Many things have gone obsolete in the last 49 years. Thanks to Craig Newmark most classifieds are already online, newspaper classifieds are already a matter of the past. With the proliferation of online news, it is only a matter of time when we won't have the news on paper form. In the last few years we have bid riddance to those hideous humongous pieces of paper called maps. Nowadays pluck in a GPS or a smart phone and it will get you anywhere. Already an artifact of the past is the VCR; in fact, nowadays it's almost impossible to purchase a VCR cassette. Blame it on the popularity of Nefflix and Video-on-Demand, Blockbuster Videos have closed down 960 stores in the US alone last year. In the last 49 years many gadgets we once felt were indispensable (pay phones, cassette tapes, land lines, phone books, CDs and even paper) are already on life support. But not the Gospel; the good news that Jesus came to die for our sins and he is raised again to eternal life does not have an expiration date. And for 49 years the Inspirations have been singing about their Lord.
The Inspirations first started in 1964 when Martin Cook, a teacher at Swain County High School, invited several young men to his home for evenings of singing. Later they began to call themselves the Inspirations traveling around the area and singing at various venues. Over the years, the Inspirations (also affectionately called the Fraternity) have released over 60 albums with over 60 charting hits such as "Shoutin' Time In Heaven", "When I Wake Up To Sleep No More", "A Rose Among The Thorns", and "We Need To Thank God." They have also won every award imaginable, including "Favorite Quartet of the Year" multiple times at the Singing News Fan Awards. With many Southern Gospel group ebbing away with the passage of time, not with the Inspirations. Though the group lineup has shuffled across the years, they have stood the test of time standing now as an icon of sorts within Southern Gospel music.
Two factors are attributive of the Inspirations' longevity evidenced on their new record "No Two Ways About It." First, the Inspirations have always made sure that the highlight of their albums is the songs. Never bothered with adorning their music with the frills of trends and fads, they have always kept their songs prim and slim. With no added ounce of gibberish, only three out of the ten songs here are over the three minute mark. You will find your toes tapping with delight on the harmony driven, "Signed, Sealed and Going." Then you'll find yourself harmonizing with the guys to the old Southern chestnut "Just a Little Talk with Jesus." And you will be pierced by "I'll Be a Friend to Jesus;" this is song that will get all of us to re-assess our relationships with Christ. Often many songs rightfully exalt Jesus as our friend. But what kind of a friend are we to Jesus? Do we merely use him to get what we want? Will we betray him like his so called "friends" at Gethsemane? This is the type of songs that truly will transform our hearts in the way we relate to our beloved Savior.
Second, another factor that has been central to the group's raison d'etre is the Gospel. When you sing about the Gospel, you will never lack an audience. Within us God has created cross shaped hearts; and we'll never be truly satisfied until we meet the Savior on the Cross. "I'll Never Get Over" is a gorgeous exposition of the atonement done in ways that you don't need a seminary degree to understand. While the title cut "No Two Ways," which features some delightful jazzy piano riffs, refutes the erroneous teachings that there are many paths to heaven. It's themes like these will never tarnish with time. Rather, as the book of Revelation teaches us that right through eternity we will be singing about the Gospel, the Lamb that was sacrificed for us. And maybe that's why when maps, land lines, pagers and cassette tapes have all gone out of style, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still beamingly proclaimed through songs. The Inspiraions' "No Two Ways About It" is one such example.