REVIEW: The Inspirations – What a Wonderful Time…Live!

Producer: Information Not Provided
Record Label: Sonlite Records/Crossroads Music Group

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The year 2020 was a year for the record books!  Due to the pandemic, all touring became non-existent for not just gospel music, but for all genres.  Once touring became a possibility again (though limited), the Inspirations were at a crossroads due to the older members of group hesitant to travel due to their susceptibility to COVID.  So, the young guys (Roland Kesterson, Luke Vaught and Wyatt Austin) pooled their resources, brought on Isaac Moore, and agreed to carry on the group during these troublesome times, and have affectionately been dubbed, the “Young Inspirations”.  They are proudly carrying on the legacy of the Inspirations with class and dignity, and are doing an amazing job doing so.  In the 2020 NQC Fall Festival, the group churned out an amazing stand, and in almost rapid fire, churned out classic after classic, much to the delight of the crowd.  Luckily, the event was recorded, and with the fans and industry insiders all a-buzz, Horizon Records decided to take what was recorded and release it for all the fans to enjoy. 

The recording starts out with one of my all-time favorite Inspirations classics, “REUNION IN HEAVEN”.  Isaac does a great job on the song and it remains one of my favorite concert openers, before the tempo picks up for the classic, “JESUS IS COMING SOON”.

Two songs I especially enjoyed are “WHEN I WALK ON THE STREETS OF GOLD” and “LIVING ON HIGHER GROUND”.  These are two of my favorite Inspirations songs and I was thrilled to see them performed here and they are done exceptionally well by the “young” Inspirations!

 The tempo slows down for the haunting harmonies of the song, “MOTHER (Listen to the Angels)”.  In the course of their 57 years of existence, the Inspirations have done their fair share of “mother” songs, and this obscure favorite was originally recorded around 1970, and it’s a nice inclusion here and a departure from the “expected”.  Roland and Isaac do a superb job on the song, showcasing some pretty harmony…it’s true ear candy and probably my favorite from the recording.

The tempo picks back up for the Squire Parsons penned, “HE MADE A WAY”, which is a highlight of the recording.  Featuring some nice low notes by Wyatt, it’s a crowd pleaser and leads perfectly into the Cleavant Derricks classic, “WHEN HE BLESSED MY SOUL”, which also features some nice low notes by Wyatt.

The only time there is any talking on the recording is when Luke introduces Roland and his tremendous song, “HOME IS SOUNDING SWEETER”.  The current single for the Inspirations, it’s a great song and is another highlight of the recording.

The recording closes out with a successive run of 3 Inspirations classics, “SHOUTIN’ TIME IN HEAVEN”, “JESUS IS MINE” (chorus only) and the perennial favorite, “WHEN I WAKE UP TO SLEEP NO MORE”.  It’s a rousing finish to a great stand and one of the true highlights of the 2020 NQC Fall Festival.

As mentioned, this was taped during a roughly 25-minute stand, and wasn’t intended for national release.  There is virtually no talking between songs, except for the aforementioned song intro, as the group chose to use their time to squeeze in as many songs as possible and forgo introductions and needless talking.  Along with Luke at the piano, the group is joined on stage by Mike Riddle and Jeff Tolbert of the Primitive Quartet on guitar and bass, respectively and David Johnson added some guitar overdubs in the studio.  While not intended to become a product for sell, it’s a wonderful tribute to the legacy of the Inspirations, and the “young” Inspirations proved they can tote the mail on these classic tunes.  Fans of the Inspirations should thoroughly enjoy this recording, and it may even introduce some new and younger fans to their unique style and our genre of music!


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James Hales

James Hales, from Durham, North Carolina, has been a writer for since 2000. James is our featured reviewer and also contributes to monthly features periodically.
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