Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.

Archive for the ‘The Inspirations’

Things I Missed (3/1/14)

March 01, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Gold Harbor, Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Hoggle Family, The Inspirations

1. The Inspirations lineup has finally settled. The group has had a series of fill-ins lately, but it was announced this week that the new lineup sees the return of Dallas Rogers at tenor, Matt Dibler at lead, and Melton Campbell at baritone, with Jon Epley moving down to the bass part. The band remains the same.

Here’s a clip of the new Inspirations in action:

2. Legacy Five bass Matt Fouch’s “On The Couch With Fouch” has become a favorite series for Southern Gospel fans. Here’s the latest installment with guest Scott Inman of Triumphant Quartet:

Next week, I plan to have two CDs reviewed: The Hoggle Family’s self-titled release, and You Are My Song by Gold Harbor.

The Inspirations Post-Holcomb

October 07, 2013 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG History, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Inspirations

Last week, it was announced that longtime Inspirations bass singer Mike Holcomb has resigned the group after 42 years to become a full-time evangelist. Obviously, after such a lengthy tenure for any singer, the group’s sound would be easily identified by that vocalist. The big question is, what does the future hold for the Inspirations?

While this is almost assuredly not what the final sound will be, here’s an interesting look at how the group is filling the gap. Tenor Mark Clark is the only one here in his usual spot; lead singer Steve Srein had the weekend off, so former lead singer Matt Dibler filling in there, multi-instrumentalist Luke Vaught is holding down the baritone, and usual baritone Jon Epley is standing in at bass. Here are a few clips of a recent concert featuring this lineup. For a mostly shuffled quartet, they fit together pretty well!

With the advent of sites like Youtube, fans are afforded a peek at a page of a group’s long history that they may not be able to see otherwise.


David Ragan Departs The Inspirations

April 29, 2013 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Inspirations

Change is in the air once again, as this announcement from the Inspirations lead singer just hit the Internet. From his Facebook page:

Hello friends, I have some unfortunate news. As of Friday, April 26th, 2013, exactly one week after my son was born, I am no longer the lead singer for the Inspirations.

There will no doubt be many questions about this, and I am prepared to answer any of them that you might have. Let me say first that I want to put any potential rumors to rest by stating that I was not fired for any kind of moral issues or anything else of that nature. The decision was mine to make, even though I did not expect to have to make it last week. Needless to say, the past week and a half has been very chaotic for me and my wife.

Singing for the Inspirations was my dream ever since I first saw them in concert when I was 14 years old. I am very thankful that God allowed me to live that dream for the past 4 ½ years. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. I have met some of the most amazing, wonderful people in the world, and I have been privileged to experience so many things that many people never get to. I have made so many friends, both artists and fans alike, in the past several years. For all of that I am extremely grateful.

Last week I was presented with a situation that I believed was completely unreasonable. Without getting too specific, there were simply too many irreconcilable differences for me to continue with the group. I was not fired; I decided to leave. It was in the best interests of me and my family to do so, even though it is not something that I had planned before last week. If anyone has any specific questions I have nothing to hide, but I would prefer to answer questions in a personal message rather than on a public post.

To the guys I have sung with, I support you and love you like brothers. I have never, nor will I ever take your friendship for granted. I wish them all the best and hope they can find somebody that sings better than me!

Let me say a huge thank you to all of you who have supported me, befriended me, and prayed for me during the last 4 ½ years. I am very grateful. At this point I’m not sure what the future holds or if I will sing full-time again, but I will keep you all posted. Please continue to pray for me and my wife along with our newborn son as we begin a transition into a new time in our lives. Please pray that I’m able to find employment soon as well.

I love you all and thank God for the opportunity to be involved in the greatest music this world has ever known. God bless you all.


I came to appreciate David’s work with the group over his relatively brief tenure with the group, both on and off the stage. On stage, he was a dynamic voice that clearly defined their sound. On top of the Appalachian Gospel sound that the quartet has become known for over the years, you could tell who was singing when the lead singer stepped up to the microphone. Aside from that, I enjoyed interacting with him at the product table. While I have never seen the group in a full concert, I had the opportunity to talk to David on numerous occasions at NQC, and I greatly appreciate his friendly demeanor and the kind words he had to say about this little corner of the web. I wish him well.

