Channing Eleton: Making the Most of Every One of These Days

 

 

Channing Eleton: Making the Most of Every One of These Days

 

By Lorraine Walker

 

Channing Eleton is a brilliant pianist with a resume that includes top Gospel groups Poet Voices
and Gold City Quartet. Many across the continent have heard his musical talents but few fans may
actually have known the heart of this artistic genius while he accompanied some of the best singers in
the business. Now he is using his God-given gift as a solo ministry to touch his listeners as he shares his
heart and his faith with those who will listen.
“I absolutely love the life of a musician,” says Eleton. “Everything about it: the practice,
recording, stage, travel, people and places. I love experiencing different cultures and the hard work it
actually takes to get to the stage. Now, as I start this brand new solo ministry, the music has taken on
somewhat of a different role.”
Eleton goes on to explain his new journey. “While music is very much a part of who I am and
what I do, I look at it a little differently now. Music is a vehicle and a means to get to a destination.
Music tears down walls, breaks down barriers in hearts and lives. Once those walls are down, God can
do the amazing.”
“There are so many hurting people around us everywhere we are, no matter where we are.
Every night I pray that I am sensitive to those needs so I can minister on every level. So you see, music
takes us to a place where we can be ministered to. Music is a very powerful tool that we have as
ministers of the Gospel.”
Eleton has been honing that tool since he was six years of age. From the Cadek Conservatory of
Music in Chattanooga, Tennessee to the influences of Anthony Burger and Martin Gueresko, Eleton has
had master musicians shape his skill. “I have to give credit to several guys who influenced my playing. I
loved James Rainey’s stage presence and playing. He actually showed me my very first speed lick.”
“Garry Jones had a huge impact on my approach to playing,” continues Eleton. “I had never
heard anybody using jazz voicings in Gospel music like Garry. Not only the voicings, but also Garry
phrased his playing like a jazz musician. This is something that is very hard to do. I loved it all and set
out early on to do those things!”
“Anthony [Burger] was a great friend and encourager. I think his influence was far more than
[just] the playing. I sure miss him.”
As in the careers of those great pianists, the talents of this musician have taken him to many
special venues. “I’ve played some really great stages in my career,” says Eleton. “Each one is special
for different reasons. Usually, the reasons are not because of the stage, the lights or the crowd. Most
of the time, the reasons are different and are more on a personal level. For example, the Yamaha C7
grand piano was great at the Jonesboro, AR Civic Center. Or, [at other times] it had nothing to do with
music. For example, there is a great little coffee house next door to the Bama Theater in Tuscaloosa,
Alabama. It is places like this that some of the guys and I would hang out before concerts. These are
great memories.”
Even so, out of all the places in the world where he could present his ministry, Eleton doesn’t
really have a dream venue, one stage out of all the rest where he would love to play. “I can say this; my
most favorite place to play is the local church. The most important element in that is not the stage, but
the people. I love community and I love to minister.”
Although Channing Eleton started his career with Southern Gospel quartets, he finds now that
this new solo ministry is exactly where the Lord wants him to be. When asked if he would consider
accompanying a group again, his reply was definite. “The Lord would have to tell me, in an audible voice,
to play with a group again for me to do it,” laughs Eleton. “I’m just kidding! You know, I do miss being a

