Greater Vision: Telling It Like It Is

CasualGV editGreater Vision is in their third decade of bringing award-winning harmonies and signature arrangements to Gospel music audiences across North America. From the special Jubilee tours to Praisefest, the group has been busier than ever and continues to be nominated for both singing and songwriting. Talented vocalists and communicators, Gerald Wolfe, Rodney Griffin and Chris Allman celebrate another year of excellence in music with their new release, For All He’s Done. [Editor’s Note: This feature was first published in the May 2013 issue of SGN Scoops.]

The first single released from the new recording is entitled “Looking For The Grace”. Well-received by radio audiences, the upbeat song encourages Christians to look to God for strength and peace through difficult times. Rodney Griffin says, “Grace has many wonderful facets. In this song, we’re talking about the grace it takes to get through a trial. We are so guilty of asking God to remove the trial that we miss the blessing in store, by asking Him to give us grace to get through it. I don’t want to look for the way of escape; I want to look for the grace that is there for the asking.”

“I can’t really describe God’s grace, other than to over-simplify it by saying it’s forgiveness that I didn’t earn, and that I certainly don’t deserve,” says Gerald Wolfe. “I’m not sure it can be fully understood on this side of eternity; it has to be experienced. While we can attempt to extend grace to those around us, the grace we can offer can never have the impact that the grace of God has. His grace is eternal, and as the song says, it’s ‘Amazing,’ and it’s offered and available to everyone.”

Greater Vision in Studio
Greater Vision in Studio

“You’ve heard this before but grace could rightfully stand for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense,” says Chris Allman. “Receiving what we could never deserve, the opportunity to be reconciled back to our Holy God, should make each of us strive to live that life that could please the Lord. As far as understanding the grace of God, I don’t know that we could ever fully understand it.” Allman adds, “In regards to applying grace to others, we have to follow God’s blueprint.  Don’t hold anything against those who have wronged you.  Hard, ain’t it?!”

When Christians talk about Grace, there is often a discussion about mercy. Rodney Griffin says his favorite song on the new project is entitled, “This Is Mercy.” “I love the picture it paints about the little wooden sign above Jesus’ cross. I don’t want to give the story away…I hope your readers enjoy the song too,” says Griffin. As a songwriter, Griffin enjoys a well-crafted song and loves a song that tells a clear story. “I have many favorite songwriters. Dottie Rambo was pretty incredible in how she painted a picture for us. My current favorite is Phil Cross. I love how he captures the majesty of God (if that’s possible) in letting God be as big and able as He really is. As Christians, we like to make God small, but Phil keeps God big.  And that is what makes a great song!”

D3011MFor All He’s Done features songs written by group members Allman and Griffin, as well as hit writers Jim Brady and Lanny Wolfe. Produced by Gerald Wolfe, the recording’s orchestrations are by Grammy Award-winning producer and arranger, Lari Goss. Gerald Wolfe comments on a special tune included on the album, called “Seeking For Me”.  “I fell in love with the song way back in 1980, when I first heard the Cathedral Quartet sing it,” says Wolfe. “Its message is overwhelming and simple at the same time.  It’s one of my favorite Lanny Wolfe songs.”

“Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is,” is Chris Allman’s favorite song on the recording. “Rodney wrote this one and it’s my favorite for a couple of reasons,” Allman says. “For one, it’s musically different than anything I can remember us doing.  Secondly, if you know me at all, you know that I am a no nonsense kind of guy, especially when it comes to the Word.  There are too many preachers today who ‘share a word’ with their congregation every Sunday instead of just preaching the Truth and allowing it to offend and therefore convict resulting in change. This song addresses the need for our preachers to not, “Tell me like I wish it was” but to, “Tell me like it is.”

Allman says that Griffin is his favorite songwriter in Gospel music. “I would say that because I am most familiar with his writing and I’ve had the pleasure of writing with him.  He is very thorough in his writing.  He’s great at taking an idea and building on it to paint a picture.” Allman continues, “I am a very big advocate of saying things that have been said but saying them in a different way.  Cliche’ writing is a pet peeve of mine.  I also like to see songs go in a direction that one can’t predict.  I just love a well-written song that’s not like every other song.”

Gerald Wolfe in studio
Gerald Wolfe in studio

From “My Name Is Lazarus” to “Faces,” Greater Vision’s songs are always well received by Gospel radio’s audiences. Dave Compton of station WPET in Greensboro, North Carolina says, “I heard the clips Gerald posted on Facebook, and as I told Gerald, ‘Greater Vision has had that greater vision in taking us to new heights musically, yet maintaining a firm stand on the message of the Gospel. It is so true; these guys have been innovative from day one with arrangements fresh as the early morning dew. These are great men, committed, consecrated, and talented with a capitol T. Each recording just builds on the previous one, and leaves us wanting more. Chris is close to my heart, since I have known him for many years, growing up in his Father’s church not far from where I live and work. I knew that Chris had something special from day one. He has taken that special gift and enhanced this great ministry that he helped to start with Gerald many years ago. With great groups like Greater Vision around, no doubt, Gospel Music is in capable hands.”

The special gifts of each of the members has brought them a dedicated audience and a raft of promoters that like to bring the group back to their venues time after time. One such ministry is that of Dr. Charles Stanley at In Touch Ministries, a church that Greater Vision often visits. “We’ve been so blessed to be involved with Dr. Stanley and In Touch for more than twenty years,” says Wolfe. “What I appreciate about him more than anything else is his consistency. He likes to stay on top of the latest, and most innovative ways of getting the Gospel out, but without modifying or diluting the message.  Being a part of the In Touch Ministries Board for the last few years has really given me an even greater appreciation for what they’re about: ‘To get the Gospel to as many as possible, as quickly as possible, as effectively as possible, in the power of the Holy Spirit.’  The team at In Touch is absolutely dedicated to that mission, and we’re blessed to be a small part of it.”

