Life is very good for The Kingsmen’s Alan Kendall

The Kingsmen during their concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church on Oct. 14. From left are Chris Jenkins, Chris Bryant, Alan Kendall and Ray Dean Reese.

Talented baritone gives God glory as he serves in ‘Dream Job’

By John Herndon,

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. – Alan Kendall knew he was a blessed man. 

He’d been on the road, singing baritone for The Kingsmen Quartet and pulled into his Hiwasse, Georgia home just before midnight on Sunday night, October 10. He took to Facebook to let the world know just how blessed he really is.

“Nearly midnight, just got home, gotta take the kids to school first thing tomorrow morning. What a blessing. My Savior, my wife and kids, my dream job…all amazing gifts that I don’t necessarily deserve. May I never forget that, and may I honor all those things to my best ability.”

That resonated with me. It resonated a lot. Make that A LOT. 

Continue reading “Life is very good for The Kingsmen’s Alan Kendall”

‘The American Face’ speaks to today’s world

Lily Isaacs talks about the opportunities America offered her family, which immigrated from Europe following World War II, before The Isaacs sing the title song from their latest album ‘The American Face’ at Coffmania in Danville, Ky., on Aug. 28.

The Isaacs’ latest album uses familiar covers, original works to bring positive message in troubled times

By John Herndon,

(Second of two parts. Previously, the Isaacs talked about their upcoming induction into the Grand Ole Opry.)

It only takes one listen to The Isaacs’ new album to know something is just different.

The vocals on “The American Face” are mesmerizing, as usual. The instrumentation is as good as it gets, which is no surprise, either.

But this project is unlike anything The Isaacs have released.

So when we sat down to talk with The Isaacs before they took the stage at Danville Church of God on August 28, the obvious question was, “Have you heard that comment before?”

Lily Isaacs broke into a big smile. “We have,” she said.

Continue reading “‘The American Face’ speaks to today’s world”

Opening doors in a Grand fashion

The Isaacs perform at Coffmania in Danville, Ky., on August 28.

Isaacs humbled by Opry invitation, see another opportunity to share the gospel

By John Herndon,

(First of two parts. Coming soon, The Isaacs talk about their latest album, “The American Face.”)

The Isaacs had no idea that August 10 would be a night that would change their lives forever. 

None. There was no clue that a special night would be elevated to the realm of extraordinary.

And there was certainly no indication that the most coveted invitation among Nashville musicians would be theirs before they left the stage that Tuesday evening.

And almost three weeks after being asked to become the newest members of The Grand Ole Opry, there was still a sense of wonder in their voices. 

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Coffmania is Coming!

The Coffmans will be hosting Coffmania at their home church, Danville Church of God, on Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. From left are Louis, Tamra and Canaan Coffman. (Photo courtesy of The Coffmans.)

The Isaacs headline fast growing gospel showcase

By John Herndon,

DANVILLE — Louis Coffman comes across as a laid-back, low-key guy whether on stage singing with his wife, Tamra, and daughter, Canaan, or just chatting over lunch.

But he looked like he was ready to jump up and kick his heels as we talked about Coffmania over some chicken.

“We are real excited about this year, being able to go ahead with Coffmania” he said, breaking into a huge smile. “After last year, we are real excited to have it.”

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Out of the Ordinary Career for the Extraordinary Message

Owensboro native Steve Bridgmon, one of the hottest names in Christian country. (Facebook photo)

After leading one of Kentucky’s most popular quartets, Steve Bridgmon has become one of Inspirational Country’s top solo artists

By John Herndon, Kentucky Sings

SONORA, Ky. — Steve Bridgmon is anything but your ordinary Christian music artist. That was apparent as we finalized the details of getting together to talk about his meteoric rise in Inspirational Country Music.

We’d settled on a meeting place at Brooks Cafe, an out of the way country-cooking place where the decor from days gone by belies its proximity to Interstate 65 in Hardin County. “This place is very cool,” he’d say time and again as we chatted over lunch. 

