A Divine Appointment

Gospel singer Billy Gaines lands the role of a lifetime.

(Billy Gaines and Kathie Lee Gifford)

Gospel singer and songwriter Billy Gaines is eagerly awaiting the theatrical release of his first-ever film The Way, written and directed by former Today Show co-host Kathie Lee Gifford. “I just saw the finished movie and it feels surreal,” says Gaines, who landed the role of Moses after a chance meeting with Gifford that he calls, “a divine appointment.”

Gaines grew up in Richmond where he attended Mt. Tabor Baptist Church and sang at Open Doorway Coffeehouse. When he met gospel legend Danniebelle Hall at Gospel Fest in Hampton, she invited Gaines and his band to accompany her on tour. Together, they played Front Royal’s Fishnet, America’s longest-running Christian music festival.

Propelled by local success, Gaines moved his family to Nashville in 1984, where six gospel albums and two Dove awards—the Grammys of gospel music—followed.

But it was a picture-hanging job for the company Takl that led Gaines to the role of a lifetime. When he showed up at the client’s home, he was greeted by Angie McCollum, wife of Takl’s CEO, who said, “I’d like to introduce you to Kathie.”

“I turned and there was Kathie Lee Gifford,” Gaines recalls. “I was in shock. Angie asked my last name; then she said, ‘I love your music. Don’t you play the piano?’ The room was empty except for a grand piano, so I sat down, played, and sang. It wasn’t long before Kathie Lee joined in.”

The impromptu singalong led Gaines to the role of Moses in Gifford’s film, The Way. When filming wrapped, he thanked her profusely for casting him. “I didn’t choose you,” Gifford told him. “I asked God to show me who He had chosen.” “The whole thing was an incredible experience,” he marvels. “I give God the glory for that.”

This article originally appeared in the December 2021 issue.

Check @virginaliving for updates on theater release dates.

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