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A Day in the Life of Kevin Williams
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Kevin Williams should probably add "juggler" to his resume, because the guy is involved in a LOT of things. That may be why, as he tells it below, "nothing on the Thanksgiving table comes from him" ... or it may just be that cooking is not quite his forte. But he does have his hands pretty full, being the band leader for the Gaither Homecoming tour, a husband and father of two, recording his own albums, producing and arranging albums for lots of other folks, being one of the jovial hosts of the Homecoming Radio program ... AND thinking of new jokes with which to gently jab Bill Gaither. All in a day's work....

I was able to catch Kevin for a few minutes as he was running errands, so we chatted about what he's been doing lately, Thanksgiving plans and which GVB member most deserves coal in their stocking....


Deb: Hey, Kevin. How are you?
Kevin: Hey, I'm good!

Deb: What are you up to today?
Kevin: I just left Steve Gatlin, had lunch with him and then ran through the bank here and dropped books off at the library. My oldest, my 17-year-old [Carolina], is a reader. We taught them from an early age that readers are leaders, so for the last two years she has read 100 books a year.

Deb: Oh my goodness!
Kevin: Yeah. She's at 96 books for this year. She'll accomplish her goal. She heard the phrase "well read" and she didn't know what that meant. She googled it and she read about a guy who read 50 books in a year and she said, "Well, I'm going to double that, and that's going to be my goal." So for the last two years, she's read two books a week.

Deb: That is impressive.
Kevin: She's read a lot of fiction, and then biographies, government, politics, that kind of thing, and even some weird, boring reference things. She's been all over the page and she's an amazing person to talk to, even at 17. Her scope of understanding is pretty crazy. It's neat.

So I dropped six books off at the library, and now I'm headed back to mail out some packages. Then, back to work on musical arrangements on Wes' new project and then to do some editing on Charlotte's.

Deb: Sounds like you are busy working on all kinds of projects....
Kevin: I just finished Gene McDonald's, which came out about two months ago. Then I'm in the middle of Charlotte's now, and we've done tracks and some vocals. We've just got our songs picked for the new Wes Hampton project, so we're headed into the studio in about two weeks with him. I'm doing arrangements now.

Deb: Can you give us any idea when Charlotte's and Wes' CDs are coming out? 
Kevin: Well, so Charlotte will be early spring. For Wes, we're doing two ... one is a full-fledged new project, and another one is a more simple hymns kind of CD. I'm not sure, but I think the hymns might come out first which would be early spring and the other one might be later.

It's going to be fun. Just always a lot going on. I had this Christmas project that came out, and then I've got a praise guitar thing that I'm just formulating in my head right now, but I'm going to have to move pretty quickly on it.

Deb: So that would be an instrumental project that would be praise and worship music?
Kevin: Yeah, it'll be an instrumental album. I'm going to go back and get some stuff like "Great is the Lord" and those kinds of songs. It'll be a very upbeat praise kind of project. 

Deb: How are you juggling all of this?
Kevin: I don't know. I don't know that I do. I just barrel into it every day.

Deb: What are you up to for Thanksgiving this year?
Kevin: Well, we're a little bit spread out this year. We will do Thanksgiving at our house with just us four, then I have a nephew up in Portland, Tennessee, and we will go to his in-laws' house for a couple of hours later on for Thanksgiving evening. They're like extended family to us; they're just wonderful people. They have a farm out there. We'll go visit and have some dessert, and that's pretty much it.

Deb: Now, do you cook anything for the Thanksgiving meal?
Kevin: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

Deb: (Laughing) That's OK, I'm sure you contribute sparkling conversation.
Kevin: There's not one thing on the table that comes from me.

Deb: What is your favorite thing to eat, then? What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
Kevin: Boy, that's a great question. My wife's cornbread dressing is probably my favorite, with a little bit of gravy. It was sort of my mom's recipe and Cathy loved it, and then she started making it and it's just my favorite thing. Then dessert-wise, I'm still a chocolate chip cookie freak, chocolate pie and that kind of thing. And they fix cobblers and stuff and I eat all that. I just adore it.

