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Branson In the Spotlight: The Doug Gabriel Show

A Series by Discover Branson

5 minute read

Doug Gabriel has been performing music and dazzling audiences in Branson for more than three decades. When he was only two years old, Gabriel discovered his remarkable natural gift: his voice. Gabriel’s talent led him to start singing professionally at the young age of twelve, launching his career as a celebrated vocalist and entertainer. Notable moments in his career include opening for legendary musicians such as Marie Osmond, Tanya Tucker, Tony Orlando, and Mel Tillis. Audiences will be delighted by Gabriel’s absolutely iconic Mufftar, a guitar fashioned from a 1969 Thunderbird muffler. Currently, Gabriel is the star of his own show, which is considered one of the most successful shows in Branson. Given the distinction of Branson’s Most Awarded Performer, Gabriel is a virtuoso and valued member of the community in Branson. 

The Band Behind Doug Gabriel

While Doug Gabriel is the star of the show, one may not be as familiar with the band that backs him. Featuring musical stylings played on a variety of instruments, The Doug Gabriel Show boasts a skillful lineup of musicians who enhance Gabriel’s vocals and the production as a whole. Gabriel plays the famed Mufftar, whereas the other instruments played in the show include guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard. In the spotlight this week is an accomplished musician and performer known for his sharp skills and unwavering on-stage energy. Discover Branson had the opportunity to speak candidly with the keyboardist for The Doug Gabriel Show, Will Clark.

A Conversation with Will Clark

Will Clark has held the position of keyboardist in Gabriel’s show for the past six years. With fifteen years of playing in Branson shows under his belt, Clark certainly knows his way around the Branson stage. Precocious in his understanding of music, Clark began seriously training piano at the age of ten. When he was eighteen, Clark had his first performance in a Branson show, filling in for his piano teacher in The Haygoods. This performance was a segue into his career of playing piano/keyboard in bands both locally and nationally. In addition to playing in The Doug Gabriel Show, Clark plays keyboard for the Hughes Brothers in Branson. He was a founding member of Members Only, a massively popular 80s tribute act formed in Southwest Missouri. Other notable achievements include playing with country legend Johnny Lee, as well as playing Backstreet Boys’ AJ McLean’s album release party in Nashville, Tennesee. Currently, Clark plays in several touring acts such as The Rosy Hips, The CattlePunchers, and Eastern Heights

As a creative person, it is critical to seek inspiration from an eclectic range of sources. Clark credits classical composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff as a technical influence, and cites renowned jazz fusion pianist George Duke as a major stylistic influence. Clark has a keen appreciation for artists in other genres and disciplines. Miley Cyrus is his favorite pop artist, while Dave Chapelle is his favorite comedian. If Clark were to take up a different fine art, he says he would like to try sculpture. When asked if he would rather go to a museum or a theme park, he chooses a museum. On the subject of travel, Clark says Australia is his favorite place he’s been, and that someday, he would love to take a trip to Japan. 

Pursuing a career in the music industry requires an extraordinary amount of passion. The reality of being a musician is that like any job, its rewards exist in tandem with its challenges. Clark jokes that becoming a musician is simultaneously the best and worst career decision he has made. When one’s passion doubles as their job, an intersection between work and personal identity is inevitable. These can be murky waters to tread, and Clark admits that work/life balance is a foreign concept to him. In times of adversity, Clark maintains a positive outlook, saying, “All of my career setbacks end up as advantages. I will never stop growing.” Moving forward in his career, Clark is excited for new opportunities in music and for new connections and collaborations to be forged with other musicians. “[I want] to always love what I do and who I do it with,” Clark explains. Through this dynamic profession, the skill that Clark has found most vital to his career is flexibility. Something constant in the music industry is that it is always changing and evolving; from band members to setlists to performance venues, the business certainly keeps musicians on their toes. 

As for the future of music in Branson, Clark says, “I hope to see a wider variety of live music [along with] more creative liberties.” The Doug Gabriel Show grants him these liberties, with Clark saying, “[Doug Gabriel] and his family treat the entire cast and theatre staff like family. He gives me complete freedom to be myself, both as a musician and [as a] performer.” Individuality within music is invaluable. When asked why he plays music, he says, “I have to do music. It’s in the soul.” Anyone who has seen Clark play can attest to this. Clark is strongly valued for his musical expertise, but he is particularly special for how fun he makes his performances. His technical skills, paired with his limitless energy and enthusiasm leave audiences electrified. A huge, perpetual smile; wildly animated playing; and copious hair flips make Clark’s stage presence one-of-a-kind. Music is at the core of who Clark is, and his passion is vividly palpable in all of his performances. Branson is fortunate to have a performer as multi-faceted as Will Clark. 

You will be captivated by Doug Gabriel’s stunning vocals supported by Will Clark and other masterful instrumentalists. Presently, Doug Gabriel is appearing at Branson Famous Theater. Shows are held at both 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., allowing ample opportunity to experience this must-see talent. For tickets to The Doug Gabriel Show, please contact Discover Branson for the best rates you’ll find in town.

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