MCALESTER — With his distinctive dreadlocks and laid-back style, Jason Castro has been embraced by fans of contemporary Christian music.
Castro, 26, said the Christian music scene is a natural fit for him since he was raised in the church and played music with his father, who led worship.
Castro, of Dallas, will bring his particular blend of music to McAlester as part of Matthew West's “Into the Light” concert set for Thursday at the Ryan McAfee Memorial Southeast Expo Center.
A Season 7 contestant on the Fox reality TV show “American Idol,” Castro recently discussed the concert tour and his music:
Q: What can fans expect from you at the “Into the Light” concert?
A: I can't say enough how honored I feel to be a part of this tour. It's a spectacular night from start to finish. Being the opener, I've got a 20-minute set where I play a lot of my new songs with a full band, and I also pull out one from the “Idol” catalog. I start the set with “Over the Rainbow,” so if you want to catch that, get there early. It's really an inspiring night. I'm inspired every night just watching backstage.
Q: What type of response have you received thus far about your album “Only a Mountain”?
A: It's been an incredible response. Since we released, there was a lot of positive reviews and press feedback. Since we've gotten on the road, it's been the same thing — a lot of people really connecting with the music. I love getting out and hearing the stories of how these songs have affected people. I'm really proud of the album we put together. I co-wrote every song on the album. I'm just having a blast traveling and playing the songs live.
Q: What's the premise behind the album's first single, which the album is named for?
A: It's inspired by some words Jesus said — if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can tell this mountain to throw itself in the sea and it will. It's a playful take on that, a lighthearted approach to a heavy topic. We all have faced challenges and struggles that seem like mountains, but through God, all things are possible, and really, in light of God and all He's done for us, our biggest challenge here is just one small step along the journey home. That's kind of what I wanted to say with that song. It's some inspiration for the day-to-day.
Q: Why did you decide to go into contemporary Christian music?
A: You know, the way that I came to the contemporary Christian music scene wasn't a very direct route. I had been singing and playing guitar for about a year, so when I tried out for “American Idol.” I was still so new to everything. I was just kind of loving music and trying to find a way to do it. That's always been the dream. I never really imagined myself being a singer at the front of the stage. ... After “Idol,” I just sought opportunities and went where I believe the Lord was directing me.
My first album — a mainstream album — had a No. 1 single (“Let's Just Fall in Love Again”) in Singapore, Norway, the Philippines. I got to travel to all these places, and it was really cool, but as I was doing that, I started having a longing for more God in my life and God in my music.
Around this time, I had also been involved in a movement called “I Am Second,” which started here in Dallas. For people who aren't familiar with it, it's a really cool creative way that a lot of celebrities, artists and athletes gather and share their testimony about who God is in their lives. Through that, I started getting a lot of recognition throughout the Christian world and a lot of the Christian stores were wanting to support me and to have my albums in their stores. ... That's how it started. It started in just a real natural way.
It's really been refreshing for me to connect to people of faith. I believe they were a big part of my support on the show. I've always kind of been a go-with-the-flow kind of guy, and it landed me here.
Q: You were raised in the church. Does it seem like you have come full circle?
A: It's always been a big part of my life so it's neat to incorporate it in this way into the music. Music's just neat. I still write for all different applications so it's not like a complete worship album. I like to stay away from the label “Christian album,” because I think people could listen to this album and wouldn't feel like it's all about Jesus but more just hope and joy and just the truths that are found in faith. It is written in such a way that it could be universally heard and enjoyed, and that's my hope. I don't want to alienate anyone with my music.
Q: You've had a change in your life in the last two years with the birth of your daughter. How has that changed things?
A: My wife used to tour with me. Now, it's an effort and kind of a rule that I have to get home every week. It really works out well, because when I'm home, I don't have any commitments while I'm here. I can be all in dad and husband while I'm here.