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Kenny Hinson: Maybe Not Gone…

June 29, 2011

I don’t really get caught into the euphoria of most current artists.  I like good music and don’t typically care who it is or who it isn’t.  But what’s strange is, the older I get, the more I seem to appreciate stuff creeping up from my past and stuff older than my past.  There are few artists that other current artists are wowed by.  And virtually everyone I know, are in some way, brought to a sense of awe and magnetically induced appreciation in the life and work of Kenny Hinson.  There will never be another.  He’s one of the few that artists wish they could channel their inner-Kenny Hinson, but dare to touch it, except for maybe a in the car.  It would be a dangerous thing, imitating Kenny.  Some boys pretend to be G.I. Joe.  Others play Cowboys & Indians.  Some may drape a towel around their neck, secured by a clothespin and run around pretending they are indeed, Superman.  But we all know there’s only one real Superman…the gospel wannabe kids knew who that was.  And those kids pretended to be Kenny Hinson in their backyards and bedrooms.  But boys like to live on the edge…as long as it was merely imitating.

Kenny was from another world.  Maybe that world was California relocated to Kentucky relocated to Tennessee, but he was as real as he was animated.  He was indelible and his methods perplexing to the innocent southern gospel ear.  There was a captivating bewilderment in his voice that hooked the listener, and there was authenticity in his spirit.  He was a man of pure country gospel music, a legend who lived a life too short.



I recall those youtube videos.  His charisma just begins to drip from that spirited, infectious, welcoming, larger than life grin.  Look carefully, you’ll see the wink…maybe a couple of winks (at least it looked like he winked).  I keep waiting for him to sling the guitar over his shoulder and point to the crowd as he slides into every lyric knowing he owned everyone in attendance, effectively in his grasp.  But that assumption wouldn’t be humble enough for him.  Sure, they were there to hear the Hinsons, but more truthfully…they were there to SEE Kenny.  Too bad we tend to overlook Larry or the others, because they too were great.  But crowds were mostly there to get their souls saved again by Kenny leading them into a singing dialogue of a sinner’s prayer…ain’t that what it’s all about?  Oh, the die-hard Armenians at those Hinsons shows.  I know that sounds blasphemous, but honestly…I remember hearing Live & On Stage for the first time all the way through, during the singing and the preaching, and the experience I felt as I was driving in my car, windows down, volume up, country hills and the banks of the Blue Ridge surrounded me…I thought to myself, “wow, I’m saved…but I don’t think I’m saved like that”.

In my recent exploration of The Hinsons, I began my attempt to unwrap and unpack the style and glorious flair of Kenny Hinson.  I remember asking an industry friend, “what made Kenny so special to you?”

“Haven’t you heard him?”

“Yes, he was great…but what made him SPECIAL to you?”

“Ever heard him live?”

I stopped asking questions.  My CD’s certainly can’t do justice to the live event.  No, I never saw Kenny Hinson live, but through what lives on video clips (too bad there’s not more in circulation), I’m mesmerized.  I imagine myself in the audience, breathing in every moment.  Some days, when I want a youtube thrill, I type Kenny Hinson into the search engine.  That speaks volumes, I think.  Artists still adore him and continue to see him and the rest of The Hinsons as pioneers of this great genre.  He had “it”, that so many may strive for…but must come to the realization maybe they weren’t born with “it”, whatever “it” is.  We’ve heard stories how he could’ve made millions singing country, and it would be sufficient to say that would be the case had he gone that route.  But ministry-minded, he stayed put and treated the gospel music world to a couple of decades of real, no holds barred, hallelujah music that still lives on.  Call me a dreamer, but I don’t believe he’ll ever be completely gone…

  1. Kenny Hinson was truly one of a kind, and so were the Hinsons. I too never saw them live, but have, like you, perused their Youtube videos and gathered what music I can find. They had a unique brand of energy and charisma. Ronny’s MC work is just…Ronny. And of course, there’s the voice. What else can you say about that voice, besides what you point out: folks don’t even try to imitate it.

    Through all of that energy, charisma, and vocal talent, there still shone through tremendous sincerity for spreading the gospel. Not many groups can pull that off.

  2. steven permalink

    As a SG fan of the younger generation (20’s) I never had the privilege of experiencing the hinsons with Kenny live – however his style, his music and the music of the hinsons (AND THE ROCKING BAND!) is timeless.

    There is something, as Brian posted, mesmerizing about the original hinsons live that there is nothing that can touch it. I have tried to collect as much live hinsons cds, recordings, and home recordings as i can. I can only imagine what it was like to be there live during that their day. This is why I am THANKFUL for youtube – so we can point out and look back on some really awesome stuff that some of us may have never been able to get even taste let alone see.

