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Jack Laws 'The Ole Bearhunter'
Jack Lawsí Memory a Fond One By Tim Gardner
A few days after I wrote a Mister Baritone feature article for Singing Newsand the Inspirations newsletter
(Story Below) about Jack Laws, he approached me and spoke nine words that Iíll never forget and will always cherish:
Thanks for the story, Tim. You can really write.
While Jack never met a stranger and could carry on a prolonged conversation with anyone, he also could
clearly deliver his thoughts in a few simple words such as he did about my article. Any compliment I got from
Jack was extra meaningful just because it came from him. But with his recent promotion to Heaven, those words
become even more special.
Jack was one of Southern Gospelís all-time favorite and best singers and musicians (he was a longtime upright
bass and rhythm guitarist for the Inspirations). He possessed a natural and golden baritone singing voice
--silky smooth and easy on the ears. Jack delighted listeners whenever and wherever he sang, while setting a
standard for others to try to emulate. And he had a special anointing for interjecting extensive feeling into every
song he sang. I could listen to Jack sing forever.
Jack was a quartet harmony specialist, but could also sing a lead equally well. Any song Jack sang seemed to
fit his vocal style. His singing prowess shined on songs like Tell of His Love, Jesus Climbed Every Mountain For Me,
Touch Me Again Lord, Help Me Lord, Only One Door, Godís Last Altar Call, Thanks For Loving Me and his signature
tune, Where Weíll Never Grow Old.
And no matter what song Jack sang, people wanted to get it on a recording. His voice sold as well as any singer
he sang alongside. On stage, Jack could command an audience, although in a different way than most. Many singers
will get a crowd worked up to a loud frenzy. But Jack would simply start singing and you could hear a pin drop in the
Jackís service to Southern Gospel Music was exemplary and his beautiful voice is etched in its lore, helping make
him a true legend in the profession. Unquestionably, he should be inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Associationís
all of Fame. And if thereís ever a Hall of Fame constructed for being a good, compassionate person and a great American,
Jack should be an inaugural inductee.
One of the most noticeable characteristics about Jack in his later years was that he never complained despite being
in almost constant physical pain. Among my foremost memories of Jack will be of him as the master prankster. Trying
to get ahead of him in a joke was virtually impossible. Yours truly was the brunt of his pranks on many occasions, and I
donít think I ever successfully pulled a joke on him despite numerous attempts.
I donít know anyone who didnít like Jack. He was gentle and had a genuine Christian spirit that was evident to all
with whom he came in contact. He was especially popular with children. It was a common sight to see him holding
babies in his arms at concerts and other youngsters always came to him to visit and he remembered them from the
many towns and cities where he sang.
Once at a fall concert in Rutherfordton, NC, a young girl showed me a calendar which she had marked an ďxĒ in each
day up to the day we talked. She told me she would keep marking an ďxĒ in it every day until the Inspirations sang at the
same venue a month later. When I asked her why, she replied, ďThe Ďxísí count off the days until I get to see my buddy
Thatís what you call love. Everyone was Jackís buddy and he had as much love in his heart for others as anyone Iíve
I have many more memories and thoughts about Jack Laws and all of them are good.
Iím happy Iíll see Jack again in Heaven. But for now, farewell, my friend. You could really sing.
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
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
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
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
"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
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
All rights reserved and may not be reprinted except by written permission of
By Tim Gardner, Associate Features Editor
-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
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
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
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
Copyright 2001, Singing News
All rights reserved and may not be reprinted except by written permission of
By Tim Gardner, Associate Features Editor
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