If anyone spends any time listening to, asking about, or reading over any material pertaining to Christian Country music, they will not get very far without discovering the name Chris Golden. This son of William Lee Golden (Oak Ridge Boys) has worn the hat of booking agent, promoter, publicist, producer, session leader, photographer, art director, videographer, engineer, driver, sound man, roadie, caterer webdesigner, travel agent, road manager, and merchandise wrangler.
Among the accomplishments of Chris Golden is that he has played with three of the longest running bands in country music: the Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama, and Restless Heart. He also has mastered the ability to play an incredible number of instruments. On Golden's past albums, he has played drums, piano, acoustic guitar, mandolin, electric guitar, organ, harmonica, and bass guitar.
In 2017, he was given the opportunity to perform for every living U.S. President, and was able to meet five of them. He has sung at the Ryman Auditorium and Opry House. This talented singer's mantle holds many awards. Among them are awards for Country Gospel Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and Crossover Artist of the Year awards from various Christian music organizations, and Golden is even a GMA Hall of Fame Inductee for his tenure with the Oaks. Amidst all of that, Chris has had two No. 1 songs and three other top five songs on the charts.
Q: Chris, thanks for doing this interview with us. Let's start with your background: you grew up as the son of William Lee Golden (Oak Ridge Boys) and you have grew up playing for many country music acts. What are some of favorite memories in the country music industry?
I have been doing this for a lot of years and miles... there are so many great memories. At 19 years old, I made my singing and acting debut on "Hee Haw' with a song I wrote. That was pretty cool! I was blessed to get an early education on how to make records down in Muscle Shoals, AL. I got to be in a band with my brother Rusty and some of my musical heroes for 9 years as The Goldens and we landed a deal on CBS and later Capital Records, did lots of shows and TV. I started having babies instead of hits so I took a sideman job with the Oaks that lasted over 17 years. We did over 150 shows a year... so there are many memories. I got to play at The White House for George W. Bush, and over time got to know his parents well enough they called me by my first name. I once spent about 15 minutes in a dressing room alone with George and Barbara Bush. It was surreal. A bigger highlight was when my then 13 year old daughter joined us on stage to play fiddle for a few shows and we had 3 generations of Golden's on the same stage.
With supergroup Alabama, I played drums for all 6 living Presidents in 2017...met 5 of them. That was a good memory.
As a solo act I have gotten to sing at the Ryman Auditorium, and on the Opry House stage. Both Highlights.
I feel like I was visited by an angel who told me "Play for The One who gave you the gift", and it changed my trajectory.
Q: In the 90s, as part of the Goldens, you released a country album called "Rush for Gold." This is an albumthat means alot to me when I was a child. Tell us more about his period of your life. Was there a follow-up album planned?
We were sure proud of that album. My brother and I were The Goldens, and we were joined by a true band of brothers and heroes we had known all of our lives. We had a great live show and the same band together for over 9 years. That is hard to do without a hit record, but we all believed in the music, and the dream. We were on the road in between deals and had recorded a LIVE album to sell at the shows. An A & R man from Capital Nashville, Terry Choate, called for a meeting and wanted to know if it was really 'live'. We invited him to a show up the road in KY a few weeks later and we signed the deal. There were 3 singles and 3 videos released but as it sometimes goes, there was a new regime coming in to the label and we were one of several acts not signed by the current staff. . We were hopeful that Nashville was ready for us this time, but they were not. I think we were a little ahead of the curve... by 20 years. HA !
Rush For Gold WAS our follow up album. We had recorded an album for CBS/Epic Records which was never released. Same deal... we were signed by a team that 'got us". We had mixed it in Nashville and they asked us to go to LA to put a pop mix on it because they thought it had the potential to reach a bigger audience than Nashville. We were stoked and like most young artists, bought it, because we believed in the music. A whole new regime came in to CBS when it was bought by SONY , and we were one of several acts that found themselves with a deal. They did release 2 singles that both got chart action and put us on some big shows opening for everyone from Randy Travis to Cheap Trick, and all the major festivals like Farm Aid, ect. We also were blessed to do a lot of spots on TNN which helped us get enough gigs to support the band.
Q: How and when did you decide to be involved in the Christian country music scene?
My first gig as a 15 year old was playing piano for a gospel group which traveled most weekends. It had been a huge part of my childhood as the son of an Oak Ridge Boy, who were strictly gospel until 1977. Fast forward many years. Even as a sideman with the Oaks I recorded and released 5 critically albums on my own label. I was in a dark place, feeling unfulfilled, and doubting my calling when I was approached by what I believe to be an angel who told me to quit playing for the ones who wrote my check, and to quit playing for the people who paid good money to see the ones who wrote my check, and to start playing for THE ONE who gave me the gift. I when to my drums and wrote it on the snare with a Sharpie. It got me through the tour and back whom where I started work on my first solo gospel album. It changed my trajectory. I have been so blessed since.
Q: How did you come to know Christ?
I went to a private Christian school for 12 years but got to know more about the Bible from my grandparents. I spent 4 months a year with them on a family farm we still have. They didn't have a TV until the mid 80's, so work, music, and church were about it. They would have month long revivals at the Holiness Church we went to almost every night. I went to the altar at 13 when GW Birdsong was preaching. When I got out of high school you would have thought I had forgotten everything I had been taught. The Lord never forgot me though. I rededicated my life in 1997, but didn't get baptized until I was in my 40's. I went under again in the Jordan River last fall.
Q: Now you are nominated in six categories at the 2019 Inspirational Country Music Association Awards. How does that make you feel?
Grateful, honored, and humbled. ...just when you think nobody is noticing the hard work and sacrifice. It makes me know I am right where The Good Lord wants me.
Q: Tell us about your new single and video "Grateful"?
I shot the video before I even recorded the song. How backwards is that? I had heard the song and loved it, knew I was going to record it, and wanted to shoot a video at the family farm with the cotton field background. . The cotton was beautiful and in full bloom and would soon be picked, so I knew I had to do the video first. I hired a local art student who had a drone and coached him, and had my cousin and a friend help shoot the footage in the field. I edited it on paper and had Adam Wagner edit the footage. It was shot on a shoestring budget, but the scenery is what makes it special to me. My dad was born 50 feet from where we shot it. My grandparents put a lot of tears, sweat, blood , and dreams in that land. It stars my Chevy van, and we also went to the church I grew up in, where I was saved, where I learned to sing. The video came out better than I had hoped and is now up for an award. The song made it to #2 in one of the charts and is still climbing in the others.
Q: Do you have a new album in the works? When will it be released? And what can we expect from it?
This new album 'Grateful' features the single and will be released in April and I believe it is all killer, no filler. As in the past, It is self produced, and I had Larry Marrs put his ears and mix on it. I feel it is a great collection and my best effort to date. It has a little more edge than projects past and a live feel. I play a lot of the instruments but we have some very special guests on it as well.
Q: You have lived a very full and wonderful life, what does Jesus mean to you today?
More and more each day. It has been a sweet life but not without trials and dark valleys. I know without Him, I wouldn't have made it this far, or to the place I want to go. My Rock, my Shield, my Provider, my Comforter, my Lord.
To purchase Chris Golden's music go to http://www.chrisgolden.net.