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Legendary songwriters Bill and Gloria Gaither to speak at Evangel University

February 5, 2013 | Paul K. Logsdon


Two-day event also features former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft

Evangel University will host legendary singer/songwriters Bill and Gloria Gaither as part of a two-day lecture series on gospel music and worship heritage.

The lecture series, Tuesday and Thursday, February 12 and 14, will also feature former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The Gaithers have written more than 700 gospel songs, earning them hundreds of awards and honors, including the ASCAP “Songwriters of the Century Award.” They are members of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

John Ashcroft has had a life-long love of hymns and gospel music. He also has close family ties to Evangel University — his father, the late Dr. J. Robert Ashcroft, served as president from 1958 to 1974, and both of his brothers are graduates.

Schedule of events

• The Gaithers will speak in Evangel University’s Chapel on Thursday, February 14, at 10 a.m. Special music will be provided by the combined Evangel University Chorus, Chorale and Concert Choir.

The Chapel service is free and open to the public.

• The couple will give a lecture to Evangel’s Music Industry, Music Performance and Music Education students later that day, at 2 p.m., in Evangel’s Barnett Fine Arts Recital Hall.

This lecture is also free; however, seating is limited and tickets will be required. Tickets are available by calling the Evangel University Department of Music at (417) 865-2811, ext. 7212.

“This is a speaking engagement for Bill and Gloria,” says Kolstad. “We are excited to have the Gaithers join us as a part of Evangel’s on-going exploration of our worship heritage.”

• Launching the two-day lecture series, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft will speak on Tuesday, February 12. His presentation will be held at 2 p.m., in the Barnett Fine Arts Recital Hall.

“Back by popular demand, Mr. Ashcroft will again be sharing his perspective on the history and heritage of gospel music and hymns,” says Kolstad. This will be his third time to address EU’s Worship Heritage class.

Ashcroft’s lecture is also free and open to the public.

Bill and Gloria Gaither: True musical legends

The Gaithers have collectively won eight Grammy Awards and more than two dozen Dove Awards, and they have been named “Songwriter of the Year” eight times by The Gospel Music Association.

The collaborations of Bill and Gloria have resulted in more than 700 songs, including the hymnal standards “Because He Lives,” “Something Beautiful,” “He Touched Me” and “There’s Something About That Name.” They have also written a dozen musicals and have produced award-winning children’s albums.

Gloria has written more than 40 books, including titles for adults and children, and has created scripts for more than 100 videos. All of these pursuits have won her the respect of the academic community, with honorary doctorates from six universities.

She has also served on the board of directors for both the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the United Christian College Fund.

After decades of unprecedented musical successes, Bill and Gloria still operate their business from Bill’s hometown of Alexandria, Indiana, and they dwell in the same home in which they raised their family. They live a lifestyle focused on investing their resources into eternal things.

“Our calling is not just making music … but communicating the reality of Christ. That might mean birthing a song about Him or simply offering a cup of cold water to someone who needs it,” said Bill.

“If we have done anything right over the years, I hope we have built bridges where people could connect with God and with each other. That is what started us writing and what will keep us going for the rest of our lives.”

John Ashcroft’s dedication to education

John Ashcroft

Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft plays during a Worship Heritage class at Evangel University.

Outside of politics, John Ashcroft has held a life-long love for music, having written numerous hymns and gospel songs during his lifetime. He is equally passionate about education.

“The joining of his passion for music and education has made this a very popular session with our students in the past,” says Kolstad. “We are pleased to have him back for the third year.”

Ashcroft has been a regular presenter at Evangel over the past 35 years, speaking at four graduations, several homecomings and a variety of classroom settings.

“John caught a passion for education early on,” said Evangel University President Robert H. Spence.

“He was class president at Hillcrest, graduated with honors from Yale and taught at Missouri State University (then Southwest Missouri State) before entering politics. While serving as Missouri governor (1985-1993), Fortune Magazine named him one of the top 10 education governors in the U.S.A.”

For ticket information, contact Lynne Hall in the Evangel University Department of Music at (417) 865-2811, ext. 7212.

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