By Neisha Roberts
The Alabama Baptist
For Gaither Vocal Band member Wes Hampton his calling to ministry came in an unlikely location — an anatomy and physiology class at the University of Alabama at Birmingham more than 17 years ago.
“I almost audibly heard God say, ‘I don’t want you to do this.’ I was in pre-med classes at the time,” he said.
Hampton said he had always loved music and it was his parents who introduced him to a wide variety of musicians at a young age. He listened to artists like Larnelle Harris and Steve Green — two of his favorites — as well as Whitney Houston, Billy Joel and Phil Collins.
But as a youth you’d never catch him singing, he said. It wasn’t until high school that his parents did catch him and encouraged him to join the church choir.
After that he began to enjoy singing, he said, and realized he was gifted musically.
He joined a quartet at church, attended Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, got married and was working on his bachelor’s degree when he found himself in that career-changing anatomy and physiology class back in Birmingham.
“I didn’t feel led to be a worship leader. But I didn’t know what God was calling me to do,” Hampton said. “I joined the staff at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham and enjoyed it and loved my job but felt God calling me to do more.”
While working hard to start a career as a solo artist and learning to be content where God had placed him, an opportunity opened up to audition for the Gaither Vocal Band. It took seven weeks of auditioning and the last audition consisted of singing at Billy Graham’s final crusade in New York City. That was 12 years ago and Hampton has been touring with the band ever since.
In 2006 he won the Singing News Horizon Individual Fan Award and on Hampton’s first project with the band in 2007, “Give It Away,” the Gaither Vocal Band won two Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. Hampton’s first solo album, “A Man Like Me,” was released in 2010 and was nominated for a Dove Award.
But because Hampton and his wife, Andrea, have four sons, he works to balance life and ministry in a healthy way.
Andrea Hampton homeschools their children and works as a family and marriage therapist while also being what Wes Hampton describes as a vital support to him and his career.
He travels with the band during the spring and fall to about 65 locations a year and then has the summer off.
When he’s not touring with the band Wes Hampton uses his time to work as a solo artist — from Birmingham to Brazil to Norway and anywhere in between.
Most weekdays he’s able to be home with his family in Birmingham, he said, something he’s determined to do no matter how hectic his schedule gets.
Hampton’s upcoming solo project, set to be released in May, will be a compilation of hymns and inspirational songs.
He said it’s the stories he hears from listeners that keep him going year after year.
“I love the power of the gospel and I love to hear when people tell me, ‘You sang that song and it got me through’ fill in the blank. I hear story after story of people’s lives that have been touched through music.”
And while he gets to impact and bless others with his voice, he said he counts himself blessed to make a living sharing the gospel through music.
“I love to sing and I love to connect with people. I’m passionate about it and I do it because I love it.”