What to make of Archie Watkins going solo? For the blogger, possibilities for snark seem endless. The mind reels, the ears bleed etc .. you get the idea.

Of course I’ve probably said all that already, and naturally I wouldn’t walk across the hall to hear Archie sing (plus: you’d need much more soundproofing than your average drywall and insulation provide to keep from hearing Archie’s voice in his nasal passage upper registers).

But actually the one thing I’ve thought most about since reading the news is that this will probably work out for him pretty well. I mean, contrary to claims being made over at Mount Listmore, the Inspirations and the group’s success have never been primarily about music. It’s about the personae of the group, individually and collectively, about celebrating certain religious folkways and giving people a way to feel they’re part of something noticeably set apart, that they’re palpably living up to the scriptural mandate of separateness from the world as a distinguishing feature of Christian piety. And there’s nothing wrong with this most of the time (though Martin Cook can take it too far from the stage on a regular basis). But this is one of those instances in which cultural appeal shouldn’t be confused with musical quality.

So yeah … Solo Archie will sell, I’d wager. And because my aesthetic biases in this particular situation put me at the far limits of my ability to provide meaningful non-snarky commentary, I asked around with people who might have a more useful perspective. This response seemed worth passing along, from an industry insider:

Archie has been and is one of the true “good guys” in this business.  He is always positive and no one can be unhappy in his presence.  He is generous to everyone with praise, with attention,  with any kind of help anyone requests, and few know the work and effort he has put into building this industry over the years.  And I’ve never heard him say or do anything to indicate he expects people to “look at me!!!”  He absolutely lives and breathes what he sings.  While many can, have, and will no doubt continue to debate his singing style and ability, no one can deny his signature effect on thousands of lives.

Being a good guy is no reason to go hear someone sing, mind you, much less like their music if your tastes run the other way, and please don’t mistake all this as some endorsement of the Inspirations or their musical style, which probably will never be my bag (and always be a big hit with others). But that’s no reason not to wish the guy well.

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  1. jbb wrote:

    You are one mean spirited person. Just remember that words cut deep and cannot be taken back.

  2. Disgusted wrote:

    You have got to be the biggest jerk I know.. Im just going to be honest.. just because you don’t like someone doesn’t mean you have to blast them.. There must be some reason that the Inspirations have been around for 45 years.. ya think??? DUH, that’s because people want to hear them sing.. and Archie Watkins is a legend and will continue to be a legend.. and I think you need to keep your thoughts to yourself..

  3. Bryce wrote:

    Being more of a glass-half-empty-with-a-fly-in-it kind of person, I’d say this post is the biggest compliment DH ever paid to any member of the Inspirations fraternity. It’s a pretty big stretch for a non-fan to extend well wishes to the next career phase of a performer whose material is the antithesis of what one generally considers musically significant, especially when one would prefer he retire to the graces of his grandchildren. Archie’s longevity is laudable, and he warrants his own AVFL post for that alone.

  4. WA wrote:

    Hey, folks - take a few seconds to reread what an industry insider said about Archie:

    Archie has been and is one of the true “good guys” in this business. He is always positive and no one can be unhappy in his presence. He is generous to everyone with praise, with attention, with any kind of help anyone requests, and few know the work and effort he has put into building this industry over the years. And I’ve never heard him say or do anything to indicate he expects people to “look at me!!!” He absolutely lives and breathes what he sings.

    Good guy, always positive, generous with praise and attention. Generous with any kind of help anyone requests,
    few know the work and effort he has put into building this industry. He absolutely lives and breathes what he sings.

    Add to that a living member of the SGM Hall of Fame. Hmmm. And then I compare all of those accolades with the blogger. My, my.

    Like his voice or not, he’s one of the very best of the gentlemen who has ever stood on a stage and sung a Gospel song. God bless him in his new solo career. Pure class, that Archie.

