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Jeremy Riddle

Varietal Records

CBN.comJeremy Riddle isn’t even officially out of the gates yet, but he already has a lead in the race. Although this brand new artist has yet to actually release an album, that hasn’t stopped his first single, “Sweetly Broken,” from becoming the #6 AC radio hit for all of 2006. The airily aggressive worship song has introduced Jeremy’s name to millions of radio listeners around the country and put him in the company of established, chart-topping mainstays like Aaron Shust, Third Day, Casting Crowns, and Chris Tomlin. All this, and Jeremy’s national debut, Full Attention, doesn’t drop until March 6.

The project, produced by Bob Hartry, will finally give Jeremy’s many fans hardcopy access to his songwriting and passionate modern pop. And once again, Jeremy has managed to associate himself with some leading men in the liner notes for the project, which features the talents of famed mix engineers Chris Lord Alge (U2, Snow Patrol, Madonna, Prince, Jars of Clay) and Bob Clearmountain (Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow, Bon Jovi, Barenaked Ladies, Switchfoot, Mercy Me).

With Full Attention, Jeremy is also introducing another novel yet highly experienced entity to the world – the album marks the first release from Varietal Records, a new creation of Vineyard Music. One of the most influential labels in the birth of the modern worship music movement, Vineyard Music has launched Varietal as a way to expose the voices of talented, faithful worship leaders serving within the Vineyard congregation to the Church at large. The artist-driven label will be supported by Word Distribution.

God began bringing Jeremy to Full Attention several years ago, when Jeremy was playing in a mainstream band and getting attention from some big label players. Though he was hotly in pursuit of his desire for success, something felt off-balance. Looking back, Jeremy remembers, “I knew if I was ever going to have peace about it, I was going to have to lay the whole thing down before the Lord and let Him resurrect it.”

So down it went, and a season of brokenness followed as Jeremy watched what he thought was the end of his dream of performing. Yet in its place, Jeremy found a much deeper relationship with God. He tells the story of the change that occurred in his life during that time in “Hallowed Father,” and recalls the state of his heart when he wrote the song. “When I repented and returned to the Lord, I died a death to selfish ambition, and I am content to never see it resurrected. My only goal then and my only goal now is to hit the mark God intended my life to hit – nothing less. Jesus’ heart cry was not to do His own will, but the will of the One who sent Him. My hope is to live the same.”

Jeremy took a position as a middle-school youth pastor at the Anaheim Vineyard in Anaheim, California, and began to lead worship for junior-high students. The end of one dream grew into a very purposeful and rewarding career of six years for Jeremy as a pastor and worship leader.

“I think God had a purpose in that secular season of really teaching me: I am a worship leader,” he says. “And in coming back to it, I knew this was what I was made to do.”

“Sweetly Broken,” like all of the songs of Full Attention, was born from that place of surrender and focus. Jeremy’s songs found a first audience engaging the worshippers of Anaheim Vineyard Church, who remain the heart of his ministry. “My life is meant for more than just making music,” he says. “[Music] is just one means for pastoring and discipling people. People are the only really eternal things around us.”

Jeremy credits the processes of learning to pastor, disciple and love people as the most transformational force in his songwriting. “My Love for You” comes, in part, from a sermon series he developed. As Jeremy spent time in Scripture, he began to see a pattern: “The things that show God we love Him are not extravagant love songs, poems or outbursts of emotional expression, but simple actions of obedience. And from what I can understand, the way God calls us to express our love back to Him is by returning to people the same things we have received from Him.”

Authenticity counts for Jeremy. His ideas about worship have been influenced by the many “Davids” in his life – men and women who are broken and vulnerable in their worship. In particular, his own father, who began his days during Jeremy’s childhood at 4 a.m., playing guitar, singing and worshipping God. “Later on,” Jeremy says, “when I was reading the Psalms on my own and looking at David’s heart, my dad was the biggest picture of worship for me.”

But it’s not only the influence of modern-day worship leaders that have shaped Jeremy. “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” comes from a poem by 18th century poet and hymn-writer William Cowper. Cowper, a contemporary of John Newton, penned quite a few poems and hymns in the midst of battles with depression and doubt.

In his own life, Jeremy struggles with both self-doubt and the temptation to rely on himself instead of Christ. The album’s title song describes his personal battle. “’Full Attention’ encapsulates my heart cry as I attempt to walk in the way Jesus is calling,” he relays. “I know we’ve all heard that ‘He is the vine and we are the branches,’ but I’m not sure we get it all the way. I, at least, need a constant reminder because there is always this stubborn thought within me that somehow I truly will be able to accomplish something on my own for God. More than ever, I realize that I cannot. I must be in close communion with Him – abiding – if I ever wish to bear any kind of lasting fruit.”

Clearly, Jeremy is not just a musician writing songs, hoping people will listen to them. At heart, he’s a pastor connecting with people and writing songs out of the power of that experience, with brokenness and transparency. And as Jeremy has laid down his own aspirations, God has picked him up and led him to a larger and more meaningful place than any he had previously imagined.

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