Lair Goss & Engineer, Bob WilliamsOther ventures that Greater Vision are thrilled to be a part of are the Jubilee concerts with the Booth Brothers and Legacy Five, and the annual Praisefest celebrations in Branson and Pigeon Forge. This year, Praisefest went north of the border with a weekend concert in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Many of these events are handled in connection with IMC Concerts and its president, Landon Beene. “I met Landon several years ago, on one of our West Coast trips,” says Wolfe. “Scott Fowler suggested that I talk to Landon about promoting some of our West Coast concerts.  Since then, he’s taken on the responsibility of promoting the Jubilee Tour, and two of our Praisefest events: Branson and Niagara Falls.  He and Nathan Goble do a great job of organizing things, and taking a lot of pressure off of us, so we can concentrate on putting together the best program possible. All of us have a lot of confidence in Landon, and we think his efforts will continue to be blessed.  He’s still young, and he and his team have a great future ahead of them.”

For his part, Beene says he’s thrilled to be working with Greater Vision. “Although I have been around gospel music since a small child, it wasn’t until about three years ago that I had the privilege to know Greater Vision personally,” says Beene. “I found myself on their bus for five days straight during a southwest tour. If you ever want to really get to know someone, this is the most accurate way possible. I have enjoyed getting to know Gerald and truly understanding his heart for people and this industry. He is a businessman, and very business, which I can appreciate. However, if you really know Gerald, you know that his sincere heart for people is what defines him. He is a great leader on that bus. The guys of Greater Vision are men of extreme integrity. You will not find anyone that lives what they sing more than the gentlemen of Greater Vision.”

Greater Vision’s schedule appears quite full for the year, with the addition of the special Jubilee and Praisefest events. However, summer is coming closer and these family men are looking forward to some vacation time. “I hope to get the girls out on my bass boat again this year,” says Griffin. “They enjoy being pulled behind on a tube. Since my wife doesn’t enjoy flying, I hope to take my youngest daughter to Alaska with me in July on the In Touch Alaska Cruise. As for the rest of the summer, I’m sure we’ll also have some family cookouts, basketball games and who knows what?”

Orchestral scores“Summer is the Allman’s favorite time of the year,” says Chris. “We’ll be going to the beach this year for a few days. Of course, we are also blessed to be able to cruise to Alaska every July!  That’s a perk for riding on the Greater Vision bus!”

Wolfe is also taking his family on the Alaskan Cruise with In Touch Ministries. “It’s something they look forward to every year, and it’s become a family tradition,” says Wolfe. “This will be my 23rd Alaska Cruise with Dr. Stanley and In Touch.  If we have time, we’re going to try to visit the Reagan Library and Yosemite National Park this summer, as well. However, with the ever-changing schedule of a Gospel singer, you never know what might happen.”

The variability of a Gospel singer’s schedule may sometimes reflect the unpredictability of the world around us, but Wolfe, Griffin and Allman try to retain their personal consistency through all the inevitable changes they experience. Wolfe comments on that and how it relates to Romans 12:2. “The KJV says, ‘And be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed. That you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.’ Over the last few years, I’ve witnessed a very noticeable trend among Christians and churches to be more and more ‘conformed to this world.’ I don’t know where the trend started, but I do know it’s becoming the norm.  It’s actually what I personally consider to be the opposite of what needs to be happening.”

“It’s absolutely impossible for the Church to keep up with the constant changes in the world,” Wolfe continues. “For lack of a better illustration, it’s almost like a dog chasing its tail; it’s circular reasoning. There’s no end to the chase, and it’s really a distraction to what our mission is supposed to be.  Jesus made this thing really simple when He said, “…If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto Me.” In the race to be attractive, we seem to be spending more and more time and resources on using every other type of tool available to us, except the Cross. We really need to be reminded that the message of the Cross is the only message that changes lives. Everything we add to it is just window dressing, and can actually have the potential to be a distraction from the Message.”

In his personal study of the Word, Allman says, “My reading lately has been in the old Testament. I am presently reading in the book of Judges. Instead of giving you a specific verse, I’ll tell you what God has helped me to see through my most recent study: God’s plan for His own chosen people was that they remain set apart or consecrated to Him and Him alone.  His distinct instruction was not to coexist with those outside their own race but His people defiantly mixed company with the enemy.  Every time they did, they were drawn into worship of other gods and idols.  When we, as Christians mix company with the world or are unequally yoked in our relationships, very seldom do we draw them into a relationship with Christ.  Instead, more often, we are entranced by the things of the world and soon find ourselves out of communion with our Lord.

jubilee christmasWhen asked about a personal scripture that resounds in his heart, Rodney Griffin simply says, “I keep returning to Proverbs 3:5.  If I will continue to trust the Lord and not rely on my own understanding, I know He’ll direct my paths.” 

Greater Vision continues year after year to “Tell It Like It Is” and thank God For All He’s Done, and they are experiencing a flourishing ministry that has outlasted many others in their field. With this new recording and grander concert events, audiences far and wide will experience more of the consistent excellence that has marked this group’s performance from the beginning.

For more information on Greater Vision click onto: http://greatervisionmusic.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/greatervisionmusic

Twitter @greatervision

 

Special thanks to:

IMC and Landon Beene http://www.imcconcerts.com/

Dave Compton, WPET in Greensboro, NC http://www.wpetam950.com/

 

First published May 2013 in SGN Scoops http://www.sgnscoops.com/

By Lorraine Walker

Questions? Comments? Email Lorraine at sgmradio.lorrainewalker@gmail.com

Lorraine Walker
Lorraine Walker