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Telephone   828.488.3442
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or write me at:
Ron Hutchins
The Inspirations.com
P O Box 1338
Bryson City, NC 28713


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     FIRST, A LITTLE BACKGROUND:  The idea for this page had been running through my mind for a couple of years, but the time just never seemed right to add it. As our close friends already know, the Inspirations hold definite ideas on how we should conduct ourselves, how we should present our music, and how we can best carry on the work that God has given us to do. Also, we have never been afraid to take politically incorrect stands on hot-button issues.

     In the past few months, and definitely in the last few weeks, (since the 2003 National Quartet Convention) we have received an unusual number of letters, emails, and phone calls from young people who desire to make Southern Gospel Music their life's work, and they have been asking how The Inspirations ever got this far! LOL

    We may never know the real answer ourselves, but I strongly believe that we can point to the fact that we had great mentors, wise teachers and rock-solid preacher friends.
Best of all, we had families and hometown friends who never failed to gently remind us when they felt we were perhaps losing some of the focus that had first brought us to the attention of the SGM industry and audiences. We thank God for those wonderful people, like Les Beasley and J G Whitfield; Revs. Ralph Sexton, Sr. and Maze Jackson; and all the true heroes of the faith who had the courage to keep us in line. I pray that we never forget their advice.

    Now, having completed our 52nd Year, this finally seems like the right time for us to pass along some of the lessons and wisdom those great men passed on to us. For this first installment, we are using words from a legendary, multi-faceted and very successful SGM personality; a pioneer who helped shape the SGM industry into what it is today; and a man we considered our friend.

     At times he followed his own advice, and at other times he missed the mark. Some people loved him, others didn't, but no matter what anyone thought, he was always outspoken. We will hold his identity til the end of the article, so read the words first (no cheating) and prayerfully consider this sage advice:
especially if you currently are, or ever hope to be, a full time Southern Gospel Singer.

NOTE: Following is the original text, without change or correction, including the original punctuation, grammar, phrasing, layout, etc. The only change is in the color we added.

   To you, the regular members of our All Nite Singing Family, and especially, you, who may be in our midst for the first visit, we extend an invitation to you to come back and enjoy Gospel Singing with us each month. Please tell your friends and bring them along.


To express ourselves with music, in singing, playing instruments, blending our voices together in harmony melody and rhythm - FELLOWSHIP. To sing the praise of our Lord; renew our faith by singing and listening to the gospel in song.

SIX INGREDIENTS (of our productions)
Gospel and Spiritual Singing

No. 1. That enough gospel in song may be rendered in any one All-Nite Singing; that any one who has not accepted the "faith" may learn enough about the plan of salvation to have a desire to consult an interpreter of religious faith, a minister of the gospel in the church of his choice.

We do not advertise that we do preaching, but our prayer and purpose is that we may be helpful as gospel singers in starting men and women, boys and girls to thinking about the higher meaning in life. Our prayer is that God may use us in serving Him through the gospel in song as a channel of blessing. The nearest to preaching of the gospel in our All Nite sings is "Sermon in Song." Our All Nite Sings are not revival meetings not evangelistic meetings nor church worship service but rather:


No. 2. Many people have told us that our monthly gospel sings are their primary entertainment. They feel that it is the one source and place of entertainment they can carry their entire family and not feel condemned.


No. 3. Our singers come on the stage with an enthusiastic spirit, and there is no problem of a group ever short-changing, so to speak; their audience in not taking the maximum time allotted. More often, the singers over-run their time, and though, it sometimes upsets schedule, it still seems commendable.


No. 4. Some people have said that the singers, at least some of them, feel that they have short-changed their audience if they do not supply a little humor in their presentation. This humor is important in our production. However, with some of the singers, this can be very easily overdone. And we feel sometimes it is overdone. It surely is a fact, that a little humor (between songs) is good - A VERY LITTLE. No one would want even their pastor in their church to be morbid. It seems the most effective sermon by any minister carries with it at least one or two stories of humor if only in an illustrative form to get a point across.


No. 5. Surely Gospel Singing to everyone is inspiring.


No. 6. Whatever we do in life, we should be sincere, but more, especially, in singing gospel songs.


