By Gary Mitchell
With lyrics and music born out of the death of a loved one, up-and-coming Christian musical artist Jeremy Camp has been touching the hearts of music audiences around the nation.
The 25-year-old singer/composer will perform in concert at 7:30 tonight at Central Baptist Church, 2501 N. Norris St., in Clovis.
Admission to the concert is $5 per person.
“He’s very down-to-earth,” said Derek Osburn, youth minister at Central Baptist. “He’s got an unbelievable testimony. As a musician, he plays Christian rock, and he has the No. 1 and No. 5 songs on Air One Radio, which is a nationally syndicated Christian network.”
Camp’s tune, “Understand,” reigned as the No. 1 contemporary hit radio single for five consecutive weeks.
“They say the best songs come from personal experience, and Jeremy Camp’s music certainly comes from a very personal place,” said his manager, Lee Broadwell. “A unique brand of rock and progressive pop, his music was born out of a heart that’s been broken and a faith that’s been tested.”
Camp’s musical pilgrimage began when he left his home in Lafayette, Ind., bound for Bible college in Southern California, Broadwell said.
“As he soaked up all the biblical knowledge he could and pondered a career in ministry, Camp filled his downtime strumming a guitar, a skill he picked up from his musically-inclined father,” he said. “It wasn’t long before Camp was leading worship all over Southern California, eventually blossoming into a music career and his 2002 debut album, ‘Stay.’ ”
Between those two events, he met his future wife, Melissa, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At the end of their honeymoon, the doctor announced that she only had months to live. She died on Feb. 5, 2001.
Melissa’s life and death changed Camp’s perspective on the music he makes.
“Watching Melissa go to Heaven made me realize what’s important,” the singer said. “Music is not my life. Christ is my life. The only thing that really matters is what we do for Jesus on this Earth, and as a result of what I’ve been through, I express even more the goodness of God and how faithful he is.”
One of the songs that reflects that perspective is “I Still Believe,” the first song Camp wrote after Melissa’s death, a declaration of his faith.
Also included on his debut album is “Walk By Faith,” a tune he composed on their honeymoon. Looking back now, Camp feels God knew he’d need that musical reminder in the months to follow.
“I didn’t know what the song was for at the time,” he said. “But I look at the words now, and I can see God was preparing me for the path I’m now walking.
“It’s not like you just bounce back,” he said. “But God gives me the strength, and I want to encourage others who are struggling.”
For information about the concert, call the church office at 762-4727.