Southern gospel music's most awarded trio moves forward to share their 'Greater Vision'

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By Greg Summers

The focus of the Southern gospel trio, Greater Vision is clear.

They may have climbed to the top of the Christian music ladder by becoming the most celebrated trio in Gospel music history.

With numerous Top 10 and a stack of No. 1 Southern gospel hits, several songs of the year by the Singing News Fan Awards, this internationally-known trio has established a solid presence.

But the awards, accolades and hit songs matter very little, said Greater Vision founder Gerald Wolfe.

“We don’t measure success by how many number one songs we record or the number of awards we receive,” Wolfe said on the trio’s Web site.

“Our responsibility is to do whatever we can to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us to touch the life of the listener. If we do that, then we feel like we’re successful.”

Now entering their 19th year of ministry, Greater Vision will be in concert at 7 p.m. today at Second Baptist Church, 1426 Great Falls Highway.

Dennis Nichols of GlennMark Promotions said that Wolfe and trio members Rodney Griffin and Jacob Kitson – are just “regular guys.” 

“When you get the chance to meet them face to face, you realize that,” Nichols said. “There is a genuine humility about them.” 

Southern gospel music has been woven tightly through Wolfe’s life.

He started singing at a Morristown, Tenn., radio station at the age of 3 and by the time he was 17, Wolfe was traveling on the road with an Ohio-based gospel quartet.

Wolfe, who was the pianist for The Cathederals from 1986 to 1988, formed Greater Vision in 1990.

Wolfe has reaped many gospel music awards, including favorite male singer (2001, 2005 and 2008), favorite lead singer (2002 and 2006),  and favorite young artist in 1988. In 2008, Wolfe was a Dove Award male vocalist of the year nominee for the Gospel Music Association. 

“We just try to sing songs that minister to us, and if the songs bless us and minister to us, then we believe our listeners will be ministered to,” Wolfe said.

Nichols said Greater Vision’s popularity comes from a consistency that comes with time and the ability to minister to people where they are.

Griffin, who is regarded as one of the most prolific songwriters in gospel music, has been singing baritone beside Wolfe since 1993.

“It shows through in all of their music and performances,” Nichols said. “You get harmony like theirs from singing together.”   

After graduating from Berea College in Kentucky in 1988, Griffin worked in a Virginia shipyard for two years, while singing with an amateur group in the Chesapeake area. He also sang a short time with Higher Dedication and the Arkansas-based Brashear Family.

Griffin replaced Mark Trammell in 1993 after Trammell joined Gold City.

In a recent interview with Gospel Music Today, Griffin said he had a desire to sing professionally, but felt like he wasn’t good enough.

However, Griffin has been proven wrong. He was named favorite songwriter by the Singing News Fan Awards for 10 consecutive years (1998-2008). He was named favorite baritone of the year in 2006 and two of his songs (“My Name in Lazarus” and “Just One More Soul”) have won fan awards.

“I’ve learned what you lack in talent, you can make up for in desire,” Griffin told Gospel Music Today. “I think that’s true in any work of the Lord. If are hearts are open and available to him, he will open the doors to make up the difference.” 

Kitson joined Greater Vision in May 2008 after longtime tenor Jason Waldroup left the trio to attend seminary.

A Yuma, Ariz., native, Kitson, 25, is the eldest of 12 children and has three brothers and eight sisters. He was a founding member of the Tribute Quartet and a graduated of Grace Bible College in Michigan.

Wolfe said in a recent interview with Southern Gospel News that when he met Kitson in 2007, he quickly realized the young tenor was gifted.

“He is the only person we actually auditioned,” Wolfe said. “We knew he was the right man from the start.”       

Greater Vision tours about 200 dates a year and has an international following, Nichols said. They returned to the United States on Thursday after a tour in the Dominican Republic.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming them here and are expecting another great crowd,” Nichols said.

Want to go?

WHO: Greater Vision

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday; doors open at 6 p.m.

WHERE: Second Baptist Church, 1526 Great Falls Highway.

HOW MUCH: Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Advance tickets are available at Cooper Furniture, 311 S. Main St.; Living Water Christian Bookstore, 101 S. White St.; Mahaffey Funeral Home, 201 N. Catawba St.; and Mungo, Nichols and Hess, 1107 Chesterfield Ave.

INFORMATION: 283-9988 or info@glennmarkpromotions.com or www.glennmarkpromotions.com