By Matt Baker
While I was on the road full time, I made some great friends in the gospel music industry. Some friends were people I loved to cut up with and still do. Some I gained great amounts of wisdom from. Some poured incredible amounts of encouragement into my heart and life. The singer featured in this article has been all three of those to me. Aaron Hise of the Whisnants has anchored the lead part for the group for many years now, and he is a big reason that the Whisnants have enjoyed great success on the stage, as well as the airwaves. I had the chance to ask him a few questions recently:
Matt Baker: You’re a northern Indiana boy. How did you end up in North Carolina with the Whisnants?
Aaron Hise: While I was living in southern Illinois, I was filling in for a local quartet. One night we sang with the Poet Voices and Phil Cross asked me if I’d be interested in singing full time. Of course, I said yes. So Phil and I exchanged numbers and I never thought I’d hear from him again. Well, that was Friday, and on Monday morning Phil called and explained that Tim Greene of the Greenes was sick and they needed someone to fill his position. So I thanked Phil and immediately called Tony Greene. As I spoke to Tony he explained the details of what they were looking for and what they needed. Again…this was Monday morning. Tony then overnighted four CD’s and marked the songs I needed to learn.
I drove to Boone, North Carolina, on Wednesday morning. That afternoon we ran through a couple songs, got on the bus that evening and sang in Pearl, Mississippi on Thursday night. I stayed with the Greenes for four and a half months and loved it! While my venture with the Greenes was coming to an end, the gentleman that was currently with the Whisnants came off the road. Tony mentioned it to me and said he’d call Jeff and set up an audition. I had my audition in December of 2000, got the job and I’ve been here ever since. To this day, I’ll always be grateful to Phil Cross, Tony Greene and of course Jeff Whisnant for giving this Indiana boy a chance.
MB: Who were some of your early Gospel music influences and heroes?
AH: Being from Indiana we didn’t get a lot of Gospel Music but when we did it was mostly quartets. My very first concert I attended was in 1983 at the South Bend High School in South Bend, Indiana, featuring the Kingsmen and the Cathedrals. I was hooked! To this day, I’ve always admired Glen Payne. Not only for his voice, but how he carried himself on and off the stage. My Dad, Ron Hise, will always be my hero for instilling a love and respect for Gospel music into my life. His love for sharing Jesus through this music became a love of my own through his influence.
MB: You’ve been with the Whisnants for quite a while now. Do you have a favorite place/venue to sing at? Why?
AH: There are several different venues that I love, but one of my favorite places will always be the National Quartet Convention. Singing at an event where so many of the Gospel greats have sung before still excites me to this day. We are also blessed to be a part of many Bible Conferences through out the year. One in particular, Mims Baptist Church in Conroe, Texas, is another favorite. Being a part of their Conference every January always starts my year out right, they are a true blessing.
MB: Most folks who follow Gospel music know that you’re married to Suzanne (Taylor) Hise of the Taylors. How did you two meet?
AH: Suzanne and I met at a concert in Kankakee, Illinois, where both of our groups were singing that night. I told Susan Whisnant that I was going to talk to Suzanne and I’m glad that I did. A month later at the National Quartet Convention we met up again and went out a couple of times. At the time, Suzanne was still in college and like myself, very busy. So we decided to slow down and get to know each other as friends. I knew she would be graduating from Liberty University that May. So I messaged her and asked if I could take her out for dinner to celebrate. She said yes and we started dating. Suzanne said yes again when I asked her to marry me on November 8th, 2012. We were married May 21, 2013.
MB: Because of your busy schedules, time together at home is precious. What are some of your favorite activities that you both enjoy to make the best of your time at home?
AH: We are like most Gospel Music couples in that we love our time at home. We enjoy going to see movies or staying at home to watch our favorite TV shows. We love to take road trips to Pigeon Forge, Asheville, or even the Coast. We love going out on dates to our favorite restaurants. Suzanne loves to cook as well, so she usually tries to cook dinner at least once a week while we’re home. She’s a great cook!
MB: What’s your favorite Whisnants’ song that you get to sing and why?
AH: My favorite song that I have had the privilege to sing is “I’m Trusting The Blood.” When Joel Hemphill sent us the song, I knew I wanted to sing it. I’m a simple guy and I love simple songs that still have a message and say something. Sadly enough, there are people that are putting their trust in things to gain salvation. Worldly deeds are not going to get them to heaven. The bible clearly says, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin”. I truly love this song and we sing it every night.
MB: Share with us your funniest road story.
AH: There are too many to list, Matt! Here’s one: We were singing at a church that was having a special celebration in their family life center. Like any church event there’s always food involved. During intermission, a gentleman came to the product table while eating a hot dog. While he was walking back and forth admiring the CDs, he literally dropped ketchup, mustard, onions, and chili all over my product table. Needless to say, he didn’t buy anything!
MB: Night after night, folks come by your table and share testimonies of how The Whisnants’ music blesses them. Share a story with us that motivates you each weekend out on the road.
AH: Recently, we had an 87-year-old man come forward and give his heart to Christ. After the concert, the pastor told us that this same man had told him that he would never give in to Jesus Christ. While singing, “I’m Trusting The Blood” that man came forward and said “I Give Up.” That is one night that I will never forget!
MB: You started out in Gospel Music while you were very young. What advice would you give to an aspiring Gospel singer?
MH: Have a love for this music, a love for people, and most importantly a love for the Lord. Pray that this IS what the Lord wants to you do. Do your best to listen and learn from your favorite singer or singers. Oh yeah, and practice.
MB: You’ve got one last song to sing. What song would it be and why?
AH: “And Life Is Worth The Living, Just Because He Lives.” In that line alone, we have all been given the hope that our Savior is alive and coming back for all of those who place their trust in Him!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this short chat with one of my favorite singers. And judging by all those Number One songs they’ve been blessed to have, many of you who read this and listen to Gospel music, have made him one of your favorite singers as well. Keep Aaron and the rest of the Whisnants in your prayers as they minister each week across the country!
Find out more about Aaron Hise and The Whisnants here: http://www.whisnants.com/
Matt Baker writes for SGM Radio website.
First published in August 2014 on SGM Radio website.
For current features, visit http://www.sgmradio.com/