  5. Gospel Has Been wrote:

    Well Doug you’ve done it again. They are all chomping at the bit to tear you up for talking about one of the heros. You must get some satisfaction sitting back reading all these wonderful comments on how terrible you are

  6. TERRY wrote:

    Not one of my favorite singers but trully a class act. We apprecite you Archie. The industry needs more people like you!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Wade wrote:

    DISGUSTED… has the Best Line I have not heard since MY SISTER said the same thing to me when my MuM asked what I thought of my sister coming home drunk w/ her clothes on backwards.

    When I said, I think I received the discretion gene and she didn’t…

    She said, “Wade Shut up and keep your thoughts to yourself”

    Maybe DISGUSTED had his thong on backwards like she did…[edit]

  8. Wade wrote:

    I got to start keeping my post so I can remember what gets the [edit]

  9. Mike McIlwain wrote:

    While I would not buy an Archie Watkins solo cd, I can see why he would likely do well as a solo artist. He had many of the leads in the songs he recorded with the Inspirations. Most folks who are big Inspiration fans were so due to Archie’s singing, or at least most of the ones I know are.

  10. WA wrote:

    Honestly, I don’t know if I’d buy an Archie solo CD either. I came to really enjoy the I’s group sound, as it seemed to really improve through the years. They were - and are - what they are, mountain and country Gospel. But, they do what they do with great consistency, and Holcombe is a wonder of a bass singer. Likely one of the best ever, come to think about it. Archie was a huge part of the I’d sound, no doubt.

    I agree with Doug and others who have written that being a nice guy isn’t reason enough to go see someone in concert, but it’s been interesting to note that even some who feel that way still have nothing but good to say about the man. And at the end of the day, that in itself is high praise.

  11. Inspolegacy wrote:

    One phrase: “Ain’t nobody likes it but the people”

  12. Jeff wrote:

    Can’t say I pay to hear him sing solo either. No way he can hold an audience as good as Ivan Parker does.

  13. Robert Davis wrote:

    I don’t know what the “press release” (if there was one) actually said, but Archie told my dad about 3-4 years ago he was thinking of retiring. His plans were to buy a nice RV and travel with his wife. The travel was more for recreation than to sing. Although, there were locations around the country that he said he would be able to sing at, I don’t think his intent was to become a “solo artist”. His intent then was to travel with his wife and sing at a few places along the way.
    People can say whatever they want about the Inspirations and Archie. Maybe their style and singing ability is not “technically sound”. This is subjective. There are some music legends that come to mind who, in my opinion, are not technically sound singers (Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson are a couple) but people love them. Apart from longevity, filling auditoriums when others could not, and having #1 songs almost every year, there is one thing you certainly cannot take away from the Inspirations. They are one of the most financially successful SG groups. Show me some other SG artists who can afford to retire, much less retire and buy a 1/4 million dollar RV and travel in retirement.
    With all due respect, Avery, I would bet Archie is much more financially successful than you. Maybe his voice not being to your liking is not the only reason you like to make “snarky” comments about him.

  14. gina wrote:

    Robert, I agree with your perspective on the success of Archie and the Inspirations. The official press release (see SN site) does actually use the words “solo artist” in a direct quote from Archie. He also has his own site established ( on which it says he is “following the call as a solo artist.” I personally hope he does a fair number of dates, but I would think solo work would be even harder on his voice than quartet singing.

  15. gina wrote:

    Just noticed Archie’s site now has a schedule of appearances up. Already 12 dates up over the next three months! Interestingly, several of them seem to line up with dates the Diplomats are appearing on. Isn’t Matt D. a permanent member of the Diplomats now?

  16. W Stephens wrote:

    What a farse, Archie Watkins solo? I say great for the Inspirations, every song they have recorded over the past 10 years, sound the same… He in my view is one of the worst tenors (vocally) in gospel music.
    He is a legend? where? Does anyone realize how small the southern gospel music industry is?

  17. Wade wrote:

    Maybe Archie and Ernie can go on the Tenor Solo Tour!!! That would be fun!!!

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