Obviously, family comes first, and while you always hate to see them go, it’s completely understandable, especially with a newborn. While some details of the departure are apparently not the most pleasant, I hope that both parties can amicably move forward, and am anticipating good things from both David and the Inspirations with their new vocalist.

Update: Inspirations baritone Jon Epley posted this on behalf of the group:

Hello everyone, this is Jon Epley. First of all, let me say on behalf of all the guys, that we love David and wish the best for him. He is an incredible singer and a good friend. David made a decision that he felt was the right thing for him and his family, and we support his decision. There was no sin or immorality involved, so we can put any of those rumors to rest!

Change is never easy, but at times it is inevitable. We, The Inspirations, will continue to sing about the same Jesus and His great love, and that will never change. We appreciate ALL of our friends and thank you for sticking by us through even the most difficult of times. We hope you will continue to stand by us as we seek the Lord’s will in the search for that one person that God has in mind for us. We know that He always has a plan and covet your prayers in the days ahead.

We know that there are many questions; however, out of respect to David’s privacy and the group’s privacy, no questions will be answered on this public page. On a final note, the last thing David did as administrator of this page was remove his previous post. We did not remove it, that was his decision. Editor’s note: The post referred to here is the announcement above. David posted to his personal Facebook first, then the group’s page.

Once again, thank you all so much for your prayers and support. We love each and every one of you and look forward to seeing you down the road!

I Corinthians 15:58

The Inspirations In The Studio

April 25, 2012 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Inspirations

Hat tip goes to Daniel Mount for recording (and posting) these two clips of The Inspirations at work on their next release through Crossroads. Interestingly, both songs featured are updated recordings of past Inspirations songs. The first one is a fairly recent radio hit, “In The Twinkle Of An Eye,” which was found on their 2004 release, What a Day. I particularly enjoyed watching baritone Jon Epley’s reaction to Mike Holcomb’s low ending on the verse:


The next song is quite a bit older; over thirty years old, in fact. “It Won’t Be Long” was recorded on the 1980 album Singing in the Smokies.


What strikes me about both of these “covers” is that, with this lineup, it doesn’t feel that way. The hiring of Jodi Hosterman changed the sound and dynamic of the group, and while they are still maintaining the classic sound that makes them “The Inspirations,” the vocals are versatile enough that they can do different things with the harmonies on these older songs. It makes more of a mark on them than it would have if the Dallas Rogers lineup had gone back and re-recorded them; in that case, it would have just sounded like the old group recording it with modern technology. I’ve enjoyed hearing the harmonies changed up even in these short clips, and I am looking forward to the final product.

What’s been happening?

February 21, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Cathedrals, The Inspirations

Due to “real world” time constraints, and the fact that the Southern Gospel world has been relatively quiet, I haven’t been blogging lately, but time is more free now, and what better to start the blogging back up than a news roundup of the past week?

1. The Songfellows Quartet have announced the hire of two new members, and the change and people hired are big enough that this announcement caught my eye immediately. On tenor is a recognizable name from his days with the Singing Americans, Stamps, Kingdom Heirs, etc., Rick Strickland, and bringing the bass part is Brad Smith, whom you may know from his days with Monument Quartet and Blackwood Quartet, among others. Both of these hires possess considerable talent; I have long said Smith is one of the most underrated vocalists out there, and while Rick Strickland sounded a bit shaky at the Singing Americans reunion, time on the road will solve that. While I’m not all that familiar with the Songfellows, this personnel change is very intriguing, and I’m hoping to get to hear them sometime soon.

The rest of my updates are nothing but Youtube videos, so let’s get started!

