This article appears in the July issue of 400 Life.
Growing up, it almost seemed like Chris Cauley was destined to become an athlete.
His father Jerry was a mainstay in the Forsyth County sports scene for years, coaching Forsyth Central’s 1996 softball team to a state championship. Chris was the prototypical coaches’ son in his younger years, picking up basketball and baseball. He’s still a massive sports fan — to this day, when Cauley drives around, it’s never music coming out of his car’s speakers.
“I’m a way bigger sports fan than a music fan, and people are always shocked by that,” Cauley said. “I’m not the guy that’s going to be listening to music in the car. I don’t listen to music, I really don’t — I’m always listening to sports talk.”
But ironically enough, music has played a much bigger role in Cauley’s life than sports have. After getting a guitar for Christmas one year and teaching himself how to play, he discovered a more artistic part of himself, and by the time he was a student at Otwell Middle School, he’d picked up music and performing arts alongside his budding athletic career. When high school approached, though, he found himself needing to pick one or the other.
“I remember we would do a daytime performance of a production and I had to run to the bathroom at the end of the day and wipe off my stage makeup and go to basketball practice,” Cauley said.
Ultimately, Cauley chose to follow in the footsteps of his grandmother, a bluegrass musician, and focus on the arts at Forsyth Central, where he finally began singing in front of people and participated in the school’s theater program. With the things he’s experienced and the places he’s gone to in the years after making that choice, he doesn’t regret it one bit. His career as a musician has taken him to reality TV, around the world, and most recently, has propelled him to businesses that give him the freedom to express his creativity.
That all begins with a band that he helps run alongside his wife Sandra, The Big Beyond. It’s a full ensemble with five lead singers, dancers, horn and rhythm sections. They’ve played at big events for companies like Chick-fil-A and Delta, and their biggest client is probably Tilman Fertitta, who owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Golden Nugget Casinos.
“It’s a customizable experience from a nine-piece band all the way up to a 15-piece band like something you’d see in Vegas,” Cauley said. “We travel the country and do between 30 and 35 pretty large events annually and we manage that. That keeps us very, very busy.”
What keeps Cauley busier still is the rest of the work he does directing and producing entertainment for clients and large-scale events like conferences. That entertainment can be grand in scale: He hired a 150-person choir for an event in Anaheim, California and for one of his bigger events, he was able to get R&B artist Jade Novah.
“I guess I would somewhat equate it to the opening of the Tonys or the Grammys or something like that, where it’s a big, large stage event,” Cauley said.
Cauley first appeared on the national stage back in 2012, when he was a contestant on the reality TV singing competition “The Voice” as a part of Adam Levine’s team. That experience taught him a lot, but not in terms of his performance on stage.
“To be honest, from a musical standpoint, really it didn’t teach me anything,” Cauley said. “What it did teach me from a business standpoint is confidence with my God-given gifts. [Adam] looked at me and said, ‘Man, I can’t teach you anything, just keep doing what you’re doing.’”
But in contrast to what some other contestants did after their stints on the show, Cauley didn’t dive headfirst into the traditional music route that artists typically take. He had already attempted that route right out of high school, signing with an independent label at that point. These days, he sees himself more as a businessman, and he prefers the kind of control that comes with that route.
“To be quite honest, to put it bluntly, having other people in charge of my livelihood and my boss, I’m good on that,” Cauley said. “I’ve already done that, [and] I kind of want to be that person now. I want to be in charge. It frees you up to be more creative.”
One recent creative opportunity took Cauley’s journey full circle when 680 The Fan, the sports talk radio station that carries Atlanta Braves games, tasked him with creating the theme song that plays right before broadcasts begin. As a lifelong Braves fan, he immediately jumped at the opportunity.
“At the end of the day, sports talk and athletes and all this is essentially the entertainment business, just as much as I am,” Cauley said. “There’s a lot of parallels between sports and music so having friendships and business deals with folks in the sporting world has been awesome.”
Cauley’s work has taken him all over the country, but he has also traveled to places like Barcelona, Paris, Dubai and the United Kingdom. He still lives in Forsyth County, though, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ll never go anywhere,” he said. “I’ve been all over the world but I’ll never leave. I just love it.”