His incredible career began as so many others have—in church. As a boy, Lari sang with his family at the church his grandfather founded in Cartersville, Georgia. As they grew older, Lari and his brothers, Roni and James, began performing as the Goss Brothers and were signed to Sing Records in 1962. The brothers brought a fresh sound to gospel music with their innovative harmonies and unique arrangements. In addition to their own performances, the group provided instrumentals and backup vocals for many well-known artists in Southern Gospel Music throughout the 1960s and '70s.
The Goss Brothers made numerous television appearances and recorded 10 albums between 1962 and 1980. They were working on an 11th when, tragically, James Goss passed away in October 1980 in an airplane accident. Roni then moved to California and began traveling with evangelist Nancy Harmon, and Lari delved deeper into his love for studio production and arranging. A contract with the Benson Publishing Company led to a move to Nashville and paved the way for Lari to work with top gospel music artists including the Speer Family (who first recorded Lari’s signature song “Cornerstone”), the Lanny Wolfe Trio, the Cruse Family, Doug Oldham, the Cathedrals and the Hemphills. Lari honed his skills in orchestration, leading him to record award-winning projects with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1984, Lari and Phil Driscoll recorded I Exalt Thee, earning Lari his first Dove Award. They later performed together at the White House, and their music was used as the opener for the nationally televised People’s Choice Awards. These achievements opened the door for more opportunities, and Lari stayed busy in the studio from that point on. His music has been heard in countless venues, from the Grammy Awards to the “Tonight Show,” and Lari recorded with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras.
Countless artists in the gospel world added Lari’s name to their liner credits—and were proud to call him their friend. He worked with the Gaither Vocal Band, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Larnelle Harris, Brenda Lee, Greater Vision, the Martins, Signature Sound, the Nelons, Legacy Five, the Hoppers, the Cathedrals, Janet Paschal and many others. Lari has performed at Gaither Homecoming events and Bill Gaither held him in high esteem, saying that Lari was "a gracious human being whose remarkable success in the music industry is matched by his gracious spirit." (Homecoming Magazine, Sep/Oct 2009) Jim Brady spearheaded a tribute event in 2012, at which a long list of Southern Gospel notables performed Lari's music and NQC President Clarke Beasley presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Lari made his mark in the choral music market, with his projects for church choirs selling more than two million books, soundtracks and orchestrations worldwide. He also served as “artist in residence” at Lee University, teaching classes and mentoring students, many of whom are now accomplished professionals in the music world themselves. And, he used his platform to help people in other ways, including hosting the Lari Goss Invitational, a charity golf tournament which benefited the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home.
The list of awards Lari received throughout his career is extensive; he won a Grammy Award and 15 GMA Dove Awards, as well as multiple awards for arranging, producing, choral music, piano playing and film scoring. In 2008, he was honored with the James D. Vaughn Impact Award (SGMA) and a Commendation by the Legislature of the State of Tennessee, recognizing his musical and philanthropic accomplishments. Then in 2009, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Lari Goss will be deeply missed by family, friends and his colleagues within the gospel music world. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, their four sons and five grandchildren.
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Some information for this article was found on Lari's website, larigoss.homestead.com.