’ve heard the same about Habedank…just have to wait and see I guess.

      • I don’t think it was a done deal. If it was a done deal, I would be hard-pressed to think of a reason why Gaither would not announce both new members in yesterday’s email blast.

  9. If I step over any of the sites guidelines, please inform me. I’m simply stating my opinion.

    I may be one of the few people who is not overly excited about this move. I enjoyed Adam with the crab family but I’m not sure his voice will fit with the vocal band harmonies and style. The Crabb’s we’re known for their loosey goosey harmonies but it was still enjoyable. I’m just not sure, as of know, if this is the best way Bill could’ve gone. I really hope I stand corrected for I have yet to hear the new group. Perhaps I’ll enjoy it! Haha but just from what I know about Adam and the vocal band, I’m not too thrilled.

    • I thought it over, and ultimately decided to approve your comment. You chose a respectful enough way to make your case that I was OK with it. He does come from such a different background stylistically that it will surely be different.

      • I’m very excited though to see how they sound and to find out the 5th member. :)

    • Don’t forget Kenneth. When anyone goes to the GVB, there is a certain amount of Gaitherization that takes place. Bill must be confident he’ll be able to make Adam fit. :)

      • I have to agree with the Gaitherization. :)

        My absolute favorite is D. Phelps, but he has changed quite a bit of his style to suit the Vocal Band and yet I think they all work well together. I like the way that Bill will ‘feature’ different ones and bring some diversity to the group. But, when it comes to harmonizing, it sounds great. I am a novice to this world…but, I know what sounds good to me. :)

    • You will stand corrected. Adam (and Aaron for that matter) are extremely underrated vocalists. He is every bit as capable (or more) than his predecessors. I believe he could match anything Michael did in his prime.

      • I agree. In fact, when you listen to early Michael English with the Singing Americans and Goodmans, although good, wasn’t a walk out and knock ‘em dead singer. He became more stylistic, almost black sounding (just a description, not a criticism), when he was solo in the early-mid 90′s. Watch the you tube videos. English was good, but not considered an ICON in the early years of his career. Adam is now in his early-mid 30′s and Michael English is now in his early-Mid 50′s. Adam now, is equally as talented as the 1985-1990 version (which would have made Michael approximately the same age then as Adam is now) of Michael English. Just my opinion, but hey, I’m entitled to one. LOL!

      • Not so sure… Michael English is one of the best, if not THE best, lead singers in his day. Very hard to love up to.

      • Live*

    • I respect your opinion on the “loosy goosy” remark, bui think about it, it doesn’t get any more “loosy-goosy” or “acrobatic” with vocal runs and etc than Michael English. Adam is a solid singer…real solid. He will surprise a lot of people.

      • Loosy-Goosy: Buddy Mullins, Gaither Alumnus. Russ Taff, it don’t get any looser or sloppier than Russ and he too is a Gaither Alumnus. Nobody liked those two, except the people….lol.

      • Rick, I agree with your comment about how michael (in his prime) could get “loosey goosey” and “acrobatic” with his voice and the runs he did BUT he had a way to switch it completely and go to a strong lead singer’s voice like that you would see with gold city. He also had a sort of operatic voice thatwhen the song reached a powerful point he could use. During a gaither concert in the early 90′s, you would see these three characteristcs of his voice at any time. I just don’t see that diversity in Adam’s voice. He’s a fine singer, but no Michael English(in his prime)

      • Wow Rick, I am surprised to hear anyone say Michael wasn’t in his prime in the 85-90 era or in his early solo years. Although I’ve always been and always will be a fan, his best version on Bowed On My Knees was the Singing Americans version. His voice was the clearest and had the highest range of his career–incredible. His voice is amazing on Live And Alive and Black And White. I’ve never heard any other singer come close except maybe Penrod in some of his earlier GVB work.

      • Of course he was a good singer in 85-90. I never said he wasn’t, but he sang a totally different style with Goodmans, Singing Americans, than he did as a solo artist and with Gaither. He was really at his peak in ’94, in my opinion. His first two solo albums were steller. I thought that was his peek vocally. I saw him on TBN a few times in late 90′s early 2000′s where I thought he was a bit pitchy. No disrespect intended. I’m a big MICHAEL ENGLISH Fan! I just thought he peeked vocally in 93-94ish. Can he still sing? Yes, better than most. I just really believe that Adam will be fine. Evidentally, the Gaither organization thinks he will be fine as well.

    • I can understand the concern, but to be honest, the same sorts of concerns could have been expressed about pre-GVB Larnelle Harris, Michael English, Mark Lowry (especially him!), David Phelps and Marshall Hall. I agree with the comment about Gaitherization.

