by Rick Moore
Not too many country bands make a respectable living playing in churches and at family-friendly shows and festivals, as opposed to venues that are, shall we say, a little more rowdy. But Zack Shelton and 64 to Grayson are doing just that, while regularly performing their own brand of mostly original country music for worshippers and largely conservative crowds at events throughout the Southeast.
Shelton, guitarist/vocalist Craig Cunningham and fiddler/vocalist Tiffany Baker perform with the energy of a headlining country act while remaining committed to a strong sense of traditional values. 64 to Grayson has been working since 2011, and recently relocated to Nashville to take the band to the next level in the music industry. The band draws its name from the route that Shelton and Cunningham each drove to college as students at Kentucky Christian University.
Shelton says that the band is unique in this age of cookie-cutter country acts. “If someone wanted to pigeonhole us, I’d have to say we’re ‘alternative country,’ and that’s not to just pick a genre,” he says. “We have the look and the instrumentation of a country band (guitars, lap steel, fiddle, mandolin), but different styles can show up in our sound. We do have down-home hardwood pew values, but we still have a lot of fun with our music, and we strive to write good songs.”
The 6’3” front man comes by his talents honestly. He’s the son of noted Gospel singer Thomas Shelton, grandson of songwriter Winston Shelton, and the great-great-nephew of B.F. Shelton, one of the performers for Ralph Peer’s “Bristol Sessions” in 1927, the recording sessions that essentially created the country music business. Zack recorded an album with his dad, Like Father, Like Son, in addition to several albums that he has cut with 64 to Grayson, all of which are hot sellers in the cities where the band plays. Either solo or with the band, Shelton has opened for such acts as the Charlie Daniels Band, Josh Turner, and the Gaithers.
Shelton says that, while music plays a major role in his life, something else still comes first. “Being a Christian and having been raised in the church, my ultimate goal is sharing Christ’s love with others with our music,” Shelton says. “We might be backwoods hillbilly country, but we strive to show Christ’s love in everything we do on and off stage. It’s not just an act that happens when we put our instruments on. It’s the way we live our lives.”
For more information, or to hear some of the band’s music, go to www.64tograyson.com.
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