Gaither Vocal Band singing on stage2

The Gaither Vocal Band Birmingham Connection: Grammy Award Winning Wes Hampton

Cover Story

      

Growing up, Wes Hampton listened to a wide genre of music with his parents. The Gaither Vocal Band was a favorite but Hampton never expected to one day sing tenor for the group!

His Childhood. Born and raised in West Tennessee, Hampton grew up in the church. “I was involved and knew the expected church words and routine,” he says but it was as a teenager he truly understood what Jesus did for him on the cross and what it meant to know Him as Savior. “My father led me to Christ when I was 15 and I felt peace like never before because I knew I had started a real relationship with God opposed to a religious experience.” He always enjoyed singing but never thought he would do it as a career because he was a shy child and didn’t want to be on stage. He remembers singing privately in his room when his parents overheard him and encouraged him to get involved with the local youth choir. The youth choir director became very influential in Hampton’s pursuit of music, leading him to step further out of his comfort zone and join a quartet.

Gaither Vocal Band
Wes Hampton has sung tenor for the Gaither Vocal Band for fifteen years. Photos courtesy of Gaither Vocal Band.

The Audition. Hampton attended Trevecca Nazarene University, where he met his wife, Andrea. Shortly after marriage, the couple moved to Birmingham, Ala., where Hampton continued his education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “I would have been a doctor today, but God diverted my path,” Hampton says. During his junior year, he felt unsettled with his plans and felt God tell him, “I don’t want you to do this.” Following God’s prompting, Hampton left his anatomy class and began to pursue a degree in music. This decision led him to begin interning and leading worship at a local church. Even still, Hampton adds, “I felt like I was spinning my wheels.” A mutual friend of the Hamptons and Gaithers reached out to Hampton telling him about an opportunity to audition for the tenor position in the Gaither Vocal Band. In 2005, Hampton began a seven week audition process. He shares that he never expected anything to happen, but God had other plans. This year marks 15 years of Hampton being a part of the Gaither Vocal Band.

Gaither Vocal Band
The Gaither Vocal Band performs at Samford University on March 14, 2020, as part of the Good Things Take Time Tour. Visit www.premierproductions.com to learn more and purchase tickets.

Tour Life. When asked what has been crucial for maintaining a healthy marriage with Andrea and strong relationships with his sons while he is touring, Hampton shares technology has been a lifeline. They use Facetime to stay connected and Hampton and his sons play games on their phones as another way to spend time together even when they are apart. He also credits Bill Gaither with making time at home a priority. “He does a great job of getting us home. I am home the majority of the week,” he explains.

The Gaither Vocal Band has won many awards over the years, including a Grammy for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album. “It still blows my mind that it’s on my shelf in my living room.” Some of Hampton’s favorite tour memories are centered around international travel. “The energetic crowds in South Africa and Brazil are incredible to experience,” he reflects adding that singing at Billy Graham’s memorial service in 2018 is a memory he will always cherish. “It was a huge honor to do that. I am still so grateful.”

Wes Hampton and Bill Gaither
Wes Hampton shares that Bill Gaither has been influential in his life as a husband, father, and friend. He adds that Gaither has modeled how to not pursue opportunities unless God plans it.

Bill Gaither’s Influence. “I haven’t seen anyone like Bill- with the drive and love of what he does,” says Hampton about the leader of the Gaither Vocal Band who has taught him to be a better listener and lifelong learner as well as how to leave room for the Holy Spirit. “He encourages us to let the songs speak for themselves and to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.” Hampton says that Gaither shares with him wisdom like that of a grandparent. “We don’t need more information in today’s world. We need more wisdom.”

Wes Hampton's Family
Wes Hampton married Birmingham native Andrea, 22 years ago this August. She homeschools their four sons, Barrett (14), Hudson (12), Carden (9) and Sutton (8).

Home Life. The Hamptons have lived in Birmingham, Ala. for 22 years. Wife Andrea homeschools their four sons, Barrett (14), Hudson (12), Carden (9) and Sutton (8) and the family attends Church of the Highlands at the Grants Mill campus. “I am so grateful for Pastor Chris Hodges’ shepherding. He has been influential in making me who I am today,” says Hampton. A Bible verse with special meaning to Hampton is John 15:5. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Hampton admits that he deals with the insecurity of not being good enough and explains that this verse is a reminder that he can accomplish nothing without Christ. He adds that the verse is a reminder that, “This is what God called me to and He will give me what I need to do it.” He strives to spend the first part of every day with God in an act of daily surrender.

WescipesIn addition to singing, Hampton has a passion for cooking. “I love it,” he explains. Growing up, he recalls his mom being a great cook and he remembers having stained hands from gardening lima beans, corn and more. Inspired by the Food Network channel, he found cooking to be relaxing and started pushing wife Andrea out of the kitchen so he could take over. The hobby then turned into a passion. He started creating recipes and eventually compiled them into his first cookbook titled, Wescipes. Visit www.birminghamchristian.com/food for a taste of his cooking and be on the lookout for Wescipes Volume Two available later this year.

Home Performance. Hampton will have the opportunity to perform for his hometown fans on March 14, 2020 at Samford University. “There will be so many great songs and messages. We will sing new songs and the Gaither classics,” says Hampton of the upcoming Good things Take Time Tour. “It’s something you need to experience.” Learn more at www.premiereproductions.com

-Melissa Armstrong

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