      For that matter, I doubt sincerely that Gaither extended the offer without knowing for sure Adam would be a good fit. It’s not like he’s desperate.

  10. Kenneth, you are not alone.

    • Also agreeing with you Kenneth!

  11. It doesn’t appear that this will happen,but I think Bill should slide up and hire a bass singer.Maybe a Gene McDonald Mike Allen,etc.

  12. At a Gaither Christmas event in December, Adam sang with the vocal band that night. His take on the songs was not what I’d consider “crabb style” at all. It was a very smooth blend and very tight harmonies. He was a shining star during his solos and sang some incredible trios with Phelps and Hampton. By the end of the night, my wife and I (both in our 20′s), were hoping he would be permanent.

  13. I appreciate this forum and the privilege to agree or disagree with others that may post within the forum. Thanks you, Daniel, for that privilege. With that said, indulge me to tell a little story about profession singers and musicians. Years ago I attended an event where a Shania Twain cover band was playing (I know what you’re thinking, I’m going to hell because it wasn’t a Southern Gospel Show but I digress…LOL). I was late when the program started. While is was in the lobby area, the band was kickin’ it as they played, “Any man of man better walk the line…” Complete with steel guitar, fiddles, and a rhythm seciton that was to die for. When I walked inside the auditorium, I was amazed that all the band members and the out front vocalist were African Americans! Hey, sounded as pasty white as any country band as I had ever heard. After the set, I initiated a conversation with the keyboard player and told him I was really surprised in WHAT I saw as opposed to WHAT I heard, lol. I’ll never forget what he said…”We are profesional musicians and singers. If we need to cover Shania Twain, we can. If we need to cover Bono, we can. If we need to cover Rolling Stones, we can. If you want us to black it up, we can do that as well.” Raymond (his name)and I are friends to this day. So let me say that Adam, Michael, Gaither, Phelps, Hampton are PROFESSIONALS. Adam did what he did with the Family because that is what he needed to do. Don’t “pigeon-hole” any of these guys as a one-trick pony. They have honed their craft well. As a professional, Adam will fill the role that Gaither will assign to him. Gaither has vetted him PRIOR to his first weekend audition. Obviously Gaither knows not only talent, but he also knows who the “real pros” are as well. Thanks for reading!

    • Great post! Agreed.

  14. If I might be a little bold, I very rarely remember Adam or Aaron really being the focal point of the “Crabb Style” so I don’t think he’ll have a lot problem fitting in, Aaron fit in pretty well with Canton Junction.

  15. I’d love to see both brothers there as a fixture. There’s so much talent in botb of them and are not afraid to step out and sing.

  16. Both of them. Geeze the typos kill me.

  17. We’re all entitled to our opinions. I think the main point here is that we all love the Gaither Vocal Band and we all have to adjust to change. I’m like most of you, gaither knows what he’s doing, we all just can’t see it in the beginning. I’m very excited. This discussion has been great!

    • Agreed!

  18. Here’s a mini-preview of what his harmonizing may sound like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yM44jx2DvQ8

  19. Joseph Habedank mentioned a few days ago on his Facebook there were going to be some big announcements over the next few weeks. That was the day before Adam was announced as joining the GVB. So…could it be?

    • Could? Yes, but if it was a done deal at that point, Gaither would have announced both new members at the same time.

  20. I had the honor of hearing Adam with the GVB in Columbia. He tore the house down. It is definitely exciting to know that he is officially now a part of the group. Now, we anxiously await to announcement of the 5th member. I am still hearing the names Josh Habedank and Travis Cottrell…thoughts???

    • Had the opportunity of hearing Adam with GVB last fall….was very evident he was a fill-in and not much time spent rehearsing. I’m sure things will improve significantly with more time spent with the other guys…it takes time to gel. Have read over and over how “great” he was. They must have better ears than me because I heard a lack of tight harmony, etc. But as I said the potential is certainly there. I also remember when the 5 man group was first formed in 2009 there was talk that the harmony was not tight, etc. It took time then and will take time this time. The old adage “practice makes perfect” is certainly true. Just MHO.

  21. I am very excited about Adam Crabb joining. I think he will be a great fit.

    I’m still thinking either Gene McDonald, Travis Cottrell or Joseph Habedank. Bill didn’t specify that he would be hiring a baritone, he simply said “the fifth member”. So it could still be a Bass or Baritone.

    Another possibility is Shane McConnell, now that Aaron Crabb will be leaving Cornerstone. We still don’t know what impact that will have on Canton Junction. Obviously they could hire another lead and keep going. But there’s also the possibility that Shane could use this time of transition to accept and offer from Bill. If that happens, that would be a major blow to Canton Junction. I really hope it doesn’t happen.

