celebrity effect.

Today Jimmy Needham came to LifeWay to talk about his upcoming album, Nightlights. He also played several songs.

I'll admit it; before moving to Nashville, I could get overly excited about musicians. My sister and I could hardly contain ourselves when we saw Mat Kearney in the Nashville airport. We realized it was ridiculous to be so giddy; there was just something about seeing/meeting someone who is known by thousands that feels special. (Even though thousands of others had done the same … Maybe I should feel special meeting someone not famous, who only a select few get to know … hmm.) Like if you touch them, maybe their talent will rub off on you.   

I've been living in Nashville for 9 months now. The list of recording artists I've met/encountered/interviewed is approaching a couple dozen.* It seemed almost surprising to me (though it really shouldn't have) that these people are normal. As an intern I spoke with Brandon Heath over the phone. He was fun to talk to because he's just a really nice guy. He reminded me of one of my high school friends (except for being several years older, of course).

One of the things Jimmy Needham talked about was this battle for Christian recording artists between making much of Jesus and making much of themselves. Selling records and going on tour is part of the business. It's how they feed their families. But he pointed out that record sales and tours are not the end. The end of what he does with his music is to make much of Christ. He must become more and Jimmy must become less. God doesn't need him to be a star; there are already enough stars in the sky. And so he's come to realize that it doesn't matter if there are 20,000 people at a concert or 20. His purpose is to glorify God, to promote His fame, not his own.

One of the things I've realized it's hard for me to do is express excitement toward performers. Sure, I like to cheer for a basketball team, but I'm no super fan. I enjoy music. A lot, actually. I appreciate genuine lyrics that say what I'm thinking or feeling way better than I could ever express it.

But I'm not into autographs or digging a styrofoam cup out of a dumpster that has touched the lips of John Lennon (or whoever). Have you ever seen how people react at concerts? When a musician walks on stage, they go crazy. Literally nuts. Screaming their heads off and even crying. Really? Who have these people turned this performer into that initiates such a response? God? Actually, yeah. I think that's true in a lot of cases, especially big time fanatics. They think If only _________ (fill in the blank) would notice me, my life would be complete. Or if only he would smile at me, I would be satisfied.

[[screeching record stopping sound]] Reality check. That doesn't happen. These people aren't gods. For a Christian recording artist like Jimmy Needham, that's exactly the point he's trying to make. He just wants to use his music to point you to the cross. Not to himself. He's just a night light before a blazing sun. And that's a pretty good reason to enjoy his music.

Nightlights will be released on May 18. Check it out!

*John Waller, Brandon Heath, Leeland, John Cooper (Skillet), Mark Hall (Casting Crowns), Steven Curtis Chapman, Phil Stacey, Jars of Clay, Mat Kearney, Mission Six, The Rubyz, Paige Armstrong, Jimmy Needham.
On the agenda: Seabird [3/31], tobyMac, Chris Tomlin, Tenth Avenue North [4/20], and Addison Road

1 comment:

  1. I love this blog post. I wish Jimmy Needham would steal it and use it for PR.


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