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Inspirations - (July 05, 2019)

Showtime: 7:00pm | Doors Open: 6:30pm
Prices: Tickets Only - $24.95 | Dinner and Theater - $42.95
This concert will be held at the Blue Gate Theatre

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A household name in any musical genre, the Inspirations are models of consistency in the Southern Gospel Music field. The Inspirations originated in 1964 when Martin Cook, a chemistry teacher at Swain County High in Bryson City, NC, and a few of his students and friends held nightly singing sessions in the basement of his home, purely for fun. Two year later (1966), Martin, a lifetime singer of Gospel songs and an accomplished pianist, two of his high school students (Archie Watkins and Ronnie Hutchins), one of his former students (Jack Laws) and an eighth grader (Troy Burns) went on the road to sing in the big leagues of professional Gospel Music.

The Inspirations immediately took Southern Gospel Music by storm and have remained at its forefront since while achieving tremendous popularity and success. They make up a four-part harmony quartet with an unmistakable sound, striking the medium Of traditional Southern Gospel and country.

The Inspirations have traveled nearly five million miles to sing to Americana in seemingly every place from the smallest hamlet in the middle of nowhere to the major cities. They have sung in almost every state in the Union, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as in Canada. They have also hosted tours to Europe, the Bahamas and the Holy Land. The Inspirations have also sung to the Florida State Legislature, at the North Carolina State Fair and are regulars at the National Quartet Convention, the premier Southern Gospel Music event, held in Pigeon Forge, TN. Realizing that a sound link should exist between the singing at concerts and a business structure for a professional singing group of their stature, the Inspirations set up a regular business corporation in 1971. And always seeking to adhere to the highest standards of Christian principles, the Inspirations even went as far as drawing up a notarized list of "by-laws" in 1973 to rule their conduct as singers and musicians. They still abide by those guidelines. It is no secret that the Inspirations live what they sing.

"Delivering the Goods" to the people through an endless string of quality songs has become the Inspirations trademark. Many of their songs have been automatic hit makers. They have had more songs than any group on Singing News Magazine (the printed voice of Southern Gospel Music) Radio Charts. Three were voted Song of The Year: Jesus Is Coming Soon (called the Song of the Twentieth Century by many Southern Gospel historians and other knowledgeable analysts), Touring That City and Jesus Is Mine. Ironically, Touring That City remained atop the radio charts for five consecutive months and was immediately followed by yet another Inspirations song, When I Wake Up (To Sleep No More), which occupied the top of the charts for eight more months. Jesus Is Mine dominated the charts for four months. The Inspirations have also had three Singing News Favorite Gospel Songs in the past eleven years with I'll Not Turn My Back On Him Now, We Need To Thank God and I Have Not Forgotten, in 2002, '03 and '07, respectively.

The Inspirations have received more than two dozen Singing News Fan Awards, including Favorite Gospel Group or Favorite Male Quartet eight times. They have also received and been nominated for many other awards, honors and distinctions, as a group, a band and individual singers and musicians.

Three happenings significantly boosted the Inspirations rise in Southern Gospel music: appearing twelve consecutive years (1969-'81) on the nationally- televised Gospel Singing Jubilee; being featured on the CBS-TV Evening News in 1970; and becoming the first group to sell more than a million records on the Canaan label. The Inspirations were also featured with the Happy Goodman Family in noted gospel music promoter J.G. Whitfield's "Battle of Songs" that packed arenas across America every weekend in 1974.

But their greatest accomplishment may be developing their homecoming "Singing In The Smokies," which they have promoted since 1966 and grew to become the largest Gospel singing festival in America. The Inspirations' first such homecoming singing was held on the old Sylva-Webster football field in Sylva, NC. The homecoming eventually became multi-day concerts, and in 1970, was moved to the Sossamon Airport in Bryson City.

Four years later (1974), the singing relocated to the old, defunct Bryson City Airport between Bryson City and Cherokee, which overlooks the Great Smoky Mountains and was renamed "Inspiration Park." The singing then moved indoors to the plush Smoky Mountain Performing Arts Center in nearby Franklin, NC in 2009. It moved back to Inspiration Park in 2012 where homecoming concerts continue to be held twice yearly with Independence Week (July 4th Week) and Fall Color (third Thursday, Friday and Saturday in October) Festivals. Most of Gospel music's headliner groups and several of its leading regional groups traditionally join the Inspirations in appearing at the Singing In The Smokies.

Cook has been a constant member of the Inspirations. Besides being its pianist in a full, live band, he is the group's manager and emcee. The other Inspirations include: Harold Reid, tenor; Matt Dibler, lead; Roland Kesterson, baritone; Joe Brown, bass; Luke Vaught, baritone, steel and rhythm guitarist and part-time pianist; and Myron Cook, son of Martin Cook, upright bass guitarist.

Originating in the heart of God, developed in His word and will, the Inspirations continue to spread the gospel through their music with enthusiasm, vigor and an unyielding dedication as they have since their formation.