My name is Natalie (Raynes) Blanton and I’m a pianist from the beautiful Upstate of South Carolina. I’ve been blessed to be a church musician, classical competitor, special events and concert pianist, recording artist, and a teacher for over fifteen years. Music has enriched my life and I’m thrilled that God has given me a platform to use that gift to enrich others’ lives as well.
I began formal lessons at the age of 4, and was classically trained through high school under the instruction of Ina Carson Pegram in Greenville, SC. Mrs. Pegram saw talent that needed a strict approach to development, and supported by my parents, helped me develop consistency in my technique. She gave me many opportunities to hone my skills, through recitals, scholarship competitions, local, state, and regional association events, and more.
Though I was blessed to accomplish great things on the classical side of my musical development, I realized my real heart for music was as a church pianist– not just playing myself, but supporting other church musicians as well. So much of my church music is improvisational in nature, not just reading sheet music, and I love the creative outlet that provides.
Growing up in a very traditional Baptist church (Pleasant View Baptist Church in Taylors, SC) allowed me to hear some great gospel pianists that broadened my tastes and abilities in music. I played Rachmaninoff and Mozart during the week, but I played by ear on Sundays and Wednesdays, everything from the Red-Backed Church Hymnal to Southern Gospel classics, from high church hymns of the faith to newer favorites and choruses.
In addition to the piano instruction I received, I also received formal vocal instruction. Once again, I was blessed to have a broad background of vocal instruction, from private voice lessons, a fantastic choral program in middle and high school, and a great church choir program, led largely by my dad, an incredible church musician as well.
I began teaching solo piano at the age of 15, and have continued to do so, most recently moving almost completely to live video lessons, through FaceTime, Skype, and GoogleDuo. After teaching choir and general music, working with award-winning elementary and high school choirs, and teaching several academic subjects at two private schools in the Upstate of South Carolina, I now am focused exclusively on working with pianists and church musicians around the world, producing tutorials and teaching lessons.
After serving as pianist for nearly eight years at Progress Baptist Church in Hendersonville, NC where my dad pastors, I am currently serving the Lord with my husband Josh as the church pianist at Bethel Calvary Baptist Church in Taylors, SC. Working with special groups, preparing preludes and offertories, and playing for congregational music is–without a doubt– one of my favorite ways to use music to glorify the Lord.
Performing in weddings, other special events, and concerts in the Greenville area has served as a fun outlet that still requires me to stay in shape as a pianist, learning new music, accompanying incredible vocalists and orchestras, and providing a beautiful musical backdrop to important events.
Ultimately, since music was created by God, I desire to use it to bring glory to His name. He is the Giver of gifts, and I seek to honor Him by giving the gift back to Him for His use.
You can find out more by connecting with me on Instagram (@natraynes and @beautynblacknwhite, which is exclusively devoted to piano/church music information and videos), Twitter (@natalie_raynes), Facebook (Natalie Raynes), and YouTube (Natalie Raynes). I’ve posted many hymn-playing tutorials and hymn medleys there as well.
To find out more about live video lessons, or to ask about my availability to play for your wedding, special event, or service, just send me a message at any of the outlets above or through my contact page here on the site!