    Those of us who listen to gospel singing, that the gospel singers are human beings, just the same as the listeners and are prone to err. Would to God that all Gospel Singers were God's best Christians! Does not the pastor of his church feel the same, "Would to God that all the members of my church were God's best Christians," so: Some say that many of our Gospel Singers lean stronger towards humor and entertainment! So therefore, they are prone to overdo this.


    Let us seek the happy medium and not the radical. God forbid that any part of our production, by any of the singers’ presentations, ever be offensive. Then, our purpose to the higher meaning in life and 'Peace on earth, good will" should be defeated. Some have said that some of our Gospel Singers lean towards sometimes preaching long and perhaps loud. (Understand, no one, surely, would criticize the preaching of the gospel, at any time or at any place and certainly, not the writer of this article, but again, preaching is not advertised.) We advertise gospel and spiritual singing, and if the people hear preaching rather than gospel singing, perhaps they have a right to say' "We come to hear gospel singing, and we think we shall go to church to hear our preaching." In an "All-Nite Singing" we expect to hear singing. When we go to church, we expect to hear preaching and some real good singing of hymns, but not usually, the "Camp Meeting, rhythmical, spiritual type of singing that we expect to hear in the All-Nite singing.

    One of our greatest gospel singing personalities is Brother Hovie Lister, manager of Statesmen, dynamic Emcee, pianist and sometimes called the "Country Boy Preacher." Once on the stage in Birmingham, Alabama, at one of the monthly "sings," Bro. Hovie got to feeling real good and almost preached. He did give out loud with an "on fire testimonial" and many of the people asked him to preach then and there, but he told them to come to the little Mt. Zion Baptist Church that he pastors near Marietta, Ga., and he would preach. I took him up on it and paid a visit to Mt. Zion. Bro. Hovie preached and we feel that his sermon was comparable to some of our greatest interpreters of religious faith. Bro, Hovie preached in Birmingham at Jones Memorial Baptist Church. I attended services there later. The pastor, Rev. Ben Daniels, makes one feel that Peter Marshall is still preaching on this earth. So, our prayer is that the gospel singers will find the happy medium and progress with sincerity at all times never giving way to antics, feeling that the people have to be overly entertained. Nor, that any would try and take the preacher's position away by any measures of radicalism, in order to create emotionalism. Just, plain, good gospel singing alone stirs our deepest emotions. However, dear friends, if anything in our entire production and presentations do not please you in every respect, remember, it is our aim to please and ever RAISE THE STANDARDS OF THAT WHICH WE REPRESENT!

    The great statesman, A. Lincoln, once said, "You can fool some of the people half of the time, half of the people all of the time, but, you can't fool all the people all of the time."

    May we paraphrase this, and say, you are fortunate indeed, if you can please all the people HALF of the' time, half the people all the time and NO ONE can ever please all the people all the time.

    By recent national survey, 2300 radio stations are programming Gospel Music daily!

    IT IS A FACT over five million people are filling the nations largest auditoriums, stadiums, etc., to hear Gospel Singing annually.

    Is it necessary to ask ourselves the question "Is Gospel Singing growing?"

    REMEMBER, A Gospel Singing America is a Peaceful America. Ask yourself an important question. WHAT MAKES AMERICA GREAT? Could you not be justified in saying that only the good in America makes it great, and if the good in America be taken away, then would not the greatness of America also be taken away?

    One man said that he searched diligently for what made America great, and that he found it in the churches of our land. Is not, "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and all of thy mind" and St. John 13:34, "a new commandment, I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have Loved you, that ye love one another."

    Today, in our country is no "Love Thy Neighbor" policy needed more than anything except to "Love thy God" and is not "Loving thy neighbor," also to "Love thy God"? Our prayer is "Our Father, Who Are in Heaven, give us a greater capacity for LOVE for our fellowman." Because, we know we have enough love in our hearts at all times for our fellowman that we have complied with the fifth through the tenth commandments; and create a desire in our hearts to love God and put Him first to love God and put Him first  and in so doing we have complied with the first through the fourth commandments, Realizing that, through LOVE, Christ died for us and "Give us the courage" to change the things in life that we know we should and can, and to accept those conditions that we cannot change, and give us the wisdom to know the difference, and lead us not into temptations, but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever, AMEN."

