Former Rice football player and engineer Gabe Baker ’14 on his new life in Nashville, making music and more

Baker performed at Rodeo Houston with For King and Country Feb. 29

Gabe Baker '14 performs with For King and Country

Gabe Baker’s life looks very different than it did a decade ago as a recently graduated Rice football star and environmental engineer working in county government in Houston. Now the former standout Rice student and athlete has embraced a successful music career in Nashville, Tennessee.

Gabe Baker - Photo by Brandon Martin

Among his many current engagements, Baker is touring as a cellist and utility musician with Christian pop group For King & Country and performed with the group Feb. 29 at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo>

So how did Baker move from public servant to touring musician? When Rice News caught up with him in spring 2020 during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was fresh off filming ABC’s “The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart,” a music-oriented spinoff of the popular Bachelor franchise.

Gabe Baker '14 performs with For King and Country
Gabe Baker '14 performs with For King and Country at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

“I’ve lived a very musical life,” Baker said in 2020 . “Growing up, my parents were very musical. I picked up the cello in the fourth grade, and my older siblings also played stringed instruments, and we had a little trio of us kind of doing things together. There was a lot of music in the house together as a family but then also just in church and different things … and through the years I think my role with music just continued to grow.”

Shortly after, Baker made the decision to pursue music full-time in Nashville. Since moving to Music City, he immersed himself in the city’s creative community while embracing the city’s trademark southern hospitality and openness to new musical talent. Baker said he’s grown in his own artistry by playing tons of shows, singer-songwriter showcases and more.

“Most everyone that I’ve met has a strong desire to help each other out, open doors to people, especially if you’re new to town,” he said. Baker has also done modeling and acting and was on Season 14 of American Ninja Warrior.

One of the new connections he made through mutual friends and his local church was Joel Smallbone, one of the frontmen of For King and Country. After Smallbone got to know Baker and grew more familiar with his musicianship, Baker was invited to audition for a role with the band last March — and the rest is history. He’s been on the road with the group ever since.

Baker said it was exciting to be back in Houston to perform and feels incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to pursue his passion for music on a full-time basis.

“I feel a very full circle kind of feeling,” Baker said. “Music has become a full expression now careerwise as it’s always been a part of me in some ways.”

Photo and video credits: Brandon Martin/Rice University

Gabe Baker '14 performs with For King and Country
Gabe Baker '14 performs with For King and Country at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.