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Jack Laws 'The Ole Bearhunter' 

-Personal Reflections-    Perhaps more so than any profession, Southern Gospel Music is made up of people possessing a wide range of talents, abilities and demeanors. One of the most distinctive in all three categories is the Inspirations' Jack Laws.

    For years Jack was the regular baritone with the Inspirations, but he now plays the rhythm guitar and sings group and specialty numbers during each of their concerts. His fans and peers regard him as one of the best singers and musicians in Southern Gospel Music. Jack is a natural baritone if there ever was one. He has a silky-smooth voice and the feeling and emotion he puts into a song really pulls at the heart strings. Listening to him sing songs like "Where We'll Never Grow Old", "Touch Me Again Lord", "Thanks For Loving Me" and "It Wasn't The Nails That Held Him There" is a blessing all should experience. Nobody ever sang harmony better than Jack, and he has truly mastered the Inspirations unique sound.

    Jack is a big, muscular man. He has the strength of a lion, but the heart of a lamb. He is a gentle person who makes friends easily and keeps them. He is extremely popular with people --both old and young. Of all the Inspirations, Jack is probably the favorite with children. He always seeks them out and remembers them from the many towns and cities the Inspirations travel. And Jack particularly enjoys playing pranks on his friends (yours truly is one of his favorite targets). In fact, if Jack hasn't done something to tease one of his friends, it's simply because he hasn't thought of it yet.

    I'm particularly thrilled about this opportunity to pay a long overdue tribute to Jack--one of my best friends and favorite singers and musicians--in this month's "At Home" feature. Jack's wife and children are much like him in that they endear themselves to everyone they come in contact with. We believe you'll enjoy this visit with Southern Gospel Music's 'Ole Bear Hunter and his wonderful family.

Jack Laws - At Home Segment
   

    If ever two people were a perfect match, it would be Jack and Brenda Laws. Their personalities and interest are almost identical. They have many talents and both are soft-spoken and modest. Most importantly, they are both Christians and outstanding representatives of Jesus Christ.

    "I wouldn't trade the time Brenda and I have been together for any amount of money. I think we complement each other very well," Jack says.

    Brenda adds: "Jack and I are happy and proud to say that we're still boyfriend and girlfriend. We are very much in love,"

    Jack was born in a log cabin in the Bryson Branch section of Bryson City, NC. He was one of six children---three sons and three daughters-- born to Wayne and Bana Laws. Jack's brothers are Harold and Lowell, and his sisters include Rachel, Charlotte and Patricia. Jack came from a musical family. His father and uncles sang beautifully, and he has been around Gospel Music all his life. Jack also came from a bear-hunting family. His great grandfather, Jim Laws, hunted bear in the Great Smoky Mountains. During his growing-up years, Jack mainly hunted with his dad and his bears--hence came his nickname, 'The Ole Bear Hunter'. He has his own stock of bear dogs, Redbone, Blue Tick, white, black and tan, a little Airedale, crossbreeding to get the best blood mixture possible. Jack estimates he has killed more than a hundred bears, and is considered by his bear hunting peers to be an expert on the subject. He is even writing a book about bear hunting, which he hopes to have published soon.

    Brenda is one of ten children born to Jess and Henrietta Carr. Jack and Brenda have a fourteen-year old son whom Brenda named Baron after her favorite cologne. Baron and Jack share the same birthday-December 17. Jack also has a 34-year old son, Barry, and a 24-year old daughter, Melea, from a previous marriage. Brenda has two sons--thirty-year old Jesse and sixteen-year old Isaac--and a daughter--twenty-five year old Holly from a previous marriage. Jack has six grandchildren and two-step grandchildren. They range in age from one to 13 years.

    Jack, Brenda, Isaac and Baron make their home in the picturesque Pittman Center Community, of one of the hottest tourist areas in the world, Sevierville, Tennessee. They live in a home, much like the one Jack grew up in, which is over a hundred years old. It is the same home Brenda was raised in, and is located only four miles from Dollywood, six miles from Gatlinburg and two miles from the homeplace of Dolly Parton. The Laws home is situated on sprawling acreage that provides breathtaking views of the scenic Great Smoky Mountains. Jack and Brenda are in the process of remodeling the home to give it a more modern look.

    "Brenda and I are very lucky to have lived my entire life in practically the same area. Bryson City is located on one side of the Great Smoky Mountains and Sevierville on the other. I believe the Great Smoky Mountains are the most beautiful place in the whole world, and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else," Jack says.

    "It is so pretty here throughout the year," Brenda interjects. "The spring and summer are my favorite times with all the flowers in bloom. But the fall is beautiful too, especially when the leaves are changing colors. And the winters are like a picture postcard with the frost and snow being so pretty. I'm biased, but you just can get find a place like the Great Smoky Mountains."

    You might have guessed it was at a singing where Jack and Brenda met.

    'I was singing with The Inspirations at a high school revival near Knoxville, Tennessee, and Brenda came to the singing that night. I remembered meeting her and I would occasionally see her at singings when I sang at concerts near where she lived. Several years later, we started dating. We then got married a few months later," Jack recalls.

