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. 

Continue reading “Out of the Ordinary Career for the Extraordinary Message”

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, KentuckySings.com

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.”

Continue reading “A Menu of Glorifying God”

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, KentuckySings.com

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, KentuckySings.com

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, KentuckySings.com

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!”

Continue reading “Bringin’ it!”

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, KentuckySings.com

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”

Triumphant has changing sound — just a little! — and unchanging message

Triumphant Quartet was in concert at First Baptist Church of Cold Springs on March 19.

Bigger Than Sunday CD and Tour reflect a belief that God is working today

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

The first thing you might notice about Triumphant Quartet’s concerts in 2021 is that things just seem a little different.

At least from my angle they did when they took the stage at First Baptist Church of Cold Spring back on March 19. The quality, as always, was top-notch. A group doesn’t have a firm grip on being named America’s favorite quartet in The Singing News Fan Awards — every year since 2009 —  by being anything else.

But when Scotty Inman started singing “Best Thing” from the quartet’s latest CD, Bigger Than Sunday to open things, the concert had a little different feel.

Continue reading “Triumphant has changing sound — just a little! — and unchanging message”

Master’s Trio is now The Crown Quartet

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

Like almost every other artist in any genre, The Master’s Trio faced a year like none other in 2020. 

The popular Southern Gospel group, based in Mt. Sterling, had been busy for several years and was gaining quite a following across Kentucky and several surrounding states. The Trio had been named Best of Show at the Gospel Music Showcase at the 2019 Kentucky State Fair, further expanding the requests for concerts and worship experiences.

Continue reading “Master’s Trio is now The Crown Quartet”

Discord of 2020 a great time for ‘Living In Harmony’

Dave Taylor, a founding member of The Infinite Realm, has just released a new solo album. He will be staying with The Infinite Realm but hopes to expand his music ministry with the new solo project. (Photo courtesy Dave Taylor)

Gospel veteran Dave Taylor uses down time to record second solo album; Original songs, original ideas mark new work

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

While much of the world seemed to shut down in 2020, Dave Taylor has opened a new musical door just in time for Christmas. 

A founding member of The Infinite Realm, a popular gospel group based in the Madison, Indiana area, Taylor recently released his second solo album, “LIving In Harmony.” Produced by longtime Oak Ridge Boys pianist Ron Fairchild, the project relies heavily on Taylor’s skill as a songwriter with seven of the nine cuts coming from his pen.

And the sound Taylor and Fairchild created is decidedly different from the upbeat quartet sound that has become The Infinite Realm’s trademark. It’s a testament to the versatility Taylor has developed in over 50 years of singing and playing gospel.

I have been writing songs since my teenage years,” Taylor says. “Several are not quartet songs per se. I have been accumulating a wealth of material over the years that the Realm has never done, because many of those songs don’t fit the mold of Realm music.”

Continue reading “Discord of 2020 a great time for ‘Living In Harmony’”

Winchester Musicianary releases innovative Christmas EP

Trish Torline’s newest project consists solely of original work

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

When an artist describes her calling as that of being a musicianary chances are she will have some extraordinary projects.

Such is the case for Trish Torline, a Winchester resident whose six-song EP, “All Hearts Come Home for Christmas,” was released Dec. 4. The self-produced project consists of totally fresh material, all written or co-written by Torline.

The theme is decidedly Christian, in keeping with Torline’s musicianary status, about which she talked with KentuckySings in 2018. You can read that story here.

Continue reading “Winchester Musicianary releases innovative Christmas EP”