Picayune gets Inspiration(s): Concert Review

Published 6:28 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Picayune gets Inspiration(s): Concert Review

By Ginger Schmidt

Lifestyles Editor

If you were anywhere other than the Picayune Auditorium on Friday night, you missed a very special concert by the traveling gospel music group, The Inspirations.

The Inspirations have been inspiring Picayune every year for the past 31 years, and Friday night was no different as they sang to a nearly packed house.

The crowd sang, clapped and shouted “amen” throughout the concert, as The Inspirations, a four part harmony group, gave the performance of a lifetime with mostly up tempo songs.

The concert opened with a non-Inspirations member, Allen Smith, singing with piano accompaniment. He was joined for his second song, by Ryan Lee, who has Down Syndrome. Smith gave a very touching speech about Lee, and described him as someone with a lot of heart who loves to sing. Smith said he knew that Lee would have a beautiful voice in heaven someday. Then the two sang “Amazing Grace,” and asked the crowd to join with them on the third verse.

Following, The Inspirations took the stage by storm and the crowd could hardly contain themselves. The group featured Martin Cook, pianist and EMCEE; Myron Cook, upright bass guitarist; Archie Watkins, tenor; Matt Dibler, lead; Melton Campbell, baritone and Mike Holcomb, bass.

The groups’ weaving harmonies, rounds, crescendos and decrescendos would melt even the hardest of hearts. Bass, Mike Holcomb, outshined in almost every song as his booming voice reverberated in the chest, and brought goose bumps to the flesh.

The most touching and beautiful song was performed a cappella and sung by a tenor voice lead. When the group joined in, again without accompaniment, the harmonies were spot on. The bass vocal line cut through while the tenor’s vibrato soared and floated above all four parts.

Even when the auditorium started to experience lighting problems, and the stage went dark, the group did not miss a beat. They had a way of knowing if the audience was slipping and kept drawing them back in.

For more than 40 years The Inspirations been at the forefront of Southern Gospel, and have enjoyed tremendous success. Every year the group hosts three sessions of the largest gospel singing festival in the United States at Inspiration Park in North Carolina.

If you missed them this year, do not panic. The group will return next year for their annual performance on January 16, 2009. Mark your calendars.

No matter your faith or belief, you will be inspired by the group. They live up to their name in every way.