The roots into Southern Gospel music run deep for the tenor of a group serving as headliner for the Gospel Tent at the Auglaize County Fair.
When David Sutton was 10, he began playing the drums for Watchman Quartet, who were out of Goldsboro, N.C., where he grew up. His father sang for the group, and David was inspired to become a vocal artist at a young age.
When he was 15, David sang with the Kingsmen Quartet during one of the performances.
“There was something about that night that showed me what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Sutton said.
After high school, he put his college plans on hold after he got the opportunity to join the Anchormen Quartet, out of Goldsboro.
During the past 13 years, Sutton has been nominated for Singing News Magazine’s Favorite Artist and Favor Tenor Award several times.
At each performance, Sutton hopes to share his love of God and gospel music, as their group travels full-time.
“My goal is to offer our audiences good, traditional quartet-style music,” Sutton said. “That’s what I was raised in, and the music has shown me that the Christian life is a good life.”
During the week of the fair, he will perform with Triumphant Quartet, a Southern Gospel group that hails from Sevierville, Tenn. He will be joined by Scott Inman, Eric Bennett, and pianist Jeff Stice formed in 2003. The group signed with Daywind Records, which is a Southern Gospel label.
This is the quartet’s second year performing at the Auglaize County Gospel Tent. They are scheduled to perform at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 1 in the Gospel Tent.
In 2004, the quartet got their first big break when they performed “Amazing Grace” at the University of Tennessee’s homecoming game to a crowd of over 100,000 people. Also, in the same year, their single “I Bring You Forgiveness” was nominated for the Top 10 song of the year by Singing News Fan Awards and their CD “HomeFree” was nominated as a Top 10 Album of the Year.
The group’s main focus is to keep God first in everything they do. They said they are truly humbled and grateful for the support of their fans have shown for their music and ministry.
“Christ is the reason we sing,” the group collectively said on their website.
The quartet follows the Hebrew 13:15 verse, “...let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.”
Another member looking forward to performing in Wapakoneta is Bennett, who grew up on a farm in Alabama where he learned the value of hard work.
While singing in area churches with his brothers and cousins, this showed him the value of music in his life.
“My mother used to take me to hear local gospel groups,” Bennett, who sings bass, said. “Later, I heard the Kingsmen and the Cathedrals and decided that’s where I wanted to be.”
Bennett, who has had a series of careers, including being a pastor of a church, said God’s will was made clear when he was offered a job singing at Dollywood, where he performed for 12 seasons at the Pigeon Forge theme park, before joining the quartet.
In September 2009, Bennett was voted on by the Singing News Fan Awards as Favorite Bass Singer of the year and was voted Singing News Fan Favorite Bass 2010.
Inman, who is the lead singer, performed with his family’s Southern Gospel group, the Inmans, in Memphis, Tenn., where he grew up. Inman said gospel singing was a true family affair for him from the beginning.
“I was the only one of us who really received the opportunity to go on and sing professionally,” Inman said.
In 1983, his career kicked off with the Singing Americans and he also sang at Dollywood until the mid-90s. After that, he helped form the acclaimed group Won by One, who recorded a number one hit “King Jesus.”
He has received numerous fan award nominations from Singing News magazine, including Favorite Lead Vocalist.
His son, Scott Inman, now shares the stage with his father as Triumphant Quartet’s baritone singer.
His son continues his family tradition that is now in their third generation.
He got his start in October 2001 with the group Poet Voices, and shortly after he won gospel’s Horizon Favorite Newcomer Award. This award recognizes the performer judged by fans to have the brightest future in the industry.
Inman was also voted 2007 Young Artist of the Year by the Singing News Fan Awards.
Stice, who serves as the pianist, was also raised on gospel music, and he learned to play the piano at age 8. In 1985, Stice’s professional career was in high gear when he played for the Nelons, and in 1990 he founded Perfect Heart, in which he managed. He performed with the group for 10 years.
In 1999, he signed on full time as a pianist for a gospel show at the Dollywood theme park.
During his shows, he said he never fails to convey to his audiences his love of the piano and of Southern Gospel music.
He won an award for Favorite Newcomer while touring with the Nelons from the Singing News Magazine and he won the Favorite Pianist award as a member of Perfect Heart. In 2007 Jeff was presented the Southern Music Guild award for Stage Musician of the Year.
The sounds engineer for the group is Rich Mace.
In 2010 they were announced the Male Quartet of the Year, and in June 2011 they claimed their debut number one on the Singing News National Radio Chart with “Love Came Calling.” The song can be found on the on the group’s current album, “Love Came Calling,” which is nominated for two Dove Awards and one Singing News Fan Award.
After their concert at the Auglaize County Fair, they will be signing autographs and meeting with fans. They will also have t-shirts and CDs for sale.