Preacher’s Kid Fulfills His Dream: Ivory Luke – the Little Tenor

Pine Ridge Boys at Creekside 2014
Pine Ridge Boys at Creekside 2014

For anyone who has been to a gospel concert or involved in the church, there are two things that are taught.
1. Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
2. The preacher’s kids are trouble too! Just ask the kids who are in trouble.
Although the preacher’s kids are often the banter of jokes and fun, Ivory Luke was instilled with those Christian values and morals. Today that up-bringing still shines as an example of doing the right thing.

The first memories of Gospel music really came at the young age of five. Reverend Wesley Luke pastored and held revival meetings throughout the southeast. Many times the family provided the special music. Ivory states, “Even back then I knew I loved Gospel music and singing!” Yes, Ivory was brought up right.

The first real opportunity to sing organized Gospel music came when Ivory was nineteen. He began singing tenor for The Shepherds Quartet of Columbia, SC. Ivory reflects, “The Shepherds sang mostly in the South Carolina region. We rode an old Flex bus with no heat or air conditioning. One of the coldest nights of my life was on the bus in Charleston, SC. And to boot our lead singer could not sing harmony. So it was take the lead on a verse and jump to the harmony on the chorus. You know our bass singer then was Thomas Brazell. He is still singing today!”

In his twenties, Ivory married and began a family, having one daughter. As a matter of record he met Gwen Smith with the group he joined in 1975, The Saints. Gwen was a winner of the Stamps/ Blackwood School of Music. They sang Gospel music, married and had one daughter, the apple of Dad’s eye, Jaime. Now the offers to sing full time Gospel music came, but his family, business career and singing on weekends took priority. In 1979, Gwen and Ivory formed the group, Sonrise. The group travelled for five years with a full band and was often compared to the Hinsons. After that time the focus was family and career.

Pine Ridge Boys
Pine Ridge Boys

Over the years, time takes its toll on our lives. Tragedy struck as Gwen was graduated to a heavenly home due to Lupus complications. Although being involved in church, the urge to sing was never far away. In late 2007, Ivory joined the Crusaders from Prosperity, SC. The group, Gospel music and old friends rekindled his music passions. After 18 months of traveling with the Crusaders, Luke along with Jerry Baggott and Jerry Baggott II (who was recently saved) reformed Sonrise.

The next four and half years Sonrise travelled singing Gospel music. The harmony blend was exceptional and singing was easy. Travelling the southeast region, the group garnered lots of music friends and fans. Yet time again makes those changes. Sonrise disbanded in 2013 as Little Jerry was prioritizing family, career and life in general. Hmmm, that sounds familiar!

But in God’s perfect timing, the tenor singing Ivory Luke was offered the chance to audition with the Pine Ridge Boys. Within three days of Sonrise disbanding, he was the new tenor for one of the best known heritage quartets, the Pine Ridge Boys.

Pine Ridge Boys
Pine Ridge Boys

“It was so sudden, I found myself onstage thinking, ‘what am I doing?'” shares Luke. “The first week out together we sang at a church in Pennsylvania and a spirit swept over me while we sang, ‘I Rest My Case At The Cross.’ We took a break after the song and I was crying, running around and telling each member of the group I loved them and was thankful to be a part of the group. I knew then this is where God wanted me to be. Our friendship has grown since that time and I love each member like they were family.”

He continues, “It is great to be involved in a ministry that is singing for the right reasons and with men who are truthful and trustworthy. Our mission is to spread the word in song, and in so doing, be a blessing and help lead someone to Christ. Of course this should be every Christian’s mission. I feel to increase our ministry is to increase the glory of our Lord. We are singing more in new areas of the country where we have never been, increased our media exposure, and simply reaching more people. We continue to work our plan with the help of many good people too numerous to mention.”

In the last few years, Ivory has won the hearts of all who hear him. Yes, Ivory has never met a stranger and his love for gospel music is beaming. Larry Stewart, Pine Ridge Boys manager, shares: “Ivory is just Ivory. He connects with people no matter where we go or sing. He loves Christ, the Pine Ridge Boys and Gospel music. We are so proud of him and his talent.”

Ivory is a preacher’s kid. He has never been in trouble, as country folk would say. He has lived a good life. He says he accepted Christ at a young age. He was singing Gospel music at the age of five with family. He was always in church where his dad pastored. He knew of Christ, the salvation experience. Some would say, “He had the head knowledge, but not the heart knowledge.”

In 1975, The Saints were singing a song the Oak Ridge Boys and other groups made popular: “King Jesus.” Ivory says, “As I began to sing the second verse, I began to listen to the words. It speaks of riches and the glory of heaven. Suddenly I knew I did not want to miss out. Right then and there, I truly accepted Christ as my savior. I fully rededicated my life and renewed my covenant. Christ never left me, but that night was a turning point in my life!” Need I say, that night, camp meeting happened?

Pine Ridge Boys
Pine Ridge Boys

God, family, and country. Ivory says, “I know it sounds like a cliché, but its how I feel. My salvation and walk with God is paramount in my life. I am not perfect, but a work in progress. It sustains me. My family is next. I was fortunate to be raised in a Christian home, loving parents, supportive aunts, uncles, and cousins. Even my sisters love and support me. And the strongest, most loving one is my daughter, Jaime. We have been through much together in the family vein, I consider my close friends as pretty much family. Without friends it’s tough to make it through the hard times. Yes, I do love this country. With all our problems, it is still the greatest nation in the world. But we need to be praying for the USA and Christians need to participate in the process and send good men to Washington with Christian beliefs and morals.”

Ivory fits the Gospel music profile. He loves to eat. He loves a good steak and doesn’t  mind cooking it. He is a USC Gamecocks fan, and loves a good TV program. He says his favorite color is blue ‘cause it matches his eyes.’

As for favorite songs, that becomes a little harder to choose. Luke says, “It is always difficult to narrow it down to one. There are so many great songs out there. My most requested song continues to be,’Oh, What a Savior.’ But of the current songs we do, ‘Whiter Than Snow’ has become my favorite. It excites me! The words, ‘and although I was nothing, to Heaven I will go,’ always touch me. We are all dark, sinful creatures until we visit Calvary and let the blood of Jesus Christ wash us ‘White as snow!’ Man, I am about to shout!”

Pine ridge boysAs one can tell Ivory Luke is enjoying the journey singing the Gospel music he loves so dear. As his mark is made with the Pine Ridge Boys, you will see a life fulfilled and blessed beyond measure. So being a preacher’s kid was not so bad for Ivory Luke. He was taught right from wrong, given love, support, encouragement to pursue his dreams. His faith, family and friends are integral to his daily life. But his love for gospel music is what makes Ivory Luke shine. He is the little tenor who is making an impact with Gospel music fans across America. When he steps on stage or when the little tenor corners you at the CDs, you will see his love of life and Gospel music.

Important links:
A special celebration of the Pine Ridge Boys will take place on Wednesday morning, November 4th, during 2015 Creekside Gospel Music Convention at Pigeon Forge TN. 

by Charlie Griffin