RHS alumnus Kris Keeton drums for Presidents and the Unknown Soldier
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 20, 2021 8:38 PM

As America watched Wednesday afternoon, Russellville High School graduate Kris Keeton stood in the presence of four Presidents of the United States and their wives, the Vice President of the United States and several other national leaders.

And he did what he does as well as anyone in the world—play drums in a formal setting.

Dr. Keeton was the lone percussionist in the next hour after Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first woman Vice President. They were at Arlington National Cemetery symbolically laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Standing directly behind them were Bill and Hilary Clinton, George W. and Laura Bush and Barack and Michelle Obama, who had been part of the transfer of power, as had been former Vice President Mike Pence.

Sergeant First Class Keeton is percussionist for the U.S. Army Concert Band. He was the lone drummer at this solemn occasion.

Kris Keeton—a 1996 graduate of RHS—is the son of Phyllis Keeton and the late Rick Keeton of Russellville. He is the brother of Stacey Cundiff of Russellville.

He is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and holds two degrees from the prestigious Northwestern University, including his doctorate.

He was an assistant professor at two universities on the Atlantic Coast before joining the highly respected military band.

This is his biography as published by the Army:


Russellville, KY


Joined the band: 


Bachelor's Degree: 

Western Kentucky University

Master's Degree: 

Northwestern University

Doctoral Degree: 

Northwestern University

SFC Kristopher Keeton is a percussionist with The U. S. Army Concert Band. Prior to joining “Pershing’s Own,” Keeton held the position of Coordinator of Percussion/Assistant Professor of Music at both the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and at Virginia Commonwealth University. As a performer and soloist, he has appeared at Carnegie Hall, at numerous Percussive Arts Society International Conventions, and in Europe with the virtuoso Swedish percussion ensemble, Global Percussion Network.

He is a former percussionist with notable organizations such as the Winston-Salem Symphony, Eastern Philharmonic Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, and Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps. As an artist/clinician, Keeton has appeared at notable events throughout the U.S. and Europe, including music festivals and conferences, university appearances, the Percussive Arts Society Days of Percussion, and at the internationally renowned music education conference, Midwest Clinic.

Keeton received a Doctorate of Music and a master’s degree in Percussion Performance from the Northwestern University Beinen School of Music. His bachelor’s degree is in Percussion Performance from Western Kentucky University. He has studied with acclaimed percussionists Christopher Norton and Michael Burritt, James Ross of the Chicago Symphony, and drum set artists Chester Thompson and Paul Wertico.


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