    Since there are two teenagers living in the Laws home, "there's never a dull moment in our home," Brenda proclaims. Both have opposite personalities. Isaac is quiet and reserved, while Baron is talkative and outgoing.

    Isaac (his last name is Inman) is a sophomore at Gatlinburg-Pittman High School. He works part-time at Malone Outfitters in Pigeon Forge. He collects coins and is an avid reader. Baron is a seventh grade student at Pittman Center Elementary School. He is a lot like his father in that he loves the great outdoors. He particularly enjoys riding his four-wheeler and he is also a sports fan. His favorite teams include the Los Angles Lakers (pro basketball), the Tennessee Titans (pro football) and the Tennessee Volunteers (College).

    Isaac and Baron both love Southern Gospel Music. Isaac lists the Bishops and the Booth Brothers as his favorite groups, while Baron says the Isaacs and the Talley Trio are the ones he likes best.

    "Of course, Isaac and me both like to hear the Inspirations too. My dad would kill us if we didn't," Baron says with a chuckle.

    Isaac adds: "Seriously, we would both like the Inspirations even if Jack was not singing with them. We couldn't help but like them. They are great singers and musicians, as well as fine gentlemen."

    If one had to choose the truest mountaineer in Southern Gospel Music, Jack would have to get strong consideration. Few, if any, love the mountains and the great outdoors more. If Jack could split all his spare time into six parts, he'd make it one part singing, one part playing musical instruments, one part bear hunting, one part fishing, one part gardening and one part just roaming the woods in general.

    Brenda also likes to fish and do garden work. She and Jack produce a bountiful supply of vegetables and flowers from their gardens every year, which they generously share with their neighbors and friends. They are both excellent cooks too.

    Jack has another hobby that any true Gospel Music fan can appreciate. "I love to collect Gospel Music albums, cassettes, compact discs, 8-tracks, songbooks or just anything that deals with Southern Gospel--particularly quartet or trio music. I have a massive collection and I'm always looking to add to it," he says.

    Jack is stricken with various physical ailments, but he has never lost his zest for life and doing the things he loves best. He has had back surgery twice and needs more. One of his hips has been replaced twice and his doctors have told him he needs the other replaced. He also has arthritis and bursitis.

    When Jack had his first hip replacement, he gardened on crutches. Now he works his garden from a chair, dragging it with him as he progresses along a row. He is often in pain, but you'd never know it as he always seems to have a smile on his face.

    "As long as I'm able to crawl, I'm still going to try to do what I like," Jack states in one of his rare, serious moments. "My physical problems have just made me more determined to enjoy life to the fullest. I will never question the Lord about why I'm disabled, because no matter how poor your condition is physically or whatever, you can always find someone else worse off. I want to live a life that matters, and I've had a great one. I've been richly blessed."

    Brenda (and Jack too) has a special request to make of the readers of the Singing News.
"I would like to ask everyone who reads this article to please remember Jack in prayer," she says. "It is a great sacrifice for him to travel and sing, but he wouldn't be happy if he couldn't. He has good days and bad days, and he and I both hope and pray that it will be in God's will for him to be able to sing and play musical instruments for the glory of the Lord for a very long time."

    Jack adds: "I feel the most important time in my life was when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. That makes it a real thrill to travel and give praise to God through music. And the next most important part of my life is having such a great family. My wife and children are some of the most loving and caring people anyone could know. I don't know what I did to deserve God's perfect salvation and such a special family, but I'm so thankful He did. Each member of my family is saved, and that makes my life and my time with them 'At Home' or wherever we are extra meaningful!"
Contact Jack at Drawer 2355, Bryson City, NC 28713

Copyright 2001, Singing News Publishing,
All rights reserved and may not be reprinted except by written permission of
The Singing News
By Tim Gardner, Associate Features Editor


Jack Laws - A baritone's baritone

    Occasionally, Singing News likes to recognize a Southern Gospel Music personality with a surprise article. There are many artists who shy away from the spotlight, but who help make the industry the awesome entity it has become. Jack Laws is one of those persons. Jack had no knowledge of this article prior to its appearance in SINGING NEWS. All details contained in the article comes from various sources, including personal interviews with other Southern Gospel Music artists. Additionally, all quotes attributed to Jack have been taken from conversations with him over the past several months as this article was being prepared.

    One of Southern Gospel Music's most colorful artists, Jack Laws is truly a classic. The original baritone vocalist of the Inspirations, Jack currently plays rhythm guitar and sings group and specialty songs during each of their concerts. The history of the Inspirations is rich and storied, with six Favorite Male Gospel Quartet Singing News Fan Awards, and Jack is an integral part of their lore.

    He possesses one of Southern Gospel's smoothest and best blending voices and his fans and peers regard him as one of the industry's finest singers and musicians. However, he is as well-known for his gentle and loving demeanor as he is for his stirring renditions of such songs as "Where We'll Never Grow Old", "Touch Me Again Lord", "Thanks For Loving Me" and "He Loved Me To Death." Jack makes friends easily and keeps them. Of all the Inspirations, Jack is probably the favorite with children. He always seeks them out and remembers them from the many towns and cities where the Inspirations travel. Jack also loves playing jokes on his friends, who will attest that few are more creative doing so than him.

