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WBVN Radio

Jason Gray

  January 20, 2024 7:00 PM

Doors Open: 6:00 PM

INDIVIDUAL - CR Public Onsale: December 11, 2023 7:00 AM to January 20, 2024 9:00 PM

Lead single “Place for Me” was birthed out of his own weighty baggage from the church, a place he’s ultimately found to be a refuge for the sinner and saint alike. “At its best, the church offers a place of belonging based on our need for grace, for each other, for help and for guidance,” Gray says of the message behind the upbeat offering he co-wrote with Matt Armstrong and Ethan Hulse. “It’s where different people, who don’t necessarily agree with each other, come together and manage to point their hearts in the same direction for a couple hours every week, and that’s beautiful.”

While he acknowledges the cultural climate of the day is enough to polarize our pew-lined aisles, he also contends that maybe there’s a healthier, more empathetic way. The tongue-in-cheek quirkiness of “Jesus Loves You (And I’m Trying),” for example, starts in the mire of the comments section, finds its way to the real world with a family member and ends with Gray realizing, “It begins right here with the man in the mirror, if I hope to love my neighbor well. ’Cause I’ve lived long enough to learn the faults I find in others are the same things I don’t like about myself.”

This same kind of quiet conviction pulses through the pop-centric “Be Kind,” which he penned alongside Paul Duncan, Colby Wedgeworth and Charlie Peacock. Inspired by the quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” the track is far more than a bumper-sticker-worthy catchphrase. “That little combination of words shifted the way I saw everybody around me,” the singer shares. “I’ve been through some hard things, and I wasn’t my best self a lot of the time. I would hope that during that season people might have seen me through the lens of kindness and empathy. So I thought writing a song about it could potentially help us all see each other better.”

The Gospel-inflected, choir-assisted “When I Say Yes” captures another moment of clarity when he was able to view a bunch of fifth graders in a new light, and in turn, discover something about his own spiritual path. A group of passionate kids attending a camp where Gray has spent the better part of the past 30 summers leading worship helped him realize our initial “yes” to Jesus is far less complicated than we try to make it.

“In religious culture, we have a tendency to make salvation a condition of understanding and intellectually assenting to these certain ideas, when actually, if we boil it way down, salvation is having a ‘yes’ in our heart. As long as you have a ‘yes’ in your heart — even a fumbling ‘yes’ — the details will work themselves out,” Gray asserts. “These fifth graders made me think about my own story. I gave my first ‘yes’ to the Lord decades ago, and I’m still working out the details.”

Perhaps that’s why Gray writes songs — to work out the details of life and faith and relationship. While his music has always given listeners a safe space to do the same, the veteran artist reveals he finds himself writing from a different perspective on Land of the Living. “I now see songwriting as trying to offer healing language to the world,” Gray says. “It makes it less egocentric. It’s not about me expressing myself. Instead, it’s about me trying to love my audience well.”

Public Onsale Begins:

Monday, December 11, 2023 7:00 AM

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