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Joel Raney started playing the piano sometime between learning to walk and learning to read. His taste for gospel music began in a rural Baptist church in Alabama, an influence that shows strongly in his work to this day. After studying choral conducting at the University of North Alabama, he sharpened his considerable keyboard skills earning a masters degree in piano at Julliard.
Since 1999 he has taken the church music scene by storm, with over 200 titles in print, mostly with Hope Publishing where he serves as Editor. His innovative style and inspired arranger's instincts put his numerous choral anthems, handbell pieces, piano solos, cantatas, and instrumental works at the top of sales charts year after year. His vastly popular piano and organ duet "worship openers," have brilliantly transformed the genre.
But behind the sales figures is a depth of feeling for Joel's music that defies description. Perhaps it is the emotion that he invests in each and every work that bonds his listeners together. This shared experience, whether it is from the thrill of a massed choir performance or the satisfaction of a well-sung anthem in a tiny church, is the creative motivation behind all of his writing. In addition to publishing with Hope, Joel's work can also be found in the catalogs of Heritage Press, Shawnee, Hal Leonard, Fred Bock Music and Jubilate.
Joel's wide-ranging interest in a variety of musical styles has led to his employment in the fields of jazz, pop vocal arranging, and musical theater. When a composer has true command of the language of music, he can write just as easily for a choir of angels as he can for a gang of animated bugs. The bugs are cartoons for Raid Insect Spray and Joel has written soundtracks for their antics through his commercial music company, Catfish Music, based in Chicago. More dignified clients, such as Boeing, and Dow Chemical have also passed through his studio doors.
When not writing or arranging, Joel performs all over the country as a soloist, clinician and in duo-concert with organist and fellow Hope editor Jane Holstein. For more than a decade, Joel was Artist-in-Residence at the First Presbyterian Church of River Forest, Il, and currently serves as Minister of Music at the First Baptist Church of Oak Park, Il. He has also made his home in River Forest with wife Susie and their three sons, Charlie, Sawyer and Jesse.
John is associate pastor of music and seniors' ministries. He attended the University of Manitoba, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Licentiate in Music diploma in vocal studies. While studying in Winnipeg he was a tenor soloist and chorus member with the very popular Winnipeg CBC television program, “Hymn Sing”. A Bachelor of Education degree was completed at the University of Calgary, along with summer studies taken at Southern Theological Seminary (Louisville, Kentucky), Briercrest Seminary (Caronport, Sk.), and Carey Theological College (Vancouver, B.C.).
John is beginning his 27th year of ministry as associate pastor at First Baptist Church Regina, directing an active music program & seniors ministry with enthusiasm, passion, and his warm sense of humor. John is well known for planning in advance, however, the question becomes for which year?". John also enjoys the opportunities to act as a handbell and/or choral clinician, conductor, and adjudicator at various festivals and workshops throughout Canada and the U.S.