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Ron Hutchins
The Inspirations.com
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The Original Inspirations

The First Legacy-The Quartet
Martin Cook Archie Watkins Ron Hutchins Jack Laws Troy Burns Mike Holcomb

      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.

   How about a great tenor -a guy with tremendous range who can reach the high notes time after time, song after song without any noticeable strain?

   You've 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.

   A quality 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.

   And every 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 the group.

   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.

   The 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. 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.

   A native of Caney Fork, USA (aka Cullowhee, North Carolina), Martin says that no matter how much talent a Gospel group or artists has, there is one dominator most crucial to remaining on the circuit.

   "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 almost 40 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 stated.

    God 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.

    It 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.

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We thought you might enjoy an update on former members, but really, there are none!
"Once an Inspiration, Always an Inspiration"


    The Inspirations remain unwavering in our conviction that we still have much work to be done.  The many signs happening all around are telling us that the time is quickly coming when that opportunity will end. We are very aware that how we answer this challenge depends on our personal willingness to listen closely for the still, small voice that provides direction and then to respond quickly and appropriately to the call.

    The Inspirations, both past and present, pledge that we will faithfully continue to do our best to fulfill our part of the Great Commission to spread the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ, our soon coming Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

With your prayers and support, and with God's blessings, we will continue to do just that.


Martin Cook • Archie Watkins • Ron Hutchins • Jack Laws • Troy Burns • Mike Holcomb


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                                                          Telephone 828.488.3442 M-F, 10 a.m - 5 p.m