ROOTS welcomes its newest drum mentor, Christopher Gray!
Christopher Gray (drums) has been playing for 30 years and teaching for more than 20. After playing in local bands in Knoxville as a teenager, he enrolled in the Studio Music and Jazz program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree.
Christopher earned his master’s degree at Eastman School of Music in New York in Jazz Performance and Contemporary Media. The student jazz combo he toured with in Europe won an international award. He also was the sole drummer on a project by the late great jazz arranger Fred Sturm, titled Changes Over Time.
Christopher relocated to New York City where he spent 12+ years as a freelance jazz drummer, performing with Nancy Wilson, Benny Golson, Kenny Werner and Jerry Bergonzi. He studied drumset with Joey Baron and Billy Drummond, two huge names in the NYC jazz scene. After attending a Passion worship event led by Louie Giglio in Manhattan, he joined his worship team on Long Island, returning to his rock roots, and he has now been playing drums in a church setting for the last 12 years.
Christopher has more than two decades of teaching experience with private students as well as ensemble instruction. He was the director of the a Westchester Catholic school Honors Orchestra in Metro NYC, an ensemble with more than 300 musicians in grades 6-12. He also directed percussion at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee.
Christopher’s approach to teaching, despite a variety of influences and experiences, remains simple: Meet the students where they are and help them reach their goals. He is never “off the grid” for his students and views the relationship between pupil and mentor as a potential lifetime bond.
He lives in Marshall County now where spends his free time hanging with his family, watching football, basketball and MMA, and teaching his youngest son Matt Redman tunes.
Q&A with Christopher:
What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
Saturday — no alarm in the morning, time with my family and no alarm the next day either. The ONLY day with all 3 attributes.
Place you spend most of your time:
Marshall County, TN at various kids’ sporting events.
Place you wish you spent most of your time:
Kuhio Bay, Oahu
A quote good enough to be Instagrammed:
“Tapping into God’s power involves paradoxical behaviors that often conflict with our natural ego-focused thinking.”
Last thing that made you laugh out loud:
My 16-year-old’s “deadpan” facial expressions!
Your coffee order:
Black with an espresso shot, or 5.