A couple years ago I had the privilege of interviewing (my now pal) Garrett Goodwin, best known as the drummer for country superstar Carrie Underwood. Garrett’s passion for drumming comes through in every performance whether it is for the Christian or secular genre. He remains one of the hardest hitting drummers in country music with one of the most unorthodox drum kit set-ups and playing styles you’ve ever seen.
At just 26 years-old, Garrett Goodwin has already amassed a resume that would be the admiration of professional musicians more than twice his age. From securing a coveted gig as the steady touring drummer for country music sensation Carrie Underwood to performing with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers such as Lindsey Buckingham and Steven Tyler, Goodwin has already left his mark on both the Christian and secular markets. Add to that the accolades he’s received from fans, such as being voted “Best Up and Coming” in Modern Drummer’s 2013 Reader’s Poll, and one can’t help but take notice. Goodwin’s path to the spotlight in many ways is similar to, yet in other ways very different from that of his peers.
Growing up in an active church family, Garrett recalled his early exposure to the pounding percussion of the worship band. He said, “I remember being very young and having a great interest in the musicians at my church. My family attended services almost daily at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. For some reason, I always found myself fixated on the drummer. I don’t know if I was specifically drawn to the drums at the time, but there was something about performing music that spoke to me. After a while, I started asking lots of questions. Lucky for me, the musicians answered them.”
At the age of 11, Goodwin finally expressed an interest in playing the drums. “There was no history of music in my family,” he said, “so I had no clue what I was doing. I was searching for something and the drums seemed to fill that void.” Recognizing their son’s enthusiasm, Garrett’s parents signed him up for the first and only drum lesson he would ever take.
Today he refers to that event as a traumatic blessing. “I remember going to my first drum lesson and the teacher gave me some exercises to work on at home. I practiced them as best I could and the following week went back for my follow-up. I began playing through the first exercise when the teacher interrupted me and said ‘You’ll never be a drummer.’ I was just a kid at the time so it kinda messed me up. Looking back now,” he added, “I’m actually grateful. That painful incident ultimately gave me the incentive to prove the guy wrong.”
One can only wonder if that discouraging teacher ever caught his rejected pupil performing on “Saturday Night Live,” “Jimmy Fallon” or the Grammy Awards. With a discouraging perception of drum teachers, Goodwin decided to tackle the instrument on his own. His parents bought him a 5-piece Percussion Plus beginner’s set, with a small hi-hat and a splash cymbal. From that point on, his drum lessons consisted of playing accompaniments to CDs. Gravitating toward the musicians at his church, Garrett began performing with the children’s worship band and soon after proved that he had real talent.