An Interview with Scotty Inman

scottyI recently had the opportunity to interview Scotty Inman, baritone for Triumphant Quartet, www.triumphantquartet.com.

A formatted version of the interview is here; a plain text version is below.

DJM: You grew up in Southern Gospel, as the son of a professional singer, Clayton Inman (and see, Mr. Inman, I kept my word and put your name in the interview, and I did spell it correctly, too). Did you know from childhood that you wanted to do this, or was that a later development?

Scotty: Absolutely not. I was an athlete; my goal in life was to be a major league baseball player. And actually, up until my senior year of high school, I actually had colleges—junior colleges, more so—that were offering me baseball scholarships to come play.

But at a youth camp in my senior year, I got my call to ministry. And honestly, my passion for wanting to do sports completely left. My parents were like, “Are you sure? This isn’t just a passing fad?” They were trying to make sure, since it was all I did for seventeen years. Then I decided I wanted to sing for a living, so I left it all to come sing.

DJM: So you joined Poet Voices in 2001. Was that your first quartet experience, or were you in local groups before that?
Scotty: I was very lucky—that was my first one. The only two groups I’ve ever sung on stage with in my life are Poet Voices and Triumphant.

I’d never sung in my youth. My first audience I sung in front of, I was seventeen years old. That’s the first time, and I’m 27 now. So I’ve been singing in front of people for 10 years. It’s been a fast journey.

I will say that my dad being involved in music did help get me that first position. And I’m not naïve to that. But I think that when I got there I was able to learn a lot.

DJM: Was Turn To the One the only Poet Voices recording you were on?
Scotty: We actually did a CD called Timeless, a table project, that a lot of people loved. We did a lot of old Suwanee River Boys songs, a couple of old hymns… To this day, a number of singers I know tell me they love it. It was just a great CD.

DJM: Did you join Triumphant Quartet before Poet Voices came off the road, or did Poet Voices retire and then you joined Triumphant?
Scotty: Poet Voices announced their retirement. My father and I were going to start our own trio. Right about that time, three guys in our hometown were going to start their own group, and they needed a baritone and a lead. The rest is history.

During the last three months of Poet Voices, when I was home I was beginning this group, and here we are.

Phil Cross, Dale Brock, and I did the last concert together. Josh Simpson and Tim Duncan had to go ahead and move on, since the groups they were going with needed them. But I was lucky enough that our group did not start until after the final concert. So it was very special to be there.

DJM: Was singing with your father something that you had in mind that you wanted to do, or was it something that just worked out when Triumphant started coming together?
Scotty: It was definitely I immediately thought would be neat. He’s traveled my whole life, so to get to travel with him…I kind of get those years back, in a roundabout way. Now we spend a lot of time together.

So it was something that I always thought would happen, but I never thought it would be at this magnitude. But it’s been a lot of fun.

DJM: So do you sing baritone because both groups you’ve been with have had long-time, established lead singers, or is there something about singing baritone that you specifically wanted to do?
Scotty: Great question. And me being a student of great singers, I believe, there’s no doubt in my mind that my ultimate goal is to one day be able to carry the lead position.

I’m taking vocal lessons until the present day. Just because I have a full-time job in music doesn’t mean that I’ve arrived, cause I haven’t. I took a lesson last week. When my final note is sung, I want to still be the best I possibly could be.

A lot of people say, “Just go up there and sing.” And there’s a lot of truth to that, but there’s also a technique, something that’s more pleasing to people’s ears, if they hear a tone in your voice that makes them say, “I like that.”

You know, Glen Payne up until his dying day took vocal lessons. I mean, if Glen Payne took vocal lessons until his dying day, then I need to take about three a week!

DJM: Of the songs Triumphant has recorded over the years you’ve been on the road, which one would you point to as most likely to be an enduring classic—the sort of song other groups will sing after you’ve retired?
Scotty: Now as far as ones other groups will sing after we’re gone, I’m not sure if this fits that mold or not, but “He Is” and “The Old White Flag” are songs we can’t not do.

