Andrew Marsh

Dalton native Andrew Marsh, who now lives in New Jersey and plays drums in New York, says he represents his hometown wherever he goes. (Contributed photo)

Performing on Broadway was not something Andrew Marsh considered before last year.

“It just never crossed my mind,” said Marsh, 36, a Dalton native and drummer who now lives in New Jersey.

That changed upon a chance meeting late last year. Marsh had been contracted to do 26 shows of “The First Noel” at the Apollo

Theater in Harlem. The show was running the same time as “The Color Purple: The Musical” on Broadway. Because of the meeting, Marsh was offered a

position as first substitute drummer for “The Color Purple.”

“On Broadway each musician has to do 52 percent of their work,” Marsh explained. “The other 48 percent you leave that to your sub.”

Friday night was Marsh’s first time playing with “The Color Purple.”

“It was surreal, but in the moment I did what I was there to do and that’s play drums,” he said.

Playing drums has always been a part of Marsh’s life. He started in the band at Fort Hill Elementary. He also studied with Eddie Davis at the Music Factory until he started high school and got involved in the band programs at Dalton Junior High and Dalton High School.

“He was an incredible talent,” said Mickey Fisher, a former band director for both the junior high and high school and now an adjunct professor of music at Berry College.

Fisher said he texts Marsh sometimes to check on him.

“He’s a great kid and one of the greatest students and talents we ever had come through the band program at Dalton,” Fisher said.

Marsh said it was his longtime friend Dennedy Wright who inspired him to make music. Wright played the drums at New Hope Baptist Church and Marsh’s mom would take him to watch.

“I’m looking at a kid a year younger than me doing his thing and playing like you would think an adult would,” he remembers. “At that point I felt like I wanted to do that too. The first day of preschool we met in person and started talking about drums.”

Wright said it makes him feel good that at a young age he inspired someone to play drums.

“It’s pretty cool and to take it to the level that Drew has is awesome,” he said.

Marsh also credits his parents, Hubert and Minnie, for his success.

“My parents never told me to stop, or be quiet or that I’m too loud,” he said. “They were really supportive of me playing and they continue to be.”

Marsh said at the end of high school when everyone was figuring out what to do he knew music was his calling.

“I couldn’t think of a single thing that I wanted to do or picture myself doing other than playing drums,” he said.

Marsh said he realizes a lot of people consider music risky and he agrees.

“I looked at it as there is music everywhere, on every commercial, on the radio. Who are those people that are playing, who are those people behind musicians that you hear on the elevator in the bathroom?” he asked. “I felt like there is no reason that I could not be a part of that.”

Wright said he’s beyond proud of his friend.

“I feel like when he’s playing that I’m there right beside him playing too. I helped him put his first drum set together and to see how far he’s taken his career is amazing,” he said.

After graduating from Dalton High School in 1998 Marsh went on to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he majored in drum set performing.

After graduating in 2002 Marsh traveled around the country before forming a band. He returned to Dalton in 2008 where he taught music at Dalton High, Morris Innovative High School and Heritage High School in Catoosa County.  

“I had accumulated a pretty solid body of experience of professional work when I came back to Georgia,” he said.  

Marsh said he would use those experiences and share them with students.

“I wanted to let them know that we’re from Dalton but that does not matter. If you can dream then you can achieve anything you want,” he said.

Marsh said he often told students there had to be a plan and strategy in place.

“I really had to share that a lot when I was working at Morris Innovative. It’s a great school, we were trying to turn it into a charter-type school, even an alternative to a trade school and give the kids a real solid high school experience like they would get at Dalton High or anywhere else,” he said.

Marsh said students would often doubt themselves and how far they could go because they lived in Dalton.

“I’d ask what does that have to do with anything. Dalton is a great place, the sense of community that exists in Dalton is the driving factor that allowed me to do what it is that I’ve done,” Marsh said.

He remembers going to church, the barber shop or just going around town and running into people.

“There was always supportive people around our small town who would tell me ‘keep doing what you do,’” Marsh said. “If it had not been for a small town like Dalton I don’t know if I would’ve ever felt as empowered to do what it is that I’ve done over the last 20 years.”

Marsh has been in New Jersey for the past three years.

“I’ve been playing a lot of music, touring and recording,” he said. “I’ve played with a lot of artists, bands, and now I’ve gotten into the whole Broadway thing.”

Marsh said he loves living less than 30 minutes away from New York.

One night while taking a short break from a gig he ran into soul singer Chaka Khan on the sidewalk. He boldly asked her if she would like to hang out with him, which she agreed to.

“She got on stage and sang for the rest of the night and asked to play my drums,” he said. “It was a great New York moment, those type of things happen here.”

Marsh has been married to Leverne for three years and has a 7-year-old daughter, Andrea. He says no matter where music takes him Dalton will always be home.

“My GPS when I hit the home button still goes to Dalton, Georgia,” he said.

“I represent Dalton everywhere I go and have a good time explaining to people where Dalton is and what it’s all about, and it brings interesting conversation,” he said. “I’m proud of where I’m from, that’s for sure.”  

For more on Marsh, visit his website www.andrewmarshmusic.com.

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