part of a team, but I don’t think I’ll ever do the group-thing again. It has nothing to do with ego or the
limelight. It has everything to do with calling.”
“There is a calling upon my life and ministry that I cannot escape,” continues Eleton. “And
like I mentioned before, I have so much more now to communicate. My ministry has taken on a very
different role over the last three years. As I look back over my career, I can see where God was leading
me right to where I am now. It is not to a solo career, but to a unique calling and ministry that He had
especially for me.”
“I would be a miserable man if I did not go and do what God has put me here for. We’ve all
heard about purpose. In fact, it has been a popular subject over the last few years. I am so thankful
that I know my purpose. Because of that, I am happier now than I have ever been in my life.” Eleton
is determined to continue down this path the Lord is making for him to travel and he doesn’t have any
plans to turn back.
“There is dear friend in my life that God has greatly used to help me. His name is Buddy Mullins.
You may remember Buddy from The Mullins days and later on as lead singer for the Gaither Vocal Band.
Buddy told me something one time that has always stuck with me. He said, ‘Music ministry is like a
marathon and not a sprint. You have to be determined to be in it for the long-haul.’ In other words,
things don’t happen overnight. It takes a long time for the wheels to start turning. Consistency is key.
Stay after it, being consistent and do not give up!”
Eleton also accompanied Buddy Mullins, his wife Kerri and Paul Lancaster while they traveled as
Everyday Driven. As an artist with Southern Gospel in his blood and in his portfolio, many would think
that the Southern Gospel label would define Eleton’s career. However, he says this just isn’t true. “First
of all, I hate boxes,” says Eleton. “The music industry, especially Christian Music, is really good at passing
out labels and putting you in a box, so to speak. I think a lot of great music is missed out on because of
this.”
“There are so many great Gospel songs that the church and the world miss out on because
of the label Southern Gospel,” continues Eleton. “And it works both ways of course. I love and enjoy
different genres of Christian music. But I gravitate toward Gospel Music. First of all, I grew up with it and
it’s all I knew for the longest time. However, the older I get, the more I realize why.”
“Here’s something I’ve been thinking about lately: if someone is going to tell me to trust in God
or lean on Jesus, I want to hear it from someone with a little life experience, somebody with a few gray
hairs and wrinkles. Give me somebody who has weathered some storms.”
“Now, I love Christian radio and I think there is some great stuff out right now, but here’s the
deal. Without getting on a soapbox, I think that’s a little more believable than hearing it from a 21-year-
old kid on Christian radio with little or no life experience. Some radio formats and genres won’t give you
much of a chance if you as an artist are not in your early twenties. My point is that Gospel music doesn’t
shut an artist out because he or she is past a certain age. I think that is really cool.”
Eleton himself is no longer a single twenty-something artist, but a husband and father with life
experience. As he has progressed along this path, he has found that the changes in vocation have had
many rewards for his family as well. “One thing I love about solo ministry, is that I get to take my family
with me most of the time,” says Eleton. “I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I used to dread leaving, but
now it has become a joy because they are with me!”
“Keeping a good balance between ministry stuff and family is just something you have to do.
That’s a real challenge because there is so much to do in a ministry. I’m very task oriented and if I’m
working on something, I don’t want to stop until the job is done. I have learned to stop when it gets
around 6:00pm. Unless I’m trying to meet a particular deadline, I try to shut it down and focus the rest
of my evening on my family. Regardless of the task, whether it’s the studio or office work, it can wait.”
“My little ones are getting bigger every day and I’m trying to enjoy every moment. On my new
record, Summer Rains Have Gone, I have written and recorded a song that talks about this very thing.

