The grandson of a four-time Grammy Award winning singer is following his musical dream.

Jake Hess III is a powerful tenor from Columbus who now has the honor of singing with the Voices of Lee chorale group at Lee University. Jake was invited to the ensemble his freshman year in college, a rare achievement for the prestigious chorus.

He says singing early on in high school helped prepare him for a college singing career.

“I had a stint with a quartet at Marion County High School in Buena Vista. I learned a lot about part singing with the group that I sang with,” Jake says.

Jake’s history with music runs deep in his veins. His grandfather, the Southern gospel legend Jake Hess, sang with the Statesmen Quartet in the 50’s and 60’s. He won four Grammys and was idolized by Elvis Presley — so much so that Hess was invited to sing at Presley’s funeral. 

“I think as a vocalist he was bar none, he was the best,” says the youngest Jake Hess. “But as a person, I think people really appreciated who he was at heart. And I think if anything, I’d rather be remembered for that… for his kind heart.”

He also adds he draws inspiration from his mother, Judy, who sings with The Martins — a popular gospel trio often featured in Bill Gaither’s homecoming concerts.

“Whether it’s trying to find your range or trying to find correct placement… she’s pushed me to do my best and to try my hardest.”

This summer Jake III spent time with his uncle Chris at Waldrop Memorial Baptist Church in Columbus. Chris says his dad, the original music legend, had a special place in his heart for “Trip” — as Jake III’s family affectionately calls him.

“When Trip came along Dad broke all the rules. He took out two or three of the bunks on the bus and put him in a baby bed,” Chris Hess recalls. “We thought…what in the world is Papa doing? But he wanted Trip to travel with him.”

Jake continues to walk the musical path laid down by his grandfather, but he also says he believes his music serves a higher purpose.

“I think God has given me a calling. I think He has given me a drive and a passion for music. But I also think He’s given me a heart to serve Him.”

Jake will soon head back to Cleveland, Tennessee to start his sophomore year at Lee University.