Piano and Saxophone Mentor

Joel Ingram is a Richmond, Virginia native and has been playing piano since he was 7 years old. He gained extensive music experience at a young age through piano lessons, playing and singing in church and school choirs, and playing the saxophone throughout middle school and high school bands. Joel studied music for a year at Chowan University before transferring to Radford University and graduating with a Religious Studies Degree. He then went on to complete his Master of Divinity degree at The Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond in 2011. During his time at Chowan and Radford Joel toured North Carolina with a worship band, playing at youth retreats and conferences across the state. Joel helped found two successful local bands in Richmond that toured regionally, and currently is the contemporary worship leader at Chester Baptist Church where he leads worship and teaches a youth worship collective band of all skill levels to sing and play in a worship setting.

Tell us a little bit about your musical background; when you first started, the first experience that made you want to become a musician.

I grew up in a house where barbershop quartets and southern gospel was playing constantly, mixing in with oldies from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. We sang a lot in the car as a family listening to music. When I saw Michael J. Fox play Johnny B. Goode something in me lit up, and I wanted to play like that. Then I saw the Old Landmark Church scene in Blues Brothers, plus all the other great performances and new I wanted to play gospel. I used to say I wanted to grow up to be the B3 Organ player at a Gospel Church after seeing that scene.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

I have a huge range of favorites that span all sorts of genres but to give an idea of where I’m coming from,  Ray Charles always had a big effect on me, I feel like I developed a style watching him. I love anyone who is a master at what they do. Susan Tedeschi and Derek trucks, Chris Thile, Victor Wooten, Jason Isbell, John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Aretha Franklin, Ray LaMontagne, The Black Crowes, the list goes on, but those are some of the artists that have been on my playlist recently.

Who are some of your biggest inspirations, musical, and non-musical?

My biggest musical inspirations change constantly. As I said before, Ray Charles really affect my style, blending Blues, R&B, Soul, and Gospel music. The feel of the music resonated with me in a deep way. Aretha Franklin was another inspiration because of her amazing career and constant return to her roots in the church. I’ve seen many early videos of her playing and singing in concert and I just love her style, timing, and confidence in what she does.

One of my biggest inspirations in life right now is my dad. He devoted his life to music ministry in the church. He created a culture of excellence and of reverence in Baptist church music in Virginia and he relentlessly served others and pushed into new boundaries while respecting tradition all the same. Everyone who knows him has said how genuine and caring he is while being great at what he does. He told my brother and I from a young age that if you are going to do any job, large or small, you should do it right. That meant giving it your all and making sure it got finished. His love and hard work in church music inspires me as I aim to do the same in my ministry.

If you could follow in any musician’s footsteps, who would it be?

I think we are all meant to follow a unique path while drawing inspiration from each other, but following what Derek Trucks has been doing in the blues and Gospel world would be pretty awesome. He leads a huge band and continues to innovate in that genre and push the boundaries of excellence at what he does.

If you had the ability to pick anybody to collaborate with musically, who would it be?

I would love to collaborate with all the professional musicians in my life. I’ve had this dream of making an album with all the musicians in my family, and then bringing in different people I’ve played with in bands, in church, and around Richmond to create something unique that speaks to my musical experience in life so far.

What are your plans for the future of your music?

I’m still writing music and looking for people to collaborate with. I’ve got tons of unfinished songs that need a partner or two to help finish and polish. I could see an original project in the future, but with a baby due very soon I’m focusing on leading worship and using music to enrich life, whether that’s playing at home to entertain family, starting an impromptu hymn sing or blues jam, or sitting in with a band here and there as my schedule allows.