In the beginning...
I thought my destiny was determined when I was three years old. At that age, my aunt would teach me one-finger children's songs on the piano. That started a musical spark in my soul. The gift that God gave me was working its way out. From that point, I knew that I wanted to be involved in music on a high level. When I was seven years old, I became fascinated with the drums. I would sit close to the drummer at church so I could see his every move. I even had my own set of drum sticks and would beat on anything, trying to mimic what I saw. One night after church, some singers were rehearsing, but the regular drummer had already left. I was listening, watching, and thinking that this could be my chance. I got up, went to the drums, and started playing. Immediately everyone was looking because they knew the regular drummer had already left.
The Liner Family
Shortly after that, I started playing drums for my uncle's gospel band, traveling to local churches a few times a month. After a while, I left to join another band (The Liner Family) that traveled more frequently and had more of a reputation. I traveled and played the drums for the Liner Family during my elementary school years. With the Liner Family, I got to experience traveling and living out of a bus as musicians typically do. While with the Liner Family, I became interested in learning the bass guitar. So my aunt bought a used bass for me to learn on. I sat for hours learning to play, making blisters on my fingers. Also during this time of my life, in the seventh grade, I joined the junior high school band where I learned about music notation and rhythms.
Singing Tennesseans / Tennessee Harmony
After spending some time learning the bass, when I was 13 and beginning eighth grade, I became the bass player for a local band called, The Singing Tennesseans which later became known as Tennessee Harmony. This was my first major step in the local gospel music scene. I played the bass for them for nine months, and then moved to playing the drums when the drummer left the band. During my time with this band, I became infatuated with the group's pianist, Eric Stansberry. After seeing him play, learning the piano was all I could think about. I would bug him, asking him to teach me something. He turned me on to learning from Anthony Burger, Roger Bennett, Tim Parton, and Stan Whitmire. After spending time learning, Eric ended up leaving the group and I became their pianist. This is when the group's owner, Eric Watson, decided to produce my first instrumental album, Hallelujah Meetin'. I worked with this band for a number of years before getting my big break in professional Southern Gospel music.
All of my dreams of becoming a professional Southern Gospel music pianist were just dreams until April 1st, 2000. That was the day the Lord gave me my dream. This is when I joined one of Christian Music's top Southern Gospel quartets, Poet Voices. This group was led by multi-awarded songwriter, Phil Cross. This band took me to new heights, and learning from the mindset of Phil Cross was phenomenal. We were always in the public eye with numerous number one songs in the industry. We traveled all across the United States and Canada, performing at Gospel Music's largest events. I was even honored to be part of a Bill Gaither Homecoming video taping. After being hired by Poet Voices, I got to help Phil with arrangements and learned producing. I was learning the studio side of the music business, and how the Nashville Number System and recording sessions worked. This was what I thought God had called my life to be. During this time, Phil produced my second instrumental album, The Dream.
Although I grew up in a Christian family, throughout all this time, I had not genuinely given my heart and life to Jesus Christ. I was living for myself and wanting to make a name for myself. It was not until December 12th, 2001 that I surrendered my life to Jesus and accepted him as my Lord, Savior, God, and King. After this, my life and dreams changed. While with Poet Voices, we toured with Pastor John Hagee and his family, and I saw how they communicated with one another speaking Spanish. This sparked an interested in missions. So, I left Poet Voices (they retired from professional full-time music ministry in 2002) and went to work in Hispanic missions. I relocated to a new city and lived in a mobile home with five Hispanic guys from the Spanish church that I was working with. They did not speak English, but after a while, I began to pick up the Spanish language. During my time at the church, I met a girl that later became my wife. When we wanted to start a family, God led me to relocate to better finance our family. So we moved to Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee.
Through past connections, I was able to get a job in music publishing. I quickly got connected with other publishers and record label folks. I was even honored to be a panelist at one of the writer's nights for the Nashville Songwriters Association International. During my time in Nashville, I got to work with other producers, writing Nashville Number charts for their recording sessions, and once I even got to write charts for a television special. Additionally, I got involved playing the piano for Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) in Hendersonville. Making connections and learning how the music industry worked on the back end (not on stage), I begin to notice that the "important" job was record label A&R people (artist and repertoire). So I began a training program from Paula Moore at Warner Brothers in California (ReadyToBreak Viral A&R Training Program), and later joined up with Ken Krongard (who discovered Avril Lavigne and others) to be an A&R rep (talent scout) for his company (MajorLabelScout.com). They did grassroots artist relations for RCA Records in New York. After making more connections, I found my career hitting a wall. This was because everyone else I was working with had a college degree. So I enrolled in the music industry program at Middle Tennessee State University. During college, I settled down, left A&R and publishing and did something more stable. I got a marketing gig at Sony Music Nashville and then later worked in sales for Warner Music Group. During my time at Sony, there was a merger between Sony and BMG and I saw 20 people lose their job in one day. At that time, I learned that the music industry was not stable, so I left the music industry program at MTSU and enrolled in the economics and finance program at Tennessee State University, all while keeping my sales job with Warner.
When I completed my bachelor's degree, I got a job working for a company that dealt with the State government. This was a temporary transitional job for me. Then I enrolled in an MBA program in finance online from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Throughout my MBA studies, I was applying for various government jobs throughout the country. I had a desire to work in either economic analysis, financial management, budgeting, foreign service, or intelligence. I had several wonderful opportunities where the National Security Agency (NSA) flew me in for interviews and processing, including psychological and polygraph evaluations. This was an outstanding experience. However, after all was said and done, they sent me home saying that they would contact me as soon as a position came open, and then the next week, news hit the media that the federal government was implementing a hiring freeze. So I returned home and continued to work and finish my studies.
After I finished my MBA, I was able to get a job in Washington, DC at the Bureau of Labor Statistics as an economist. While in this position, I started and completed a doctorate degree in finance, and then began teaching part-time online with a local university. I spent a few years in the division of compensation data estimation before receiving a promotion to become a technical lead economist in the office of employment projections research and analysis. After a short period there, I was promoted again to senior economist in the production and control branch of the consumer price index program. About the same time that I received the promotion to senior economist, I was also promoted at the university, going from an adjunct assistant professor to an adjunct associate professor. Throughout my journey from an entry-level economist to a senior-level economist, I took on additional research and writing opportunities and had a large number of published material. These became cornerstone achievements that resulted in my progression as an economist. Also in the DC area, my family and I became very connected with the First Baptist Church of Rockville Maryland church family. I began serving as treasurer in 2016 providing pro-bono financial management, and then was voted to become an elder in 2020.
Poet Voices & Seminary
During my transition from professional music to government and academic work, I did volunteer music at churches. In 2017, Phil Cross decided to re-establish Poet Voices. But now we all had our own thing going, so the group decided to do professional music ministry one weekend a month. Now, I have the honor, privilege, and joy of joining Poet Voices every chance I get. Before becoming an elder at First Baptist Rockville, the Lord had been working in my heart and mind to consider going to seminary, but I kept putting it off. After becoming an elder and the way the Lord worked through various things, I finally said yes to his calling for seminary and enrolled in 2021. The way I see it, I have a limited amount of time left to continue music ministry before I need to completely let the younger folks carry on the work. So the Lord laid it on my heart to prepare for my next stage of ministry, which will be teaching and preaching.
The Next Chapter
Yet to be written...in progress.