An Interview with Jon Epley

SouthernGospelBlog.com Interviews

Jon Epley

SouthernGospelBlog.com recently had an opportunity to interview Inspirations baritone Jon Epley.

Daniel: At what age did you first hear an Inspirations song or album? At what age did you first see them live?

Jon: As far back as I can remember, my grandmother was a record (vinyl) collector. We would go visit her, and as a small boy I would sit and listen to The Inspirations, The Happy Goodmans, The Hinsons, Florida Boys, Oak Ridge Boys, and many more. My family picked up many of the Inspirations’ songs and sang them in church, and later across the country when we went on the road full time. So I would say I have been hearing The Inspirations’ music my whole life.

The first time I ever saw The Inspirations live; I was 29 years old and standing on stage with them singing as a member of the group! 🙂 I met David Ragan in September, 2010 at NQC but didn’t get to hear them perform. Then I met the other members of the group in December 2010, standing in the Inspirations’ office, where we sang the chorus of Beulah Land as my audition. The next time I saw them was December 31st in South Carolina and I was singing my first concert as an official “Inspiration”!

Daniel: For readers who are newer to this site: What groups did you sing with before joining the Inspirations? And do I understand correctly that you sang with new Inspirations lead singer Stephen Srein in one of these groups?

Jon: Besides traveling and singing with my family growing up, and then traveling full time with my wife, Tiffany, for about 2 years, I sang with several groups that traveled a limited amount mostly singing in churches. These groups were The Marion Avenue Boys, The Brothers, and Sacred Heritage.

The first time I met Steve Srein, he was a member of Sacred Heritage, and they were coming to sing at our church. At the last minute their piano player had to back out of coming, and so they showed up on Sunday morning, I sat down at a piano with them during the Sunday School hour, learned all of their songs, and played for their concert that morning. Haha; I joined the group shortly after as their piano player.

Daniel: The Inspirations have a new album, No Two Ways About It, that released a couple of weeks ago. Have any songs from this CD been getting a particularly strong response live? What songs are you most personally excited about?

Jon: We have been hearing great response from all of our new songs. People enjoy hearing the older recuts as well, but there is just something about fresh, new songs. Our newest radio release is called “I’ll Never Get Over,” and it is getting great response. Our title track is “No Two Ways,” and that is a very strong song. We then have two new Jim Brady songs which are working wonderfully for us, “He Made a Change” and “You Can Still Find Forgiveness.” And one of Mike Holcomb’s features is a fast moving new song by Rodney Griffin, “Saved, Sealed and Going.” I really think I like each new song as much as the next, and am very excited about how they turned out!

Daniel: This year brought a new top half of the Inspirations’ vocal lineup, with Srein on lead and Mark Clark on tenor. What are some of the strengths that Srein and Clark bring to the group, as singers and as people?

Jon: Both are, of course, great singers as well as great people.

Steve Srein has a powerhouse voice and a great demeanor on stage. He has a distinct style that our fans are already falling in love with and commenting on favorably.

Mark Clark brings that “Inspirations style” tenor to the table, hitting the high notes with full voice and power. He is also a familiar face to most of our fans from his years of singing with and for Archie Watkins as Archie neared retirement. Change is never easy, but I believe that God had just the right people in line to fill these positions, and am excited to be singing alongside these fellas every night.

Daniel: Next year is pretty significant for the Inspirations, as it will mark the group’s 50-year anniversary. Are any special commemorations in the works – or, at least, anything you can talk about yet?

Jon: Truthfully, I haven’t heard anything mentioned about special commemorations or anything along those lines. From what I have read and learned about The Inspirations’ history, we will be starting our 50th year in April of 2014. (I suggested massive pay raises to commemorate the 50 years and indelibly imprint the moment in the mind of the group members, but I haven’t received confirmation of this yet.)

On a serious note, it will be a great milestone for the group, and whether or not a lot of hoopla is made about it or not, it will be an honor to be a part of the group during this legendary time.


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8 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Jon Epley is the real deal! I feel privileged to call him friend. His style and talent is all too rare in Southern Gospel…God bless him! Oh, and we’re both from the best state in the US! 🙂

  2. I’ve never met Jon in person, but I enjoy his personality and spirit through Facebook and Twitter, and I definitely enjoy his singing. He’s got great range and a texture that distinguishes his from other voices.

  3. I really enjoyed this interview with Jon Epley. To me, he exemplifies what a singer of the Gospel should strive to present. It is obvious he loves God and knows about whom he sings. I appreciate his seriousness about the message and also his sincere, friendly appearance. Add a top-notch baritone voice to those qualities and that makes Jon one of the very best in the business, in my opinion. Thank you, Daniel, for the interview, and thank you, Jon, for your dedication and for helping keep the Inspirations tradition alive!

  4. Hey, thanks for the kind words y’all! I am glad to be a part of The Inspirations and sure appreciate Daniel doing this interview. I feel like great things are ahead and look forward to the future! 🙂

  5. i love the inspritions an would love to see them one time before i leave this world not in good health i call them my boys i am 70 years young an pray that i get to see them one day,they are the best an no one can sing bass like mike thank you,joann caylor,dalton,georgia,30720

  6. I wish the Brothers recorded more albums than just “He’s Still on the Throne”. It was really good. Grew up listening to that CD.

  7. I know this is an older post, but I’m just catching up. I have a CD from the “Old Fashioned Quartet” with Jon Epley singing the bass I believe, and doing quite well, including a strong, full voice low C at the end of “rainbow of love”. That’s some impressive range when you consider the lead parts he sometimes sings with the inspirations. 🙂

    • Cool! I’ve heard him singing just-for-fun bass off-stage, and I’m not surprised in the slightest that he can do it. I hadn’t known he had ever let it get captured in the studio, though!