Matthew West File:
by Tracy Darlington
Matthew West Interview
wrote a song for Billy Ray Cyrus once. Also, I have
a mild addiction to the Food Network."
Matthew West catapulted onto the Christian music scene in 2003 with his debut single, “More”—the most played Christian AC song of 2004—the multi-Dove Award nominee and sought-after songwriter had enjoyed two critically-acclaimed studio recordings, Happy (2003) and History (2005); been a mainstay at Christian radio with memorable hits like “Only Grace,” “History” and “Next Thing You Know”; and toured with such artists as tobyMac, Jeremy Camp and BarlowGirl.
Matthew hopes to communicate the message that God is indeed at work in all our lives, in every circumstance, in every moment of our existence. And even in the silence—as Matthew well knows—there is still great Hope to be shared, a story to be told, and something to say.
with us a little background on how you got started in music.
Matthew: I grew up around music in my mom and dad’s church, but didn’t really begin to take it seriously until my senior year of high school. I was actively involved in my school’s choir, and wound up going to college on a music scholarship. College was huge for my development in pretty much all areas of music. I began playing guitar and piano in college, and also discovered my love for song writing.
How did you know God was calling you to pursue music as a career?
He placed so many people in my life along the way that really affirmed me and my gifts of music and singing. Looking back, I can see how those people were used by God to help steer me in the right direction to where I am today. I felt alive when I was singing and doing concerts. I felt like I could communicate my heart better through a three minute song than I could without music. That’s how God initially showed me what he was calling me to do.
Talk about the time when you locked yourself out of your house. What was
that experience like for you?
Well, locking yourself out of your house normally wouldn’t be such a noteworthy event, but for me it wound up being life changing. While trying to open a window to get into the house, my arm fell through the window glass and severed an artery in my left arm. I was rushed to the hospital, and into surgery. Five days later, I was still in the hospital, and being told I was fortunate to be alive, but that my left hand had severe nerve damage. The outlook was uncertain at best. Today, I have a scar that runs down my left forearm, and a story to tell about how God healed my hand so that I can still play guitar and sing.
You came to know the Lord at the age of 13. What compelled you towards Christ?
My dad is a pastor, and my parents have been a huge influence on my life. I knew deep down that what they were teaching me about needing God in my life was true, and I felt God knocking on the door of my heart many times, even as a child. But again, I go back to my college years and remember how God began to show me what a real personal relationship with Him was all about. Away from my parents and my home church, I renewed my commitment to him.
Was there ever a time in your life where you really had to trust God?
My arm surgery was one of those times. Then, 2 years ago, I had surgery on my vocal chords. That was another scary time for me, because I thought maybe I had sung my last song. When you face those seasons when you are helpless, that’s when you learn what trust is all about.
advice do you have for teenagers who don’t yet know what they
want to do with their life?
I hope my story can be an encouragement to any teens who are still trying to figure out what they are passionate about. I didn’t really figure it out until college either. It’s all part of our journey and finding out what God has planned for you. But all I can say is, leave your expectations over. Your life will look different than you thought it would, but if you’re in the middle of God’s plan, than it will be much better than you could ever imagine.
What message do you hope people will come away with when they listen to
Something to Say?
I hope it’s an empowering message and reminded that God is always speaking to us, the question is, are we listening? And also, that God is speaking through our lives.
What was the biggest challenge you had when you recorded this project?
Well, the hardest part was coming back from surgery on my vocal chords. I wasn’t sure I’d ever sing again.
song “The Motions” was
written out of a trying time in your life. Can you tell us the story behind
Well, I’m a preacher’s kid, and I know how to go through the motions in my faith, make everyone thing I’m doing ok. But I know that God wants more from me, and that’s what really inspired this song. The desire to break free from the motions of a lukewarm life.
Where did you shoot the video for your song “The Motions”?
We shot the video on the road during a tour we did with Sanctus Real. That live footage was from Chatanooga, TN, I think.
What was the hardest part for you in the filming process?
Well, the hardest part was probably the documentary footage we captured. It was hard to film during that struggle, but I knew God was going to use that real, raw look into my trial to encourage other people.
your favorite song on your cd and why?
“The Motions,” means a lot to me. The message of the song is a very real struggle for me, and it has been amazing to see people respond to the song.
Are there any steps you take to stay on track spiritually?
Daily times in silence and prayer are so important.
If you could say one thing to this generation what would you say?
Life without faith is pointless. Life without God’s love is hopeless.
What’s the coolest prayer God’s ever answered for you?
He brought me a beautiful wife and 2 amazing little girls.
the biggest obstacle in your life God’s helped you overcome?
A lot of my obstacles have been the physical setbacks I have faced with my hand and my vocal surgery. Facing those difficult setbacks in my career has helped me grow, and learn, and understand who really is in control of my life.
What’s the most memorable place you have ever played?
A prison in Tennessee. God moved in such an amazing way inside the prison
walls. There are few times I have felt the presence of God as much as I did
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
I wrote a song for Billy Ray Cyrus once… Also, I’m have a mild addiction to the Food Network.
you’re not singing,
what do you enjoy doing?
I love spending time with my family, my wife and 2 little girls! That’s my favorite thing to do, hands down. I love writing songs too.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
The usual. Granola, yogurt, strawberries.
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
Bottled water, apples, cheese.
You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
What’s in your iPod?
Bruce Springsteen. Perfect for summer
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.