“Don’t Let the Sandals Fool Ya” is the one I think is more likely to get sung by other groups down the line, but as far as our group’s classic songs, I think at this point, “He Is,” “The Old White Flag,” and maybe “The Great I Am Still Is.”

DJM: What are some highlights from Triumphant’s new CD, Everyday?
Scotty: My favorite song is “Somebody Died For Me.” I tend to be a sucker for story-songs. I enjoy songs that take you from point A to point B, like that. I think it’s the most powerful song on the CD, hands-down, and not because I’m singing it! The words alone—it’s one of those songs you don’t want to mess up with your voice!

As far as what I think is the hit from that CD, it would be “When the Trumpet Sounds.” Live, for lack of a better word, it smokes. I knew when the track was cut, even before our voices were on it, “Wow, that thing has got a groove to it!” And it just does. I think it’s going to be our live / radio connection, hopefully—something we haven’t had to this point.

DJM: Is songwriting a long-term interest for you, or a fairly recent development?
Scotty: Yes, it’s definitely a long term interest, something that I want to expand greatly in the next three or four years.

The Kingsmen are cutting a song of mine right now, “When It’s All Said and Done.”

DJM: Is that the first cut you’ve had by a group besides Triumphant?
Scotty: Oh, no—Legacy Five did “Know So Salvation,” and the Kingdom Heirs just cut a co-write with Dianne Wilkinson, “When the Story of My Life is Told.”

I tend to lean more toward traditional Gospel quartet music, mainly because it’s kind of a lost art. At this point, a lot of songs being written are more progressive, which I love, but there’s a need for that traditional style, and that’s where I’m getting a lot of my cuts at this point.

I’m excited about the future, and yes, I’ve got a lot of songs in the works!

DJM: Neat! In your opinion, what makes Southern Gospel music Southern Gospel, as opposed to some other genre?
Scotty: Honestly, it’s the message in the songs and the hope it brings to people.

Also, I think it’s power harmonies. That’s something other genres don’t have.

You know, I love all genres of music, but I truly think some of the best singers in the nation are in this industry. Lack of publicity is a reason why people don’t know it.

Put these singers against anybody in secular music. Make them stand on stage with just a floor monitor, no special effects, no pyro and smoke and mirrors—closed-eye blind test—and I think people would pick the Southern Gospel singer a lot of the time.

DJM: If you were to assemble a dream quartet, with or without yourself singing lead or baritone, who would you pick to sing with you?
Scotty: I love this question!

I’m not going to put myself in it, because I’m not in my dream team quartet.

DJM: You could be the emcee.
Scotty: I’m going to be the manager!

This is not typical, but I enjoy all their voices.

My tenor will be Pat Hoffmaster, from the Blackwoods in the 70s. He passed on, but he would still be a legend today if he was still singing.

My lead and baritone may be switching off on each other, because they’re both baritone/leads. Duane Allen and Jack Toney.

On bass, Tim Riley.

I think that would be different than anyone else’s quartet you’d ever hear, but it’s my dream team!

DJM: And since most of those singers are passed away or off the road, who would you name from current Southern Gospel singers, other than members of your current group? You can put yourself in this one if you want.
Scotty: No, I’m still going to keep myself out of it.

Mark Trammell is the ultimate baritone.

Aaron McCune on bass.

I’ll put Terry Franklin on tenor and Bill Shivers on lead.

DJM: Bill Shivers is a singer’s singer—I’m amazed at how many other singers name him. Mark Trammell, too. Jumping topics, where do you see Southern Gospel going in the future? What do you think an NQC 25 years down the road might look like?
Scotty: My concern is that you hear a lot about needing to go after the young people—and I agree with that—but I think there’s something that makes Southern Gospel Southern Gospel. There’s a classiness that’s involved, there’s a polish that’s involved. I think if you become something you’re not—if Southern Gospel doesn’t stay true to its roots—we’ll lose our genre.

