The First Legacy-The Quartet
So you want to build the ideal Gospel Music male quartet
from scratch? What sort of components do you need?
A good lead singer, one who has power and finesse and can
take the feature part, yet one whose voice can blend well with the rest of the group.
a great tenor -a guy with tremendous range who can reach the high notes time
after time, song after song
without any noticeable strain?
got to have a solid baritone-he's the singer who is often the best in the group and who
will make everyone else sound better.
bass singer is also essential. Proficient at hitting the low notes as well as singing in
harmony, this guy needs to add that extra flair when needed.
male quartet needs one of those guys who is as equally talented as a singer or musician.
This guy never worries about being in the spotlight and is the real blue-collar member of
Throw in an accompanist who can provide great rhythm piano playing. Then add a bass
guitarist who can slap out a steady beat that rounds off the sound of the group.
While you're at throw an absolute must for any group-a string of quality songs filled with
a strong message, along with a sound business organization led by an astute business
person. Then to make the group complete, follow with THE most crucial factor-a constant
following of God's will.
Hmmm. Sure sounds like you're describing The Inspirations. But after all, they are one of
the top male quartets in Southern Gospel Music.
The story of this Bryson City, NC-based group is well-known throughout
every musical spectrum. Nearly 50 years ago, in 1964, Martin Cook, a science teacher at Swain County High School,
and several of his students held nightly singing sessions in the basement of his home,
purely for fun. Very soon, however, singing became serious and Martin and four high school kids,
(Archie Watkins, Ron Hutchins, Jack Laws and Troy Burns) became the Inspirations Quartet.
They soon went on the road to sing professionally.
focal point of the story was that despite their youthfulness, the Inspirations quickly
rose to the top of the gospel singing world, and they have remained at its forefront.
Based on their longevity and continued success, the Inspirations have been a blueprint for
consistency in the industry.
This particular cast has no peer on the Gospel Music circuit for harmony, song
arrangements, delivery and energy. Now let's take a closer look at the men
who make up this remarkable group.
Through the nearly 40 years, Martin
has been the group's manager and pianist, and Archie. Today, Martin's son,
Myron, plays the upright bass, and Mike Holcomb sings bass; Jodi Hosterman
sings tenor; David Ragan sings lead; and Jon Epley supplies the baritone.
The newest and youngest member of the group, Luke Vaught plays several
instruments, concentrating primarily on steel guitar, violin and
occasionally even piano.
Martin Cook is arguably the most respected individual in the industry. In fact, he has
been referred to as the best manager in the history of professional Gospel Music. His
skills as a leader, visionary and businessman are unsurpassed. As a pianist, his style is
so distinctive that no one ever doubts who's playing when he takes off on the ivories. His
piano-playing features a mixture of great intros and runs.
native of Caney Fork, USA (aka Cullowhee, NC), Martin says that no matter how much talent
a Gospel group or artists has, there is one dominator most crucial to remaining on the
"The secret to being successful in Southern Gospel Music is to foremost stay close to
the Lord and never forget the primary purpose you're in this field is to serve Him and
fulfill His will. This is true in every other profession too. God has a job for every one
of His children, and He will make a way for you to carry it out," Martin says.
"I've come to love singing more than I ever have in the last couple of years. I feel
like Southern Gospel Music in the best shape its been in quite some time, "Archie
contends. "There are more groups on the road than ever before, and there are also
more people attending the concerts than there's ever been. As a result, there's more
witnessing happening about the love of Jesus and what happiness He can bring to one's
life. And most importantly, there's more people getting saved because of the wide exposure
of Southern Gospel Music. This is what it's all about."
Mike Holcomb is next on the Inspirations' seniority ladder and is a classic example of the
term "quartet man". Mike is quite possibly the lowest bass singer in the world,
and has been a smash hit with Gospel Music fans ever since he joined the Inspirations
years ago. He is a native of Jasper, Georgia, and is also an evangelist.
"There is a Bible verse that reads, 'Many are called, but few are chosen'. I know the
Inspirations have been chosen. Our purpose has always been to uplift and magnify His name,
and then to bless and help people realize the dire need for God in their lives," Mike
has a reason for everything, and I'm very thankful that He allowed me to be a part of
Gospel Music. It's songs can move us to tears and make us shout for joy. God truly answers
prayers, because this is the only profession I've ever really wanted to be in, and He's
the reason I'm in it," Jack comments.
doesn't seem possible to longtime followers of the Inspirations, but Myron Cook is in his
26th year playing the upright bass for the Inspirations. A favorite with people everywhere
he goes, Myron says he is excited about the future of the Inspirations.
Myron says that one of the best things that's ever happened in his life is
my association with Gospel Music; "I've developed a lot of lasting friendships, seen many
people saved and I've become closer to the Lord because of it. For these and many other
great happenings, I'm grateful to Him."
Content and happy. Those are two terms that definitely describe the Inspirations as they
continue a legacy dedicated to spreading the wonderful news of God's great love. And may
He richly bless them as they continue on this journey.
Visit the Singing News website
THE INSPIRATIONS • Insps Tour Schedule • Inspirations Press Info • Family & Friends Tour • Inspirations News • Singing In The Smokies • ORDER INFO • CDs~DVDs~Music, etc • ONLINE MUSEUM • THE CHAPEL • Ministry Links • Southern Gospel Links • FUNNY PAGES