Video: The Four Gospels

Last weekend, Inspirations lead singer Steve Srein had the weekend off. So, given Mike Holcomb’s departure last week, the Inspirations filled their dates for the weekend with a rather unusual vocal lineup: Former lead singer Matt Dibler filling in on lead, tenor Mark Clark, and utility instrumentalist Luke Vaught filling in on baritone to free regular baritone Jon Epley to fill in on bass. As someone observed, it was a four-Gospels sort of vocal lineup!

Perhaps the aspect that makes these videos most worthy of mention, though, is Jon Epley’s remarkable strength as a bass singer. It’s rare, though not completely unheard of, for baritones to make a temporary or permanent move to bass. It’s incredibly rare for a singer with enough upper-end range to be able to earn a baritone job to have this sort of cut, clarity, and all-around pleasing tone at bass.

Several more videos also included significant bass parts: I’m Bound For That City, Just a Little Talk with Jesus, When I Wake Up To Sleep No More, Overwhelming Joy, and a solo on If You Only Knew.

It seems that, if they so choose, the Inspirations might have to look no further than their current baritone singer for their next bass singer.

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34 Letters to the Editor

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  1. I said that very thing on their facebook page. This vocal line-up (with Steven Srein) is very, very do-able.

  2. I was surprised to to see Matt singing…since they had dismissed him from the group.

    • Not to bring up ancient history needlessly, but in the interest of complete truth, I believe Matt resigned from the Inspirations.

  3. Wow, Jon Epley is one of the greatest singers in gospel music, in my opinion. He probably could take most any part in a quartet and master it. Luke does a wonderful job on baritone as well, though I have to admit I miss his other instrumentation, such as the steel guitar. It might be easier to find a baritone singer and officially move Jon to bass than it would be to find another bass singer to fill those shoes of Mike better than Jon has done here! Once Steven is back, this could be a most impressive lineup.

  4. I’m not surprised to see Matt Dibler up there at all. The reason is simple: forgiveness and grace. Matt asked for forgiveness and grace and received it from the Lord, his family and The Inspirations. Having gone through similar situation in my personal life, I too understand full well what it means to experience this. While a time of separation from ministry work is necessary to get healthy again it does not mean that person can not re-enter same ministry or same type of ministry after being released to do so from the Lord. God has never changed his mind on someone He called. Praise the Lord!!

    • I have a feeling I’m missing something here…

      • My God is in the forgiving business. Enough said…

    • I have no problem with him singing with the group…I was just surprised to see him. I believe if he is right with the Lord, then he should be back in ministry.

  5. Wow, amazing!!

  6. Hey thanks for posting, Daniel and for the kind words! I sincerely do appreciate the encouragement!

    • You’re welcome!

    • Seriously, are the Inspirations still looking for a bass? Because if they are, they need look no further. You’re clearly the man for the job.

  7. Wow!!! I expected to hear a rich choir bass sound, not this! This is far more than a choir bass; Jon is a SG bass! Am I allowed to say I’m slightly jealous of his low end? 🙂

  8. There’s a clip from that same concert of him taking the feature on “If You Only Knew.” Wow!

    “Overwhelming Joy” is not an easy bass song either, but he pulls that off, too. I’m with you, Daniel; Jon Epley for bass!

    • I did not see either of those; perhaps they hadn’t been posted by the time I was looking through these videos.

      He has a great voice on solos, period, but imagine that voice on solos, perhaps a few keys lower than before if needed, and you have some of the most easy-on-the-ear, smooth bass solos anywhere in our genre.

      • I think the person posting has the entire concert posted at this point. And agreed!

    • Yes, I was more impressed with “Overwhelming Joy” than with any. He did the “bottom-scraper” chorus a la Mike Holcomb, and nailed it.

  9. WOW!! That’s impressive. Well done my friend.

    • Wow I’m blown away! Thank y’all so much! Super humbled!

      • One word EXCELLENT!!

  10. That was AWESOME! Great job, Jon! I agree that if they just move Luke to baritone, the current lineup would be pleasing to listen to.

  11. If the Inspirations doesn’t put him in the bass position another group needing one will. I was incredibly impressed.

    • The last time I was this amazed is when I saw the clip of Mike singing tenor! He later told me that Luke was playing the piano as they were setting up before a concert when someone could not remember the words to that song, so he sang it for them. I wish someone could post more of it. It’s hard to believe that the lowest bass singer in the business could sing full voiced tenor; no squeaking or falsetto here folks…

      As for Jon, I am just stunned that he has that much range on the low end. I had no idea he could sing bass and do it so well. Listen carefully to him sing Just a Little Talk With Jesus. He adds a unique flair to this old standard. I have heard this song many times by many different groups, but his treatment of this song is different. He sounds like a seasoned bass singer from the heydays of SG music. What a treat!

      The contributions of Luke are also noted. We all know that the baritone is the “unsung hero” of any quartet. Luke has proven himself to be quite capable in that role. I had the privilege of talking to him at some length before a concert in Washington, GA last year. I was very impressed with his interest in the history of SG music. He is an exceptional young man and could be the most talented musician on the road today. I look for this gentleman to help keep this wonderful American art form alive for years to come…

      I have to give credit to Martin Cook for staying true to his calling for almost half a century. His unique “mountain gospel” quartet is like no other. Their classic look and “retro” sound certainly add to their appeal. Even their red Silver Eagle bus has a retro feel to it. (I think it still has “The Inspirations” on the sides.) One thing that I especially like about the Inspirations is that you never know who is going to step off their bus when they come to town. Martin’s fill-ins and add-ons adds to the fun…

  12. I love Luke’s baritone ending on When I Wake Up To Sleep No More.

  13. Yup….if the Inspirations didn’t want him to sing bass, I know somebody that would.

  14. I have not listened to the Inspirations much lately, but I have listened to this clip (Footsteps) over and over. Jon’s bass is so full and smooth. It’s mesmerizing. It gives the Inspirations a fantastic sound that would draw me back if they kept him on bass.

  15. Keep him as bass, and hire Mark Lanier as baritone.
    I didn’t listen to the videos yet, so I can’t comment on Luke’s baritone.
    Jon Epley, as Adam Borden once wrote about in Singing News, has a voice that can be compared to Mark.
    Jon’s quite a talent if he can be compared to both Mark Lanier and Mike Holecomb.

    Concerning Matt, how many artists will write a public letter to SG fans, asking for forgivness for a mistake? Go back though your SN’ collection, it was published in “Your Views”.
    That’s a man of integrity, to own up to something on that level.

  16. Incredible talent and an incredible guy. Great job Jon!

  17. I do not like posting on the blogs but I’m gonna give Jon Epley credit where its due. I hope to see you singing Bass for The Inspiration 50 yrs from now. GREAT JOB!!!!! Also not to take and thing away from Luke but it would be amazing to see the return of Melton Campbell to the group as well assuming Matt Dibler does return to the group. Super Job!!!!

    • I am under the understanding that Dibler was filling in for the weekend, and that Steve Srein has not left the group.

      • Yeah, this was just a weekend off for Steve. He has not left the group.

  18. Sounded like an old pearly gatemen record to me…

  19. I’m just about sold on Jon Epley as the new Inspirations Bass. Honestly, it would be unrealistic to expect to find someone who can do what Mike Holcomb can do. He really is in a class all his own. Jon brings a warm, pleasant, yet still deep and powerful sound to the part. I would be happy to continue to listen to him sing it, as devastated as I was by Mike’s departure.

    His performance on “Overwhelming Joy” is what sold me. 🙂