Last night I had the privilege of seeing perform and later meeting independent Christian musician Jason Gay. He blew me away.
It’s been a while since I have listened to much Christian music. I used to love me some DC Talk, Jennifer Knapp, Salvador, Fr. Stan Fortuna, Sonic Flood, Caedmon’s Call, Newsboys, Waterdeep and a few others. It’s amazing the breadth of styles you can find within the Christian genre. It’s all there- the heavy metal and rap, the ska and rock, and of course, the worship. If you’re going to listen to that type of music, you might as well be hearing uplifting words. It’s worked wonders for me at times. And the concerts were some of the best I have ever been to – especially DC Talk and Sonic Flood/Newsboys.
But frankly, it got old. It was a musical phase like a dozen others I have been through. As I’ve said before, I’m voracious about music and I moved on. And granted, some of it can be a bit cheesy at times too.
Earlier this week, I borrowed a few Christian CDs from a friend. I listened to the whole new Caedmon’s Call CD called Share the Well. The idea of the CD is striking. It’s all about their travels in India and Ecuador. Particularly, they call for the raising up of the oppressed Dahlit- the 100s of millions in the lowest caste in India who are not even allowed to share the well with other castes. I also listened to a little Burlap to Cashmere and Chris Rice. Generally, it felt a little strange to be listening to Christian music again. I mean, I’m still coming out of my electronica/dance phase.
But then yesterday, I put in Jason Gay’s Live CD, “Hoping”. I was going to see him in concert that night and I wanted to be familiar with a few of his songs. His style, his voice and his words caught me right away. Before I knew it, I was sitting there buffing crosses and crying to his song “The Love Letter.” I started getting excited about the show, which I was going to on the strong suggestion of my friend Scott Hays who had known Jason for years and was opening the show with a couple songs.
I had the feeling I might be moved. That maybe this concert would be good for me. I’ve known and continued to struggle with falling back on my faith in these times of trial. God knows I have been praying and trying to put my life and will in His hands. But it’s easier said than done. Maybe this concert would be like a mini-retreat for my soul. Well, I had no idea. I was weeping by the end of Jason’s first song, “A Place Called Hope”, simply because that is what I have been so sadly lacking in my life for months.
I might not be setting this up well. Maybe you are thinking I was just so moved by this concert because my heart has been in so much need. And that is true. But I’m also trying to say that I have not been into Christian music for a while and I was actually feeling quite closed to it. I doubt I will now be listening to it voraciously again.
The fact is that this isn’t about me, this is about Jason. I can’t begin to tell you how talented this man is. His voice is like liquid. His guitar chops are solid. But his words… there’s no cheesiness here folks. His words wrap around you like a clever blanket that wants to warm and protect you. I felt so blessed by his spoken interludes about the importance of brokeness and weakness in our pursuance of Christianity. I wish I had a script of the evening, so I could apply his wisdom to the brokeness of my life right now. I told my parents, who I had luckily convinced to attend, that if I could just hear him play every night, I might be able to pull my life together. Dad said maybe he should start offering counseling sessions- just him and his guitar. But isn’t it amazing to be able to impact people like that with your song? If only.
After the concert, I was able to hang out with Jason, Scott and their friend James who is also a musician. We talked about Jasonís struggles to get signed, get radio play, make some money… I asked why he wants this kind of success. I was thinking of how he had made me weep and what more could a man want than to effect people that way. Well, it turns out heíd really like to be able to support his family. Heís married with three sons and is worried about his aging parents and who will take care of them. Being an independent musician does not translate into a retirement plan. Heís also hugely driven by his involvement with World Vision. He specifically supports the adoption of children in Africa who have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. Did you know that a child is orphaned because of this disease every 14 seconds?
Itís not about fame or fortune. Heís just a man. A broken man with a stutter and a debt and a family Ė who somehow has the ability to awaken your soul. And I would really like to see him make it.
I know I havenít written this entry the way I would have liked. But considering my inability to post things these days, I just wanted to get it up here and share with you. I encourage you to check out his music and support him any way you can.