Phillip Lynn Draper

1945 -

Phil Draper enjoys a reputation as an accomplished piano and organ soloist and accompanist who has performed extensively with his wife, Joey, a singer, in evangelistic campaigns. He has also worked in development and communications, serving for eleven years as development director at the Voice of Prophecy and most recently as senior development officer for the Arizona Conference.

Draper was born in Bristol, Virginia, one of two children and the only son of Ralph and Grace Smith Draper. From the beginning, music was an important part of his life. He was taken with the piano and from his earliest years was continually playing on it. At age seven he started piano lessons with Nina Garrett, and for the next three years she came to his home to give him lessons.

With the ending of those lessons, he continued to play and learn by ear and also taught himself to play organ on the small organ in the Bristol church. He also took two years of accordion lessons before enrolling at Fletcher Academy, a self-supporting SDA academy in North Carolina, in 1960. By the time he arrived there, he had become a skilled play-by-ear musician, which created an awkward situation for him and the music teacher:

Because my "ear" was so dominant, my academy music teacher, Helen Rust, laughed at me and said everything I played sounded "secular." So I played for community events and Saturday night functions and some of the boys' worships, but never for church. That she would never allow. Before she died, however, she wrote to me telling me she had followed my music career through the years and that she was very proud of me. That meant more to me than anyone can imagine. I had always yearned for her approval and respected her highly. She was a great musician.

After graduating in 1963 from Fletcher Academy, Draper attended Southwestern College, now Southwestern Adventist University; Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University; and Columbia Union College; now Washington Adventist University. Although he had not graduated, he then taught in the elementary schools for seven years in the Potomac and Arkansas-Louisiana Conferences, from 1967 to 1974. During that time he completed a B.S. degree in English at East Tennessee State University.

Draper also continued to play both organ and piano during those years and, while teaching in Lynchburg, Virginia, also taught piano lessons for two years. At the end of this period he took time to do a personal reassessment and plan what he would do in the future. As he later related,

I left teaching and took a year off to decide my future. I made a recommitment to follow the Lord's bidding and told him that if he wanted me to teach, I would. I was now willing. Then I added a little postscript to my prayer, "However, Lord, why not music? That has always been my first love." With that prayer, I prepared to pursue a master's degree in education. That very night, the phone rang, and it was the Kenneth Cox team inviting me to play the organ and piano for a large crusade they were having in Nashville, Tennessee, at the War Memorial Auditorium. Chills went through me as I remembered my prayer of just that morning. I said yes. And the rest of my music story is history. God led and I followed. It's as simple as that.

A year after joining the Kenneth Cox Evangelistic Association, Draper met his wife, Joey Chapman, a singer, during a campaign in Des Moines, Iowa. At the conclusion of another campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina, they married in December 1976, in a ceremony that attracted a large crowd of well-wishers who had become their friends during that effort.

They continued providing music in Cox's campaigns for another ten years, traveling extensively throughout the U.S. and in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Phil also assisted in visitations and served as public relations director and editor of Cox's newsletter, The Hourglass. During these years, he and Joey adopted and raised a daughter, Brittany Joelle.

Draper then worked with the VOP, where, in addition to his work in development, he was a writer and photographer, and assisted in music as a piano and organ soloist and as an accompanist for Del Delker. Upon Brad Braley's retirement, he became organist for the VOP and La Voz de la Esperanza. During his time with the VOP, he traveled around the world in his musical roles and, in 2000, was one of two official organists for the General Conference Session in Toronto, Canada.

He regarded his time at the VOP and the opportunity of working with Delker and Wayne Hooper as an honor, a continuation in musical growth as inspiring as that which he had experienced with Nina Garrett and Helen Rust, music teachers in his beginning and formative years in music.

In 2003 both Drapers were featured musicians in the NET 2003 meetings, which originated from Columbia, South Carolina. In that same year, he was hired by the Arizona Conference to oversee development and communications aspects of that conference's work, including developing special programming, planning and coordinating the annual camp meeting, and facilitating Bible land tours. He has also continued to perform.

Draper's recordings have included Songs for My Friends; Glorify Thy Name, with Michael Harris, and I'll tell the World - Phil Draper at the Baldwin Orchestra Organ. Songs for My Friends includes ten songs dedicated to several of his musical friends, including Wayne Hooper; Del Delker; Max Mace, founder and director of The Heritage Singers; T. Marshall Kelly, noted baritone-Bass singer; Marilyn Cotton, well-known singer; and others.


Sources: Information provided by Phillip Draper, 13 September 2009; numerous online listings.