"Playing for The One who gave me the gift"
     July, 2017, Nashville, TN - by Jade Harrison for SGN Scoops Magazine

   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. It seems as though every song has some ties to this powerhouse of talent. In fact, there is a game in Hollywood called the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” (where the players attempt to link other actors to Kevin Bacon,within six steps of mutual works.) Maybe Nashville should consider playing “Six Degrees of Chris Golden.” 

   Golden seems to have at least an indirect relationship to so many of the songs in today’s Christian country radio. Those connections become even easier to make when one learns of the many roles Golden has in the music industry. 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. He also adds, “I even get to sing and play from time to time. “
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.
Golden expresses how blessed he feels to be successful in the music industry. 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.


      Just how did Chris Golden become so multi-talented and saturated in Christian country music?

​   Music has been an ever-winding thread in the fabric of his life. When he was in third grade, he began his on-stage appearances. Chris played guitar and sang “Friends” by Elton John, played “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago on the piano, played “Proud Mary” on drums, and even did a ventriloquist act. After many years of honing his craft of performing, Chris began to venture into the writing aspect of music. “When I was 19 years old rolling through Detroit, Mich., in the back of a bus, I wrote ‘Take Me Back To The Country.’ The next year I performed the song on Hee Haw, making my vocal debut. A few years later it became the first single and video from The Goldens (my brother Rusty and I) ‘Rush For Gold’ album on Capitol Records.”

Growing up within a cornucopia of musical talent, Chris had an abundance of musical influence. The ties of family and their love for music has stayed with Chris throughout his life. However, when asked what held the most significance, he says his brother, Rusty, had the biggest impact on his life. Chris also recalls the advice of a local singer who once told him, “‘If you are in it for the money...get out.” Even though Chris was only 13 years old at that time, it left a lasting impression. “He was right. Do it for thelove, and to make a difference, and if you take care of
the music and take care of the business, it will take care of you.”

   Not only was music a resounding theme for The Goldens, Chris also was brought up in an environment of spiritual significance. His grandmother, Rutha Mae Golden, is given acknowledgement for her authority in his growth as a Christian. Chris was called to give his heart to the Lord around age 13 at a revival in south Alabama. He recalls that the pastor, Brother G.W. Birdsong, was preaching when he went down to the altar. As many adults sometimes do, Chris strayed from God’s path along his journey. However, Chris knew that God always had his hand on him.

   “I re-dedicated my life and faith in 1997. I was 45 when I got baptized. Although I do not consider myself a minister, I have seen firsthand the power of a song minister to people. “That being the case, I have known from a very young age that music came very easy and natural to me. It is my gift, and I know where it came from. I am a musician, singer and entertainer, not an evangelist, and I am aware there is a fine line when we sing, to not make it about ourselves, but about the one we are singing about. “I do try my best to shine the light with songs and stories. I am not a preacher but I do hope people get the message.

   In 2010, I was told by what I believe to be an angel, ‘play for the one who gave you the gift.’ It has been my life’s mission since.” Chris says that he would extend the same advice to aspiring artists.He would also add, “It is the music business. Learn as much about the business part as you

  There are many great resources available today. A great song will last longer than your career.” When employing words to live by, what more fitting passage could Chris Golden apply to his life? He turns to his favorite verse. “The Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’” (Luke 6:31 NIV)
"Music is my life, my love, and my gift"
Chris Golden


"Music is my life, my gift, and my love"
 Born into a rich musical legacy, Chris began his musical career almost as soon as he could walk. "From an early age I was surrounded by music on both sides of the family," recalls Chris, "and it was something that came very natural and easy for me." Chris never took any musical lessons and considers his ability to hear something a few times and then play it a "gift from God." In elementary school, Chris was already learning to play the drums, piano, and guitar. While growing up in Tennessee, Chris spent summers on his grandparents farm in south Alabama, working in the fields and singing in church. During this time he developed an appreciation for family harmonies and a steadfast work ethic.

