Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Inner Views of Daniel Thrailkill

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."
Romans 8:37

My family and I were recently blessed to enjoy a concert that included the bluegrass band of the young man I am interviewing today.  I knew the minute their music started ringing out from the stage that we were in for something special.  Not only is he super-talented, he also has a deeply-instilled love for God and speaks of his Christian faith freely while performing and throughout his interview below.  They have already won the 2018 International Bluegrass Music Association Momentum Band of the Year Award, and I know this is just the beginning of the amazing things God has in store for his and his band's future.  I am so thankful to introduce him and to share his inner views with you here!


of Bluegrass Singer & Musician,
Daniel Thrailkill

Cheryl:  Please tell us about yourself. 

Daniel:  To start, my father is a pastor at Back Creek Presbyterian Church in Mount Ulla, NC. He began his ministry in Spartanburg, SC at a small church, and in his time there, my older brother, myself, and my younger sister were born there (I was born in 1997). Being raised in the church, we were always singing hymns and learning about God through song. My mother is gifted with music, playing piano and having a wonderful voice. We moved to Mount Ulla, NC in 2001 and we’ve been here ever since. My siblings and I were homeschooled, which allowed us to have a special time of singing and prayer every morning. I took piano lessons from age 7 to 12 from Ann Drechsler, our church organist. I still use the basics she taught me and I’m able to read music because of her instruction. As a child, I was more interested in sports (baseball, basketball, golf, football) than music. I’ve always enjoyed being athletic and trying to “be good” at sports, however bad I was at them. I still enjoy getting out and playing disc golf with my bandmates and brother. When I turned 13 or 14 I began loving music and focusing on listening to music. My family has always been steeped in a love for good music, so that has been a true blessing. My brother Will plays the upright bass and my sister plays piano as well. I’m 21 now, I still live at home as a student and musician, and music teacher. I’ve been a student at Mitchell Community College and I received an Associates in Arts Degree in 2017. I’ll be starting at UNC Charlotte in the spring of 2019. I also teach guitar, ukulele and piano at Learn Music in Cornelius, NC. I’ve been teaching there for a little over 2 years and love it! 

Cheryl:  When did you first begin singing?

Daniel:  I first began singing in church, and with my mom, Angela. I started singing by myself whenever I got more into bluegrass and country music when I was around 14 years old. 

Cheryl:  What instruments do you play, and how long have you played them?

Daniel:  I play piano and guitar exclusively. I’ve been playing piano since 2004, and guitar since 2009. My first taste of the guitar came from my dad, Bill. He had a few guitars around the house and I was interested in learning how to play. An elder in our church, Mark Merrill, taught me my first song, Windy and Warm (a Chet Atkins tune). I dabble in other bluegrass instruments, such as bass, mandolin, and banjo, but I would not consider myself proficient in them.

Cheryl:  Who are your biggest musical influences?

Daniel:  Wow, I’m not sure where to start. I’m influenced by a multitude of artists and musicians. If I were to pick a top 5, I would say my mother, Brad Paisley, Tony Rice, Bryan Sutton and my bandmates.

Cheryl:  How did your band, The Trailblazers, get started?
Daniel:  We got started because our mandolin player, Jonah Horton, needed two guys to play guitar and bass with him for an event in Salisbury, NC. So he asked myself and my brother to join him. We called ourselves the Carolina Swinggrassers. Eventually we got a few more gigs as a three-piece band. One night in early 2016, Jonah came to our house for a practice and I asked another friend Alex Edwards to join us and jam with us for a bit. So once we started practicing and jamming, Alex fit right in. I believe we changed the name to the Trailblazers in February of 2016.

Cheryl:  Who are your current members? Can you tell us a little about each one?

Daniel:  So Will Thrailkill is our bass player. He’s 23 years old and just received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UNC Charlotte. He’s beginning a job at a ceramics plant called NGK, located in Mooresville, NC.

Alex Edwards is the banjo player and he’s 26 years old. He works in Mechanical Engineering in Spencer, NC. He began playing bluegrass with his family band, The Edwards Family. He was also homeschooled. He is a Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina banjo champion.
Jonah Horton is 17, and he’s from Wilkesboro, NC. He plays mandolin, and has been playing ever since he was seven years old. He’s played with Sam Bush, Sierra Hull, and many others. He took first prize two years straight in Galax, VA at the Galax Fiddlers Convention. Hundreds of people come to compete there, so it’s really awesome he’s been able to win it twice. 

Left to right:  Jonah Horton on Mandolin; Guest Fiddle Player, Ivy Phillips; Daniel Thrailkill on Guitar; Will Thrailkill on Bass; and Alex Edwards on Banjo

Cheryl:  What dreams have you already achieved, as a musical artist?

Daniel:  Well, I’ve been able to travel some. That’s a huge part of why I love to play live bluegrass, is the potential for seeing new places of the nation. With my time filling in with Circus No. 9 (band based out of East Tennessee), I’ve been to different places in the Midwest, and up the Atlantic coast. It’s been fun!

Every gig is an awesome opportunity to play the music I love, and that’s an achievement I always look forward to.

