Gabriel Jay Watkins was born in Klamath Falls, Oregon on April 24, 1986. He lived in Klamath Falls, attending Peterson Elementary School, Brixner Junior High School and graduating from Mazama High School in 2004.
He began expressing his musical gift at an early age. According to his father: “Gabe was raised in the church”, barely missing a Sunday from conception to age 16. One day after church, when Gabriel was four or five years old, his dad passed by his room and noticed him sitting in the middle of the floor, surrounded by several toys. One of his favorite toys was a small, white, battery operated keyboard. Half an hour later, as dad approached Gabriel’s room again, he heard the melody of Amazing Grace being pecked out on that little keyboard. He went and got his wife and as they watched their son, they decided it was time for some piano lessons.
Gabriel took piano lessons from age five until he was 17. By age 11 he was bored with “typing” other people’s music, and began to modify the songs from his music lessons. This lead to some conflict with his teacher, because he never played the songs as they were written on the sheet music. At age 14 he found a piano teacher who encouraged him to write his own songs. The lessons often consisted of him playing original compositions and her asking questions and making suggestions about the music. He played clarinet and keyboard in the elementary school band and he loved playing piano in the junior high jazz band. In high school, he began playing rock music with friends, in the band Fat Sexy. He continued to write and play his own music, recording two CDs (First Love and The Journal) of original solo piano songs.
For the next several years, Gabe struggled to figure out who he was. This was a period of experimentation with drugs, musical styles, fashion and friends. In Gabe’s own words:
“ The gift of music was given to me at a very young age by God. It took me a very long time (17 years) to be able to put into words what I saw myself doing with this gift. I am an only child. My mother and father and myself are very close. But it hasn’t always been this way. I was 13 when I smoked my first joint. I was one year younger when I smoked my first cigarette. For me, marijuana WAS a gateway drug. By the age 17, I was well on my way down the road of drug addiction. I was also in denial about my addiction (but what addict is like “hey I’m an addict!” ?) Fast forward about 3 years. I was 19 years old and decided that I was going to move back in with my parents, who had moved to Columbia, Missouri. So I bought a one way ticket to Missouri. This was the hardest move I had ever made.
I was leaving Oregon, where I was born and grew up. I was getting ready to get on a plane and fly more than two thousand miles away from everything and everyone that I knew. On the plane leaving Oregon, a man sat next to me and said that he could see that God had big plans for me and to make sure that I paid attention to what God was telling me in life. At that point, I realized that I must be on the right track. Because some random guy, that I had never seen in my life, just told me so!!?? It was hard not to believe this man was a prophet of some kind. I landed in St Louis, MO that night, April 22 2006 at about 9:30pm. My parents picked me up at the airport and off we went to Columbia, MO about 125 miles west of St. Louis. My drug problem did not go away just because I moved so far away from what I thought were ALL of my problems. Eventually, I hit rock bottom and decided that I needed to get help.
So I admitted myself to a rehab program. I thought I was cured and went on about my life after completing the program. Well, turns out I was missing a very important aspect to my continuous recovery. It is now 2011 and I am on my way back to a rehabilitation program and this time I’m talking to God EVERYDAY- CONTINUOUSLY, and not just when I need Him. THIS WAS THAT IMPORTANT ASPECT I DIDN’T HAVE THE FIRST TIME. I’ve since, recovered, self-produced an album, started attending a church, started my own business, playing the piano 4 plus hours a day and making a living at it. So, for all the success, talent and creativity you see and hear throughout my music career, please give the honor and glory to the right source. Not me but, GOD.
Thank you for your interest in this music and me as a person and an artist. Bless you all.”
Gabriel died in a single vehicle accident at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday November 17, 2013. At the time of his death he was, a follower of Jesus Christ, an active member of his church family, a loving son, the owner of two small businesses, a teacher, a student, a recording artist, and a good friend to many.