by Mark White
The inspiration for The Williamsburg Gospel Barn was really two fold.
For 14 years, Troy Cupp of the famous “The Cupps” music ministry held musical events in Jellico, or at least tried to when he didn’t run into problems.
When it rained, he often had to cancel events because his ministry couldn’t find a place to hold them, or the potential venues they could get were too expensive and they couldn’t afford them.
Then in 2010, he was in a serious accident.
“Laying on my death bed in the hospital, I thought about our ministry and if I died, it died with us. I thought I don’t like that and what about all these other groups, whose ministries have disappeared after their death,” Cupp said.
“What inspired us is I didn’t want our ministry to perish with us. When we grow old, I want our descendants to know who we were, and everybody else’s descendants to know who they were.”
Out of these two experiences came the “The Williamsburg Gospel Barn.”
“We wanted to make a way for people to hear gospel music at no price. It is always free. We wanted to make a way for people to hear gospel music no matter how big or small the family was and they didn’t have to buy tickets,” Cupp said.
Three years ago, Cupp Ministries opened The Williamsburg Gospel Barn, which is located at 90 Happy Hollow Road.
There is no preaching at The Gospel Barn, and there are no alter calls.
“We are not a church. We are not associated with a church. The Williamsburg Gospel Barn is owned and operated by the Singing Cupp Ministries,” Cupp noted.
This results in having people from various religious denominations or no religious denomination attending events.
“It is not a church, but we have been able to reach a lot of people. There are a lot of churches, who have received people from The Gospel Barn, who have never been in church before,” he said.
On Oct. 21, The Williamsburg Gospel Barn celebrated its three-year anniversary, and held the first inductions into its “Wall of Honor.”
“I thought to myself, ‘I want to do something that will bring back the memories of the ministries that have vanished.’ So we started this year what is the Wall of Honor. We are starting with Whitley County and the surrounding area. We are getting all those, who have made a big impact in gospel music. We are putting them on the wall.”
The first ever inductees included the Arlie Petree Family, The Cooper Sisters, and Lois Jane (Neal) Wallace.
“The Cooper Sisters were really a big thing here in the 1950’s and 1960’s. They were able to reunite at The Gospel Barn and sing for a couple of years before Ella Jane Moses passed away about two weeks ago,” Cupp said.
“The Arlie Petree Family has made a big impact in gospel music nationwide.”
Lois Jane was a hugely popular artist in the region back in the 1970s and 1980s.
“Each year our sponsors will choose three more people to go on that wall,” Cupp said.
Cupp said he is also starting an archive on the past artists that he can find.
“People send things in to me,” he noted. “I get a lot of pictures, but I am still trying to locate any history on any gospel singers in this area so I can bring those back and start an archive on those because gospel music has made the biggest impact on this nation. It has helped to shape this nation, and without it, we don’t know where we would be today.”
The Williamsburg Gospel Barn has singings every Saturday night, except two per year.
One of those exceptions is Old Fashioned Trading Days, and the other is homecoming weekend at New Life Tabernacle.
For more information about The Cupps, log onto their website at www.thecupps.org. For more information about The Williamsburg Gospel Barn, log onto www.gospelbarn.org.