ASHLAND, Ky. — The Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, KY, will be the host of a very special gospel show this Saturday. On Feb. 8, at 6 p.m., the historic venue will feature the groups The Inspirations, the Primitive Quartet and The Perrys.
Tickets for the show range from $20 to $25 and more information can be found at paramountartscenter.com.
This lineup of gospel groups features some of the most popular and famous southern gospel groups to ever come out of North Carolina and Tennessee.
The Inspirations have been singing their brand of southern gospel music for 56 years now. The group began in Bryson City, located in the highest mountains east of the Mississippi River found in western North Carolina. Beginning in Boone, North Carolina, and heading west, the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains turn into the Great Smoky Mountains somewhere around Asheville. By the time you get to Bryson City, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is due north.
The Inspirations began when high school science teacher Martin Cook formed a singing group with four of his students, including Archie Watkins, Ronnie Hutchins, Jack Laws and Dean Robinson. Cook was a former member of the singing group The Kingsmen and he wanted to get back into the genre. By 1969, The Inspirations had become a full-time gospel quintet, and by 1972 they became a sextet with the addition of a bass singer Mike Holcomb.
The Inspirations became famous for being the host group of the Singing in the Smokies gospel festival for five decades. The Inspirations were inducted into the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame in 2003 and Cook sang with the group up until 2017. Their legacy is found on 60 albums, singing music now known as the “Smoky Mountain Style of Southern Gospel Singing.”
The Primitive Quartet was formed in 1973 in Buncombe County, North Carolina, which contains the town of Asheville. The origins of the group can be traced to a camping trip in the nearby mountains. When brothers Larry and Reagan Riddle went fishing with Furman and Norman Wilson on Fontana Lake, located west of Bryson City in the western-most corner of the Tar Heel State, they brought along a mandolin and a guitar with them.
All of the brothers were regular singers in their local church, with a history of shape note singing in the mix. But, unexpectedly, the four young men tried to sing four-part harmony for the first time together and something clicked around the campfire that night. It was a surprise to everyone who heard them and the notion was quickly made for them to form a group.
At first, they were known as the Riddle-Wilson Quartet, but by the time they went on the road as gospel musicians full-time in 1978, they were known as The Primitive Quartet. Since then, with their bluegrass instrumentation and the group now a sextet, the band has traveled extensively and recorded many acclaimed albums.
Opening up the show will be The Perrys, a southern gospel quartet that was formed in Georgia yet is now based in Henderson, Tennessee. The Dove Award-winning quartet began over 40 years ago and has consistently produced solid southern gospel over the years, garnering them multiple Singing News Magazine Fan Awards. They feature mixed group harmonies with Libbi Perry Stuffle’s lead vocals blending with the voices of Jared Stuffle, Troy Peach, and Andrew Goldman.