February 20

How Kathie Lee Gifford’s “He Saw Jesus” Got Her Singing Again After 15 Years

A tribute to her late husband, Kathie Lee Gifford’s “He Saw Jesus” peaked at No. 1 on the Christian Digital Songs Sales Chart. The song reflects Gifford’s undying love for Frank Gifford, her late husband, and her unwavering faith in Jesus. 

But did you know that the emotional song was the first song that Gifford professionally recorded and sang in 15 years? 

Here’s how Kathie Lee Gifford‘s “He Saw Jesus” got her singing again after 15 years. 

While her father was dying, Gifford was also battling double pneumonia. But since they had to give her dad morphine every 15 minutes, Gifford opted not to get antibiotics for herself. 

So when she was finally able to take antibiotics, she was too late. She had already developed scar tissue in her lungs, taking away 25% to 30% of her breathing capacity. 

The damage affected her vocal cords, making it especially difficult for the singer to sing, so she stopped singing professionally. 

When CMT Music Awards season hit, and Gifford was in Nashville, the actress and singer met Brett James, a country songwriter, who expressed his respect and condolences to Gifford for her husband’s passing. 

When asked how she was doing, Gifford relayed to James how she found her husband collapsed on the floor that morning with a look of awe on his face. That’s when it hit her, “He saw Jesus, and Jesus took his breath away.”

She looked at James and said, “Someday, I’m going to write that song.” James smiled and replied, “Well then, let’s write that song.” 

True enough, they indeed wrote the song, but when it came to recording it, Gifford suggested Faith Hill, Wynonna, or Trisha Yearwood—singers who still sang professionally at the time. But James had other ideas. He tricked Gifford into recording a “demo” of the song. 

When he returned to Nashville, he had Gifford’s vocals and the fully produced song. In his words, “Only Kathie Lee can sing this song. It is such a personal song.” Gifford later admitted that James was right. 

Listen to Kathie Lee Gifford’s “He Saw Jesus” below.


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Kathie Lee Gifford


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