Featured Producer - Craig King

Featured Producer – Craig King

Featured Producer – Craig King

Featured Producer – Craig King


Ironically enough, it was two men without the gift of sight who were the first to “see” the tremendous talent that is Craig King.

Growing up in Nashville, Tennessee, the budding musician played drums for his church, Greater Christ Temple, where he was greatly impressed with the resident organist. After that musician left, a young King found himself playing around on the organ one day when his pastor, who was blind, overheard him.

From that moment on, Greater Christ Temple had a new organist.

Self-taught, a then teenaged King was much sought after to play gigs around town and at local churches. It was his connection with the black church that led to his first career breakthrough.

While a student at Howard University in Washington, D.C., his talents were often called upon by Rev. Noel C. Taylor, then pastor of High Street Baptist Church and mayor of Roanoke, Virginia. It was Pastor Taylor who informed King of an upcoming audition with the legendary Ray Charles who was looking to fill the shoes of his longtime collaborator Billy Preston for the remainder of his tour.

Craig with Ray Charles

“That’s him!” Ray Charles shouted after hearing the young King play. Selected from a multitude of more experienced organists, the gig linked King with the musical impresario Quincy Jones who was conducting the tour.

After that there was no stopping King. A college friend encouraged him to experiment with some recording equipment the friend had in his basement and King was on his way to discovering even more of his natural talents – this time for songwriting and production. He strove daily to perfect his craft, writing songs and frequenting the practice rooms at Philadelphia-based Temple University’s music rooms.

There he discovered a Fine Arts student named Jean Norris who was also an incredibly gifted vocalist. King immediately began working with her and produced all of the music for a talent show she entered with her group Zhané.

DJ Jazzy Jeff was at that talent show and ended up with a cassette of Zhané music. The DJ was best known for his work with fellow Philadelphia resident Will Smith, a rapper who was about to embark on a new TV sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” The pair liked what they heard of King’s work and he eventually toured with Smith during the ambitious and aptly titled “The Greatest Hip-Hop Tour in the World” and co-produced several hits for the rapper including Jeff’s remix of the now iconic tune “Summertime.”

The tour gave King even more exposure to music superstars as it included hip-hop pioneers Queen Latifah, A Tribe Called Quest, Naughty-by-Nature, Busta Rhymes, Kid & Play and the Gheto Boyz.

Craig with Kenny Rogers

That entrée into the world of hip-hop resulted in King being introduced to Eddie Ferrell, a mogul in the genre. In no time at all King was working with powerhouse development firm “The Untouchables” who were responsible for careers of such stars as Sean “Puffy” Combs, Heavy D and Mary J. Blige.

The young boy who was just fooling around on the keys in his home church was now working with such legends as hip-hop producer Marley Marl and seeing his talents become a part of platinum selling projects including an album for R & B songstress Monifah.

Craig with Aaliyah

Since those early days he has grown to become a respected and award-winning musician, writer, producer and consultant. The breadth of his accomplishments in the music industry stretch across various genres as more and more performers have sought out his gifts. He has worked with a wide range of artists including Kanye West, Ludacris, Kenny Rogers, country duo Joey + Rory, and the late Aaliyah whose “One in the Million” album saw King credited with producing, writing and arranging her vocals.

Craig with Kanye West

His ear for hits led Kanye West to endorse him to fellow rapper Ludacris with an enthusiastic “This kid Craig has some hot s**t, you NEED TO HEAR THIS!” West knew of what he spoke and worked with King on the hit single “Good Life” from his smash, multi-platinum, third studio album “Graduation.” King and Ludacris also went on to form a fruitful creative collaboration that has blossomed into a long-standing friendship.

His expertise in the music field resulted in his being tapped to judge auditions for BET’s “Wild Out Wednesdays” as well as 106 and Park’s popular “Freestyle Fridays.”

Billbaord Music Awards 2015

Hailed as a visionary, King has expanded his portfolio well beyond his astronomically successful musical endeavors.

Using his experience with marketing in music and pop culture garnered from his years in the industry, he has translated that “coolness factor” into other ventures including playing a funding and advisory role with the wildly popular clothing line Pink + Dolphin. In 2015 King’s company Level Next Music Group partnered with Louder Than Life/Sony.

Under the auspices of his Gentle King brand he is also involved in an array of other ventures encompassing the fields of tech (where he has partnered with such giants as Intel and Microsoft), education, and racing.