As I travel around this great country, I love meeting talented, young musicians. I can relate to their enthusiasm and drive to be the best they can be for the kingdom of God and in the gospel music industry. When I think of multi-talented musicians who have made an impact in southern gospel music, some names come to mind like Steve “Rabbit” Easter, David Johnson, Gary “Beaver” Dillard, Randy Miller, Terry McMillian, just to name a few!
I believe this young man you are about to meet had fallen in the category of great, multi-talented musicians and will be named among those previously mentioned when it’s all said and done in gospel music’s next generation. Lucas Vaught was born on September 13th, 1991, in Glasgow, Kentucky, grew up around music and has loved it for as long as he can remember. His dad being a good guitar and bass player was his first hero in music.
In 2009 he graduated high school, and during the following summer he was supposed to go to a truck and tractor pull at the county fair with a friend. However, on that same night he heard that Naomi and the Segos and the Inspirations where going to be singing just down the road from where he lived. “I decided to pass on the tractor pull and go see the two legendary gospel groups that didn’t come around too often. This was around the time I was working on playing the piano and listening to old quartet music a lot. Naturally, I was amazed at the way Martin Cook played the piano.”
The promoter noticed that Luke was there and asked him to play a song on the piano after the intermission. Luke agreed, but was so nervous because he had no idea that he would have to perform in front of that large crowd. “I had the Statesmen song, “O My Lord What a Time” stuck in my head that night. I had never even played it before, but I just got up there and gave it my best shot because it was the only song I could think of. I remember seeing Naomi Sego and Martin Cook backstage out of the corner of my eye, and I couldn’t believe they were actually watching me perform!” Later that night, Martin Cook and he asked him for his phone number. Needless to say he went home that night on top of the world!
Martin did indeed call him and explained that The Inspirations were going to be singing in Somerset, Kentucky, and he asked if Luke would come join them and play rhythm guitar. “I couldn’t believe it!” To this day, he still has no idea how he knew that Luke played anything besides the piano. He agreed, and on August 22, 2009, he played with the Inspirations for the very first time.
Shortly after that night, Martin asked him to ride the bus with them one weekend to see what it was like. “He kept letting me come, and has never asked me to leave, so I’m still with him today”, says Luke.
Chris Jenkins – How did you first discover Southern Gospel?
Luke Vaught – I first discovered Gospel music by my family. My dad played the bass with a local group called “The Good News Edition”. I grew up going to the singings where my dad was playing and hearing the old Gospel songs. My parents also had a cassette tape of another local group called the “Temple Trio” from Glasgow, KY. I remember listening to that tape over and over and thinking it was some of the best singing I had ever heard. A family friend, Ms. Patsy Leech, used to copy her old records to cassette tapes for me when I was a teenager. This is how I was introduced to the famous old quartets like the Statesmen, Blackwoods, Oak Ridge, etc.
CJ – What is playing right now in your car or iPod?
LV – I don’t own an Ipod, but I always listen to music in the car because I travel many miles to meet the bus. I have something that I call “The Box O’ CDs” in my car that has the complete discography of the Inspirations, and then CDs by various groups like the Singing Echoes, Statesmen, and Oak Ridge Quartet, along with some old Bluegrass music, and old Country. I think the old Jack Laws/Inspirations song “Tell of His Love” from about 1969 was playing when I parked the car this evening!
CJ – Who are some of your musical mentors/heroes?
LV – Because I like to sing and play many different instruments, it is hard to pick one hero. Many of my heroes came from old bluegrass and country music and would not be relevant here although they are very important to me. However, the heroes I have that are most related to gospel music are the original lineup of the Inspirations, Archie, Ronnie, Jack, Troy and Martin; Also, the Statesmen Quartet with Jake Hess and Cat Freeman, The Oak Ridge Quartet with Smitty Gatlin, The Prophets Quartet when Big Lew was there. To me, those groups with those lineups worked the hardest and each created something special.
As far as mentors go, I have had quite a few people that have helped me and guided me in Gospel music. Martin Cook, the leader of our group, has given me the opportunity to be in Gospel music and pushes me to do the best I can. Also, Jeff Sneed, of the Sneed Family from my hometown, saw some kind of potential in me and called me up on stage in front of the Inspirations at a concert back when I was fresh out of high school. This led to me getting my foot in the door with the Inspirations and eventually getting to work with them all the time. And last, when I first started working with the Inspirations, Jack Laws was still singing for the group part-time. The few times that I got to travel with him he was so helpful to me and really made the experience fun for me. I will never forget that. There are so many more people that have helped me along, but it would be impossible to name and describe each one in this brief interview, but I am thankful for each one.
CJ – If you could make your own all-star quartet, trio, or duo, who would the members be?
LV – These questions are always so difficult for me because I have several favorite groups with certain lineups that were good the way they were! But, some of my favorite vocalists on each part are Cat Freeman – tenor, Smitty Gatlin – 2nd tenor, Jack Laws – baritone, Big Chief – bass, and Hovie Lister – piano. I don’t know if that would work as a group or not but it sure would have some all-star members to my ears!
CJ – What’s the top album every SG fan should have?
LV – “He’s Our Guide” and “Jesus is Coming Soon” by the Inspirations and the Statesmen Quartet’s second album, from 1958.
CJ – Where have you always wanted to perform and why do you hope to get to someday?
LV – I have always wanted to perform on the Grand ole Opry and at the Ryman Auditorium. Those places are very significant to the history and to the kind of music that I like the best, so I would really love to perform there.
CJ – What is the most interesting fact about you?
LV – I have my own quartet back home that I have sung with since I was in high school known as the “Band Table Singers”. At my high school, a couple friends and I sat at the same table for breakfast every morning that we nicknamed “the band table”. We started messing around with singing harmony there one day. Today we still get together and sing every now and then, and are notorious for pulling out instruments and songbooks at our local McDonalds and singing late at night while hanging out!
CJ – How do you feel about the direction of Southern Gospel music? What would you change if you could?
LV – I love Gospel music, but I feel like it has been complicated too much in recent years. I think simple instrumentation and clear harmony singing is all that is needed to carry the Gospel in song effectively. This would appeal to the average person and possibly gain new fans that need to hear the message of the songs.
Besides being in the Inspirations, Luke enjoys many other things. He is a huge fan of old cars and tractors. He still fines time to go to car shows and tractor shows as his schedule allows. Although he doesn’t have an old car collection of his own, he collects many other things such as old gas station memorabilia, old oilcans, roadmaps, and metal signs, and has a large collection of old country, bluegrass and gospel records. “And don’t think they just sit there…I listen to each one. When I am at home, you can bet that my old turntable is spinning, whether I am studying an old Inspirations record, or stealing a steel guitar lick off an old country song!”