A few years later, I got a set of Ludwig drums on Christmas morning. Not long after, my folks built an addition to the house....that was separate from the house!!! I wonder why?!! I practiced all of the time, or at least when my brother Mark wasn't on the drums. But Mark would eventually give in and become a bass player. And quite an accomplished bass player, at that. I didn't believe that anything could be more fun than playing drums. I still don't.
I went through high school and was going go to North Carolina State University and become a dentist. I figured that I should do the "normal" thing and get a "real" job. God had other ideas. I had started competing in a church sponsored talent competition the summer after I graduated, and wound up winning the competition on the national level. Along with the win came a scholarship to Lee College (now Lee University) in Cleveland, Tennessee. So instead of going to NCSU, I went to Lee to study music. It was at Lee that I would meet the key people that would shape the rest of my life. My next door neighbor happened to be a singer that I had met the summer before school. His name was Mark Harris (of 4Him). I can still remember the night that Mark and I were sitting around talking about what we were going to do with our lives. Mark wanted to sing and be a songwriter and I wanted to play the drums. It's amazing that we've been able to live out our dreams. Mark and I were in the group Harvest, directed by Danny Murray. Danny would eventually be the one that would set up my audition with TRUTH. But before TRUTH came "The Spurrlows." Mark had gone on the road with the Spurrlows and recommended me when the drummer left. The Spurrlows were a Christian group that performed at conventions around the world. It was a blast, and it was my first real taste of the road. Russ Lee (of Newsong and now a solo artist) was there as well as Mike Quistad (bass player and former road manager of 4Him).
After the Spurrlows, I went back to Lee and started practicing again and doing session work for the local studios. Kent Holmes, an engineer in town, really supported my efforts to be a professional musician. Kent hired me for everything.....it was such great experience. A couple of years later, one night around midnight, I received a phone call from Roger Breland. Mr. Breland was the founder and leader of TRUTH. His exact words were, "Mike, Roger Breland, this is THAT call." I was on the road within a few weeks, and stayed there for 4 1/2 years. I learned a lot. I learned how to drive a bus, how to road manager and how to program and sequence. All of which has come in handy over the years. But above all, I learned how to be consistent and how to ignore the little things that can ruin your day. A necessity for being on the road and in the studio.
I left Truth in 1992, after some really clear direction from the Lord and moved to Nashville. David Cleveland (who I traveled with in Truth) called and asked me to do the Twila Paris "Beyond a Dream" tour in the fall of 1992. >From there I did 2 Young Messiah Christmas tours; tours with 4Him, Point of Grace, Jaci Velasquez, Avalon, Anointed, Nichole Nordeman and more artists that one guy deserves to play for. I get to play with musicians like my brother Mark, Jackie Street, Glenn Pearce, David Cleveland, Steve Rosen and hosts of others that I respect not only as musicians but as men.
I still keep in touch with Trent. I still have my first set of Ludwig drums, and I still enjoy playing them. I co-own a studio now with my brother Mark and I've always made my living through music. God has been good.
I'm not the best drummer in Nashville, but I'm thankful that God chooses to use me. So when I'm asked "How do I get to do what you do"? My inevitable answer is "I don't know. But what I do know is this: All God has ever required of me is that I serve the needs of the artists that I've played for to the best of my ability. Some things have paid a lot and some things haven't paid at all. It doesn't matter As long as I've done it to the best of my ability, He's been faithful to keep the work coming.