    "I don't know of anyone in Gospel music, past or present, who can sing better baritone or who can relate to people in such a special manner as Jack Laws," says Inspirations manager Martin Cook.

    Jack also has many other admirers among his peers.

    "I'm a big fan of Jack Laws," states Kim Hopper, Hoppers' soprano vocalist. "Jack is an outstanding singer and was a tremendous encourager to me when I first started singing Gospel music professionally. I cherish his friendship."

    Ed O'Neal, Dixie Melody Boys' manager and bass vocalist says of Jack: "I really enjoy hearing Jack sing. He has a full and smooth voice that is pleasing to the ears. Jack sometimes joins the Dixie Melody Boys on stage and that is always a real treat for our group."

   Jack was born in a log cabin in the Bryson Branch section of Bryson City, NC on December 17, 1944. He is one of six children -three sons and three daughters-born to Wayne and Bana Laws. Jack's brothers are Harold and Lowell, and his sisters are Rachel, Charlotte and Patricia. Jack came from a musical family, and he has been involved in Gospel music in some fashion practically his entire life.

    Jack is married to the former Brenda Carr. They have a son whom Brenda named Baron after her favorite cologne. Baron and Jack share the same birthday. Jack is also proud of his other son, Barry, and his daughter, Melea. Brenda is equally proud of her other two sons, Jesse and Isaac, and her daughter, Holly. Jack has seven grandchildren and four-step grandchildren. Jack, Brenda, Isaac and Baron make their home in the picturesque Pittman Center Community, near one of the hottest tourist areas in the world-Sevierville, Tennessee

    "There are four milestone happenings in my life, all of which I am most grateful to God for," Jack comments. "One was being raised by good, godly parents and having wonderful brothers and sisters. The next is having a fine wife, children, grandchildren, step-children and step-grandchildren. Third, I'm happy for the opportunity to be part of a group that includes such fine Christian gentlemen as the Inspirations. But unquestionably, the most important happening in my life was when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior."

    If one had to choose the truest mountaineer in Southern Gospel Music, Jack would have to get strong consideration. He is an adept fisherman and gardener of flowers and vegetables. Jack came from a bear-hunting family and estimates he has killed more than a hundred bears. Jack has his own stock of bear dogs, Redbone, Blue Tick, white, black and tan, a little Airedale, crossbreeding to get the best blood mixture possible. During his growing-up years, Jack mainly hunted with his dad and his bears-hence came his nickname, 'The Ole Bear Hunter.'

    While Jack loves spending time at home with his family and roaming the great outdoors, he also enjoys life traveling the Gospel music circuit. However, he admits it can be difficult, and singers and musicians have to make many sacrifices. Jack says how well they handle those sacrifices will play a large role in determining how long they remain active on the circuit.

    "I think one of the most important factors is your frame of mind when you leave for each round of concerts," he states. "If your frame of mind is good and your heart is right toward God and your fellow human beings, you can be very successful in the Gospel music profession. If I ever become jealous of another singer or musician or develop bitter feelings of another person or a particular happening, I'd end my own Gospel music career and find another profession. It's all-important to have a positive attitude about your career and turn your life and your work completely over to God and let Him lead you in the path He sees fit."

    Jack is a prime example of someone who has taken life's lemons and made lemonade. He is rarely without pain, yet he never complains and always seems to have a smile on his face. Jack is stricken with various physical ailments, but he has never lost his zeal for life. He has had back surgery twice and needs more. One of his hips has been replaced twice and his doctors have told him he needs the other replaced. He also has arthritis, bursitis and diabetes.

   "My physical problems have just made me more determined to enjoy life to the fullest," Jack says. I will never question the Lord about why I'm disabled, because no matter how poor your condition is physically, you can always find someone else worse off. I want to live a life that matters, and I've had a great one. I've been richly blessed."

    He continues with news that will please Gospel music fans in general and Inspirations fans in particular, who can't seem to hear him sing enough: "I plan to travel and sing with the Inspirations as long as I am physically able to go on and off a stage and as long as God gives me enough breath to sing and the ability to play a musical instrument. I have as much or even more enthusiasm for Gospel music as when I first began my career."

    There are many people who flash and strut, but not Jack Laws. He is as genuine as they come, no fuss, no show and nothing self-serving. Some people are given to patting themselves on the back. Not Jack. He is cut from different cloth. And Southern Gospel Music is special because of people like him.

    Jack really loves to hear from his fans and Inspirations followers. He may be contacted by writing to
Jack Laws, c/o The Inspirations, PO Box 2355, Bryson City, NC 28713

Copyright 2001, Singing News Publishing,
All rights reserved and may not be reprinted except by written permission of
The Singing News
By Tim Gardner, Associate Features Editor


Archie Watkins ] [ Jack Laws ] Ron Hutchins ] Troy Burns ] Mike Holcomb ]


The Original Inspirations ] OVER THE YEARS ] DISCOGRAPHY ] TRANSPORTATION ] BIBLIOGRAPHY ]

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