    At 15, Chris began playing piano for a group called the Telestials, touring the Southern Gospel circuit. The week he graduated high school, he started touring with brother Rusty in The Boys Band; the group recorded an album for Elektra /Asylum and had a pop hit that stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks. At 18 he joined the Canadian group Cedar Creek, which had Top 10 chart action on the Canadian country charts as well as the U.S. At 19 Chris stepped out from behind the drums and made his lead vocal debut on the hit TV show Hee Haw. In 1984 he teamed up again with brother Rusty and friend Marc Speer as Golden Speer and went to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record demos for CBS with veteran "super drummer" Roger Hawkins and bass man David Hood. Already a "road scholar" this is where Chris "got my master's." In 1987, the brothers began recording as The Goldens, charting with a couple of singles released on CBS/Epic and produced by James Stroud. In 1989, on Capitol/SBK Records, the Goldens released the album "Rush for Gold," which racked up more chart singles and spawned three music videos, one of which Chris produced and directed. During this time he was constantly touring and continued to work as a session musician.     

    In 1995, he began performing with The Oak Ridge Boys playing "whatever's left;" guitar, mandolin, harmonica and filling in on keyboards and drums. From 1997-2014 this multi-talented man, who also has charted songwriter credits, became the Oaks full-time drummer. He has been the voice of Heinz 57 as national radio spokesman "to support my music habit," has played a variety of instruments on a multitude of recordings over the years, produced various projects for clients such as Polygram and EMI Records, and has also enjoyed a brief stint with country-rock legends The Flying Burrito Brothers. In 2000 Chris produced his father William Lee Golden's CD Box Set My Life's Work. Chris can also be heard on the Oak's latest CD's From The Heart, Inconvenient Christmas and The Journey, and LIVE.
In 2011, Chris stepped back in the spotlight as a television host, filming 13 episodes before a live audience for a web based series called Late Night Nashville with Chris Golden, and continues to host his annual Family and Friends concerts.
Chris Golden, 17 year member of the Oak Ridge Boys, gospel singer, entertainer, musician, Homburg Hat, Sharp dressed man
     However it's his recent solo work that best showcases Golden's gifts. He has released seven critically acclaimed solo projects including CenterStage, which garnered rave reviews from Billboard magazine, and his first gospel offering Sunday Shoes which was named Power Source Magazine's 'Album of the Month.' Next came Shoebox , released in the Fall of 2013 with the title video in rotation on ZUUS Country Network  featured as 'Breakout Artist of the Week" and appearing in the TOP 10 Countdown.  In 2015, Chris garnered his first number one song in CASHBOX Magazine with 'A Different Light' and was named 2016 'Crossover Artist of the Year" by both Christian Voice Magazine and the ICGMA.  2017 brought another #1 with On The Sunny Banks, 'Entertainer of the Year' from the ICGMA and a new album, Less of Me.  Filling In on drums with supergroup Alabama performing for every living US President. 2018, Chris found himself on the charts once again with Less of Me claiming the top spot on three different charts, appearances on TBN's Huckabee Show, The Opry House, Dollywood, and a tour in Israel. The new single and video Grateful was released in late October and is already garnering rave reviews. 

    "Music is my life, my gift, my love... and I feel like I would be turning my back on my calling if I didn't keep doing this," he says. "I love and live to entertain."
He and his children Elizabeth, Rebekah, and Elijah live near Nashville.

Sunday Shoes
Review by Tom Roland, independent Nashville journalist whowriter for Rolling Stone, Country Weekly and many other publications
    Many a man has journeyed thousands of miles only to find he’s happiest at home. So it is for Chris Golden whose multi-faceted history – including stints in rock bands, a brief membership in The Flying Burrito Brothers and a longstanding job as a drummer for country band The Oak Ridge Boys – has taken him down a multitude of sonic side roads. 
   On Sunday Shoes, Golden makes a full-circle return to gospel music, the sound that remains his home base. The two-tone leather soles and shoeshine service on the album jacket say it all: He’s mining the genre in style with music that’s sure-footed, sturdy and built for the long haul. 