Deb: If anybody that will be reading this is looking for Christmas gift ideas, what would you recommend?
Kevin: Oh, for me? If you're going to get something for me, then chocolate chip cookies are always good....

Deb: (Laughing) No no no, for them to buy for each other.... I saw the Christmas package on your Facebook page with the three CDs, so that's where I was kind of going there....
Kevin: Oh, that's where you were going. You know what, we offered that as a little thing so everybody could have Christmas music early. All of my projects are available on my website, and that's where folks can sign up for my email newsletter as well.

The Christmas CD [Acoustic Christmas] has been doing great this year. I've gotten tons of sweet emails from it already. Then the Instrument of Peace CD, Deb, has probably been ... it is certainly the one piece that I have done that has received the most comments from anybody. It's been so positive, because everybody's saying they just need something to relax with, just to put it on, turn it on low. People tell me they put my CD on and drink coffee or read the Bible or whatever. 

After my mom passed I played some of those hymns, just soft hymns, at the funeral, and a guy came up at the end and he said, "I wish you could bottle this feeling right now."

Deb: Aww...
Kevin: I thought, well, maybe there's a way to do that. So for Instrument of Peace, we just did a CD full of just guitar with no other instruments. There's no fast songs, there's nothing loud ... it's just peace. People are trying to get peace any way they can these days.

Deb: Definitely. People need that, especially during this stressful time in our culture and during the holidays. And speaking of the holidays, let me ask you this. Of all the Gaither Homecoming folks, who would be most likely to get coal in his or her stocking?
Kevin: Oh, what a great question. Gosh, I don't know ... David Phelps is always the practical joker. He's the one that's always pulling tricks on somebody, so if anybody deserved it it would probably be him. But I don't know. That's funny.

Deb: Ha! OK, then I guess David better watch out this year. And speaking of Christmas, tell me a little bit about what we can expect from the Gaither Homecoming Christmas concert dates.
Kevin: We're only doing six full-on Christmas performances this year, and you really want to catch one of those while you can because I don't know of any other program like that. We've been to see a lot of them because we just love Christmas shows. To have the depth and the breadth that this program has ... I mean, it's a little bit of everything. Great singers, great entertainment, great fun.

There's a lot of laughter, and then to end up with David Phelps singing "O Holy Night" at the end of the evening.... That has been pretty special. I'd encourage anybody to come. Like I say, of all the things I've been to see ... Opryland always has great shows and we've seen Rockettes, the Grinch and lots of Christmas concerts, but man, the Gaither show is just extraordinary. I'm not just saying that because I'm in it; I would buy a ticket to see it.

Deb: Can you mention a couple of other specific highlights during the program?
Kevin: Yeah, sure. Probably the biggest Christmas song written in the last 50 years will be performed on our stage, by the two guys that wrote it. Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene will be there and Mark will sing "Mary, Did You Know," and it's a very impacting moment in the program. Mark talks about Mary and what she must have felt. She surely knew, but did she? She was carrying the son of God ... what would that be like? That is an amazing part of the program to me.

Then another part of the program is just as meaningful. We're sitting and singing songs like we're in the living room ... we're singing "White Christmas," and then who shows up to sing the second verse but Jake Hess on the screen? That's really cool to me. 

Deb: I'm very much looking forward to being at the Nashville show.
Kevin: Yeah, it's the closest thing you can get to the Waltons, I think. (Laughs) And after 24 years of traveling with the Gaither tour, you have a lot of familiar faces that you see everywhere you go. It's just the most faithful, wonderful bunch of people.

Deb: Yeah, Homecoming audiences are wonderful.
Kevin: They always have something nice and encouraging to say. It's really gratifying for a guitar player.

Deb: Well, I know people appreciate you and the tremendous job that you do. Thank you so much for taking time to speak with me today, and you have a great afternoon and a happy Thanksgiving!