Cheryl:  As a band, what are your hopes for the future?

Daniel:  We’d like to be able to play full time at some point. Also moving towards a new album would be great too! We’re in the process of writing some new original material for an album.

Cheryl:  What are some of your favorite songs to perform together?

Daniel:  Some of my favorites are Girl in Carolina, Road to Rowan, and Machines…we like to jam out on those.

Cheryl:  Please share with us about your personal Christian testimony. How long have you been following Jesus, and what does He mean to you?

Daniel:  I’ve can’t really pinpoint a time in my life without a Christian influence. Being a pastor’s child and being raised in the church, I have been accustomed to the gospel and the grace of our Lord! And I’m so thankful for my parent’s faith and the testimony they have shared. When I was in my teens, I was rebellious and apathetic to the faith, I just didn’t understand what a relationship with Christ was, or how to have it. When I was somewhere between 17-19, I can’t remember a specific time, but I started seeking the Lord through prayer and the bible. I love the book of Romans, and that is where I learned about God’s love and wrath combined, and how He has saved me from a multitude of sins. And by faith, I try to live day by day having a relationship with Christ my Savior. 

Cheryl:  Who has mentored you most, as a Christian?
Daniel:  There’s been many people in my life that have mentored me, but my dad has been the biggest influence in my Christian life. He’s shepherded our family in the most important things and through the hardest times. 

Cheryl:  As a young person in the music business and during a time of growing hostility toward God and His Word, how do you remain focused on your faith?

Daniel:  Well, it’s easy to become scared or even hostile right back to a community that can be against the Savior and gospel that I love…but I go back to Matthew 10:32, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.” This fights the fear of man. We’re prone to be scared of scaring people away with the gospel, or being persecuted because of it. This verse just melts that away.

Another good promise to cling to is in Romans. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who is indeed interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Romans 8:31-35

Cheryl:  To the one reading this who is feeling overwhelmed and discouraged in their Christian walk, what would you like to say?

Daniel:  I would say something I tell myself a lot.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:11

This verse speaks to our emotions and feelings, speaking truth into a place that may be darkened by the world. 

I would also say, don’t find comfort in the world. Find comfort in the Word of God and in prayer. He shows up in supernatural ways to those who seek Him wholeheartedly. 

Cheryl:  To what spiritual resources do you most often turn when you need encouragement ~ are there particular Scriptures, books, or songs that help you the most?

Daniel:  Well, you can look back at those passages mentioned before. I love to go to Isaiah 26, Psalm 139, Matthew 10-11, John 17…these all are mentions of God’s love, and they reach down into our hearts to lift us up.

Also, songs like “Power of the Cross” by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty, and “He Will Hold Me Fast,” by Ada Habershannew. I love old hymns too. “Be Thou My Vision” and Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” ring truth in my heart.

Cheryl:  What do you most hope to accomplish through your music?

Daniel:  I hope to glorify the Lord in all that I do. Fame and fortune have their place, but nothing surpasses the goal of glorifying God, my Father. I’d like to be able to play music with my girlfriend, Carley Arrowood. We love to play in churches and encourage folks through gospel and bluegrass music.

Cheryl:  Describe a perfect day for you.

Daniel:  That’s a hard question.

I love to sleep in late, but I’d want to wake up early for my perfect day. Waking up early, and spending the day with my girlfriend, Carley Arrowood…hiking and being in God’s Creation. Then coming home and playing games with my family, and maybe watching a movie before bed. That’d be a fun day.

Cheryl:  What do you identify as being some of the biggest challenges Christian face today?

Daniel:  I believe the theology of the church is in bad health. Many Christians are going away from what the Bible teaches on very important things. There is a need for God’s Word in those places. Another challenge is technology and the way we can make our phones and the internet a god over the One True God. It’s a fast paced world, and while we feel we need to keep up with it, it’s making us less godly people.

Cheryl:  How can we make a positive difference and successfully meet those challenges?

Daniel:  Well, the obvious answer to me, is stay in the word and in prayer. Fervently. And reverently. God’s word is a sword…and it’s not just a sword against our enemies, but it’s a sword to our own hearts, finding the sin and killing it. Through the Bible we can have a right view of God and Christ, making us reprioritize our lives to His standard.

Cheryl:  How can we find your music and keep up to date with the Trailblazers?

Daniel:  You can go to as well as on Facebook, and Instagram. Our music is on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music.

Left to right:  Jonah Horton on Mandolin; Will Thrailkill on Bass; Daniel Thrailkill on Guitar; Guest Fiddle Player, Ivy Phillips; and Alex Edwards on Banjo

Cheryl:   How can we pray for you?

Daniel:  Thank you so much!  Pray that I would have the wisdom from above we hear about in James. I’ve been going through this verse with my girlfriend, and finding good help within it.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”  James 3:17-18

A big thank you to Daniel for taking the time to share his inner views with us!
Please keep Daniel and The Trailblazers in your prayers, dear friends.
And, if you can, it would be such a blessing if you could stop by, check out their website, and show them some support!

Daniel Thrailkill ~ Blackberry Blossom

click the links below.


