Martin Cook, Inspirations Founder, Passes Away

Martin Cook, one of Southern Gospel Music’s all-time legends, gained his angel’s wings and was promoted to Heaven, today, February 23, at 4:50 p.m. from the home of his youngest son, Michael Cook, in Washington, GA. He was 85 years old.
Martin was diagnosed with an untreatable, cancerous brain tumor recently by his doctors and had received Hospice care the past several days. His wife, Ora Blanche, said that Martin was not in pain since he was put in Hospice care.
Besides Ora Blanche and Michael, Martin is survived by another son, Myron Cook, a former upright bass guitarist for the Inspirations Quartet, which Martin founded in 1964 and served as its manager, pianist and emcee for 53 years (2017), and four grandchildren.
Marin was preceded in death by a daughter, Marcia Cook, a former secretary to the Inspirations, his parents, John and Ellen Cook, a brother, Candler, and a sister, Arbie Cook Rhodes.
Martin established himself at the top of his field in success and stature. A recipient of many awards and accolades, including Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame enshrinement (Class of 2003), Southern Gospel Piano Roll of Honor induction (2005) and the Marvin Norcross Award (2002), given by Singing News magazine, further validate Martin in his chosen profession.
In 1957, Martin began his practical Gospel music experience as the first pianist for the Kingsmen Quartet. He served two tenures with this renowned group and also played piano for the Silvertones Quartet. Additionally, Martin sang lead and played piano for the Smoky Mountain Quartet before forming the Inspirations.
It was then that Martin, a science teacher at Swain County High School in Bryson City, NC, and four of his students held nightly singing sessions in his home, purely for their love of Gospel music. They soon went on the road as the Inspirations, and became a famous name in any musical genre and models of consistency in the Southern Gospel Music world, maintaining tremendous popularity while logging nearly five million miles traveling the singing circuit while Martin was their manager. The Inspirations have placed many songs on the Singing News Radio Airplay Charts, including several number one and Songs of The Year. Additionally, the Inspirations have received more than two dozen Singing News Fan Awards as a group and individual singers and musicians, including Favorite Gospel Group six times, Favorite Male Quartet in 2005 and Martin twice as Favorite Musician.
Funeral arrangements are pending and will be announced by Singing News as soon as they’re available.
Cards, letters and notes of sympathy can be mailed to: The Martin Cook Family, 8037 Caney Fork Road, Cullowhee, NC 28723.
Written by Tim Gardner