Birmingham—and really all of Alabama—has a rich history in music, being the home for many artists, ranging from amateur to high-caliber. Some current award-winning artists and musicians may be your neighbors, and you might not even realize it.
My wife and I have recently become friends (and soon-to-be neighbors) with a Grammy award- and Gospel Music Association Dove award-winning singer and his lovely family. He is Wes Hampton of the Gaither Vocal Band, a very popular Gospel group that is known around the world.
Hampton, a fantastic tenor, joined the Gaither Vocal Band almost 11 years ago after getting a surprise call to audition from former member Guy Penrod himself. It led to a seven-week long audition, the end of which was singing at the final Billy Graham crusade in New York City in front of 140,000 people. Hampton has traveled and performed with the Vocal Band worldwide, winning a Grammy award in 2008 and multiple Dove awards in that time. He also has two solo albums—A Man Like Me, released in 2010 and nominated for a Dove Award, and Out On A Limb, released in 2014. A third album is scheduled to release this year.
Hampton is from Memphis, but he met an awesome red-headed Alabama girl with a perpetual smile while in college in Nashville. Their first date was, coincidentally, to see a Gaither Homecoming Christmas concert taping. He eventually moved to Birmingham and married Andrea in 1998. They now have four sons, aged 7 to 12 years old, and live in Shelby County. Hampton and his family are the epitome of warmth and humility and have a genuine sense of humor—a true breath of fresh air to those who know them, work with them, perform with them, or enjoy his talent.
Music is not Hampton’s only passion. He loves to cook and share culinary passion with others. While watching him cook, you’ll notice he is focused on making the dish look delicious from start to finish. He truly enjoys making good food easy to prepare and making something most anyone would find delightful, such as the veggie burrito he prepared at his home for this shoot. And he mixes in some music, often humming or singing some of his favorite songs while he cooks. His second cookbook, Wescipes: A Place at the Table, Volume 2, has just been released (find it at Wescipes.com.)
For the past three years, Hampton and his entire family have attended and served at Church of the Highlands here in Birmingham. “I have never been a part of a church family like Highlands. There is always such a powerful movement of God in that place,” Hampton says. “Pastor Chris Hodges and the entire Highlands leadership team have had such an impact in our lives. God is doing something really amazing through this church and others like it. I’m thankful for a church that has at its core a mission to impact the world as effectively as possible. I don’t think it’s necessary to ‘push’ Jesus onto anyone. When Christ is truly at work in your life, people will be attracted to that. They may not know what ‘that’ is at the time, but it will eventually reveal and speak for itself. It all comes down to serving.”•
When I hear the word “veggie” anything, I’m pretty skeptical that it will taste good. But these burritos are anything but bland. They are delicious, filling, and good for you.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into ½- inch strips
1 orange bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into ½-½inch strips
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into ½-inch½ strips
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, sliced into ½- inch-thick pieces
1 yellow squash, sliced into ½½-inch-thick pieces
1 cup sweet corn (frozen, canned, or fresh)
1 can Hunt’s Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic, drained
1 can black beans, drained
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon light brown sugar or honey
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (optional)
Avocado, sliced (optional)
Brown rice (Uncle Ben’s quick-cooking), prepared according to package directions
Heat a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat for several minutes. Add one tablespoon oil. Add all the chopped veggies and the corn and sauté for six minutes. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder and stir until well combined. Turn heat down to medium-low and cover, letting simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the black beans and tomatoes and stir together. Cover and let simmer for 10–15 minutes until vegetables are done to your liking. Remove lid and let simmer another five to 10 minutes to let some liquid evaporate. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add rice, avocado (optional), and veggies to a tortilla and roll up tightly.
Facebook: Wes Hampton Fans