  1. Hello Cheryl, What a nice bunch of young men..I loved a lot what he said he sounds like a level headed young Man and I know that Christian upbringing of Mom and Dad stuck in his heart and the songs were great also..It was special to know one of those came from right here from my home grounds,Wilkesboro,N.C.And I use to attend a church in Galax,Va.So it was like hearing from home..It is good how you can deal one on one with folks and the questions you ask are great..You Have a great talent..I enjoy all your blogs no matter what you do..May all 3 of you rest in the arms of Jesus and enjoy all His blessings..You all are so special....Love Loads,Elaine

    1. Oh, how neat that one of the guys comes from your hometown! Thank you for your kind words, my friend. You are so special, too, and I send lots of love back your way today!

  2. What a wonderful young man Daniel is! I loved reading about him and the members of the Trailblazers. I also loved listening to their music and that of Carly and Daniel together. Thank you for sharing this interview with us, and the lovely music, dear Cheryl.

    1. I am so thankful you enjoyed the interview and music, Kitty! God bless you richly, sweet friend!

  3. What an incredible young man and committed Christian, Cheryl, not to mention a super-talented musician. Thank you for sharing Daniel's story here. May God continue to bless his ministry of music, and may Daniel use his gifts to glorify the Lord.

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet visit and kind words, my friend! God bless you!

  4. A blessing to see one young in years, also wise in the Word, as it is necessary and prayer as he said for our walk to remain true. A great blessing to read and yes pray they all continue on as they’ve begun. In the strength and power of the might of the LORD and Hus word.
    Lord bless and thank you,
    Shaz in Oz.x

    {Calligraphy Cards - Shaz in Oz}
    {Wonderful Words Of Life - Shaz in Oz}

    1. Thank you so much, Shaz! I am so grateful for your support and encouragement. May the Lord bless you!

  5. Cheryl, I enjoyed getting to know this young man and his testimony of faith in Christ. He is a gifted and talented musician. Thank you for sharing his talents and faith with us. Have a wonderful weekend dear friend!

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed getting to know Daniel, and I agree that he is gifted and talented! May the Lord bless you, my friend!

  6. What an inspirational and blessed young man. Such a talent he has. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post dear friend.

    1. I am so thankful you enjoyed the interview, sweet friend! God bless you abundantly today!

  7. What a great story Cheryl and a fine young man Daniel is . God surely has His hand upon him .❤️ Hugs and blessings , Cindy

    1. I agree that God has His hand on Daniel and know he has a bright future ahead of him! Many hugs and blessings back to you, Cindy!

  8. Cheryl---I appreciated Daniel's testimony. It's so good for my heart to see that God is still working in the hearts of young people and through music!

    1. Yes, I agree. Since we have a teenage son, I am seeing so many his age and older who are rising up in this generation to stand firm for Christ. I am amazed at the depth of the spirituality and understanding in the writing of the younger contemporary Christian singers, too. It encourages my heart and gives me hope that God is working in spite of all satan is doing in this day and time. Thank you for your visit and kind words, Amy!

  9. I love the tight sweet harmony in Bluegrass music. And to hear it come from one so young along with a Godly testimony, well I will listening to more of this. Thanks Cheryl for bringing us this to us through the interview. God has made you such a servant, lifting up others stories of how God has worked in their life. You are a blessing.

    1. Oh, I agree! I was raised on bluegrass music and hearing those tight harmonies. There is nothing like the "high, lonesome sound" of bluegrass. I am so thankful to be able to introduce Daniel and his music to you, my friend, and your precious words of encouragement meant so much to me. God bless you richly, sweet sister!

  10. Cheryl,Sorry to use your space but I am real sick..Going on 2 weeks..I have acute bronchitis and acute bronchospasm and was told this could go into pneumonia. Also was told with children and older weaker adults it could be fatal..I have coughed so much no sleep and so weak..Beg your friends to pray for Me..I am so depressed with it all..I need my Jesus to pass by..Thanks Love Loads,Elaine

    1. This is God's space, and you are free to ask for prayer at anytime! I am so sorry to hear how sick you are and have been praying for you. Trusting the Lord you are much better by now. There are some really awful things going around this year. It seems the strains are so much stronger and harder to get rid of. Try not to worry or think the worst, and speak LIFE into your situation. That is what I am having to constantly remind myself to do. Yes, it can surely get depressing and discouraging. Keep looking up, and know that you are being lifted in prayer. Much love to you!

  11. I am always blessed by these interviews. This one especially touched me to see a young man and woman in TODAY'S world who love Jesus and are serving Him with their gifts. Daniel has such a wonderful talent and sweet spirit.

    1. Thank you, Lauren! I so appreciate you reading and commenting. I, too, am so refreshed in spirit to see a young generation rising up to serve God, unashamed. God bless you, my friend!

  12. Hello Cheryl!
    Happy New Year to you! Well, this is just a marvelous interview and so wonderful to see young people thriving under the watch of God and being brave, strong and focused enough to share their testimony! I love this so much!
    Praise be to God for our youth and their faith!

    1. And, Happy New Year to you, too, my friend! YES, praise God, indeed! Sending hugs back to you today!