On a chilly December morning in 1990, three young men took the stage together for the first time at a church in Grassy Creek, Kentucky. From the very first song, the trio connected with the small crowd that was in attendance that day. Their fresh approach to traditional Southern Gospel music, along with their dynamic vocals and distinctive harmony, would serve to define the group’s trademark sound.
Thirty years later, Greater Vision has sung to countless thousands of people around the world. In honor of the career milestone, members Gerald Wolfe, Rodney Griffin, Chris Allman, and Jon Epley recently sat down with their wives in a joint interview with Singing News to not only discuss the history of the group but to share personal stories from the unique perspective of the individuals Behind the Vision.
Looking back over the last three decades, the success of Greater Vision has been unprecedented. As one of the most accomplished trios in the history of Southern Gospel music, their combined list of accolades includes a staggering 70 Singing News Fan Awards that range from multiple Favorite Trio honors to numerous Favorite Album and Song Of The Year wins. They have also earned 19 individual awards as vocalists, along with an unprecedented 22 consecutive “Favorite Songwriter” honors for Rodney, who has penned eight No. 1 songs for Greater Vision alone—including the trio’s biggest hit, “My Name Is Lazarus.” The group has 40 recordings to their credit, including their latest Daywind Records release, You’ve Arrived, and the group is regularly featured on the Gospel Music Hymn Sing tour. Yet for all their many successes, the members of Greater Vision are some of the most humble, amiable people you will ever meet—as are their families.
“There are definitely up-sides and down-sides to what we do,” explains Gerald. A notable joy for Greater Vision over the years has been their relationship with Dr. Charles Stanley. Since the inception of the group, the trio has made regular appearances on the syndicated In Touch program, as well as performing on In Touch cruises from Alaska to the Caribbean to the Greek Isles.
“Just this week,” says Gerald, “the guys and I were talking about how many places we get to go that most people never do, and our wives have been able to go with us to some of those incredible places. That’s an upside. And sometimes there are days like yesterday where a lady walked up to me after the program, sobbing, telling me how our music made an impression on her son years ago when he was in a difficult season, and he is now in ministry. That’s an upside. The downside is that our wives do not get to experience that part first hand—the part that makes it easier for us to get on the bus every week.”
As for the men who make up Greater Vision, they would be quick to tell you that the reward of a ministry in music is not the accolades they receive but the fruitfulness that comes from abiding in Christ and living in the center of His will. Thus, the extraordinary success of Greater Vision—from their meteoric rise in the industry 30 years ago to their staying power as one of Southern Gospel music’s most prominent artists—is not something that the men have ever taken credit for. “I certainly can’t explain it,” offers Gerald, “and we couldn’t have ever planned it. It’s simply unmerited, undeserved favor.”
As the members of Greater Vision step onto the tour bus each week, they do so knowing that they have
the unconditional support of their families. And while four individuals may take the stage night after night, there are dozens of loved ones who are partakers of the ministry of Greater Vision—encouraging, supporting, and prayerfully undergirding the men from behind the scenes.