Jeremy Camp: I Still Believe
By Chris Carpenter
Contemporary Christian recording artist
Jeremy Camp has an interesting problem these days. His new worship album "Carried
Me", originally scheduled for a fall 2003 release has been pushed back to February
2004. At first glance this would appear to be a major red flag for Camp and
his fans. And for just cause. Industry insiders often point to a new album's
delay as a sign of its dwindling potential in the marketplace due to artistic
and musical deficiencies. Translation: It is thought the new album stinks. This
is definitely not the case with Jeremy Camp. The real reason it got pushed back
was due to the continuing success of his 2002 debut "Stay".
That is a nice problem to have as a young, emerging
artist. However, everything hasn't always been that rosy for Camp.
With a deep, hard edged voice reminiscent of Third
Day's Mac Powell, Camp delivers a sound that effortlessly bridges the gap
between hook laden pop and straight ahead power rock. CCM Magazine
has described him as someone who is "unexpectedly rich with hard-won wisdom
of a faith that sustains in the face of difficulty and loss."
It is this faith in the difficulty of loss that has
not only sustained him but in many ways has defined his musical career. For
you see, at the tender age of 24, Camp has already had to overcome the death
of his wife, a victim of ovarian cancer.
"When I lost my wife I had a whole different concept
of her life," explains Jeremy, a native of Lafayette, Indiana. "She lived
21 years and people who knew her know it wasn't about the great things she
did on this earth. It wasn't that she had money or had popularity, it was
that she loved Jesus Christ more than anything else in this world. That was
how she related to the world. She wanted people to know that there was so
much more of a hope and a joy that only Christ can give."
Despite his wife's eternal optimism in the face of
death, Camp still had to overcome the jagged, raw-boned emotion of losing
her. But it was from these ashes of grief that he forged a new perspective
on his music. It made him realize that music was not his life but sharing
the good news of Jesus Christ was. Still, it was a difficult, sometimes painful
journey through the shadows of death and into the blinding light of His limitless
"When I first started to share a lot," remembers Jeremy,
"I finally got to a point where it was very hard because I had to keep re-opening
my heart up and talk about what I had been through. It started to become almost
a burden and then I spoke to God and said 'I can't do this. This is a burden.
This is a weight on my shoulders that I cannot carry.' And He said, 'Well,
you are not supposed to. While we are called to carry one another's burdens,
I still want you to share no matter how you feel. I am going to give you the
strength you need when those questions come at you.'"
Camp's willingness to share of himself and his heart
wrenching experiences are quite evident on "Stay". Displaying a tremendous
amount of transparency in his songwriting, he has delivered a collection of
evocative, soul-searching songs that provide a penetrating glimpse into his
heart and subsequent hope through Jesus Christ. Included on the 12 song disc
are "I Still Believe", a declaration of faith for someone who has journeyed
through the fire, and "Walk of Faith", a song Camp composed on his honeymoon
that has taken on new meaning in light of his wife's passing. The album resonates
throughout with a very simple but clear message: only what we do for Jesus
Christ in this life will remain.
"I know that if you don't have Christ in your life
then all the hope you have and the greatest thing you can gain is what you
get from this earth," explains Jeremy. "People who are in jobs are striving
to gain the most they can before they die through financial means, through
their flesh, the lust of their flesh and man's drive for power. But as believers
we are to be the opposite. We are to be humble, not prideful. We are to think
of things that are true, whatever is noble, and whatever is worthy. We should
be living a life of purity."
Camp is a firm believer in these principles as evidenced
by the seemingly revolving door of his back up band. Known as the "pink slip
guy" around Nashville, he is adamant about having people display complete
accountability to Christ in their lives as well as their playing.
"I am really sensitive on who is with me," laughs Jeremy.
"They not only represent me but also the Lord and what we are doing. I want
someone who I know spends time with the Lord in the morning and has a devotional
life that is solid. I want a person of integrity."
Despite the lasting success of "Stay" and a relentless
touring schedule that is just now beginning to wind down for the year, Camp
is in constant need of support and affirmation.
"All I ask for is prayer that I stay focused on ministry,"
says Jeremy. "It is very pulling in different ways. Recently, I was at a sound
check at a music festival and it went terrible. I was (growls loudly). I was
just complaining and having a bad attitude and God just convicted me and asked
'what are you doing this for? Are you doing this to glorify yourself or to
glorify me?' I want to stay focused."
As for the future, in addition to the aforementioned
winter release of his worship album, Camp is set to remarry in December, when
he exchanges vows with Adrienne Liesching, lead singer of The Benjamin Gate.
I STILL BELIEVE
Scattered words and empty thoughts
seem to pour from my heart
I've never felt so torn before, seems
I don't know where to start
But it's now that I feel Your grace
fall like rain
From every fingertip, washing away
I still believe in Your faithfulness,
I still believe in Your truth
I still believe in Your holy word,
even when I don't see, I still believe
Me What You Think
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