Interview With Charles "Volley" Craig
With a grandfather who was instrumental in the career of the great Rev. James Cleveland, a father and uncle who are renowned Gospel artists in their own right, is it any surprise that an individual surrounded by such talent would also be a bright light in the music industry?
Charles “Volley” Craig counts producer, composer and musician among his talents. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Volley's rich family history is his musical legacy, beginning with his late grandfather, Reverend Charles Ashley Craig II.
Rev. Craig was an extremely gifted musician who, later in life, became a pastor in Detroit. Honoring his love for music, Rev. Craig invested in the services of the late great King of Gospel music, Rev. James Cleveland, as his church minister of music.
Continuing in Rev. Craig’s musical and spiritual footsteps, 'Volley'’s father, Bishop Charles A. Craig III (currently pastor of Craig Memorial Tabernacle, Detroit), along with his brother James (who serves as co-pastor of Craig Memorial), are also accomplished Gospel artists, known as The Craig Brothers.
With a profound family lineage supporting him, at the age of 11, Volley was classically trained as a pianist. From the piano, he then ventured to the trumpet and trombone before finding his knack with the drums. An acclaimed drummer for a vast majority of his life, Volley once again defied the stigma of being a mono-instrumentalist, when he began playing the bass in an unorthodox fashion.
After completion of high school, Volley rejected a full scholarship to Kentucky State University, to travel with a national gospel stage play, written and directed by popular Gospel playwright, Michael Mathews.
As the bass player's bass player, Volley has toured extensively, recorded albums and made numerous television appearances with many mainstream artists on such shows as Vibe, The Arsenio Hall Show and Showtime at the Apollo.
H. Doobie Powell|
You can catch the sound of Charles "Volley" Craig on many albums, including the solo debut of H. Doobie Powell. Check it out. |
See full album review.
Maintaining his roots in gospel music, but not limiting himself to one genre, Volley boasts a rather impressive resume, sharing his musical gifts with such Gospel greats as The Clark Sisters, Jennifer Holiday, Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary and The Winans.
In 1995, Volley embarked on his first R&B tour with multi-platinum recording artist, the late Aaliyah. Other artists he's worked with include Ice Cube, Lil’Kim, DMX, Mase and Mary J. Blige. In the fall of 1999, Volley joined the Bad Boy Entertainment family, with whom he maintains his position as bass player for Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.
Most recently, Volley has toured with Aretha Franklin, and can be found adding that bottom to albums from Kim Burrell (Try Me Again and Live) to Dorinda Clark-Cole.
We put the following questions to Charles “Volley” Craig:
Gospelflava.com: How would you describe your style of bass playing to someone who has never heard you play? Who are your influences, in the world of bass players?
Charles "Volley" Craig:
I have my own aggressive style. I grew up listening to a lot of bass players such as Marcus Miller, John Pattatuci, Leonard Brantly, Steve Huff, Terry Lewis, Andrew Gouche’ and a host of others. I created my own style from a compilation of all of those phenomenal bassists. If I had to choose one word that best describes my style, I would say “unorthodox”. Having begun my musical career as a drummer in the 80’s, and then to literally just picking up the bass one day, was quite a feat. Yes, unorthodox would best describe my style. Typically, I just play what I feel and however I'm led is what you hear
Gospelflava.com: How do you balance out your work in the secular area vs. the gospel scene?
Charles "Volley" Craig:
There really is no balancing for me. Gospel will always be my first love, because I understand and recognize that my talent is definitely a gift from the Lord.
Knowing that there is only one True foundation, makes it easy for me to not allow myself to get caught up in all that goes along with working and existing in the secular environment. Don't get me wrong, by no means am I saying that I am a saint, but I know that with the temptations that are presented in the secular world (and Gospel too, believe it or not),there come repercussions [if they are yielded to].
I also know that I am a direct representative of my family, so I try my best not to do anything that will be an embarrassment to the Body of Christ or my family.
My love for music is not genre-based. I believe that music is and always has been a means to connect the artist with the world. Whatever comes from the heart, reaches the heart. I have the same passion for both genres, and have learned how not to compromise my spirituality when in the secular environment.
The most recent projects that I have played on would be Evelyn Turrentine-Agee, Kim Burrell, and Dorinda Clark-Cole’s latest projects. Upcoming projects include Detroit native, Darius Twyman and my father and uncle's group, The Craig Brothers.
For the most part, I am focusing on adding production skills to my repertoire right now. I have had the opportunity to sit under some of music's greatest producers and it has piqued my interest.
As a result, I have produced a couple of tracks for some local Detroit acts, and am slated to co-produce a few tunes on the upcoming Whitfield Company project. I have been playing with The Company for quite some time and it will be a blessing and an honor to co-produce them.
Prayerfully, God will bless me to become more than just a bass player.
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