    The man who wrote those words, "Genial, Jolly Wally Fowler" was the founder of the Oak Ridge Quartet. He was also the man who is credited with creating the All-Nite Sing. His All Nite Sing programs were first held at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, the original home of the Grand Old Opry. After the Friday night Opry show ended at midnight, Wally, with his Oak Ridge Quartet, along with the top SGM groups of that era, would then take over the Opry stage and literally 'sing all night'. The concept quickly caught on, and the All Nite Sings began to be held all across the southland.
Wally's thoughts, penned sometime before November, 1956, were found in the souvenir program pictured below.  We present them not only as a part of our history (because of the Atlanta Auditorium connection - not the year, LOL), but we also believe they are worthy of discussion, consideration and application in this new millennium. Hopefully you do, too!

All we can add is this: 'Whether we are the singer or the fan, the lesson is simple:'
"It's all about Him (Jesus Christ), not us."

    Hopefully, everyone who reads this will find Wally's words to be good advice; but if you would like to respond, you may email us at theinspirations@aol.com We promise to read every one, but due to the number of emails we receive, plus the fact that I'm an old man who still types with two fingers and a guess, we will not be able to respond individually.

    We will tally the responses, (yeah and nay if there are any), and report the results with the January updates to the website. The best responses for both views will be included then. To be considered as the representative for your viewpoint (whether SGM fan or industry member), your email must include your real name and a valid daytime telephone number

AtlAllNite_WallyFowler.jpg (172593 bytes).AtlantaAllNiteSing.jpg (272660 bytes)
This souvenir program is one of my favorite pieces of SGM memorabilia,
and we owe special thanks to Reverend John and Mrs. Frances King of Monroe, Georgia for the loan.

  Please forgive the patched together scan of the view from the old Atlanta City Auditorium stage, but my scanner bed couldn't accommodate the double page spread in one pass. The Atlanta City Auditorium on Courtland street is now gone, but it will always hold a special place in the Inspirations' history and hearts. This is close to the sight we saw on the very first night that we sang there for Mr. J. G.Whitfield, when the Spirit fell on and blessed four young boys and a teacher as we first introduced "Jesus Is Coming Soon" to the Atlanta audience.


    When we were kids just starting out -probably in 1966 or 1967- Wally was kind enough to invite us to appear on his nationally syndicated television show, The Wally Fowler Show, which was filmed in Nashville, Tennessee. In those days, long before the advent of satellite uplinks and current communications technology, programs like the Gospel Singing Jubilee, the Gospel Singing Caravan, Singing Time In Dixie, the Porter Wagoner Show, and all the other syndicated and most network shows of the time, were filmed in blocks of shows. Each show was filmed in multiple song segments so local television stations could insert their commercials. The idea was to film as many shows as possible in one or two days.

    That meant long, tiring days and nights of filming segments; and if anyone messed up, or there was a glitch in the production control room, the cameras had to be reset, and the filming for that segment had to be repeated. Of course, we never goofed (yeah right! LOL) but goofs occasionally happened, so you can imagine that tensions might creep in, especially late in the night.

    On one such occasion, the segment had been restarted several times, (no, we were not the ones that goofed that time) and even Wally was beginning to tire. Henry Slaughter was the session leader, and he and his musicians always played for Wally, Lois Jane Neal, and the other regular soloists on the show. (MORE TRIVIA: Mr. Slaughter was, and still is, one of the most revered professionals ever in our business. Along with my hero, the incomparable Mr. Jake Hess, he was a founding member of the Imperials, but I digress.)

    Tensions were becoming evident in the studio, so we just stayed on the sidelines, out of camera range, watching . . . and learning. (Come to think of it, that's still a good idea!)

    At that point, Mr. Slaughter taught us all an invaluable lesson.

    He didn't say a word . . . just sat back down at the grand piano and began to softly play the opening melody of "Down By The Riverside." The melody is very recognizable, as well as highly infectious; and in a singer's brain, we think lyrics, so what we started thinking was "Gonna lay down my sword and shield . . ."

    A few seconds later we heard somebody giggle, (my best memory is that it was Wally himself) and soon everyone started laughing. The tension was broken, the air was cleared, and that segment was completed, plus a full additional program. As I said, we learned a valuable lesson that evening; so when Rev. King shared his wonderful piece of SGM history with me, it triggered this memory, and I couldn't resist sharing it with you.

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                                                          Copyright 2000-2018 All Rights Reserved ~ Ron Hutchins, P O Box 1338, Bryson City, NC 28713
                                                          Telephone 828.488.3442 M-F, 10 a.m - 5 p.m