    It’s doubtful that Aaron Crabb would join the GVB. I just don’t see him being able to travel much with trying to start a new church. Keep in mind that he and his wife have a touring schedule too.

    • After reading this press release, I just don’t see how anyone could think Bill may add Gene McDonald to the lineup full time. The press release does not remotely indicate anything like that. It seems clear, at least to me, that Bill is hiring a lead and a baritone and that Wes will keep his role he has now. If he wanted Gene he wouldn’t say he was going to spend the next few weeks trying out different people. Just my opinion.

      • Good point. I guess I’m just doing some wishful thinking. I think we’re probably looking at the last few years of Bill Gaither’s career, and possibly of the GVB. I don’t want to see the GVB disband when he retires, so I’m hoping for him to hire another bass singer to start working into that role.

        Speaking of Wes, I do hope that he gets featured more now. I was listening to the Loving Life album over the weekend, and was struck by how evenly Wes, Guy, and Marsh were featured. Each had 3 or 4 songs. Then I listened to the Greatly Blessed CD, and Wes was featured on maybe 2 songs? The last five years seems to have been all about Michael, Mark, and David, and Wes has been overlooked. I’m not slamming the other 3, I just want Wes to get his fair share!

    • I’m 100% in agreement that the GVB needs to keep going even after Bill retires. But he needs to have someone to replace him, not just as bass, but as the driving force behind the Gaither name. Benjy is not that man, as he has only had a peripheral presence on the tours. David Phelps COULD be that man, but that’s not all that likely as he spends just as much time doing his own thing as he does being a part of the GVB. He’s not really a leader. I thought Mark Lowry would be that man, but he’s gone again now. So, who?

      Regardless, I want to see the group keep going.

      • I would love to see the singers in the lineup when Bill retires keep singing together. I think that still calling it the “Gaither Vocal Band” would (a) not really make sense when it would then be a Gaitherless Vocal Band, and (b) leave future lineups constantly being compared to past lineups.

      • I don’t think Gene would be the man to run the group in Bill’s place, but just a replacement bass singer. I also thought of David as the one that could run the group, as he now has the most tenure, but I agree that he doesn’t appear to be one that would be a leader, unless he does more behind the scenes than we are aware of. Wes has the personality and humor to run it and emcee it, but I don’t know if he has the experience.

        The question is, can ANYONE do what Bill does? He is a master at putting things together, pleasing the crowd, and then deflecting the praise.

      • The point in your last paragraph is very well stated. Bill has both the personality and the stature to attract new stars to the Gaither Vocal Band and to the Homecoming tour. They can’t hire a replacement of the same stature. It would be better for the Gaither Vocal Band to retire with Bill than to eventually become a shadow of its former self – leaving behind a legacy more like the Cathedrals than like other groups I could name but won’t.

      • Names that don’t make sense in Gospel Music are common. The Stamps Quartet remained the Stamps Quartet long after anyone named Stamps was included in it. “But,” you say, “They still represented the music company!” Exactly. As long as there’s a Gaither Music Company, there should be a Gaither Vocal Band.

      • The Stamps Quartet had a Stamps in it for only a couple of years, and Frank Stamps (if I recall his name correctly) wasn’t exactly a legend of the Gospel Music stage. The Gaither Vocal Band has been run by Gaither for its entire existence.

      • Very true! Personally, I wouldn’t care what they were called as long as they kept the same core of singers (which appears to be Wes and David), and kept the same style and harmonies. I do think the concerts would be more like a “normal” concert, rather than the power-packed, 4-5 hour marathons that they have been. I don’t see the Homecoming theme going on without Bill. It will probably be more like “An Evening With the XYZ Vocal Band” with a few guest artists, which incidentally is what Bill has been doing the last couple of years. There hasn’t really been much of the big Circus-comes-to-town Homecoming shows that we experienced in the 90′s and early 2000′s.

      • I agree the comparison is not a perfect one, but VO Stamps did sing with the Stamps quartet for a much longer time (he was its true founder), but not as long as Bill.

        On the other hand, Bill’s chief responsibility in this group was his MC work. Vocally, and even in other aspects that used to be his province alone (song-writing, producing, etc.), the other members of the GVB (and men like Michael Sykes) have stepped up to the plate quite marvelously. Bill’s draw is his ability to put a program together and act as the “father” or guiding hand in live shows. THAT’s where he’ll be missed most, but I still think the GVB can keep their name as long as they remain a musical representation of the Gaither Music Company. Anyway, it’s not really worth talking about right now.

      • When the Stamps Quartet appeared in concert, it was indeed as representatives of the Stamps Music Company. That’s how the audience perceived it.

