Thursday, April 19, 2018

Operation Sing Again

If you keep up with us through our Email Updates, or through social media, you know my Father passed away earlier this year. You may not know he spent the last few months of his life in a full-time-care facility, because of advanced Dementia and Parkinson's. Many of our friends, and maybe you, have walked through similar situations with family or friends. My Mom, who took care of Dad at home for as long as she physically could, spent most of her waking hours, sitting next to Dad's bed at the nursing facility, during those several months. Sixty-four years of marriage takes a special commitment that her generation doesn't take lightly... "In sickness and in health..."

When I was in town, I would visit Dad at the facility. Sometimes he would talk, sometimes he wouldn't, but he usually had that twinkle in his eyes that let me know he was still "with us." Every time I walked through the building, I would notice several patients sitting in a large room that doubled as a Dining Room and Activity Room. Every time I walked by, I would wave to the twelve to twenty folks in the room, who were usually sitting quietly, some staring into space, others sleeping, others just slumping in their wheelchairs... None of them ever waved back to me... but I waved to them anyway.

One afternoon, when I was leaving, I noticed a lady had walked into the big room, and was taking a guitar out of its case. I decided to slip quietly into the room, to see what she was going to do. She strummed a short intro and began to sing "In The Sweet Bye And Bye." At first, she received the same response I always received when I waved... nothing...But by the time she got to the first chorus, I noticed a couple of people who began to look toward her...then a few more. By the time she was half-way through the second verse, some of them tried to start singing, and before she finished the song, all the folks who could make a noise were doing their best to sing along. It was amazing... those people I had never seen any reactions from, were suddenly alive, and singing! I stood there, listening to the off-pitch, trembling voices, and it became one of the best concerts I had heard in a long time. I was blessed and encouraged, and as I left the building, I sat in my car for a few minutes, and cried. I had just witnessed a miracle.

On my drive home, The Lord revealed to me that He had given us the tools to bless and encourage people just like the ones who had blessed me that afternoon. He had given us the Gospel Music Hymn Sing DVDs. He placed the burden on my heart to find a way to get those DVDs into every full-time-care facility in the country... to give those precious people, who so often feel lonely, discouraged, helpless, and sometimes frightened, the opportunity to sing again! The Hymns they grew up with still have the power to lift their spirits and remind them that God hasn't forgotten them, and that He still inhabits their praises, when they sing.

After sharing my burden with the guys on our bus, and then with Mark Trammell, Jim Brady, Jeff Whisnant, and some other close friends, we decided to launch "Operation Sing Again." A mission to get a complete set of Gospel Music Hymn Sing DVDs into the video libraries of every full-time-care nursing facility in the United States. My next call was to a friend of mine, James Wright in Nashville, who is the Executive Director of a facility there, to get some advice on how to accomplish our goal. I was surprised when he told me just how many full-time-care nursing facilities there are in the United States... almost 16,000... at the time of this writing, 15,675 to be exact! Once I began putting the figures together, I realized we had committed to a huge undertaking...several hundreds of thousands of dollars... but I also realize we are depending on a great big God to help us accomplish the task.

A few years ago, we formed The Gospel Music Hymn Sing Foundation, to preserve and promote congregational Hymn Singing to our generation and the next. The Board Of Directors of the GMHS Foundation has committed to completing the mission we're calling "Operation Sing Again," as The Lord provides the means to accomplish the task. We are asking people to prayerfully consider helping us with "Operation Sing Again."

In order to provide the DVD sets to every full-time-care facility in the United States, we first have to pay for the manufacturing of more than 47,000 DVDs. That will be the most expensive part of the mission. Phase two will be purchasing the packaging and mailing materials needed. Phase three will be the actual process of packaging, labeling, buying and affixing postage, and shipping the packages. We have already secured volunteers to assist in the packaging, labeling, and shipping of the DVDs, once we get to that step. Our challenge is to raise the necessary funding to bring it to completion.

We hope you will prayerfully consider contributing to help us with Operation Sing Again, through the Gospel Music Hymn Sing Foundation. You can sponsor a set of DVDs with a gift of $30. Some people can sponsor multiple sets with a large gift, while others may only be able to sponsor a portion of a DVD set with a gift of $5, $10, or $20.

The Gospel Music Hymn Sing Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) Foundation with no paid employees. Contributions are tax deductible.

To make a tax-deductible contribution, visit or click the Operation Sing Again logo near the top-left of this page. You can also mail a check or money-order to
Gospel Music Hymn Sing Foundation
P.O. Box 1182
Morristown, TN 37816

We believe thousands of people, all over the United States, are going to be blessed and encouraged as they begin to Sing Again! Thank you for your help.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Passing Of A Hero

Everybody has a hero… everybody. For some, it’s a sports figure. For others it’s a Pastor, a teacher, an entertainer, a politician, or any number of other nouns people use to describe the person they look up to and try to emulate. For me, that person was a piano-player.

