The inspirations is the name of more than one artist.
1) US Southern Gospel
2) roots reggae group
3) Northern Soul group
1) The quartet began in 1964 when Martin Cook, a teacher at Swain County High School, invited several young men to his home for evenings of singing. Later they began traveling around the area and singing at various venues. The original quartet consisted of Archie Watkins, tenor; Ronnie Hutchins, lead singer; Jack Laws, baritone, Troy Burns bass/later lead singer; and Martin Cook on piano.
Since then, the following men have become part of the Inspirations (more affectionately known as "The Fraternity"): Eddie Dietz, lead and baritone; Marlin Shubert, bass, Mike Holcomb, bass; Roger Fortner, lead guitarist; Dale Jones, steel guitar; Myron Cook, upright bass; Chris Smith, baritone; Matt Dibler, lead.
The group has had much success in the Southern Gospel genre with such songs as "Shoutin' Time In Heaven", "When I Wake Up To Sleep No More", "A Rose Among The Thorns", and "We Need To Thank God". They have been named "Favorite Quartet Of The Year" multiple times at the Singing News Fan Awards which is held in connection with the National Quartet Convention. In October of 2012, at the Singing News Fan Awards held annually at Dollywood, Mike Holcomb was recipient of the Marvin Norcross-Templeton award. This award is a lifetime achievement award and is one of the most prestigious awards given in Southern Gospel.
Over the past four decades, The Inspirations have collected almost every major Gospel Music Award possible, including a gold plaque commemorating their selling a million records.
They have charted well over 60 hit songs, more than any other gospel group. The Inspirations have now recorded a combination of more than 60 projects, plus a number of studio and live videos. Their recordings can be found in Canada, Europe, Australia, and Africa. 'Inspirations' recordings have even been found in Taiwan and missionaries who have gone into the old Iron Curtain countries have brought stories back of finding their music.
The Inspirations were regular cast members of the historic "Gospel Singing Jubilee" television show which was aired nationally in the United States for many years and in 1970, the group then consisting of Archie, Ron, Eddie, Marlin and Martin, were the subject of a seven-minute documentary on CBS Television, anchored by current History Channel host, Roger Mudd.
They have been declared Kentucky Colonels, Arkansas Travelers, and they have had many special days set aside in their honor.
The quartet hosts three Annual Singing In The Smokies at the Inspiration Park. The singings are the week of July 4th, Labor Day Weekend, and The Color Festival which is normally the third weekend in October. Inspiration Park is located between Bryson City, NC and Cherokee, NC. This event draws thousands of Southern Gospel fans from around the country and brings in some of the biggest names in Southern Gospel music.
Currently, the vocal lineup of the Inspirations is Mark Clark (tenor); Steve Srein (lead); Jon Epley (baritone). A position for a new bass singer is currently being seeked. The group's live band is composed of Martin Cook (piano); Myron Cook (bass guitar); and Luke Vaught (utility musician), along with Dean Bernstrom playing rhythm guitar on occasion. Current tenor Mark Clark was earlier hired to assist/fill in for former tenor Archie Watkins from 2005 to early 2008. .