By Paige Givens
Southern Gospel music has been blessed with an abundance of amazing quartets, whose sound and talent keep people coming back for more. There is something about quartet singing that goes beyond simple enjoyment for both the singer and the listener. Gospel quartets have the ability to take the songs of old, songs of our Christian heritage, as well as new and inspired songs, and wrap them tightly in beautiful harmonies before sending them straight to the heart.
In this industry full of wonderful quartets, there are some that especially stand out, and Triumphant Quartet is one such group. Since they formed in 2003, Triumphant Quartet has enjoyed an exquisite harmony both on and off stage. They demonstrate the joys of living in harmony with one another and with the Lord.
The group actually began as singers for Sunday services in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Tenor David Sutton recalls, “Eric Bennett, Jeff Stice, and I had been volunteering at the Louise Mandrell Theater in Pigeon Forge, singing at her Sunday morning worship services that she held for tourists. She had the vision of having a gospel quartet at her theater doing morning shows and a Sunday night show. She approached us about the opportunity of forming a group to do this. To be honest with you, when she did, we all said, ‘We are happy and not interested but we will keep it in our prayers.’ A little time passed and she asked again. This went on for several weeks and finally we agreed to sit down and talk with her about what her vision was. Because of her vision and lots of prayer, this group was formed, and God continues to bless.”
David goes on to explain how the group was named Triumphant Quartet. “The name Triumphant came from three fans. When the group formed we were known as Integrity. After a little over a year of singing, we received a letter from a well-known business that had the same name. They were in our same genre of music and felt because of the years they had used the name, there was a conflict of interest, so we decided to take a negative and turn it into a positive. We got with the management team at the theater and started coming up with ideas. We came up with the idea to let the fans pick our name. We started doing national marketing asking fans to submit names. We had over 3500 names submitted. We narrowed it down to our top five and went to Trademark attorneys to search the names out. Our top pick was Triumphant. We had three different people submit this name. We invited all three people to our show one Sunday night at the theater and presented them all with gifts.”
The original singers that formed Triumphant still sing in the quartet today, which is a testament to the harmonious friendship of the group. They’ve added some extra members as well and each person makes important contributions to keep the ministry flowing smoothly.
David Sutton sings tenor for the group and occasionally plays harmonica. When he was just 10 years old, David started playing the drums for his dad’s quartet, The Watchmen. “Night after night I would sit behind a big set of drums and watch four guys sing quartet-style music. I saw how the music encouraged people and I saw people came to know Christ as their Lord and Savior at the concerts. Because of this, I fell in love with Gospel music.” After high school, David went on to sing with the Anchormen Quartet and then spent three years with the Singing Americans and nine years with the Kingdom Heirs. “At the end of 2002 I had the opportunity to help form Integrity Quartet, now known as Triumphant Quartet. I am in my thirteenth year with Triumphant. I take care of all the office work for the group as far as bills, payroll and the finances that come in. We also have an office worker named Shari Pickel that’s been with us from the beginning. She helps out with all our mail orders as well as other office things we can’t do because of our road schedule.”
Eric Bennett is the bass singer for Triumphant. He recalls early influences that inspired him. “I was so young when I first started singing. My mother took me all over the country to listen to groups when I was a child. I just remember that I have always loved to sing. I’ve had many people who have influenced me musically. My brother Perry really helped me get started. He taught me the correct notes to sing. But there were other bass singers that, when I heard them, really made me want to sing, guys such as Ray Reese, Tim Riley, and George Younce. I have also had some spiritual influences, such as my family. Jerry Goff has also been an incredible influence on me.”
Eric also spent time singing with the Kingdom Heirs. “I was pastoring a church and felt it was time to resign. Two weeks later Steve French from the Kingdom Heirs called me and asked me to come up and try out. I knew it was something that God has His hand in. I am blessed!” Eric does most of the group’s emcee work and takes care of the bus maintenance. He also stays in close contact with the group’s booking agency (The Dominion Agency), promoters, and pastors to plan details for bookings.