        I suspect that 99%+ of fans who show up at a Homecoming concert would not think of the Gaither Vocal Band as appearing on behalf of the Gaither Music Company. I suspect they think of it as Bill Gaither and the group that carries his name.

    • Here’s a thought if canton junction does not stay together what about Tim Duncan . He has background with bill after all.

  22. I also wonder if Bill will hire the fifth member in time for the Hymns CD to release in March or if the release will be pushed back again? I’m 99.99% sure that it won’t be released with Michael English and Mark Lowry’s vocals. It’s just too good of an opportunity to introduce the new members right off the bat instead of making us wait for another 9-12 months for another project.

    We can be quite sure that Adam is in Alexandria, IN this week working on his vocals for that CD as well as rehearsing for the upcoming tour.

    • The Hymns record will be released as-is.

      • How can you be sure of that? Do you have some inside information? In previous discussions, I think the consensus has been that the new vocalists will be included on the Hymns CD, unless I missed something.

        BTW, my “99.99% sure” is just my own gut-feel, based on the arguments presented here and just plain, good ol’ marketing sense.

      • http://www.capitolchristiandistribution.com/products/new_releases_detail.aspx?iid=2013151

        I’m sure they can still back it up again but their distributor site clearly states last recording with English and Lowry.

      • Distributor site listings often change at the last minute. It’s just that the general public is usually not paying attention.

      • @JM, if I’m not mistaken, Capitol Distribution said that when the release date was still January. Then it got pushed back, which started the speculation that the new members would be included.

    • You are so right about that Joseph! Wes definitely does not get featured enough. I have thought that for a long time. I really hope we see that change with this new group but I’m afraid to get my hopes up. I really don’t understand what Bill’s thinking sometimes. lol

  23. as to the GVB hymns CD…..in this months SC scoops online magazine there is an in depth feature on David Phelps. The menti0n of the hymns CD implies it is with the former members.

    • Hmmm… just read that article. He definitely indicates that the Hymns CD will be with the old group. Thanks for sharing that.

  24. Woot woot! Glad the new guy has been announced! Hope they have good luck finding guy #5 soon!

  25. Something interesting would be having Gene coming in as bass and Bill back to Baritone like in the good old days.

  26. Just curious, those who are suggesting that Joseph Habedank is “heavily rumored” for the fifth spot, I have to ask, where? As far as a google search tells me, this site is the only one wherein his name has even been mentioned in connection with the group. I am not saying he wouldn’t be a great choice. I am saying that, unlike Adam Crabb, so far nothing even approaching an official source has mentioned Joseph’s name even as a fill-in.

    Not trying to ruin things. I just wonder if you’re not all setting yourselves up for disappointment.

    But, we’ll see.

    • Rumors do circulate offline, too, you know. :)

      I’ve wondered if I should allow rumors here. The line between rumors and gossip can be hard to define.

      • Honestly, I think the choice will surprise us. He very well may pick someone we’ve never heard of. After all, nobody had ever heard of Guy Penrod, David Phelps, Marshall Hall or Wes Hampton prior to them joining the GVB, and many of the more well-known names (Larnelle Harris, Jim Murray, Buddy Mullins, Jonathan Pierce, Russ Taff) did not stay more than an average of a couple of years each (yes, I know Harris and Murray stayed longer; I said “average”).

  27. How about Tim Duncan as the fifth member?

    • I really like Canton Juntion. They’ve got a good sound together and good energy. Very likely, they’re about to lose Aaron Crabb. It would be a shame if they lost two members at once.

  28. I heard Adam at his first appearance with GVB in Dothan AL. It was an awesome experience. Adam brings a little something different to the table and in a great way. I hope you will go hear him in concert. I think we can always depend on Bill Gaither to give us something special. I love the rest of the group especially Wes but I think our greatest worry should be if Bill decides to retire!! LOL

  29. I just read a short but interesting article from Lubbock Online about the GVB concert in Lubbock, TX, which will be the first concert of the 2014 tour. In it, the writer states “At press time, Gaither also was considering hiring another new Gaither Vocal Band member. His publicist said that the hire may take place before the Gaither Vocal Band begins its 2014 tour in Lubbock.”

    http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/william-kerns/2014-01-14/gaither-vocal-band-includes-least-one-new-voice-maybe#.UtflNE3naHs

  30. And I can’t wait to be surprised by the fifthguy, who I’m sure will be a surprise.

  31. Welcome to Adam Crabb. The “GVB” always lands on their feet and sounds wonderful so please dont worry… It wil. All work out, have “faith”.

  32. The first guest 5th singer of the 2014 tour is a man named Todd Suttles. I have never heard of him prior to last night, but I looked him up online. I saw a youtube clip and the guy does have a great voice. It would be nice to see Bill bring another unknown into the fold.