Holly Springs Baptist Church in Franklin will have a special guest this Sunday. Gospel Music artist Larry Gatlin will be sharing his testimony and performing during the morning worship service.
“We are really excited to have Larry Gatlin at Holly Springs Baptist Church this Sunday,” said Kevin Corbin, Holly Springs Music Director. “We want to invite the public to come out and enjoy his performance and hear to his testimony.”
Gatlin was raised listening to country and gospel music. Even since childhood, he and his brothers, Steve and Rudy have always sung and performed together.
When they were younger, they often sang in their local church. They sometimes performed on local radio stations, and occasionally on television shows. They also recorded a gospel music album for the Gospel label Sword and Shield. The brothers even managed to beat out the legendary Roy Orbison in a local talent contest around this same time.
After graduating from Odessa High School in 1966, Gatlin attended college at the University of Houston. A wide receiver on the football team, he caught a touchdown pass in a game in which the University of Houston scored 100 points.
He later auditioned for, and joined the gospel music group, the Imperials. The Imperials went on to perform in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January 1971 at Jimmy Dean's Las Vegas Revue. While walking through the showroom, he caught legendary country singer Dottie West's attention when she thought he looked like Mickey Newbury.
West soon met Gatlin and was impressed with his songwriting skills. She was so impressed, in fact, that she recorded two of Gatlin's compositions, "You're the Other Half of Me" and "Once You Were Mine." West also passed one of Gatlin's demo tapes around Nashville, Tenn., and even arranged for him to relocate there, purchasing a plane ticket for him – a story he related on an episode of "Larry's Country Diner" on RFDTV in November 2009. West later recorded other compositions by Gatlin that would later become hits for him, including “Broken Lady,” which was put on West's 1978 album, “Dottie.”
With West's help, Gatlin found work in Nashville as a background singer for Kris Kristofferson. In 1973, Gatlin finally landed a solo recording contract with Monument Records.
In 1973, Gatlin released his first album, “The Pilgrim.” Two singles were released from the album: "Sweet Becky Walker" and "Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall," though both failed to chart. The latter was, however, recorded in 1976 by Elvis Presley (who had also recorded Gatlin's "Help Me" in 1973).
In 1974 came the release of a new album (Rain/Rainbow) and a new song, "Delta Dirt.” The album and single proved more successful. "Delta Dirt" was a Top 20 Country hit, peaking at No. 14.
Worship services begin at 10 a.m. and the event is free to the public and nursery will be provided. Holly Springs Baptist Church is located at 366 Holly Springs Church Road, Franklin.