John & Jennifer Cockman

MICHELLE T. BERNARD

Senior Staff Writer

Normally, the Cockman Family bluegrass band is booked for at least one, usually more concerts every week, and then COVID struck. They’ve only performed six times since December of last year.

“Just like everybody else, we’re just staying put,” John Cockman said. “Carrol Cook out at Lowesville normally invites us to come once a year and it’s our turn again. In almost 33 years I’ve never made one phone call to sing. Our motto’s always been, ‘if the phone don’t ring, the Cockman Family don’t sing.’”

They’ll be playing not once, but twice this Saturday in Lincoln County. They’ll be performing at the annual Hart Square Festival in Vale which is still being held and at 6 p.m. at Lowesville Gospel Concerts at the Living Word Ministries in Lowesville.

There’s an adage that says that the family that plays together stays together and this seems to be the case with the Cockman family. Cockman, Sr. and his wife, Jane are celebrating not only the 50th wedding anniversary but also 33 years performing together as a family group.

“We just finished a new CD and I think it’s one of the very best ones we’ve ever done,” Cockman said. “It was done locally at Rushing Winds Studio in Dallas. Gary Rushing is the engineer and he’s really good. I think that’s close to our 20th album. We’ve been at it a long time. The family ties and love of music keep us together. We all love to sing and love the Lord.”

The album is dedicated to the Cockman’s wedding anniversary. The picture on the front of the album is of Hopewell Methodist Church where they were married 50 years ago. Inside the album, there’s a picture of them coming out of the church after being married

At almost every concert the entire Cockman brood from Cockman, Sr., his wife, their four sons and daughter, John Jr., David, Billy, Ben and Carolyn and their children and grandchildren will make their way onto the stage.

John Cockman Sr. and Jane were high school sweethearts and they played together at church. When the four sons were very small they began singing with them. At first it was just at church and for fun but when John Cockman Sr. realized they could sing a four-part harmony he took them to the Ball’s Creek Fiddler’s Convention. 

“That was almost 30 years ago now,” he said. “I accompanied them with the guitar. At that time, it was in the old elementary school building in the big auditorium.”

Jane Cockman remembered that when they first got on stage they looked scared to death.

“They started singing a cappella and when they finished I thought, ‘nobody’s going to clap for my little boys’ – there was silence – then all of a sudden the crowd brought the roof down applauding for them,” she said. “It was a shock – they were such little fellows.”  

Jane Cockman still plays the piano but she doesn’t perform with the family because she said she’s kind of shy. Concert organizer Carroll Cooke asked if she’d play the piano prior to the rest of the family coming on stage and she agreed to that. 

The Cockman Family has played all over the United States and Canada. Several of the children have won prestigious music awards throughout the years as well. Currently there are 14 grandchildren, two are adopted, and one is on the way. The grandchildren are following in the Cockman family tradition. Ben Cockman teaches them the string instruments and Jane Cockman teaches them the piano.

During a concert all but the very youngest grandchildren will get up on the stage and play a number or two. The youngest may just clap their hands but the love of music seems to run deep in the family.

The Cockman Family has played at Lowesville for eight years in a row now and usually it’s a standing room only crowd that attends. Of course, that’ll likely be different this year due to COVID. Masks are recommended and social distancing will be in place.

The concert begins at 6 p.m. and is held at the Living Word Ministries, 1062 Highway 16 South, Lowesville (Stanley). There is no admission cost for this concert, however, freewill offerings will be accepted. 

For more information, contact Carroll Cooke at (704) 618-9762.

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