This video of a young Scott Fowler with The Sound has been making the rounds, and rather than be redundant, I won’t post it, but if you look through that particular user’s channel, he has a veritable gold mine of footage from groups. Here are a couple clips I found, but if you have the time, it’s well worth it to go through his entire channel:

To finish up, here’s the first clips of baritone Jon Epley with The Inspirations:

New Inspirations Baritone Revealed

December 27, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Statement of Faith, The Inspirations

If you look at comments on the various SG blogs these past couple of weeks, speculation and question has abounded as to who would be taking the baritone spot in The Inspirations following the sudden departure of Melton Campbell. That question was answered this morning via Daniel Mount: it is Jon Epley. Epley formerly sang baritone with Jacob Kitson (former Greater Vision tenor) and Jacob’s brother Joe in the new trio Statement of Faith. He announced this on his Facebook, but look for an announcement from the Inspirations group in the coming weeks.

I haven’t posted a review of Statement of Faith’s debut project on this site (yet!), but I will say that Epley will be a great fit with the Inspirations. He is a great singer, and, as Daniel Mount mentions, also plays piano, so he can fill in if Martin Cook should ever have to miss a date.

Be looking for an announcement about a new baritone for Statement of Faith soon!

Jodi Hosterman With The Inspirations

May 19, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Music, The Inspirations

For those curious to hear how Hosterman’s sound affects that of The Inspirations, check out these clips from a recent concert (thanks, iamredeemed1!) Jodi’s tenor is very different from what the group has had; whereas Archie Watkins and Dallas Rogers were very Applalachian-style tenors, Hosterman’s is a more traditional high tenor sound. With him, The Inspirations have a revamped sound that, quite frankly, I’m really enjoying! Take a look:

Side note: There are more after the post break.

Is That Footsteps That I Hear?

Rose Among The Thorns

It’s Still The Blood

Jesus Is Coming Soon


The Inspirations and Greater Vision Experience Change

March 30, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Greater Vision, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Inspirations, The Skyline Boys

In the almost three years that I have been writing this blog, one of the things I have discovered is that if I ever think to myself, “There’s absolutely NOTHING going on in Southern Gospel music!” then I’d better watch out! More often than not, it’s the calm before the storm! I hadn’t had much time to blog lately because of the “real world” bearing down, and after an uneventful few weeks as far as SG is concerned, we return to your regularly scheduled blogging with two lineup changes from two popular groups:

1. Dallas Rogers Leaves Inspirations – Daniel Mount got the scoop earlier this week, and he reports that Dallas is stepping down, and Skyline Boys tenor Jodi Hosterman will take his place. This will make for a sound quite different than any that The Inspirations have had before, because Hosterman is a departure from the Appalachian style of tenor that Archie Watkins and Dallas were. I am looking forward to hearing how this sound gels.

2. Jacob Kitson Departs Greater Vision – This bit of news was announced this morning, with a press release from Gerald Wolfe:

Morristown, TN: Greater Vision has announced the departure of Jacob Kitson from the group. “Jacob has only been with us a short time, but he has made many friends across the country, and we’re certain he will continue to be successfully involved in ministry for many years to come”, Gerald Wolfe said. “Jacob is one of the most talented people I’ve ever traveled with, and we want to do all we can to help him reach his full potential in the work God has called him to”, Gerald continued.

Jacob said, “Being allowed to use my talent for God in such an honored position beside two of the industry’s most respected men has been a thrill, but unexpected turns in the course of the Lord’s master planning sometimes come.”

“Jacob has a great heart for the Lord, and I have the utmost confidence that he will succeed in his future ministry”, Rodney Griffin said.

“Following God’s direction is not always popular, and trusting Him is not always easy, but I am resolute to do just that. I pray that as I embark on this new chapter of God’s will that He continues to work mightily through the dove-tailed ministries of preaching and singing to which He has led me. Furthermore, I can only hope that I have the chance to re-unite with friends far and near for many more years to come. What all the future holds at present is unclear; however, I do know that the Lord has led me to a preaching ministry as well as singing. So with this I plunge back into the world of Local-Church Evangelism. Preaching in Revivals, Churches, and Conferences across the country. I have an immense burden for the youth of our World, they need Jesus, and I desire to show this generation that He loves them beyond measure”, said Kitson.

An announcement concerning Greater Vision’s new tenor will be made next week.

For more information, visit Greater Vision News or Evangelist Jacob Kitson

While neither of these changes were expected, this is one I definitely did not see coming. I enjoyed hearing Jacob in his tenures with both Tribute Quartet and Greater Vision, and he has been a great friend to this blog. I wish him well in his evangelism ministry.

