Once described by ChristianToday.com as "one of Christian music's best kept secret," Jason Gray is a singer-songwriter who has been known for his thoughtful Biblical-based lyrics and his ability to craft memorable tunes. However, ever since he has been signed to Centricity Records, Gray and his music are no longer a secret. Known for hits such as "I Am New," "Nothing is Wasted," "Remind Me Who I Am" and "Good to Be Alive," Gray has recently his latest album "Love Will Have the Final Word," which was preceded by the smash single "With Every Act of Love." We are honored to be able to catch up with Jason for this exclusive Hallels' interview:
Hallels: Jason, thank you so much for this interview. Congratulations on the release and the success of your new album "Love Will Have the Final Word." Did this album take you very long to make?
Wow, yes! It was actually supposed to release about a year ago, but lifehappened and I had to push it back a couple of seasons. The songwritingprocess felt especially difficult and labor intensive this go around, andeverything took more time. Except the recording itself--it seems like oncewe had the songs the recording process went pretty smooth, which seems likea remarkable statement considering I made this record coming off of damagingmy voice and being on vocal rest! But yes, once we started recording itfeels like it all came together nicely. It helped that I split the albumbetween two producers this go around, who were working on their halves of therecord at the same time.
Hallels: What do you think makes the album "Love Will Have the Final Word" different or the same as your previous albums?
Having two producers was definitely a new experience for me. I was also inthe midst of some personal difficulties that made themselves known in mysongs in ways that I didn't expect. I remember a conversation with my mentorwhere he said something amazing and wise--as usual--and I asked him, "I wantto be you when I grow up. How did you become you?" He answered with oneword: "Pain." I think that the personal pain I was experiencing in theseason of writing this record deepened the songs, made them more authenticand intimate in their expression, even the happy songs.
Hallels: You have partnered with some of the best writers (such as Nicole Nordeman, Jason Ingram, Ben Glover, Josh Wilson) in co-writing these songs, how did you connect with these co-writers? Is there a particular co-writer you connected best with?
I know, can you believe it?!?! I always think of that line in Psalms 16:6,"the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places." I feel blessed.I can't pick a favorite as I've had a great experience with all of them. JasonIngram always has a way of helping me write songs on the record thathave both commercial potential and heart. Those are very important songs inthe big picture and I'm grateful that we get to write together. AndyGullahorn is my favorite songwriter I know and I hope that I get to writewith him for years to come. I've loved our songs. Jason and Andy representthe two ends of the spectrum of my writing, the songs I hope will connectwith a wider audience and the deeply personal songs that fewer may connectwith, but the ones who do will connect deeply. Nichole is great at writingboth of those kinds of songs. Wow. And Ben and Josh... Wow. I'm lucky that Iget to work with everyone I get to write with.
Hallels: One of my favorite songs on the record is "Not Right Now," a first person account of grief, how did this song come about?
This is my first collaboration with Josh Wilson and I feel so blessed that Igot to write this with him. He had the germ of the idea and brought it upwhen we were together, I imagine because it's very consistent with thethemes in so many of my songs. It came pretty quickly for us and was one ofthe last songs written for the record.
A lot of the song was drawn from an experience I had with a friend of minewhere I opened up to him about a painful difficulty I was having in my life.Instead of offering advice or trying to encourage me, which so many of us dowhen faced with another's pain and which is ultimately a rejection ofsomeone's pain ("don't be in pain, be encouraged!"), he stood up and said hewas going to hug me and hold me for two minutes and I had to let him. Ilaughed nervously at first because it felt awkward, but it broke some thingsloose in me and soon I was ugly crying as my friend held me up. It was avery healing moment. No words were spoken but what was being said wasclear; "you're not alone. You're loved."
Hallels: If you have to single out a song that you are the proudest from the record, which would it be? And why?
Well, "Not Right Now" is the gem on the record, I think. So that one forsure, but I'm also really proud of "I Don't Know How." If I were to make aguess, I think it will be hard for people to connect with that song becauseit's a song about helplessness and it doesn't resolve. I think peoplegenerally gravitate towards songs that make them feel empowered. Listen tomost pop anthems, like "Roar" or even most of the songs you hear on theChristian charts, and they're about empowerment in some way or another (even"Not Right Now" empowers those grieving to ask others to let them grieve). Idon't think that's wrong, I totally get it, but I think our appetite forhaving a sense of resolve can sometimes get in the way of the important workthat "embracing the depths of our helplessness" (in the words of BrennanManning) can accomplish. I wanted to write a song about that because I thinksomething holy happens in our powerlessness. I'm proud of the lyric and themelody, but I also think it's the coolest track on the record! It's kind oflike a party track musically but with a pretty serious lyric.
Hallels: You have also been on the "Son of God" Tour, can you tell us more this tour and your involvement in it?
My decision to be on that tour was less romantic than it was practical.After being blessed to be out with one of my heroes, Steven Curtis Chapman,for a very extensive tour in the Fall, I was looking for an opportunity tobe out for a tour with a shorter run so I could be home more. I was invitedto be a part of the tour as the person who would advocate for the poor andchild sponsorship each night. To have a night centered around the life ofJesus and an opportunity to honor Him by caring for the least of these wasvery meaningful for me.
Hallels: For our readers who would like to purchase your new album or/and find out more about you, where can they go?
It should be available most places where music is sold, iTunes, Google Music,Amazon, etc. Or of course, http://www.jasongraymusic.com, which is the onlyplace you can get the Special Edition of the record that features 5 bonussongs--two of which were produced by my son who did an AMAZING job