Christian musician Jason Gray is releasing a new studio album June 17 titled “Where The Light Gets In,” and it delivers a new sound, with lyrics that chronicle what the past year has been like for him.
That past year includes a divorce and learning how to be a single father to his three sons, walking with his stepfather through his cancer struggle and helping his mom & stepdad not lose their house to high medical bills.
Jason is one of the most respected songwriters in the Christian music industry and he has won multiple ASCAP Performance Awards, had an album hailed by critics as “Album of the Year,” and has five top 5 radio singles, including a No. 1 single for nine weeks straight. And he did that in spite of having a speech impediment.
I will say this about my interview with Jason Gray: His life experiences provide an amazing testimony for God’s Kingdom. I myself have minor speech issues and a past divorce, and I came away from my interview with Jason inspired by someone who puts it all out there to serve God. And he is such a gifted singer.
Now, to the interview:
“My stuttering is something that existed inside me,” Jason said. “I was phonetically predisposed to speech impediments.” That quote comes from award winning Christian singer Jason Gray.
Jason has won multiple ASCAP Performance Awards, has an album hailed by critics as “Album of the Year,” and has five top 5 radio singles including a No. 1 single for 9 weeks straight.
He told me in an interview that his stuttering was triggered by a traumatic event: his parents’ divorce. The problem began in the first grade.
The stuttering began to complicate life.
“Especially as I began to have a sense of God’s calling on my life.”
Jason said he argued with God. “You can’t make me your spokesman until you make me speak. When you tell God He can’t do something it’s like a dare that He can’t resist.” Jason says he lost a dare with the Lord.
“I used to imagine it was a problem, a liability … but God healed me and now I can speak to you. But that’s not my story. I discovered that though God didn’t heal me of my speech impediment, He did a lot of healing in my life through my speech impediment.”
Jason said he began to learn that the speech impediment taught him things. The impediment and his brokenness is a gift that brought healing.
“I suspect you like me a little more because I have a speech impediment. The more you and I talk and the more I become acquainted with your brokenness, the more I like you.” People who meet a broken person feel safe; your strengths can make another person afraid and intimidated.
“Then we can begin to really bring ourselves to each other. I think there is healing in that.”
Having a speech impediment is not the only thing Jason Gray said he shares with Moses. The biblical leader was a broken man who had been humbled. He said that like Moses, like himself, it’s not what we bring to the table for God but that we just come to the table.
Speaking of brokenness, Jason is very open about another painful area of his life — his divorce.
“A marriage dies long before it gets to divorce court.” He said his ex-wife would agree that their marriage experienced a slow death over an eight or nine year period.
Jason spoke to me of how helpless it felt to watch his marriage end, no matter what he tried, “This thing that I loved so very much. That’s the most painful thing I ever experienced. I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy.”
He compared divorce to having cancer. Both people receive an education they never wanted about the human heart and are forced to change the way they live. However, Jason says he is grateful for the understanding he gained. “I think all the pain has the potential to make us kinder, more loving, less judgmental.”
Moving on to Jason’s new album, “Where The Light Gets In,” Jason says that the last track is called “Thank You For Everything.” He says that some days he is “there with the sun and other days I pray I can get there. It’s a song recognizing some of the hardest things we go through. In time you can look back and be very grateful.” He said he had a friend who said everyone wants to be just like Jesus, but to be like Jesus, you need to pray for your enemies. “You aren’t going to learn how to forgive unless somebody hurts you. These difficult things we go through, they become great teachers in our lives.”
A number of the songs on the album are up-beat sounding at first listen, but they deal with heavy topics. I asked Jason about that, and he said, “We want to be happy and we have difficulty navigating our own pain. So sometimes our answer to all that is, ‘Okay, I’m not going to talk about the bad things. I will be positive.’ I don’t think that is helpful. I don’t think that leads to authentic joy. I like my songs to … look at reality. I wanted to write hopeful songs that are still in context of hard things happening, but the end is not the end and there is still hope.”
To promote the new album, Jason said he is touring with the J.J. Weeks Band, which is new to his label. “I’ve gotten to hang out with them a couple of times. They are so great.”