A career in Christian music wasn’t a great leap of faith for Jeremy Camp.
The Indiana-born singer’s father was a pastor in Lafayette and also taught him how to play guitar. Camp himself went to Calvary Chapel Bible College in California, earning a theology degree and ordination as a minister. He became a recording artist no long after, in 2000, had hasn’t looked back.
Camp, 45, has released 11 studio albums, four of which have been certified gold, and has scored nearly two dozen Top 10 hits in the Christian airplay charts. He’s won five GMA Dove Awards and four ASCAP Songwriter of the Year honors, and Camp was portrayed in the 2020 film biography “I Still Believe,” about his life with his late first wife Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp.
This year Camp is back as one of the headliners of the annual Winter Jam tour, and he’s working on a follow-up to his 2021 album “When You Speak”…
* Camp is a veteran of several Winter Jam tours and particularly enjoys the camaraderie between the multiple acts. “Everybody realizes the community aspect of it is so huge. It’s easy to walk in and feel like you’re building a community right away. That’s a great gift. You come in and everybody goes, “How’re you doing? We’re on tour for 40 dates, let’s just hang out.’ We all get along. That’s what’s nice about this.”
* Camp also feels that in the midst of a pandemic and the political and cultural polarization of the society, faith-based messages are being received in a different way. “With everything that’s going on, hey, we need a little hope here. There’s a hunger for that hope and we’re going to point them to the reason why we do it — that’s Jesus. By doing it with music, that crosses a lot of different barriers and cultures and really opens the door. People who might never go to church might come out to a concert. My friend John Cooper from Skillet told me last year, he said, ‘I love that the ministry aspect of Winter Jam is getting more deep. People are really focusing on this purpose of this more than ever.’ That’s really encouraging.”
* Over more than 20 years of recording, Camp has watched the Christian music sector grow and become more a part of the mainstream music industry in both recording and touring — an evolution he says has been gratifying. “Y’know, people are doing more production. They’re making sure they’re presenting an experience in what they’re doing. I remember my first Winter Jam, and where it’s evolved since then is insane. Now everyone is stepping up and understanding if you want to bring in people who are non-believers we have to do more than just play the music. We’ve got to say, ‘No, we do THIS as well…’ and put our full hearts into this and give them something that’s like what other (genres) do.”
* Camp says it was “pretty surreal…to watch your life being played out on a movie screening, people portraying you and acting everything out” in “I Still Believe.” “For me the most humbling part about it was there’s so many great stories bout there; to have them want to do a story of my life really blew me away. The impact’s been incredible to watch. I’m thankful for everything for that.”
* Camp is “in the process of writing for my next record,” for which he’s written six sons so far. “It’s just beginning, really. I’m excited. The first go at it, starting to write, a lot of things came out. You go, ‘What have I learned this year? What am I going through? What am I trying to articulate?’ I want to make sure I’m pressing into the depth of what’s going on in my heart. I’m excited to see what else is coming.”
Winter Jam 2023 with Jeremy Camp, We The Kingdom and others, plays at 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Eastern Michigan University’s George Gervin GameAbove Center, 799 N. Hewitt Road, Ypsilanti. 734-487-2669 or emutix.com.
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