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A Menu of Glorifying God

Lee Collins is all smiles as his Billy Ray’s Restaurant is nearly full at lunch time on June 22, 2021. Collins runs his restaurant on the Christian principles of which he sings. (Photo by John Herndon)

Eastern Kentucky singer Lee Collins’ only desire is to share the message of Christ in all he does

By John Herndon,

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. — You can get just about anything you want to tickle your taste buds at Billy Ray’s Restaurant but you can be sure that regardless of your appetite, Lee Collins wants to give you the bread of life.

The restaurant has been Lee Collins’ livelihood for more than 30 years and on an early summer weekday, he greeted a lunchtime crowd with a huge smile, often calling them by name or asking about family and friends. It’s the kind of down home atmosphere that has made Billy Ray’s a local landmark. 

But as much as Lee Collins would like for someone to try one of his dinners — the pork chops we ordered were fantastic! — he knows his mission is much more than the hospitality industry. 

“I just love singing about the Lord,” he said as a steady stream of patrons filed by. “That is what I have sung all my life.”

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Living the music

Triumphant Quartet’s Clayton Inman sings “Eye of the Storm” during the group’s concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church on June 17, 2021.

Triumphant Quartet’s Clayton Inman reflects on The Goodness of God seen in The Eye of the Storm. He really is Bigger than Sunday.

By John Herndon,

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — Only a few moments before, Clayton Inman had a near-capacity crowd at Sand Spring Baptist Church howling with laughter. 

He’d danced and gyrated while waving a handkerchief in what every fan of Triumphant Quartet knows as one of his signature concert moments, his performance of “White Flag.”1 It’s one of those moments that prompts Triumphant bass singer and program emcee, Eric Bennett, to make some jokes about people not judging the rest of the group by Inman’s hilarious performance.

Clayton Inman delivers a fan favorite, “White Flag,” near the end of Triumphant Quartet’s concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church. (All photos by John Herndon)

The crowd knows it’s coming and can’t help but laugh in anticipation.

But after Triumphant had completed its annual concert with His Heart Quartet at Sand Spring Baptist Church, Inman was reflective about the group’s growing commitment to ministry and how it has literally lived its songs over the last 16 months.

Have they really seen that God is in control “In the Eye of the Storm?” Are they eager to truly sing of “The Goodness of God?”  The songs are favorites from Triumphant’s last two CDs.

“We do sing those songs continuously and they are encouragement in your storm and He’s always been good to us,” Inman said. 

The questions — and the groupt’s awareness of the lyrics they were singing — became even more focused after what Triumphant Quartet experienced during the early morning hours of May 8. 

The group was heading for a concert date in Wisconsin, when nearing Rockford, Illinois on Interstate 39, driver Jamie Bramlett noticed the bus was overheating. He pulled off the road, saw the bus was on fire and awakened the four singers and sound engineer Adam Bradford. The bus and some of Triumphant’s merchandise was destroyed, but what could have been a disaster was averted.

“We are grateful that our bus driver was alert in that he saw it wasn’t going to get any better back there in the engine and he rushed on the bus and warned us to get out,” Inman recalled. “What some folks don’t know is that we all got off the bus and were standing on a hill. Minutes after we got off, we watched the bus explode, blowing everything forward so much that it blew the windshield out.

Fans join Clayton Inman in waving their White Flags at Sand Spring Baptist Church.

“It could have been a lot worse but God’s grace was on us.”

He really had been in control in the eye of Triumphant’s storm and as the group posted on Facebook that morning, “‘in spite of it all, we praise the Lord for His hand of safety and provision.  ‘All my life You have been faithful, all my life You have been so so good. With every breath that I am able. I will sing of Goodness of God.’”