I think people enjoy artists that stay true to what they are. Young people are not going to go hear someone who is trying to sound like one of their favorite artists in another genre when they can just go hear that artist. That’s my opinion. As a young person, if I’ve got a Southern Gospel group who’s trying to be NewSong or Point of Grace, I’m like, “I’ll just go hear Point of Grace or NewSong.”

Will there always be Southern Gospel fans? Yes. That was the debate 20 years ago, and we’re still here, and in some ways flourishing even more than we were then. I think 20 years from now—when you reach a certain age you need a certain music to listen to, and I think the contemporary volume alone will bring people to another genre.

DJM: Any other thoughts or comments?
Scotty: We’re just now a year and a half into being on the road full time, and it’s been an overwhelming response from people. We’re excited about the future, and hope that the same guys you see on stage that started the group seven years ago will be the same guys you see on stage seven years from now. I think that’s the key to our success. All five of us know that there’s strength in numbers, and you’re only as good as who you’re with. The key to our success is keeping God first and sticking together as a group.

Our website is www.triumphantquartet.com. You can find anything you want to find on there, dates and all.


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27 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Scotty is such a class act! Triumphant is my favorite quartet on the road today. My other favorite quartet is Kingdom Heirs because when it comes to harmony, it is definitely hard to beat them! Triumphant has been so successful, I think, because of their consistent lineup, for one. Secondly, they have stayed true to the genre. Sure, they have had some progressive songs but always put several traditional quartet songs on their albums! “Everyday” is a great album. “When The Trumpet Sounds” is definitely one of my favorites on the CD. For those of you that have not heard “Intermission,” you need to go and buy it! It is chalked full of “goodies!” It is my favorite Triumphant album to date! Thanks Daniel for this interview! Scotty is one of the best baritones in the business and I expect him to become a lead singer when the opportune moment comes! I hope and pray that this lineup stays together until the group is retired!!

  2. Great interview. I have had the pleasure of hosting Triumphant Quartet in concert twice now. Once last summer and once a few weeks ago. Both times the crowd, myself included, was absolutely blown away by them.
    Scott is destined to become a legend in the industry.

  3. Thank you, Daniel, for an excellent interview with a young man whom I call, with great affection, my “Grand-boy”. I’ve known him since he was a baby; can you imagine how blessed I am to be able to write with him now! Everyone knows he’s a great singer and songwriter…he’s also VERY intelligent, very savvy and in tune with SG music, both the creative and the business side…and he has made a solemn promise to me that he and Dustin Sweatman and Joseph Habedank will keep SG quartet music alive if the Lord calls me Home before the Rapture!!! Scotty, I love you, Darlin’…..SOOOOO proud of you!

  4. Excellent interview, Daniel!

  5. Great interview Daniel!

  6. “he has made a solemn promise to me that he and Dustin Sweatman and Joseph Habedank will keep SG quartet music alive if the Lord calls me Home before the Rapture!!!”

    That’s the kind of thing that gets my crank turned. The future of SG couldn’t be in better hands 🙂

  7. That is what I am saying Daniel! Dianne Wilkinson is one of the greatest song writers of all times! Love all her songs and especially all the ones that have been on the last two Kingdom Heirs CDs! Thanks for keeping southern gospel supplied with great quartet songs Mrs. Dianne!!!

  8. Great interview. I really appreciate what Scotty had to say about our music and our industry. I couldn’t agree with him more. I’ve only talked to him a time or two, but I really like the guy. Just a nice fella, and he and Triumphant definitely know what good quartet music is.

  9. Hey David our quartet is looking for a baritone! We are a part-time group in Iuka, MS. You interested just comment back and we’ll talk! LOL! Scotty and Clayton are stand up guys!

  10. I tried out for that baritone spot with Poet Voices in 2001 as well, and I too like to believe that his Dad had a great part in getting him that position. Haha. Good article. I hope to contribute in keeping this music alive as well.

