A contemporary Christian recording artist has become the consummate storyteller through his songs about real life and real people.
Matthew West will perform at the 2013 Winter Jam concert set for 6 p.m. March 2 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Others set to perform include TobyMac, Red, Royal Tailor, Sidewalk Prophets and Jamie Grace.
In a telephone interview, West, 35, discussed Winter Jam and his music.
Q: What can fans expect from you at Winter Jam?
A: What's neat about Winter Jam is there's so much different music and different styles that there's really something for everybody. I'm a storyteller, so I kind of joke that I'm the Mr. Rogers of Winter Jam. It's still high energy, but right in the middle of my set I kind of break it down. My goal is to sort of bring some true stories to life for the crowd. ... We kind of show some stories from the actual person that inspired the song that I'm about to play for the crowd. ... Hopefully it's an inspirational time for the crowd to maybe take a look at their own life and realize that they've got a story worth telling as well.
Q: In 2010, we talked about your album “The Story of Your Life.” You have released another album “Into the Light” (Sparrow, September 2012) since then. What inspired you to write the songs for this album?
A: Most singers and songwriters, you first begin to write songs just as a way of telling your own story. ... For me, I've been kind of on this different path over the last three years. I've been collecting people's stories, just giving people the chance to share with me about their life. ... I've received over 25,000 stories from all across the country and 20 countries around the world. It's pretty incredible, the thing that has begun. ... I am making records that are inspired by the true stories of people's lives. That's what “Into the Light” is about. It's 12 songs about 12 people who have all brought their story ‘into the light' in the hopes that it would encourage other people to do the same.
Q: Is the song “Into the Light” inspired by a woman who was abused?
A: People are writing to me about the good, the bad and the ugly of life, and I've kind of learned that every one of our lives is going to be touched by its fair share of all three. Yes ... the album's title cut was inspired by a woman who wrote to me about how she had to finally fight for her family and she had to escape from a domestic violence situation for the safety of her two young sons. ... She used the reference ‘out of darkness and into the light,' and I just really felt like that was a fitting metaphor for really what happens when we fight for our lives and when we step out of the darkness.