Clayton Inman is the lead singer for the group and also contributes the comical portions to the group’s program. As a teenager, Clayton traveled and sang in his family’s group, the Inmans. He went on to be with the Singing Americans and Won by One. David says, “Clayton makes sure we have products ordered and on the bus each week to sell at our concerts. We call him PRODUCT MAN! And BIG C!” His son, Scotty, joins Clayton in the Quartet.
Scotty Inman sings baritone with the group. He recalls growing up with his musician father. “I grew up in a home of a professional singer, so it’s in my blood. I never sang much growing up, but at the age of 17, God placed the desire in my heart to sing and I’m glad He did! The first time I sang I was a nervous wreck. I spent many years overcoming stage fright so when I finally faced my fear it was exciting and stressful. Thankfully I’m over all of that now.” Scotty plays a big role in picking songs and writing material for new projects. He also keeps up with the group’s social media pages.
David introduces two of Triumphant Quartet’s newest members. “G.W. Southard plays piano as well as acoustic guitar. G.W. is the newest member of Triumphant. He has a big responsibility every night knowing when to kick the songs off from the iPad at just the right time to make the program flow. G.W. also does side work. He makes tracks for different artists from his home studio.
“Adam Bradford is the next newest member of Triumphant. Adam sets our sound and gets it just right every night. He has one of the hardest jobs of anyone. He has to make a lot of people happy. Not just us, but everyone else in the audience that has an opinion. He’s one of the best in the industry!”
These talented individuals that make up Triumphant work tirelessly to bring the truth of Jesus to countless souls night after night. David points out that while Triumphant Quartet works hard to create an enjoyable event for the people who come to hear them, the endeavor is much more than just putting on a good show. “I want to think people will hear a very pleasant sounding group. We love quartet style music and that’s what we will always sing. We have always done a wide variety of styles in our programs. We love to add a little humor in our programs as well. We sing to people from all walks of life. We sing to people that come from various churches that sing all styles of gospel music. We hope to hit a home run with everyone in our audience by something we say or sing on stage.” He goes on to say, “We will always sing music that uplifts our Lord and Savior. That’s why we sing. Before you leave a Triumphant concert you will hear the Gospel whether it be through something we sing or something we say. There will almost always be time for someone to surrender their life to Christ.”
The times when a listener turns to God are the ones that stand out to Triumphant Quartet. Eric says, “Every time someone surrenders their life to Christ at a concert it is a special moment. Many times there have been those that have been listening to our music and given their life to Him. God works in amazing ways. I love staying in touch with some of those that have gotten saved. I can see them growing in the Lord. Those are very sweet moments.”
Triumphant has just released a brand new CD entitled Living in Harmony. The project released on April 14th. David is enthusiastic about the project. “This is a brand new recording done with our brand new record label, Stow Town Records. We are so excited about this project. We think it could be our favorite to date. Wayne Haun once again went all out on this recording with his producing skills. We were so blessed to have incredible musicians as well as incredible songwriters to be a part of this project. We feel that ten amazing songs were chosen and we can’t wait to sing these songs for our audiences.”
The members of Triumphant would love for you to be a part of their audience. One event is particularly special for the group. “We have an Anniversary Celebration every year in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, at the Music Road Hotel and Convention Center,” says David. “This year it is on October 4th and 5th. We have three sessions: Sunday night, Monday morning, and Monday night. We always have some surprise guests show up for this event. You never know who may be there. You can order your tickets by calling our office at 865-621-0492.We would love to have you there as our guest! It’s always an incredible event.”
Triumphant Quartet is enjoying success in their careers and ministry. They are enjoying a harmony in their song and in their friendships with each other and with their fans. With these triumphs, they are remaining focused on the One who keeps them living in harmony, their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
To keep up with the new music and events of Triumphant Quartet, visit their website (www.triumphantquartet.com), like them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TriumphantQuartet), and follow them on Twitter (@TheTriumphantQT). For booking, contact Michael Davis at The Dominion Agency, 828-454-5900.
Photographs courtesy of Jake Harsh (except where indicated)
By Paige Givens
First published by SGN Scoops magazine in May 2015
For current issues of SGN Scoops, visit the SGN Scoops mainpage.