  11. No prob! Who are you singing with now?

  12. J.C. I’m doing just fine right where I’m at. Thanks anyway!

  13. I don’t really know Scotty Inman, but I’ve heard him in person once. But I’ve been a long-time admirer of his father, Clayton’s singing. It speaks volumes about a father/son relationship, in that a son would choose to stand alongside his father in shared ministry.

    The interview was refreshing and enlightening, and gave Scotty a forum to speak his heart. May God continue to use this devout young man for His glory. And may the Lord quicken dad’s steps to keep up with the ambitions of his son. Clayton’s gotta be proud.

    Congratulations, Daniel, for excellent coverage of two wonderful examples of Christian gentlemen. You just keep outdoing yourself.

  14. #12 – Blackwood Gospel Quartet

    #13 And everyone else, you’re welcome. It was a really enjoyable interview!

  15. Scotty, I agree 100%…Pat Hoffmaster was the man!

  16. I didn’t knew that Scotty Inman was the son of the professional singer Clayton Inman.

  17. #2 _ I agree. I can’t decide if Triumphant is my favorite quartet or Kingdom Heirs. They are both so great, entertaining and true to southern gospel quartet music!

  18. Just curious if anyone has a solution for this – Is there a way to make .pdf files open at 100% size by default, rather than screen-width? Especially when using Foxit reader?

  19. (#18) Amy:

    If you open up Adobe Reader, go to Edit -> Preferences -> Page Display, then the first section on that particular menu is “Default Layout and Zoom.” Change the “Zoom” to 100% and it should give you what you want.

    Levi

  20. Daniel: great interview. You always have great questions, and it feels like I’m listening in to the conversation when I read your interviews.

  21. #19 – Thanks – I was able to find the same set of options in Foxit. I don’t think that was off-topic, as for some reason I don’t like opening pdf files and then coming up so large, and it’s bugged me for ages!

    Daniel, I agree about the great questions. I think I can tell that you spend some time thinking about asking meaningful questions, and I enjoy your interviews; you frequently show us a perspective we never had the chance to see before. Or else you pull out some person that I was hardly aware of, like Rusty Golden, and let us get to know them. Keep up the good work!

  22. Levi – thanks! That’s why I do it as a live conversation. You can tell the difference!

    Amy – Thanks! I do try to spend time thinking about questions that illuminate angles other interviews you would’ve seen haven’t.

  23. This is a really good interview Daniel! I loved what Scotty said here: “You know, I love all genres of music, but I truly think some of the best singers in the nation are in this industry. Lack of publicity is a reason why people don’t know it.”

    That is absolutely true. I mean, let’s put it this way: Who’s the better singer, Michael W. Smith or David Phelps? Now let’s ask ourselves who’s more popular, Michael W. Smith or David Phelps? Who’s got more name recognition? Well, duh, Smitty of course. But it’s pretty obvious who sings better! 😛

    • Well, duh. And if you compare any male vocalist in CCM to Mark Trammell or Doug Anderson – or the girl who won Artist of the year and has the really long last name (Francesca?) to TaRanda Greene . . . no comparison!

      • Actually, I still like Steven Curtis Chapman’s voice (though vocals on his latest album were understandably kind of hoarse and tired). But I always thought he had actual talent.

        And wouldn’t Steve Green still count as CCM? Matthew Ward too? But if you’re talking about current, popular vocalists I’d agree with you of course (though Mark Trammell’s voice is still growing on me, gotta be honest).

      • Oh, and that’s Francesca Battistelli, and I agree, she’s a lot less talented than people give her credit for. And her songwriting is even worse…

      • And while I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and put in a plug for Mark Schultz too. Not the very greatest tenor I’ve ever heard, and I know not everybody likes his voice, but I think it’s really clean and beautiful in its own way. I don’t see how you can listen to his work on songs like “He’s My Son,” “Remember Me,” or “Letters From War” and not be moved.