I attended the Bill Gaither Homecoming concert in Little Rock Friday, enjoying 4 hours and 15 minutes of stellar Southern gospel music. But nobody sang better than Janet Paschal…
By Frank Lockwood
Fans won’t have to shop on eBay to find Janet Paschal’s old-time hits anymore.
The Southern gospel great’s latest album, Treasure, includes songs that she popularized decades ago.
The original recordings had been out of print for years.
“Basically, we went back and retraced 30 years of my music and re-recorded the original versions of some of my most requested songs,” Paschal said. “It’s a compilation of fast songs and slow songs that over the years people have remembered, which is very gratifying.”
Paschal’s longtime admirers won’t be disappointed by the new recording. “We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown,” “God Rides on Wings of Love” and “Jesus Is Alive and Well” sound even better today than they did the first time they were recorded.
Paschal was a star on the Southern gospel circuit, singing with The LeFevres and the Rex Nelon Singers in the late-1970s and early 1980s.
But the soprano gained a worldwide following after joining the Jimmy Swaggart telecast.
At its height — before Swaggart was defrocked by the Assemblies of God — the program had a weekly audience of 2.3 million households in the United States, according to ratings tracker Arbitron. Today, Paschal is one of the top acts on the Gaither Homecoming concert series.
Her 17 solo albums have earned multiple Grammy and Gospel Music Association Dove nominations, and her songwriting — a canon that includes “God Will Make a Way” and “Another Soldier’s Coming Home” — has been widely praised.
Gloria Gaither recently said that Paschal “is about as near perfect as a young woman can be.”
Fans who didn’t buy a ticket for last night’s Gaither Homecoming concert in North Little Rock can find Treasure online at www.janetpaschal.com. The Web site also includes information about Paschal’s new book, Treasures of the Snow, which chronicles her battle with breast cancer.
The title comes from a passage in the Book of Job.
After being diagnosed with cancer in January 2005, Paschal underwent a lumpectomy as well as extensive chemotherapy, making more than 70 trips to Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
The treatment, apparently, was successful. “They say I’m cancer-free, as far as they know, and that’s quite a qualifier,” Paschal said. “But I feel terrific.”
Like Job, Paschal didn’t curse God when faced with a devastating illness.
“It didn’t shake me. It didn’t rock my world, and that was a nice surprise,” said Paschal, the granddaughter of an Assemblies of God minister. “It certainly got my attention.”
Paschal’s grandmother also had breast cancer and lived into her 90s.
Cancer shifted Paschal’s priorities, she said. “I instantly knew that what mattered to me was family, the people I care about and the things that are going to last after I’m gone.”
As a cancer survivor, Paschal is trying to ease the burden of others facing the disease. Her 2007 album, Sounds Like Sunday, benefited the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She has also launched www.janetand friends.com, a Christian Web site that offers information and encouragement to others battling cancer.