Matthew West's latest song "Hello, My Name Is," is based on a powerful story of redemption and restoration. '"Hello, my name is Jordan and I am a drug addict,' That was the first sentence of this young man’s story that he sent to me," Matt explained. "He went on to tell me how for years that was how he identified himself."
After getting hooked on the prescription drug Oxycontin, addiction quickly took hold of his life. Thankfully, Jordan ended up at Teen Challenge- a faith based substance abuse program in North Carolina. "Jordan said it was during his time in Teen Challenge that he began to realize that God wasn’t done with him yet, and that all of those defeating titles like 'addict,' didn’t have to be attached to his name the rest of his life. His story is far from over," Matt says. "He told me that in the years since his recovery, he went back and got his master’s degree from the very college that kicked him out. Now, he is a teacher and a coach and a newlywed. And he has recently felt God calling him into full time ministry. Jordan’s story is powerful proof that we are not defined by our past. God can restore, redeem, and renew our hearts and lives. He can set our feet on a new path that will lead our lives to a destination far greater than where we used to call home."
"Hello, My Name Is," is just one of the songs based on true stories as a part of Matthew's latest album Into The Light (September 25, 2012). The album is a follow up to The Story of Your Life, where Matthew thumbed through over thousands stories of listeners' to seek inspiration for his songs.
"Forgiveness," another song off the album, is based on a true story of Renee, who lost her 20 year old daughter as a result of being hit by a drunk driver. The driver was sentenced to 22 years in prison, but it didn't take away the bitterness that Renee felt. It wasn't until Renee visited the driver, Eric, in prison and forgave him that she was able to experience true freedom from the anger she harnessed inside. Not only that, but Renee asked the judge to release Eric early, so that he could join her speaking around the country on the dangers of drunk driving.
West recently hosted a "Storytellers Weekend" for the families and individuals who inspired the music on his new album Into The Light and songs from The Story of Your Life. Each of the storytellers were surprised with a concert, commemorative plaques, a special dinner, and a night at the Grand Ole Opry where Matthew performed.
"I was face to face with the real stories of people's lives," Matthew reflected on an interview with K-LOVE's Scott and Kelli. "It made me take a look in my own life, and I realized that a lot of times, I stay safe in the confines of My Own Little World."
One of the more powerful songs on the album The Story of Your Life is, "Strong Enough," which was based on the story of a 19 year old named Haleigh who was severely injured in an auto accident. After 11 surgeries and countless doctor appointments, her Mom encouraged her that the Lord will never put anything on us that we're not strong enough to handle. "He must think that I'm pretty strong if I was going through all of that," was Haleigh's response.
Singing and songwriting were not always Matthew West's career of
choice. During his college breaks, he wrote most of his first songs in
the sanctuary of his father’s church, and after graduating from college,
a friend suggested that Matthew attend the annual the Gospel Music
Association Music in the Rockies event for aspiring musicians.
Eventually making the final round of the songwriting competition,
Matthew was offered a songwriting deal. Then after writing songs for
established artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rascal Flatts and Natalie Grant, Matthew continued writing his own songs and eventually signed with Universal South Records.
His first radio single “More” held on to the #1 position on the Christian adult contemporary charts for nine weeks and his second album, History, scored him two more hit radio singles, “Next Thing You Know” and “Only Grace.”
In 2007, however, it was no longer smooth sailing when his career
took a rather turbulent turn. Turns out, Matthew was on the verge of
losing the very voice that endeared him to fans. Instructed to undergo
vocal rest for two months by not talking at all, the future of Matthew’s
singing career lay in the balance. As it turns out, the treatment
worked and God wasn't quite finished using Matthew’s voice after all.
Matthew resumed his singing career and went on to write two more hits, “The Motions” and “You Are Everything” to firmly establish Matthew as one of the industry’s premiere songwriters.
Matthew has also used his talents on Valentine's Day every year to bless one K-LOVE listener with a personalized love song. Every February, you have the opportunity to tell Matthew your love story, and Matthew writes a song based on a story submitted. You can see the past "Next Great Love Songs" below, as well as read the stories that inspired them:
Let Them See You
JJ Weeks Band