Kenny Hinson: Maybe Not Gone…
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…