At the age of six, Channing Eleton set out on his musical journey. His parents started him out with a local Dalton, GA piano teacher. Through the next few years, he gained different insight and perspective from different area teachers. However, it was not until high school that Channing began to take the piano and his studies seriously. Not long after having enrolled at the prestigious Cadek Conservatory of Music in Chattanooga, TN, Channing competed for and won a Classical Music Scholarship to attend the school. Spending the better part of the next three years at Cadek, he developed the technical foundation that he values to this day.
Channing’s father, Earl, Eleton, had a great hand in influencing him. A guitarist himself, Earl played for a Gospel group that traveled on the weekends. Alot of times, Channing was along for the ride, soaking up every minute of the road-life and the music. While not on the road, there was Gospel music constantly blaring from the stereo speakers of the Eleton household. All of this had a profound effect on Channing. After hearing Gospel pianists, such as Martin Gueresko and Anthony Burger playing on some old records, Channing’s life was forever changed. It was “in his blood”, and there was no denying it.
After high school, Channing enrolled at a local community college and began to pursue a degree in ‘Business Administration’. Three years into it, he felt as if he was ‘spinning his wheels’ and had missed his God-given calling…until the day he ran into a friend at a music store. It was then his friend shared with him that a local, professional Gospel group, Poet Voices, was in need of a pianist. Having mustered up enough nerve, Channing called the group’s leader, Phil Cross. Cross informed Channing that they had already hired someone, but, expressed an interest hearing Channing play. So a couple of nights later, after an invitation of Cross’, Channing met the group at a studio in Chattanooga where they were recording. Of that night, Channing recalls, “I remember walking in and realizing that they were very busy…right in the middle of a new project. Although the guys were nice, the atmosphere was very intense. In between takes, Phil Cross and I walked over to a piano where I played a few things for him. From there we talked for a couple of minutes, as he had a few questions to ask me. For the most part I think it went pretty good. But, I remember walking out of that studio thinking to myself, ‘I’ll never hear from those guys ever again.’ This was January of 1995, I was 21 at the time.” However, Channing did hear from Phil Cross again. Three months later Cross called Channing in April, informing him that his new keyboard player had just turned in his notice. Channing states, “I had been praying for so long that God would open a door for me to do what I had been put here on this earth to do. God is faithful to give us the desires of our heart when we seek Him and show Him that we’re interested in Him, not just His blessings.”
Phil Cross asked Channing to join Poet voices, thus beginning Channing’s professional music career. “It probably was not the ‘safest’ thing to do, but at 21, I dropped out of college, hit the road and have never looked back”, Channing states.
For the next 4 1/2 years, he toured extensively with Poet Voices playing concerts from Delaware to California and from Canada to the Carribean. This led to so many great things for Eleton. He gained valuable experience while on the road, making many, many new friends. These friends began to ask him to record a project of his own. So in 1998, Be Still And Know was released. Be Still And Know came with high regard from both peers and fans. Channing shares, “God started blessing and big doors just kept opening. So many great things started happening. ‘Be Still’ received two Gospel Music Association Dove Award nominations. Next, I was asked by the great Anthony Burger, one of my heroes, to join his cast of Anthony Burger’s Pianorama. And, I guess the highest honor for me was to be featured artist on Moody Broadcasting out of Chicago. It is a BIG deal to get played on Moody Radio! It’s tough to get on their playlist.”
The next year, July 10, 1999, Channing marries his sweetheart, Christina Fleming, whom he’d met two years prior at a Poet Voices concert. Channing continues, “God has constantly poured out His favor upon me. I want to be faithful to the call He has on my life. I also owe a great deal of gratitude to so many more. My dad and mom, for consistently believing in me and their unending love. Phil Cross, for not only giving me my first shot, but for selflessly featuring me as a piano soloist in Poet Voices concerts. And now, my wife Christina. My love, constant support and best friend. I know when I’m up on that stage, she’s praying for me. Words can’t even begin to describe how I feel. I am blessed more than I deserve. I’m so thankful!”
In November of 1999, after almost five years, Channing leaves Poet Voices. After a brief hiatus from the road, March 23, 2000 finds Eleton joining Gospel music super-group, Gold City. For the next six years, he tours as part Gold City’s ‘Band Of Gold’. In September of that year, Gold City’s band with Eleton, won The Singing News Fan Award for ‘BAND OF THE YEAR’. In May of 2001, the Southern Gospel Music Association named Channing Eleton as its ‘Musician Of The Year’. “I take great pride in this honor because it was voted on and awarded to me by my peers”, Channing shares. In 2002, Christmas Is Finally Here is released, Eleton’s second effort. “The Christmas project was a blast. Not only is it full of holiday classics that kids, young and old, enjoy, it’s just an enjoyable record to share”, Eleton says.
October of 2005, Channing resigned his position as Gold City’s keyboardist. Channing reflects, “I’ll always be thankful for my days spent with Gold City. Not only did I grow ‘leaps and bounds’ as a musician, I learned so many valuable lessons in professionalism. The Gold City guys are first class in my book and I’ll always love them and value their friendships.”
November of 2005 finds Channing winning yet another ‘peer voted’ award, the Southern Gospel Music Guild’s ‘Musician Of The Year’. Channing recalls, “What was so special about this particular award show is the fact that I got to share the stage with a huge influence, hero and friend, Anthony Burger. We played a duet of one of his songs. Not only that, but I got to have a long talk with Anthony and his wife LuAnn, at the pre-show dinner. What a special memory. It was the last time I ever saw Anthony.”
“For a couple of years, I was involved with a music ministry that included former Gaither Vocal Band member Buddy Mullins, Buddy’s wife Kerri, and former Sunday Drive and Martins member Paul Lancaster. This ministry was called Everyday Driven. God taught me so much during my time with these great people.”
“The older I get, the more I realize that God uses the different seasons of our lives to prepare for us what’s to come. I have learned to keep looking ahead. Keep plowing forward, while enjoying the present and living each day to its fullest.”
These days finds Channing still doing what he loves, making music. “My experiences allow me to do so many things I enjoy. I go out and minister to people one on one in my solo concerts. I also enjoy working in the studio with various artists, either producing or playing on their records.”
Channing shares, “I want to reach people for the cause of Christ. And to get to them, I am using a powerful ministry resource…music. I have a testimony and God has given me the gift of music and the ‘Ultimate Gift’, His Son Jesus Christ. How can I not go and share it with the world?”
“All I can say is that I’m loving life. I’m married to my best friend & love of my life and we have a beautiful daughter. God has blessed me so much…much more than I deserve. I am so grateful to Him.”