And, again, Triumphant had a front-row seat to God’s care and provision. For more than a year, Covid-19 had erased numerous concert dates and severely limited many crowds when the quartet was able to get on stage. Then, just when restrictions were slowly being lifted, the means of transportation and home-away-from-home were gone in a matter of minutes. 

“We find ourselves living (those songs),” Inman smiled. “We find it true in everything we do. Sometimes when something great has been taken away or something traumatic might happen, He always shows up later with something bigger, better or greater. We don’t see it at the time. Then we look back and we think, ‘Wow!’”

It’s more than just a statement that God is good or that God works. It’s life.

“It takes it to another level because we are living it,” Inman said with a bigger smile. “What I love is that no one was ever up in arms the whole time.”

Triumphant Quartet performs “Sing Hallelujah” from the Bigger Than Sunday album. From left are David Sutton, Clayton Inman, Scotty Inman and Eric Bennett.

On the Sand Spring stage, Triumphant delivered a string of hits interspersed with some of the cuts from the quartet’s latest CD, “Bigger than Sunday.” And it was apparent the singers — Inman, his son Scotty, Bennett and tenor David Sutton — are energized with a passion for music and, most of all, ministry. 

Inman beamed and agreed when asked about a stronger gravitation toward more of a ministry mindset. “We have evolved over time. And I say that because we were in a theatre for our first three or four years. Actually, it was five,” Inman recalled of the group’s origin in the Louise Mandrell Theatre. “Being in a theatre, there had to be an element of entertainment because people were buying tickets to see entertainment on stage in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. There were other theatres there and you had to see how you stacked up against the competition.

“So we carried a little of that over into our road trips. And when we left the stage and went on the road full time, we carried that with us a little bit that element of entertainment, and that’s OK. If you are going to be entertained, why not Christian entertainment?”

Clayton Inman singing “Eye of the Storm.”

But somewhere along the line, it became apparent that ministry was playing an even bigger role in the quartet’s work. Songs became an even deeper blend of biblical theology and every day living. The change might have been gradual and subtle but Inman says the push to ministry has become even more pronounced recently. 

“We have changed even more in the last two-and-a-half years. I have changed more and I believe it is because we have been part of planting a church,” he says of Connect Church in Sevierville, Tennessee. “I have never been part of that before and the vision and mission of the pastor has changed our whole outlook on ministry. I think it bled over into our group.”

Clayton and Sutton serve as deacons at Connect Church while Bennett serves as an elder there. Scotty Inman was also part of the Connect plant but has moved to Kentucky to help plant another church.

The passion is real. Clayton noted that Triumphant would be performing at the Memphis Quartet Show on Saturday night and would then be driving all night to return home so the Bennett could preach in the pastor’s absence Sunday. (A video of that Father’s Day service and the sermon from Exodus 20 can be seen here.)

“I think being part of something that was way larger than what we are as a group changed our hearts and minds and our scope of what we were doing out there,” Clayton explained.

And it has been reflected in the music. 

“Yes” featured a cover of The Newsboys’ “We Believe,” listing some basic theological points and how they relate to life. The latest CD includes a cut, “Don’t Miss Jesus,” written by Scotty Inman, Michael Ferren and Tony Wood, that warns not to get caught up in little things so much that he misses a life with Jesus. 

Clayton Inman.

The songs provide real meat in the sweet sounds of a group that has been voted The Singing News Fan Favorite quartet every year since 2009. And, Inman says, the desire is to give lasting nourishment.

“We do not want to record anything that is not biblically based,” he said.

And right now, Triumphant is living proof that God really is at work. The Sand Spring concert was but a small reminder that God has brought the quartet and many of its fans through the scare of the Covid pandemic. “This concert was canceled, I think, eight times,” Scotty Inman deadpanned during the show. It was really just four, but the big crowd wasn’t counting. 

But the events of May 8 brought something already great into even sharper focus for Triumphant Quartet.