CD Review: The Inspirations – The Son Came Down

November 23, 2009 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music, The Inspirations

Rating: 5 stars

Producers: Martin Cook & Jeff Collins
Label: Horizon Records
Website: www.theinspirations.com
*This project was purchased directly from the artist. This detail had no bearing on the final rating.

Buy This Project

The Inspirations are a group that has carved a unique niche and developed a consistent sound in its history in Southern Gospel music. (Think the Dixie Echoes.) Before this project was recorded, the group got both a new lead singer, David Ragan, and a new tenor, Dallas Rogers. The latter came after long-time tenor, Archie Watkins, resigned from the group to take on a less hectic solo schedule. The obvious question here is this: how does two such changes impact the sound of the group?

The answer is, the group still sounds the same, but younger.

In hiring Dallas Rogers, the group hired a tenor that sounds like Archie Watkins when he first started with the group. The comparison is arguably strongest in the re-cut of a song that originally featured Watkins, “Thank God I Made It.” Roger’s vocal style and timbre is eerily similar to the elder tenor’s, and that fact helps keep longtime fans of the group happy.

As far as the project goes, the group has found a new spring in their step with their past few projects. They’ve picked songs that fit the group well and are stellar selections. It really started with “I Have Not Forgotten,” then “The Rose,” and now the title track for this project. I have a feeling that will be the next big hit for the group.

The project as a whole lets every vocalist get the spotlight. Dallas Rogers gets a big feature on a new song called “Dealing With Gold,” popping a few higher-end notes I wasn’t expecting. Baritone Melton Campbell sings a Joseph Habedank offering called “Stone’s Throw Away” that seemed tailored for his voice. Bass singer Mike Holcomb shines on both “Heaven Knows Where I’ve Been” and his solo verse on “The Son Came Down.” New lead singer David Ragan gets a feature on the latter as well, and he injects some young blood into the group just like Rogers.

Bottom line: Like I stated earlier, The Inspirations are steadily improving the quality of the material they put out. This project is a great way to introduce the new lineup to the world and show them what they are capable of.

NQC 2009: Friday Night

September 19, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Brian Free And Assurance, Gaither Vocal Band, Gene McDonald, NQC 2009, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Inspirations

NQC has but one night left before it’s all winded down. It’s time, once again, for a brief look at what transpired:

1. Most poignant moment of the night goes to Jeremy Lile’s feature on “Save Me A Seat At The Table.” For those who don’t know why this particular performance was different than any other, I’ll explain. Jeremy’s father was dying of cancer this week, which is why Jeremy wasn’t there Monday and Jeff Chapman filled in. His dad passed away on Wednesday, the funeral was today and Jeremy took off as soon as the burial was over and got there 45 minutes before Assurance’s set.

Brian announced all that from the stage and had Jeremy sing “Save Me A Seat At The Table” as a tribute to his dad. He faltered a little bit on the first chorus, then regrouped for the rest of the song and made it all the way till the last phrase and just broke down. The guys made a circle around him and he got a standing ovation, and yes, the whole place stood. Easily one of the most touching and moving moments this week.

2. The Gaither Vocal Band’s set was a good one, with each vocalist being featured in equal prominence. Wes Hampton impressed me with his verse on “I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary,” and also taking the final chorus. Listening to the Reunited project, I had thought those were David Phelps’ features, and maybe they are on the CD, but Wes really did a bang-up job with them.

Another highlight was Bill playing the piano while the rest of the GVB (minus Hampton until the encore) sang “Hide Thou Me,” joined by surprise guest Gene McDonald to fill the bass part. If Bill ever retires, he needs to tap McDonald to fill that spot in the Vocal Band. I would have liked it better if the sound technicians had actually had Gene’s mic set at a decent level.

3. Is it just me, or do The Inspirations sound very similar to that of the lineup of the 70s? Tenor Dallas Rogers sounds like the Archie Watkins of that era, and the group’s overall sound is familar enough to please older fans, while fresh enough to catch others’ attention.

I’m not even going to give the sound a point tonight. Anybody who’s been reading this week probably can guess what I’d say anyway.

Anything else?