Guy Penrod is in every sense of the word a man cut from the cloth of rugged individualism.
Never is this more evident than in the tracks of his first solo country album project, Breathe Deep. It's more than a collection of thirteen new songs. It's the creative thumbprint of a man with strong values and a positive worldview that harkens back to deep roots in faith and family.
His well-publicized departure in recent months after 14 years as a centerpiece of Bill Gaither's celebrated "Vocal Band" was not a move for the faint of heart—nor for a man less sure that he's tracking on a right course set for new horizons.
"I came to the Vocal Band with my own personal philosophy that for my time there, I needed to have a singular creative focus and priority," noted Guy recently.
"I shared that feeling with Bill at the onset when we were initially talking about my leaving my session and studio interests in 1994 to sign on with the Vocal Band. I was committed to give one hundred percent of myself and my talents. Looking back, I wouldn't have traded a moment of my time with the Gaithers. I felt called for that season, and I felt I had purpose and family and was valued for what I was contributing. I just got encouraging notes recently in the mail from both Bill and Gloria telling me how much they loved my new music."
"I had made fourteen records with the Gaither Vocal Band when Bill asked me last year if I wanted to do a solo record. I was excited by the opportunity to individualize my music and broaden my horizons. I also wanted to be true to the integrity of not doing a solo career inside the walls of my commitment to the Vocal Band. I guess I just felt it was the right time to make the move while I still have my hair—what with teenagers and all," Guy laughs with a twinkle in his eyes.
With the launch of Breathe Deep, Guy Penrod will tell you he's not looking to change the face of country music. Only to bring a new prospective to its' best attributes. And to the question—'is this a new Guy Penrod?' -there's a short answer.
"I haven't changed a lick—I just wanted a fresh wrapper," he notes. "What's 'new' is the prospective that the music is fresh and different than what I was doing with the Vocal Band. But as far as who I am and what I've represented over the past fourteen years with the Gaithers, or how my wife and family have chosen to live our lives, there's no departure. That's the well from which I draw, and it won't change."
"I wanted with the new album to kick it out there in a little bigger pond. I believe that country is one the best genres of music from which to tell the American story. To me, music is a way of telling the story of every day America and a country song has the ability to tell a story with the potential for the positive. Songs can literally become modern day parables on how to live life. In fact, there's a lot of 'gospel' on the thirteen songs we just recorded—not my answers, but God's way wrapped in every day language with a country feel."