I first heard Lari Goss on a 1968 recording by The LeFevres, called “A Man Who Is Wise.” At the time, I didn’t know it was Lari… I didn’t read the liner notes on my Papaw’s album… I just listened, and loved it. It wasn’t until 1978, when a group called The Sentinels visited my Church for a Saturday Night Singing, that I heard someone play the piano like Lari Goss, in person. After the service, I asked the group’s pianist, Ed Osborne, where he learned those unique chord progressions he was using, and he said “you need to listen to anything you can find with Lari Goss on it,” and my quest began. I read every record cover I could find, looking for his name in the credits. I found him on records by The Speer Family, The LeFevres, and of course, on The Sentinels’ album I bought at my Church. For months, I would come home from school, play those albums, and sit at the piano, trying to figure out those “Goss chords,” and attempt to play them with Lari’s almost feather-like touch on the keys.

In February of 1981, after hearing me play at Church, I got a call from the Dumplin Valley Boys… asking if I would begin traveling with them as their pianist. I was still in High School, but very reluctantly, Mom and Dad said I could give it a try, as long as my grades didn’t suffer. It wasn’t long before I got to take a trip with the group to Chattanooga, Tennessee, for a recording session at Elmer Cole’s Pyramid recording studio, on top of Lookout Mountain. It was my first time to ever be a part of a tracking session, and the first person I saw was a short man wearing a ball-cap, sitting at a brown, Steinway baby-grand, with his back to me, working on a chord chart. Although I had never seen him before… not even a picture… when he began to play the chart he had just written, I knew exactly who it was. Elmer Cole walked with me across the room, and said “Gerald, this is Lari Goss.” I wish I could remember what I said… I’m sure it was a profound statement of incoherent ridiculousness… after which Lari said, “it’s very nice to meet you too.” That’s it…. and the session began.

Between songs, Lari would come into the Control Room to listen to the tracks, and he and the other guys would exchange funny stories and jokes. It was surreal… Being in the studio for the first time, with THE person who had inspired me to want to learn to play. He even acted like he wanted to hear me play… to give him an idea of how the songs were supposed to go. I’m sure he was chuckling on the inside, but on the outside, he was very complimentary, and gracious. He never knew what that day really meant to me…. or maybe he did.

Many people never get to meet their heroes… and sometimes that’s a good thing… because they might not be what we have envisioned them to be. Lari was different… He really was that guy I imagined him to be. Very unassuming, very funny, emotional, happy, sad, loyal, generous, and what I would call, someone with country-fide brilliance. He never got over being raised in Cartersville, Georgia… and he didn’t want to get over it. It was a big part of what made him who he was. Sure… he worked with major Christian Artists, world-renowned orchestras and choirs… but inside and out, he was always a country boy from Cartersville, who taught Orchestration classes at Universities, but who never graduated from High School.

It would be pointless to attempt to list all of Lari’s major recordings. A few years ago, I asked him how many albums he had worked on during his career, and his response was “I really don’t know, but it’s probably several thousand.” I don’t doubt that for a minute. Most people are familiar with his work with The Cathedral Quartet, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Larnelle Harris, The Gaithers, Greater Vision, The Nelons, The Goodmans, Legacy Five, The Booth Brothers, Mark Trammell Quartet, Speer Family, and most recently, Jim Brady’s new Trio, as well as many, many others. However, Lari was always ready to help Artists and Choirs who might not be as well known. I have LPs and CDs in my “Goss Collection” from The Harmonettes, Cedar Ridge Singers, The Clarks, and others as well. For Lari, it was about getting the message of the Gospel to as many people as possible, using music as the method… and for five decades, he did just that… more effectively than anyone else.

On January 10, 2015, Lari Goss was able to see the place and the One he had tried so hard to describe musically… and he discovered his masterful arrangements didn’t quite measure up to the reality of being in the literal presence of The Lord. Lari has temporarily left behind his wife, Carolyn, his sons, his daughters-in-law, his grandchildren, his brother, and his many friends, who are still grieving the loss, while rejoicing in the reality of Lari being in perfect health, with perfect joy, and perfect peace. Thankfully, Lari also left behind an enduring legacy of beautiful music that reminds us of the majesty of God, and of His love for us.

Lari Goss’ departure has left a huge hole in Gospel Music. Because of Lari’s recently finished works, it will probably be a year or two before it’s really noticed, but it will be noticed. God will raise someone up to continue the musical work of the ministry, but there will never be another Lari Goss. While often imitated, the “Goss touch” on the piano keys will never be duplicated. Somehow, you could hear Lari’s heart, when his fingers touched the keys. You could hear the joy, and sometimes, the pain, as his wrinkled fingers seemed to almost float across the keyboard. It was a “God thing.” Lari didn’t learn it, and he didn’t earn it. It was a gift. God gave it to Lari, and Lari shared it with the rest of us.

You can see Lari's very special "Celebration Of Life" Service at