Kevin Staley knew at a young age he was destined to serve God through his music.
“I feel that was just my calling,” said Staley, music minister at Gospel Water Branch Baptist Church in Evans. “I was pretty much raised in the church.”
At age 6, the Wagener native had already learned to play the piano.
When he became a teen, Staley played a number of percussion instruments as a student at Wagener-Salley High School and on the marching band at Benedict College.
It was at his former church in Wagener, though, where he began playing for a congregation. And after talking to his pastor, he discovered the power gospel music had to move people.
“It’s a service to God,” Staley came to realize. “We should always give our best, nothing less than our best, to him.”
By the time he was 12, Staley said, he had started his music ministry in churches across Georgia and South Carolina.
Staley, now of Martinez, took over the role of music minister at Gospel Water Branch about three years ago.
His wife, Dana, who directs a choir in the church, and the couple’s five young daughters, felt right at home when they first arrived, Staley said.
Though there are about 1,000 members at the church, Staley called it very family-oriented.
As the minister of music, the 34-year-old is in charge of the church’s five choirs, praise teams, and dance and drama ministries. He also sings and plays in several church choirs.
“The main thing I find rewarding is being able to bring people closer to God through the gifts he’s given me,” he said.
Staley recently signed on as a youth minister, leading a teen Bible study each Wednesday evening.
Staley’s love of music also extends outside the sanctuary, having toured with gospel singers such as Donald Lawrence, Shirley Caesar and Eddie James, as well as secular artists such as Alicia Keys and Angie Stone.
By fall, Staley hopes to release a contemporary gospel CD, titled Concept to Conception, which is a collaboration of works from area songwriters.
With the help of pastors from Vineyard Church of Augusta and Oasis De Bendicion, Staley is organizing an evening of multi-cultural worship at 6:30 p.m. on April 29 at the Columbia County Amphitheater in Evans.
The event, called The Bridge, is aimed at bridging the gap between different cultures, races and religious denominations, Staley said.
“We believe that’s God’s heart is for all his children to come together and worship together,” Staley said.