"Something's calling me, Callin' my name, I can feel it in the air, I can feel it in the trees, You know it's just the Lord, Just the Lord"! Those words poured forth from Daniel Ballinger, while he was in the studio recording his first album in 2005. He wasn't prepared to answer at the time, but it's quite apparent that he listens to the Lord these days! What would change the dream of one of the fastest rising blues musicians in the United States? By industry standards, Daniel "Slick" Ballinger was well on his way to stardom. Born May 26, 1984, this young man with an old soul developed an intense love and appreciation of Traditional Blues that led the native North Carolinian to make numerous pilgrimages to Mississippi, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, fueling his musical ability along the way. Before the age of 18 he had played with legendary artists: Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, Otha Turner, 'Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin, Calvin 'Fuzz' Jones, Big Bill Morganfield, Henry Butler, Blind Mississippi Morris, T-Model Ford, and North Carolina's, Algia Mae Hinton. Ballinger began learning to play guitar at the age of 15. A year later, he was a contender in the 2000 Triangle and the Charlotte Blues Society talent competitions, placing first runner-up in both. He was the Triangle Blues Society traditional category winner in 2001. After winning the 2002 Cape Fear Blues Challenge, he represented the Blues Society of the Lower Cape Fear in the Solo/Duo competition at the 2003 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN where he finished as one of the top finalists. In the summer of 2002, he spent some of the best time of his life in Gravel Springs, Mississippi, living with and learning from the 94-yr. Old fife legend, the late Otha Turner. They became best friends, spending their days side by side, waking at 5:30 in the morning, tending the farm animals, working in the fields, traveling the gravel roads, and playing the blues every evening. Late at night they returned to a little house with no bathroom nor running water, loaded up the CD player, and listened to the blues as they slept. The valuable lessons and knowledge passed on from the older bluesman greatly impacted Ballinger's life. Otha Turner taught him about the land...people...helping others...and about Jesus. Upon Mr. Otha's death he asked Daniel to always make his last song for the Lord! The young musician honored this request. On the day of his high school graduation in 2003, he moved to Como, Mississippi to follow his love for the blues. However, it was there that Daniel began to feel the pull of the Lord. He spent much of his time in church, where he really learned how to sing. It wasn't long before he was traveling to different churches in the region performing Gospel. He continued to pursue his music career in blues, but in hindsight it is easy to see that that God always had a hand upon him. The following year he represented the Howlin' Wolf Blues Society of West Point, Mississippi, performing with his band in the 2004 International Blues Challenge. The trio wowed the judges and excited the crowds with their Gospel flavored Mississippi-style Blues. Daniel "Slick" Ballinger and the Soul Blues Boyz were awarded the second place trophy for their outstanding performance. Ballinger was also honored with the prestigious Albert King Award for the most promising guitarist. Following his success at the International Blues Challenge, Daniel's career took off. He signed a contract with Oh Boy Records, John Prine's prestigious record label. They later released his award winning first album, Mississippi Soul, which garnered a win at the 2007 Blues Music Awards for Best New Artist Debut. This award is considered to be among the highest honor a blues musician can receive. He also began tearing up the stages at music festivals across the country, as well as internationally in Canada, and as far away as Jamaica and Mexico. His passionate, high-energy style was well received. Slick Ballinger earned a reputation of being a great showman, a spirited dancer, and a definite crowd pleaser. Long lines for autographs and record sales ensued. Radio appearances, newspaper and magazine articles also ensued. Ballinger also had the honor of opening a couple of shows for B.B. King! There was something missing from his life, however. What would change the dream of one of the fastest rising blues musicians in the United States? In 2006, he found the answer. It was Jesus Christ! Two weeks after releasing his debut blues album he was on the way to dinner with a buddy who was driving and listening to an old tape of a radio program called "The Pentecostal hour". While he was listening to the old time gospel songs and the testimonies something hit him down in the deepest part of his heart and he began to weep without restraint. He told his friend not to take him in to the restaurant but to take him down to the water! After about half an hour of riding around town they ended up at the First United Pentecostal Church of Batesville MS, where he was baptized in the wonderful name of Jesus! A new dream was born; and his life began to change. A few weeks later while he was out driving, he received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. A life-altering experience, so powerful that he had to pull off the road! There has been no turning back. He now knows his mission in life, a calling to minister and spread the word of Jesus Christ. Baptized in Jesus name, filled with the Holy Ghost, and armed with the word of God, he is on a new path! These days the young guitar evangelist can often be found preaching or singing the Gospel at the Apostolic Tabernacle of Wilmington NC, under the leadership and guidance of Pastor L. Logue. He also travels anywhere and everywhere to witness and sing about the amazing power of the Lord! You can expect the same exciting young musician. His bluesy musical roots are still there, and he is still dancing; he just switched partners!