Reviewed by Paddy Hudspith
The unstoppable Gaither Homecoming phenomenon has virtually become an industry in its own right since its conception. In 1991 Southern gospel stalwarts Bill and Gloria Gaither gathered together veterans of the Southern and traditional genre's early years to contribute to a single track for an upcoming Gaither Vocal band album. What began as a one-off nostalgia trip for Bill Gaither himself turned into a recording and touring juggernaut that has produced countless (it seems) 'Homecoming Friends' releases. The popularity of Gaither's wheeze - letting his musical peers and heroes take the stage, reminisce and belt out old favourites together - is beyond doubt; mammoth tours that stop off at prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House speak for themselves. Bill's favourite selections on 'Amazing Grace' effectively capture the best (or worst, depending on your taste) of the series. Too many names to mention (Andrae Crouch, Jessy Dixon, Howard and Vestal Goodman, Larnelle Harris, George Beverly Shea and Buddy Greene stand out) but each one, young(er) or old, over the years has lent their vocal talent to the Homecoming cause which now seems to be bigger than any of them. 'Amazing Grace' is a useful sampler for the curious, mixing as it does a wide range of singers with a powerful selection of hymns and standards ("Soon And Very Soon", "Just As I Am", "Lean On Me", "Blessed Assurance", the eponymous hymn and, as they say, many, many more). Depending on who you are, this compilation may be a first dip into a huge pool of nostalgic gospel enjoyment and blessing, or the only Homecoming CD you ever need to hear.
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