10 Questions with ... Jason Gray
June 18, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Centricity Music
- A Way To See in the Dark (2011)
- Song Cycles: From Work Tapes to Remixes (2011)
- Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue (2009)
- Acoustic Storytime (Live Songs and Stories) (2008)
- All the Lovely Losers (2007)
1) You released your most recent album A Way to See in the Dark last fall. What has been the response from listeners since its release?
I believed when we were working on it that it was my best work and have been so grateful that my audience seems to feel the same way. I wanted to aim these songs at what I think are two of our worst enemies: fear and shame. I believe the answer to both of these is understanding the place we occupy in the heart of God, and the hope that he is a God who is in control and able to work all things together for the good of those who love him.
2) What's the story behind the current single "Good to Be Alive"?
This was a song I got to write with Brandon Heath and Jason Ingram. I think gratitude is what makes our lives sweet, so it's a song about gratitude. Part of the song was born out of a moment I had with my kids where I was watching them play together, laughing, and I was aware of how much I was enjoying their enjoyment, that just watching them laugh brought me joy. It made me wonder if our heavenly Father feels that way about us, and if our enjoyment of our lives is, in that way, a meaningful kind of worship.
3) Do you have a favorite song that appears on your most recent album?
I have two. I love "Remind Me Who I Am" because of the way the room lights up when I play it live. I'm so grateful for how people have connected so deeply with it, and so I enjoy playing it. I guess you could say I enjoy their enjoyment of it. The other is "I Will Find A Way," and though it may not have as broad of an appeal as "Remind Me," I think it's the best song I've ever written. It took me seven years to write and I finally finished it with my friend Andy Gullahorn. It was inspired by a piece one of my favorite authors, Walt Wangerin, wrote called "An Advent Monologue" (I encourage you to look it up!). What I'm most grateful for about the song is the way I think we were able to keep both the beauty and the mystery of the incarnation intact. Much is owed to Wangerin's original piece.
4) Do you have any humorous stories from radio visits, either in recent days or in days gone by? (We can change the names of any guilty parties.)
Ha ha! Well, there's a little joke I like play on some radio personalities who interview me. Before we go live I remind them that I have a speech impediment and ask if we can talk about that at the top of the interview so listeners understand what's happening and don't assume I'm just really nervous. Then when we're on the air they'll ask something like, "I understand you've had some difficulties to overcome to do what you do," to which I'll sometimes reply, "do you mean my rash?" It's delightfully awkward, and after that you can talk about anything. [smile]
5) Is there a favorite song that you love to perform live?
Right now it's usually "Remind Me Who I Am." Again because of how people react so strongly to it. But as a rule my favorite song to play is whichever one it seems the audience enjoys the most.
6) Where can we see you play this summer?
Well, I'm kind of laying low this summer. It's been a busy year of touring and recording (I'm making a Christmas album), and I think I've earned some time at home. I'm excited to spend some time with my boys. I'll do some one-off dates here and there but won't hit the road in earnest again until next fall when I go out with Todd Agnew. Todd is one of the most passionate lovers of Christ that I know and I'm looking forward to sharing the stage with him and us telling our story together.
7) Who inspires you personally, spiritually and/or musically?
I read a book last year about Mr. Rogers that profoundly moved me, and he's become a kind of role model to me. He was an inspiring lover of Jesus whose kindness healed people. He was gifted at making people feel loved, and I aspire to that. Spiritually, the two authors that have discipled me and shaped my thinking the most are Frederick Buechner and Walt Wangering, Jr. Both of them are profoundly intelligent and always offer such unexpected perspectives with uncommon observations on common ideas. Here's one for you: "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet" (Buechner).
8) Fill in the blank. I can't start the day without:
Waking up. Shower and a coffee are very important shortly after that.
9) What song do you wish you had written?
"The Book of Love" (performed by Peter Gabriel)
10) Do you have much time to check out other artists' music? What are you listening to right now?
Paul Simon's newest "So Beautiful or So What" has been in constant rotation. For me it's been a very healing and inspiring record. Paul Simon is one of America's best songwriters, and he's making some of his best work. This record is full of beautiful spiritual longing and reflection. Great stuff! Jill Phillips, a good friend of mine, just released a record that is called "In This Hour." That's a great record, too. When I'm not listening to music, I'm listening to Tim Keller podcasts.