    In the course of a dozen songs, he retraces many of the key figurative steps in a life’s journey. The travel references are obvious in the title track, “Gospel Road” and “Wide River To Cross.” They’re more subtle in the restless train imagery of “God Knows What” and “I Want To Thank You,” a tribute to people met along the pathway. And travel is referenced obliquely in the “Sweet Bye And Bye,” a classic hymn often associated with the body’s final destination. 
   “I always thought I would do a gospel project one day,” Golden says. “I can’t ever remember not wanting to. I cut my teeth on Southern gospel music. It was the first music I heard as a child, and the foundation for the sound that has evolved into what I play and sing today.” 
   Appropriate for an album loaded with travel themes, he recorded the bulk of the project on the road with The Oak Ridge Boys, cutting the drums and piano through the soundboard at concert halls, layering the guitars and mandolins in hotel rooms and dressing rooms, and adding the background vocals in a spare bedroom at his home in Middle Tennessee. 
   Sunday Shoes is loaded with meaningful guest appearances. Bluegrass stalwart Ronnie McCoury plays mandolin on “Higher Power”; vocalists Chris and Darrell Freeman, of the Pentecostal group The Freemans, check in on “A Different Light”; Ben Isaacs on upright bass;  and Greg Gordon – who’s sang with The Rambos, The Imperials, and on the Elvis Tour – provides key harmonies. 
   And there’s a strong family component, too. Brother Rusty Golden, a former bandmate in The Boys Band and The Goldens, wrote four songs and adds background vocals. Chris’ precocious 14-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, makes an appearance on fiddle. And his dad, The Oaks’ William Lee Golden, joins aunt Lanette Lowery in the chorus of the closing song. 
   Yet much of the album is purely Chris. He delivers the songs with an unmistakable clarity and a subtle passion. And he played the bulk of the instruments himself, meticulously building the tracks with the same sort of single-minded vision that many of his heroes – including Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, John Fogerty and Dan Fogelberg – used in constructing their classic works. 
   “When I hear a song, I know what I want the tracks to sound like in my head,” Golden observes. “I use the different instruments and sounds I play as colors. Individually, they are very simple parts, but when I put all those simple parts together, the way those colors blend creates a sound of its own.” 
   Creating sound has come naturally to Golden. Self-described as a “backstage baby,” he was born just two years before his father became a member of The Oak Ridge Boys. He never took music lessons, instead learning the drums, piano and guitar simply by hearing songs and playing them back. At 15, he began touring on the Southern gospel circuit as a piano player with a group called The Telestials, and the week he graduated high school, Golden began touring as the drummer for The Boys Band, which earned a minor national hit with “Don’t Stop Me Baby (I’m On Fire).” He also appeared on the country charts numerous times in a couple of incarnations – first with the band Cedar Creek, then with brother Rusty in the duo The Goldens. 
   In 1995, he stepped into The Oaks’ organization – initially as a journey-man musician, playing guitar, mandolin, harmonica, keyboard or drums, depending on the setting. In 1998, he became the band’s fulltime drummer. 
   Along the way, he’s fashioned four solo albums, grounded primarily in country. All the while, an unwavering desire to mold an album around his gospel roots continued to gnaw at Golden’s psyche. When he sang a couple demos of songs Rusty had written, “Gospel Road” and “I Want To Thank You,” Chris knew it was time to dig in. Worked out in steps between concert dates with The Oaks and his responsibilities at home, the album found its title track at a concert in Paducah, Kentucky, when Chris told songwriter Dianne Wilkinson how his mother used to refer to his gift for gospel as his “Sundie shoes.” Wilkinson literally wrote the song in her seat while she watched him perform. 
   The album collects additional material from the likes of Billy Joe and Eddie Shaver, The Louvin Brothers and Buddy & Julie Miller. It took two years to complete, and even at the end, Sunday Shoes needed one more inspirational title to give one extra ounce of energy to the project. That song appeared when Golden loaded a bundle of old songs onto his iPod. The Oaks had recorded “When He Set Me Free” for an acoustic Warner Bros. album in the early 1960’s, Folk Minded Spirituals For Spiritual Minded Folks, and he turned it into a gospełblues celebration. The track melded Chris Golden’s passion with his family’s legacy, and it serves as the perfect lead-off track. 
   If ever there was a doubt about the album’s direction, confirmation came when a stranger appeared before an Oaks show at the Cerritos Center in Southern California as Chris set up his gear alone. The stranger introduced himself as a former drummer, then reminded Golden that he’d been given a gift, and that he needed to “play for the One who gave you the gift.” 
   The phrase was a transformative reminder. Golden wrote the phrase on his snare drum with a Sharpie, and it helped him take the final steps in his full-circle walk back to his gospel roots. 
   “I’ve always believed in the music,” Golden says. “Music is my gift, and I wanted everything about this album to be special because I feel like I’m making it for the right reasons.” 
    It’s a perfect journey, a trip in his Sunday Shoes back to the sound that gave Chris Golden his eternal musical grounding.