If there is one phrase I have heard over and over again in gospel music, it would be that the hassle, the late nights, the many miles, and the weary hours that accompany the singing life are “worth it all.” This may be hard to believe from the the way this life-style sounds, but yet again, the 13-year-old drummer, Tyler Forester, from The Foresters, attests to the fact that “it is worth it all.” But why? Some may think this is because of the fame and recognition or because it seems to bring good benefits. But Tyler knows the real reason: “I love seeing people trust Jesus as Savior…In 2018 we had the awesome experience of seeing 252 people trust Jesus as Savior in our concerts. That is the mission of what we do.” It is obvious this young man recognizes and appreciates what the purpose of this music is, and when he plays, his appreciation turns into a passion and is clearly transmitted. ”I just love to play,” he states. “It is all I have ever known in my life and I love it.”
He first fell in love with this instrument at the age of five when he was given his first drum for his birthday. “I started playing a song on stage when I was 6 and started playing full time when I was 8 years old,” Tyler remembers. It is certainly rare to find such a young man already traveling full time. With playing in over 200 concerts a year all over the United States and even Canada, experience is something he definitely does not lack. It is quite obvious that Tyler has an anointing on his life, with the opportunity he has to play and travel with his family and his miraculous gift of playing the drums…but just the fact that he is alive is a miracle.
Before Tyler was even born, he had many health complications. The doctors said that he would most likely die because he needed a kidney transplant, but this was nearly impossible. Nevertheless, the country cried out to God, his parents trusted in the Lord, and he made it through the full term of pregnancy. Although one of his kidneys is no longer noticeable, he received a transplant for his left kidney, and to this day it is still functioning fine!
His health is not the only way in which he has been richly blessed. He has also been impacted by other well-known gospel musicians. One of which, Tyler explains, is “Michael Booth from the Booth Brothers. A few years ago he gave me a very valuable drum set. The drums, cymbals, stands, pedals, cases, everything…It was a very valuable gift that was life changing…Pro gear promotes Pro Performances, and it certainly has motivated me and changed my live sound. I’m very grateful that he took the time and financial sacrifice to sow into a young musician like me.”
As a full-time musician, it is no surprise that, even in his free time, he plays the drums. “Drums, drums and more drums! And I enjoy playing various video games…and drums!,” Tyler laughingly says. “I am boring! I play drums all the time and video games sometimes! I am pretty simple and I like it that way”…When asked to tell a unique fact about himself he says…“I like roller coasters! Does that count?” Then it also comes as no surprise that his three daily necessities are “drums, YouTube and XBox.” But, as a live band member who is so dedicated to his calling, he appreciates the great value and sound of musicians performing live, and the changes he would like to make in gospel music are understandable: “More live bands. We need to have live bands brought back. Real musicians, playing for the Lord,” he adds. Playing for the Lord — this desire and purpose is what motivates his advice for the next generation. “Practice hard and practice some more. Play and sing any chance you get…play and sing for Jesus. He deserves our best.”
It is a common misconception that southern gospel is just for those who are older. But that is not true, and Tyler is one of many young people who apprehend what is so special about this music. As the young drummer understands, it is the lyrics that truly matter, and that is what draws him to this music. He says, “I like the fact that the lyrics are written to point people straight to the Lord. I like the different flavors of styles that are all pulled together under the banner of southern gospel. I enjoy playing them all.”
SC: If you could have the voice/talent of anyone else in gospel music, whose would you have?
TF: I don’t sing but if I did, I would want to sing like David Phelps! Lol. As a drummer in gospel music, I love Michael Rowsey. Michael is a studio musician and also is/has been the drummer for Jason Crabb, David Phelps, and others.
SC: What is your favorite song to play on and why?
TF: “It Is Well With My Soul.” It is a huge arrangement that we have and people respond to the amazing message.
SC: What is playing in your CD player right now?
TF: Zach Williams, Jason Crabb and others are regulars on my iPhone playlists.
With many years already under his belt in the music ministry, he is likely to have many memories. A rather humorous one is his favorite: “I play to a click track for most of our songs. This keeps our band (Dad and my brother, Trevor) in sync with the soundtrack. At the start of each track there is a voice that says the name of the song in my ears. I usually don’t know what song is next because Dad will often switch things up. We had a new song called “You Are Loved.” For some reason Dad had misnamed it and when I heard it in my ears for the first time in concert, it said ‘Nobody Loves Me.’ I almost fell off my drum stool laughing. It was hard to keep playing.”
No matter the hardships that the music life may entail, whether it is struggling to keep from laughing or trying to retain the energy for the next concert, this young drummer is committed to his calling — to serve Christ through his music. He is unstoppable. He has music in his blood, a rhythm in his soul, and a passion in his heart. A multitude of opportunities call for him, but this is what he answers, “I plan to continue in gospel music.”