While MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine" was inspired by the death of lead singer Bart Millard's father, it provided hope, healing and comfort to a country that was still fresh with the scars caused by the attacks of September 11th. Since the world was exposed to MercyMe over a decade ago, they still continue to create music that helps a world in pain.
"For whatever reason, God's called us to write songs to help people with the healing process," explained Bart about the title track "The Hurt & The Healer" from the band's latest album. "There's this sense that when you go through losing someone, there's an irony of feeling more alive than any other before. It's that moment when we embrace our kids a little tighter; we reevaluate what's important in life."
The band's latest single, "You Are I Am," reminds us of the power of God that lives inside of us everyday. “The song is reminder to me that we are not just people that happen to know Christ. The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives inside of us. We’ve got something inside of us that should blow our minds!” says Bart. “Even though the enemy will try to convince us that we are not good enough, that we are not worthy, and why would God care about you? Those are lies that I’ve believed in, and I’ve lived with guilt and shame for a long time.”
He continues, “But things have changed, and it’s not so much about bad people trying to do good, it’s about redeemed people that still sin, but can’t be pulled from the hand of God. ‘You Are I Am’ is a reminder of what we used to be and how big and powerful the spirit who lives inside of us really is.” Before MercyMe became a prominent name across the country though, lead singer Bart Millard was a youth ministry intern in Florida. His grandmother would always call to check up on him, and was always disappointed when Bart picked up the phone. She blatantly voiced her disapproval by saying, “Well, mercy me, why don’t you get a real job?” Little did she know, Bart’s grandmother’s words would play rather prominently into Bart’s future career and become his band namesake.
Getting his start in music by taking choir as an elective when his football dreams didn’t pan out, Bart started working with his youth group’s worship band behind the scenes, mostly doing video and sound. God opened a door for Bart one day when the youth group’s lead singer didn’t fare so well on stage, and Bart stepped in and aced his audition.
The gig ended up going so well that Bart, along with MercyMe’s future pianist Jim Bryson, eventually traveled to Switzerland to play a worship gig. It was during that particular trip that Bart and Jim seriously considered pursuing music full-time.
So Bart, along with his pal, Mike Scheuchzer, who plays guitar, moved to Oklahoma City to form what would end up being MercyMe.
While living in an old, abandoned daycare center that also served as the band’s makeshift studio, MercyMe wrote “I Can Only Imagine,” which reached far beyond the confines of Christian radio. It was aired widely on pop and country radio stations, and in 2010 became the first song in Christian music to exceed 1 million downloads according to Christianity Today.
However, even with all those accolades straight out of the gate, MercyMe was certainly no one-hit wonder. With the release of the album Spoken For in 2002, both the title track and “Word of God Speak” were huge successes. In fact, “Word of God Speak” was not only named the Christian Song of the Decade in 2009 by Billboard Magazine, but MercyMe was awarded with the “Christian Adult Contemporary Songs’ Artist of the Decade” honors, as well.
Since then, the band has continued to make albums that reflect whatever season of life they’re in. Its 8th album released in 2010, The Generous Mr. Lovewell, featured a wide array of both solemn and upbeat songs including "Move," “All of Creation” and "Beautiful."
The band's latest album The Hurt & The Healer, reminds us that Jesus, the ultimate Healer, is still with us even in the midst of our pain.“The Hurt & The Healer is a celebration of that moment when these two worlds collide…. the deep need for healing and the God who provides it, ” said Bart. “The idea is to create an album to help bring healing to people, but not just healing; even in the midst of life’s worst moments, there’s this irony of feeling more alive than anytime before; that moment when we embrace our kids a little tighter and we reevaluate what’s important in life, The whole album revolves around this common theme, but it’s not all really heavy. We hope it helps people get to a better place in these moments that seem to cripple us at times.”
Regulars on the road, MercyMe has toured the country several times, sharing its music of hope in God. Their latest excursion was the Rock and Worship Roadshow, and in 2013, the band will embark on the Rock and Worship Boatshow in the Caribbean.
MercyMe is also being honored with two nominations at the first annual K-LOVE fan awards, in the categories of: "Group/Duo of the Year," and "Artist of the Year."
You Are God Alone
Phillips Craig & Dean