Martin Cook Interviewed by Judy Rhodes on 4/3/2012—Martin tells about how the gospel group The Inspirations began and how their song “Jesus is Coming Soon” became so popular.  He also tells how the Inspirations have had a song in the top 10 every 7 months for 40 years.

Judy Rhodes continues the interview on 4/10/2012. Martin gives the history of music in the family and the community

   Judy interviews Martin on 4/24/2014. Martin tells the story of the history the inspirations singing the songs of “Bulla Land,” “Farther Along,” Two Shoes,” “Look What I’m Trading,” “Jesus is Coming Soon.”  

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Every July for forty years, the Southern gospel group The Inspirations hosted Singing in the Smokies, a festival that drew 35,000 people to their native Bryson City. The quartet itself formed two years before the first gathering, in 1964, when Swain County High School chemistry teacher Martin Cook and three of his students began to meet weekly to sing gospel songs.

 Today, The Inspirations are considered one of the most important groups ever to sing and record Southern gospel music. Southern gospel is a form that, despite its generic-sounding name, actually refers to a very specific quartet-based style, featuring carefully orchestrated harmonies. It originated in 1910 with the popularity of quartets who made records and toured the South, sponsored by the Stamps Music Company and Tennessee hymn-writer James D. Vaughn.

 At the time of these interviews by Judy Rhodes (Martin’s niece) the seven-member “quartet,” the Inspirations was still led by Martin Cook. Cook was awarded the Marvin Norcross Award in 2002, and inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2003—the two highest honors in the Southern gospel industry.
Photo:  2003 Inspirations:  Matt Dibler, Martin Cook, Mike Holcomb, Archie Watkins, Melton Campbell, Myron Cook, Jack Laws.

Continuing…Martin talks about how excited he is that young people are getting more  interested today in gospel music once more. “Music makes the community!  Good music  makes anyone feel better. American music culture should always be preserved.” The Cook  family sings at the end “She’ll be Coming Around the Mountains!”

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Martin Cook

Interviews by Judy Rhodes

The Inspirations