    I have some close friends who Kenny produced their album and they told me stories of him and what a kind hearted, friendly and musically gifted man he was. Then they told me stories of concerts with the Hinsons – and really makes me wish I was able to see them live together. Here’s hoping at least they do a reunion tour and insert kenny’s son (i believe he sounds the closest naturally), throw a live band together, and maybe use some technology to remind the audiences how great the Hinson sound was.

    on a side note: I would say that the closest we have to the type of person and singer (while not the same style exactly) that kenny was is Jason Crabb. Charisma, could sing the songbook, great musician, speaker, and has the look. I really want to say that what the Hinsons were to a generation…the Crabb FAMILY was to my generation. I see so many similarities in that.
    I’ve always viewed the trail as Goodmans -> Hinsons -> Crabb Family

    • I would have to agree. Though very different, The Crabbs were comparable. I was going to make that comparison, but I’m always hesitant to make comparisons.

  3. Speaking of comparisons, I would say the only gospel singer I am familiar with that is even in the same arena as Kenny Hinson in style would be Buddy Mullins, no?

    • You know, I’ve never thought about Buddy Mullins comparing to Kenny. But I see where you are going with that and how that view can be held for some.

  4. “Two Winning Hands” is a dreadful song, but my, my, doesn’t he sell it?

  5. I Agree NO ONE will ever be able to imitate Kenny Hinson.
    But without trying hard at all the closest thing to him… Is his son!
    Kenneth Weston Hinson. Aka. Weston Hinson.
    I think it’s the DNA he even has the wink thing! Lol
    YouTube him on the song Call me Gone, you will hear Gerald Crabb whoop and holler! (NQC 2010) Gerald is a huge fan!

  6. Being close to Kenny’s age, I was fortunate to hear The Hinsons live MANY times! I was also fortunate to meet them several times and they are the real deal! Sincere and down to earth.
    To me, no one will ever be to SG what Kenny was. He had a spirit that cut through the music and yes even his own amazing voice! Having seen the Hinsons in the early 70’s through the mid 90’s, there was a growth in them all, musically and spiritually, but the fire was there from the beginning.
    May God bless the Hinson family and everyone who loves them!

  7. Dknowles permalink

    I too was blessed by growing up with the Hinsons. Went to so many concerts, singings, churches and Opryland getting to hear and talk with them. In this day and age when songs don’t even make sense, I am so thankful I grew up on SG music and the Hinson’s. I miss the voice of Kenny Hinson. No one will ever take his place. They were so much fun. I first met them when Kenny was 14 and Larry was 12, if I remember correctly. Followed them all the rest of time!! Everywhere!! So many memories flood my mind. Kenny used to always chew gum, or at least have gum in his mouth singing. Didn’t hurt that sound one bit! I miss them …I really miss them. Especially Kenny.

  8. Laytena (Summers) Nickols permalink

    I was blessed to see Kenny and family live many times. It wasn’t just Kenny’s voice that was amazing, but just watching him on stage. As magnificent as his voice was, the brotherly banter between him and Ronnie was special. They looked you in the eyes and sang to you about a Savior you thought you knew, but longed to know more. They were not afraid to show tears, you cried and the love of God and each other filled the room. It was better than any sermon ever preached. They made you feel part of it all, and you never wanted it to end. My sister and I would always go together with our children, all different ages, yet we all loved it, we all had fun, we all learned, we all got it. All of us, our now grown children still talk about those trips, and how special they were. I still go on line to see them and play my old tapes till they are worn. No one ever wrote songs or sang songs like them. I enjoy their sons music too, but I will never forget Kenny and Ronnie.

  9. Bobby Teems permalink

    I remember when I was about 21 years old in 1976, a friend in my church loved the Hinsons as much as I did. We decided to see if we could get them to sing in our church. To our surprise, they were going to be in the central Florida area anyway so they came and what a fantastic time I had hearing them. I got to talk to Kenny for a good 30 minutes at his record table before the concert. what a wonderful person he was to take the time to talk to me. After the concert, my friend & her sister invited The Hinsons to go over to her house and eat supper. They were gracious to accept and we had such a great time talking with them. The band & I watched part of a basketball game. I’ll never forget that night. I think I have just about all the Hinsons LP’s & CD’s. They definitely are my all time favorite group but I have many, many groups that I love and have gone to see in person. I still live, eat, and breathe southern gospel music! The greatest music ever!

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