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 completing his bachelor’s degree in choral conducting at the University of North Alabama, he went on to sharpen his keyboard skills, earning a masters degree in piano performance at The Juilliard School.
Since 1999, Joel has taken the church music scene by storm, with over 300 titles in print, primarily with Hope Publishing where he serves as Editor. His innovative style and inspired arranger’s instincts put his numerous choral anthems, musicals, cantatas, handbell compositions, piano solos, and instrumental works at the top of sales charts year after year. His work can be found in the catalogs of many music publishers.
Joel’s interest in music of all kinds has led to employment opportunities in everything from classical and jazz performance to pop vocal arranging. He has conducted national tours of Broadway productions, as well as been honored for outstanding musical direction of theater in both Chicago and Los Angeles. He has worked as a composer and producer of commercial music in Chicago since 1988, and in that time has written soundtracks for more than 2000 television and radio commercials, plus numerous scores for short films.
Joel is a sought-after choral and keyboard clinician, and he stays busy performing throughout North America as a piano soloist and in duo-concert with organist and fellow Hope Editor, Jane Holstein. They have released an album of organ-piano duets, Kum Ba Yah, and Joel has four solo piano albums to his credit: An Instrument of Your Peace; This Is My Story, This Is My Song; Overtures of Praise; and Images of Christmas.
For more than a decade, Joel was Artist-in-Residence at the First Presbyterian Church of River Forest, Il, and he currently serves as Minister of Music at the First Baptist Church of Oak Park, Il. He makes his home in River Forest with his wife Susie and their three sons: Charlie, Sawyer, and Jesse.