The song is called ‘Days’. The chorus says this:
‘One of these days it won’t matter, all the nights that I work late, or how high I climb that ladder, on the
way to my big break, when those that love me waited in the wings, as I worked for the things that’ll pass
away one of these days. What matters most is my family, the time I spend with them, and if I’ve made
peace with Jesus, this life I’ve given Him. Starting now I’m gonna make, make the most of every one of
these days.’ I think no matter what we do or where we are in our lives, that song sums it up.”
Not only is Eleton making the most of each day with his family, he works on his relationship with
the Lord on a daily basis as well. “I think spending time alone with the Lord is of the utmost
importance,” states Eleton. “If I start my day in quiet-time with Jesus, my day goes better than it ever
would have trying to do things on my own. I am able to focus, accomplish things and make important
decisions that I need to make.”
“If we do not have a prayer covering on our lives, we are vulnerable to the attack and
discouragement of the enemy,” Eleton continues. “When I was starting out into this solo ministry, a
wise old preacher told me something that I have never forgotten. He said, ‘Son, keep your family at the
foot of the Cross. You and your family, stay there. The enemy has painted a big bull’s-eye on those in
ministry. Stay humble and at the foot of the Cross.’”
“Spending time in God’s precious Word is very important as well. I some people tell me, ‘I
want to read my Bible, but I don’t know what to read.’ Read Genesis, it’s fascinating. It’s not just about
creation; it’s so much more. Then, read on from there!”
Whether it is about reading God’s Word or personal devotions, Eleton loves speaking to his
audience and encouraging those that come to talk with him. Personal ministry is important and it also
affects his choice of songs that he performs in concert. Of the many he plays regularly, there are one or
two that have become favorites. “Different songs provide very different reasons as to why I love them,”
says Eleton. “These days, a song that I love to perform live is a song from my new record called Up
On This Ridge. It’s another song I’ve written that has a kind of Celtic/Bluegrass style that I get up from
the piano and play accordion on. The lyrics are very personal and really are connecting with folks, both
musically and lyrically.”
Whether it is in singing, songwriting, playing the accordion or piano, Eleton has many musical
talents that the Lord is using in his ministry. Should something happen to him to make him unable to
play his instruments, Eleton says he knows exactly what he would do. “I’d still go minister. I’d still go
encourage. I’d still go share the Gospel. I’d still go and speak hope into lives. I’d still speak of faith and
trusting in Jesus. I’d still go.”
While God has given Channing Eleton a challenging and exciting new path to follow, Eleton
realizes the serious purpose behind what he is doing to share the good news of Jesus. As he wrote in the
song quoted earlier, Eleton knows he has to make the most of every day. “We are truly in the last days,”
Eleton states. “It’s time to quit being lazy and be up and about His business. We don’t have long.”
“Our job is to share Jesus with as many as we can, whether it is those around us every day,
our families, our co-workers or people we go to church with,” continues Eleton. “Yes, you heard me
correctly, people we attend church with. There is a big world out there that is lost and undone without
Jesus. But yet, there are still those around us every day that are lost and undone without Jesus Christ.
There are hurting Christians that need to be reminded to whom they belong. The work is great, but the
laborers are few. Come on, let’s go and preach the Gospel!”

For more information on Channing Eleton, visit his website at http://channingeleton.com/

The Real Channing Eleton – The Fans Speak Out
Channing Eleton has garnered many fans and friends across the country through his travels and
performances. This award-winning pianist, lauded by the Singing News, the Gospel Music Association

and the Southern Gospel Music Guild is described as one of the most humble, down-to-earth artists in
the industry.
This special segment allows the fans of Channing Eleton to speak out on what they know of the
pianist from Georgia.
“I met Channing Eleton and heard him play at his home church in Northern Georgia, in mid-
1998 just before he joined the Gold City Quartet. From the beginning, I was impressed with Channing’s
humility, his heart for the ministry and desire for quality music. I grew to respect his work as I
experienced more of his talent. His musical style is unique and inspiring. He plays standard Southern
Gospel with finesse yet will often add a touch of blues, jazz or country to enhance an arrangement.
“The privilege of meeting Channing’s parents, Earl and Janice Eleton, revealed their great
contribution to the life and personality of this young man. Earl and Janice are prime examples of the
Christian influence in Channing’s life, as well as his devotion to his family. His wife Christina and his two
little girls are his greatest accomplishments.” – Sandi Duncan Clarke, Southern Gospel reporter/writer
“Channing is an extremely talented musician. When he played for a group, he was able to bring
the group to a higher level. He is a humble individual who exhibits a true Christian attitude in everything
he does. I am proud to call him a friend.” – Dean Adkins, Southern Gospel historian and fan
“Channing is a humble, personable, truly genuine friend. That emotion carries through to his
music, sweeping the listener in to being an active participant in the musical experience.” – Jana Dennie
“Channing is a wonderful sweet man with a heart for God. His music is great. I have known him
for a number of years now & I am proud to call him my friend.” – Elaine Eaton Reyes Harcourt
“There are not enough words to describe Channing Eleton. Whenever I have the opportunity to
be in worship with him, I receive a blessing. He sings about what he believes, and he believes what he
sings. I have met many people in the Gospel Music industry, and he is one of the rare jewels – someone
who you can truly count a friend. He sings and plays from the heart with a passion to see lost souls
saved. He is a welcome addition to any worship service.” – Robby Brown
“Good music starts from the heart! Channing’s heart is full of love because he loves the Lord and
he loves ministering through his music. I love the melody, the words and the delivery. He is very gifted.”
– Cheryl Burgess
“Everything!” – Sheila Eleton Howard

 

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