“We had even attitudes because we knew something great had to be coming because of what happened,” Clayton Inman said of the bus fire. “We don’t know that greater looks like, but He does, so we left there encouraged because we thought, ‘Man, this happened and we don’t know why it happened but He’s always faithful to show us something even better. And I can be an encouragement to somebody who is listening to us. 

“You might be going through a troubled or traumatic time where you don’t feel light at the end of the tunnel, but you know, He is very much aware of what’s going on and what’s coming next is going to be bigger, better and greater than you ever expected.”

After all, as Triumphant Quartet’s latest album says, God is “Bigger than Sunday.” 

1The performance linked to his article is from a Gaither Homecoming video, posted on YouTube, and was not filmed at Sand Spring Baptist Church. Because of copyright considerations, KentuckySings does not knowingly publish non-approved material. 

Triumphant Quartet singing its most recent single, “He Walked Out.”

Bringing joy, receiving joy

Bryan Elliott, a favorite of gospel music fans, performs with The LeFevre Quartet at Sand Spring Baptist Church in Lawrenceburg, Ky., on May 13, 2021.

LeFevre Quartet pianist Bryan Elliott reflects on lessons learned and lived through pandemic. And he’s mighty happy to be back on the road

By John Herndon,

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — When he sat down at his keyboard Thursday night, Bryan Elliott showed that nearly a year off the road had not affected his very talented hands.

He can still make his keyboard talk.

OK, not quite, but it just seemed that way at times as he accented The LeFevre Quartet or brought the house down with rousing solo work. Elliott played everything from old-fashioned Southern Gospel to classical Christian and a lot in between. And his demeanor ranged from laser-like focus to hamming it up for a camera — mine!

It was more than 90 minutes of joy as The LeFevre Quartet opened the Sand Spring Baptist Church gospel concert series. 

Continue reading “Bringing joy, receiving joy”

Bringin’ it!

Adam Crabb bringing the house down with a rousing performance in Mt. Sterling, Ky., on May 8, 2021.

Adam Crabb brings old-time revival to present-day world and is ready to hit the road with The Gaither Vocal Band

By John Herndon,

MT. STERLING, Ky. — When he took the stage at Life Impact Church Saturday night, Adam Crabb didn’t appear to be someone who had been largely shut down for more than a year. He didn’t look like someone exhausted after returning from vacation to his Nashville home little more than 12 hours earlier. 

As The Coffmans’ Louis Coffman had predicted earlier in the program, he was ‘Bringin’ it!”

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A nice problem to have

From left, Greater Vision’s Chris Allman, Jim Brady and the Mark Trammell Quartet’s Nick Trammell and Randy Byrd form a makeshift quartet in the Gerald Wolfe Hymn Sing at First Baptist Church of Cold Spring in October. The concert was a huge blessing during a year marked by chaos. (Photo by John Herndon)

After 14 months of a nearly blank calendar, things are changing. And it’s for the good!

By John Herndon,

I have a little problem.

Actually, it’s a nice problem and one that’s been too long coming, so I’ll certainly not complain! I’m just itching to get to a few gospel concerts.

I don’t know about you, but being able to hear people sing about the Lord, His goodness and being inspired to serve Him better is a big part of my life. And it seems that with all that has happened since March 5, 2020, a major part of my life was taken from me.

The Old Time Preachers Quartet performs in concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church on March 5, 2020. A week later, the music industry came screeching to a halt. (Photo by John Herndon)

Now, I don’t really know what to do.

You see, when I look at the KentuckySings concert calendar, I see many more concerts than I can possibly attend. 

And that’s a good thing!

Last March 5, I was blessed to attend a concert by the Old Time Preachers Quartet and Beyond Grace at Sand Spring Baptist Church.  That night, I talked with OTPQ members Les Butler and Mike Holcomb about the concert, their ministry and plans.

Little did any of us know what the next 14 months would bring.

Continue reading “A nice problem to have”