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John Waller: Living Through a Revolving Door of Dreams

By Heidi Krumenauer
CBNmusic Guest Writer

CBN.comPicture this. A man sits on his basement floor, organizing items that used to represent his musical career. Sadly and methodically, he packs boxes of CDs,
t-shirts, and glossy photos of the band he hoped one day would become a household name. With every piece of packing tape he wraps around the cardboard boxes, his dream dies a little more. 

And then the phone rings, and the man’s life is changed forever.

With his former band, According to John, John Waller had been pursuing a career in Christian music at the national level.  When the opportunity finally came his way to sign with a major record label, it wasn’t long before everything turned upside down. Not one word from the record label in a month and then finally an email saying they had passed on the band. “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” says John. “We’d all been trying so hard to make it work and to make ends meet. I didn’t know what I would do with the rest of my life. I had put all my eggs in one basket.  And then a steamroller rolled over the basket and crushed the eggs and the basket, too.”

Shortly after that devastating time, a friend invited John to be the worship pastor at a church he was planting in Colorado. He loved John’s style and thought he would be a great fit for the church. And John thought so, too, uprooting his family and moving from his home in Georgia. With a stockpile of CDs from his old band, he made a habit of giving them away to people who came to their church. As the church members became accustomed to seeing John’s music in CD format, they encouraged John to record the songs he was writing for the church. John explained that it was an expensive venture, but they didn’t let that stand in their way. Within four weeks, John’s church had raised the money needed to take his music home on a CD.  

John’s dreams were starting to take shape again. He hired his former guitarist to produce his album in Atlanta.  And if you’re going to do it big, John figured he might as well go all the way! He had dreams of a big name artist on his album, and looked to front man for Casting Crowns, Mark Hall, to fill the spot. Through his former drummer, John was able to connect with Mark, and he was thrilled when Mark wholeheartedly agreed to be a part of the new project. Mark suggested that John send the song to Mark Miller (also lead singer for Sawyer Brown) at Beach Street Records.  For six months, John anxiously awaited an answer – but nothing.

 “I just started thinking that I was going to hang it up. I was guessing my CD wasn’t meant for anything more than my local church.” John’s dreams of a national album were dying on the vine – again.

John recalls a particular Saturday afternoon when his wife pleaded with him to organize all the old merchandise in the basement – memories from his band, according to John. John sat on the basement floor, packing up boxes and thinking “what a waste.” He adds, “It was the closest thing to going into the closet of a loved one who’s passed away…it was very hard. It represented the death of a dream, and I didn’t have a new one to grab on to.”

And in those moments of reflection, the phone rang. Mark Hall was on the other end with good news about a record deal. And as one dream died that day, John learned that another was on the horizon.

“God’s timing is so incredible. The deal I got with Beach Street and Provident was way bigger than what I was aiming for. God does exceedingly and abundantly above what we can imagine and what we can ask,” says John.

God’s timing and plan included something even bigger than a national record deal for John as he has been the opening act for Casting Crowns on their “Altar and the Door” tour this year. While singing his music on stage leaves a smile in his heart, John says he is blessed to have a platform to share his personal story – one that includes 20 years of depression and now freedom from that time in his life – with audiences across the country.

“When I was going through depression, I used to write a lot of songs that were dark and in a minor key…I saw that Christian life was more of a struggle than a victory. During those years, I had a few seasons of victory, but I only felt those once in a while,” says John.  When he moved to Colorado, John left many issues behind, and he found growth and healing in his new environment.  “I believe that God is able to heal, and I believe He’s willing. I would find verses on healing and declare God’s word out loud. We all make agreements with the enemy when he whispers in our ear, and I began to agree with the Lord about what he says about me and how that manifests in my life. That’s been almost five years now.”

And John’s not done growing – even on the road, away from his wife and family. “I think my wife and I have gotten stronger in our marriage through this tour. We communicate through the computer when I’m the road. And we have a vision that it’s not always going to be this way. I didn’t sign up to leave my family to do ministry. I made a commitment to her that if I ever did this again, we will travel together. We felt like God is going to do something big with this. I do believe it’s part of the plan.”

But in this moment, the plan is that John will continue to tour with Casting Crowns until May 3. In the fall, he will release his second solo album, House of God.

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