Bill Gaither was born in Alexandria, Indiana in 1936 to George and Lela Gaither. He formed his first group the Bill Gaither Trio (consisting of Bill, his sister Mary Ann, and brother Danny Gaither) in 1956 while a college student at Anderson College, to which he had transferred after one year at Taylor University. He graduated from Anderson in 1959 with a major in English and a minor in music, after which he worked as an English teacher
He married the former Gloria Sickal in 1962. He tried for a few years to manage both a music career and his full-time teaching job, but he quit his teaching job in 1967 and worked full-time in the Christian music industry. He recorded his breakthrough song “He Touched Me” in 1964.
Gaither was influenced by southern gospel singers such as Jake Hess and Hovie Lister and by groups such as the Speers, the Statesmen, and the Happy Goodmans.
Gaither and his wife, Gloria, have written many songs including: “The Longer I Serve Him,” “Because He Lives,” “The King Is Coming,” “Sinner Saved By Grace”, “Something Beautiful,” “He Touched Me”, “It Is Finished,” “Jesus, There’s Something About That Name” “I’m Gonna Sing”, and “Let’s Just Praise The Lord.” His songs have been performed by Christian artists (David Crowder Band, Carman, Sandi Patty, The Cathedral Quartet, The Speers and the Heritage Singers), country singers (The Statler Brothers) and pop artists (Elvis Presley).
Gloria Gaither often writes the lyrics while Bill writes the music, although composing is usually a collaborative project between the two. As of 2005, they had composed 600 songs and by 2012 that number had increased to over 700.
Since Gaither first began singing with the Bill Gaither Trio in the 1950s, he has constantly been performing. The Bill Gaither Trio originally consisted of Bill, his brother Danny Gaither and his sister Mary Ann Gaither. In about 1964 Bill’s wife, Gloria, took the place of Mary Ann. The trio sang traditional gospel songs along with original compositions by the Gaithers that gave them a more contemporary feel.
Gaither has a high bass voice (or low baritone), and would often sing while playing piano with the Bill Gaither Trio.
Entrepreneurship and Influence
Gaither founded the Gaither Music Company, which includes the functions of record company, concert booking (Gaither Management Group), television production, copyright management (Gaither Copyright Management), retail store, recording studio (Gaither Studios, formerly Pinebrook Studios) and telemarketing for the Gaither organization reside. Gaither also runs a retail center called Gaither Family Resources.
Included as part of the company is Live Bait Productions, which is an animation company run by Benjy Gaither, Bill’s son.
Gaither has been a father figure to many younger performers in the Contemporary Christian music industry, while helping to prolong the careers of those who came before him. Mark Lowry, Michael W. Smith, Carman, Sandi Patty, Steve Green, Don Francisco, Amy Grant, Michael English, Jonathan Pierce, Karla Worley, and Cynthia Clawson are all CCM artists who either got their start or became popular while touring with the Gaithers.
Bill and Gloria still live in Alexandria, Indiana, and have three grown children, Suzanne, Amy and Benjamin.
Awards and honors
1973: Best Inspirational Performance for “Let’s Just Praise The Lord”; Bill Gaither Trio
1975: Best Inspirational Performance for “Jesus, We Just Want To Thank You”; Bill Gaither Trio
1991: Best Southern Gospel Album for Homecoming; Gaither Vocal Band
1999: Best Southern, Country, Or Bluegrass Gospel Album for Kennedy Center Homecoming
2001: Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album for A Billy Graham Music Homecoming
2008: Best Southern, Country, Or Bluegrass Gospel Album for Lovin’ Life; Gaither Vocal Band
GMA Dove Awards
1969, 1970, 1972–’77: Songwriter of the Year
1974: Song of the Year for “Because He Lives”
1976: Inspirational Album of the Year for Jesus, We Just Want to Thank You; Bill Gaither Trio
1978: Inspirational Album of the Year for Pilgrim’s Progress; Bill Gaither Trio
1980: Mixed Group of the Year – Bill Gaither Trio
1986: Praise and Worship Album of the Year for I’ve Just Seen Jesus (choral)
1987: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for The Master Builder; The Cathedrals (producer)
1991: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for Climbing Higher & Higher; The Cathedrals (producer)
1992: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for Homecoming Gaither Vocal Band
1993: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for Reunion: A Gospel Homecoming Celebration
1994: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for Southern Classics; Gaither Vocal Band
1994: Southern Gospel Song of the Year for “Satisfied”; Gaither Vocal Band
1995: Southern Gospel Song of the Year for “I Bowed On My Knees”
1999: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for Still the Greatest Story Ever Told; Gaither Vocal Band
1995: Southern Gospel Song of the Year for “I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary”; Gaither Vocal Band
2000: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for God is Good; Gaither Vocal Band
2001: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for I Do Believe; Gaither Vocal Band
2001: Southern Gospel Song of the Year for “God Is Good All The Time”; Gaither Vocal Band
2001: Long Form Video of the Year for A Farewell Celebration; The Cathedrals (producer)
2002: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for Encore; Old Friends Quartet (producer)
2002: Southern Gospel Song of the Year for “He’s Watching Me”; Gaither Vocal Band
2007: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for Give It Away; Gaither Vocal Band
2007: Southern Gospel Song of the Year for “Give It Away”; Gaither Vocal Band
2009: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for Lovin’ Life; Gaither Vocal Band
2010: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for Reunited; Gaither Vocal Band
2010: Long Form Video of the Year for A Gospel Journey; Oak Ridge Boys (producer)
2011: Southern Gospel Song of the Year for “Better Day”; Gaither Vocal Band
2011: Southern Gospel Album of the Year for Greatly Blessed; Gaither Vocal Band
Inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 1983
1974, 1980: ASCAP Best Gospel Song of the Year
1997: Named among the top 75 American entrepreneurs: Entrepreneur Magazine
2000: Christian “Songwriter of the Century” (with Gloria Gaither): American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP)
2006: SPEBSQSA Honorary Life Member
2010: Indiana Wesleyan University Society of World Changers inductee/Honorary doctorate recipient