The inspiring journey | South Georgia Magazine
Alumnus finds their voice in music and ministry
Adventurous. Risk. Exciting. This is how Travis Greene (’06) describes his early years as a singer in the gospel music industry.
“Being able to do what I love in life is a dream come true,” he said. “I’m still not used to it and I will never take it for granted. There was no backup plan for me. That’s all I wanted to do.
Following the path that led to his success took a little encouragement. As a student at Georgia Southern, Greene studied music but majored in business management. Instead of chasing his dream, he focused on a more practical career. He planned to get an MBA and then join the corporate world. But he changed his mind after a conversation with his piano teacher from Georgia Southern.
“Teacher Natalia Da Roza really inspired me,” Greene said of the teacher who taught her to read music. “There was a turning point as graduation approached when she asked me about my future plans. When she heard the path I intended to follow, she told me challenged to follow my passion – which was music and ministry.
Find your love for music
Like many other successful singers, Greene grew up surrounded by music. His father played the guitar and his mother was a minister and choir director. Part of the military community, his family lived in a few places until they settled in Warner Robins, Georgia. When he was five years old, his father died suddenly of an aneurysm. The former student found comfort in music, saying it was God’s way of enabling him to escape heartbreak and adversity.
“I turned to the keyboard instead of drugs and street life,” he said in published interviews. “Any instrument I got my hands on, I could play.”
He followed his teacher’s advice and started a career in music. His decision to sing gospel instead of secular music, he said, was “based on a prayer when I was 12. I prayed to God that if he would allow me to make music, I would only do it for him.
In 2006, Greene graduated from Georgia Southern. The following year, the singer released the first full recording of his career. He called his first independent album “The More”. It landed on the Billboard charts and gained major airplay. Two more albums followed that one, then he hit hard with his third. “The Hill”, released in 2015, reached the top of the Billboard gospel charts. It also produced two No. 1 hits on the gospel broadcast charts. Both of these singles, “Made a Way” and “Intentional”, received Grammy nominations. His 2017 album, “Crossover: Live from Music City,” also topped the gospel chart and climbed to number 61 on the Billboard 200. In all, the artist has released five albums, the most recent coming last year.
Collaboration with legendary stars
Greene not only sings, but he is also a producer and songwriter. He has collaborated with some of the biggest stars in gospel music. Legendaries Kirk Franklin, John P. Kee, Tasha Cobbs-Leonard, Mali Music and Kierra Sheard are just a few of them. He first met Franklin in 2011 and it remains one of his most cherished experiences.
“He was a major inspiration growing up, so getting the chance to meet him was a dream come true,” the award-winning singer said. “He knew who I was right away and gave me great advice.”
Greene’s songs and recordings have won numerous industry accolades. They include five Grammy Award nominations, 13 Stellar Awards, three Dove Awards, two Billboard Music Awards, a Soul Train Award and a BET Award. Despite the accolades, Greene remains humble about her critically acclaimed success.
“It’s always humbling for a work of art to be noticed and recognized by music lovers,” noted the award-winning singer. “My goal is always to inspire, and time and time again the awards show that my inspirational goal has been appreciated.”
While earning accolades as the voice of his generation, Greene also earned a reputation for his songwriting talent. He estimates that he has written at least 100 songs. Some of the biggest names in gospel music have recorded his works.
“I prefer songwriting,” admitted the five-time Grammy-nominated musician. “Songwriting is more of a challenge. I approach songwriting like a puzzle, so finishing a song is more fulfilling than releasing energy on stage.
When Greene takes the stage to share his music, he always finds joy in performing in front of an audience. He told the louange.com website that performing live is a more honest demonstration of what he does musically. “In the studio,” he noted, “I can imitate what I’m doing live. But there’s nothing like an enthusiastic audience can help me take my giving to another level. When I can see those tears flowing, hands uplifted, and people jumping for joy, I know God’s message is flowing through me.
Music isn’t Greene’s only way to reach people’s hearts with inspirational messages. He embraced the culture he experienced growing up and answered the call to ministry. Now he co-pastors Forward City Church in Columbia, SC with his wife, Dr. Jackie Greene (’10). The singer and his wife, who has a dental office, are also founders of the church. They have three young sons, Judah, Travis and David.
“God placed a desire in my heart to create a place where I wanted to go every Sunday,” he said. “Forward City Church is that place. I grew up spending a lot of time in church. The ministry was part of my DNA. It was a natural transition in my life to aspire to full-time ministry. “
Greene’s thriving career clearly makes him a busy husband and father. He estimates that at one point he flew to different destinations more than 150 times a year. But he learned to keep up with his own pace while taking on his many responsibilities.
“I don’t believe in finding a balance,” he explained. “I believe in finding a sustainable and healthy rhythm for you and for those you love. That rhythm for me is to prioritize correctly and be present wherever I am.
The artist is a member of the Georgia Southern University Alumni Association’s “40 Under 40” class of 2021. He was also the guest speaker for the Spring 2022 Launch of Parker College of Business Graduate University.
Greene has simple advice for people who are unsure of their path in life.
“The truth,” he says, “is often the thing that frustrates you the most, which is a sign of your passion and your calling. Once you find that passion, use your energy to not complain or conform. Confront whatever frustrates you the most because we are all created to be an answer to a problem.
With all he has accomplished, Greene has fond memories of his time at Georgia Southern.
“My years at Georgia Southern University were some of the best years of my life. Go Eagles!” —Sandra Bennett