The timpani drum roll indicated that a magical night was just about to begin. The capacity crowd burst into applause as the majestic sound of The Nashville String Machine Orchestra filled the Trinity Music City Auditorium in Hendersonville, Tennessee on a rainy Monday evening, July 9, 2012. Just as the music hit it’s crescendo, The Maestro, Lari Goss, strolled across the stage, and took his place at the 9 ft. Concert Grand Piano. When his nimble fingers caressed the ivory keys of the massive instrument, everyone in attendance knew for a fact that the magic had most definitely begun.
For the next three hours, the very elite of the Southern Gospel Music community paid homage to a humble, diminutive man who, when seated at a keyboard, is bigger than life!
The emcee for the evening was none other than Mr. Gerald Wolfe, Lari’s Number One Fan, and close friend. He kept the banter conversational, and informative, yet took the audience on a journey of passion, purpose and perfection – the hallmarks of this legendary “man behind the music.”
From humble beginnings in the quaint, rural town of Cartersville, Georgia, Mr. Goss began singing and playing Gospel Music with his brothers, James and Roni. Often considered lightyears ahead of their time, The Goss Brothers just did things a little different. They carved out a niche that is still the benchmark by which many of today’s current groups are measured. Lari has since become a much sought after producer, and regularly finds himself doing intricate arrangements featuring world-renowned orchestras all over the world.
The concert line-up read like a virtual “Who’s Who of Gospel Music.” Groups like The Booth Brothers, The Hoppers, Greater Vision, The Mark Trammell Quartet, Legacy Five, The Nelons, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, and The Martins, along with soloists such as TaRanda Greene, Babbie Mason and Charlotte Richie each shared songs that were arranged or produced by Mr. Goss. Many other great talents, such as Karen Peck, Reggie and Ladye Love Smith, Bradley Knight, and the Christ Church Singers graced the stage during this star-studded gala event.
Of course, no party is complete without surprises, and this evening was no exception. There were some heartfelt video tribute segments from Bill Gaither, Larnelle Harris and Jim Cymbala, pastor of the famous Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York. The audience was chock full of “movers and shakers” from the world of Gospel Music, as well. A few notables were Dusty Wells, Judy Nelon, Rhonda Frye, Jim Murray, Donnie Sumner, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey and Dr. Jerry Goff. Last, but certainly not least, were many of Lari’s family members, including his lovely wife, Carolyn, and his brother, Roni.
Clarke Beasley, Executive Director of The National Quartet Convention presented Mr. Goss with a lifetime achievement award. Upon accepting this, Lari gave a tearful testimony to the faithfulness of God, the ultimate Giver of Music.
Finally, a mass choir, comprised of all the artists who had performed, was assembled, and the evening concluded with a moving rendition of “Statement Of Faith.” For an encore, they sang “We Shall Wear A Robe And Crown.”
After the final note had been sung, and the lid of the piano closed, a lengthy time of fellowship ensued as folks from as far away as New Zealand surrounded the stage just to get a handshake, a hug, or a photo opportunity with this beloved man… Lari Goss… The Man Behind The Music.
First Published August 2012 in SGN Scoops digital magazine. Written by Charlie Sexton.