K-LOVE Cover Story: Jeremy Camp

Posted on Saturday, June 1, 2024 by Lindsay Williams

K-LOVE Cover Story: An Interview with Jeremy Camp

Jeremy Camp has trust issues. He’ll be the first to tell you this.

The award-winning artist says those issues began when his first wife passed away from cancer and continue to this day. After living through that initial trauma where he couldn’t control the outcome, Camp confesses he’s been white-knuckling life ever since.

It took a recent health scare to help him finally admit he’s not in control, and he never has been.

In March, the normally fit and energetic singer took to social media to share an unexpected prayer request with fans: He was going in for surgery to treat an ongoing problem with atrial fibrillation. In fact, the problem had escalated to the point where he had to cancel a show in the middle of his set because he was having trouble breathing, his heart was beating so fast. Although the father of three had been dealing with arrhythmia for the better part of three years and had quietly undergone a minor procedure in 2023, his upcoming cardiac ablation would be a little more involved, and he felt compelled to share the news publicly.

Camp came through the surgery well, and — miraculously — his doctor cleared him to return to the road less than two weeks later for his already planned 17-city spring trek. Camp says it was one of the hardest tours of his 22-year career.

“I think it all came to a head with this last health thing,” Camp observes of his compulsion to remain in the driver’s seat. “I’ve had to really acknowledge the fact that, one, my life is in God’s hands, and He’s in complete control. And, two, He loves my kids and He loves my wife more than I do. And so I can trust Him with that. Even if the outcome is not what I hope it will be, I can trust Him because I know He’s good, and I know He loves me.”

Although he does have some one-off dates on the calendar this summer, Camp won’t step into another extensive touring season until fall, giving him time at home to properly rest and heal over the next few months.

In the meantime, he’s released a brand new album, “Deeper Waters” — a collection of deeply personal songs that didn’t come easy. In fact, the “I Still Believe” singer reveals he went into his first co-write and simply confessed, “I have nothing to offer.” Feeling uninspired, he didn’t want to force creativity; so instead, he simply laid down on the couch in his producer’s studio, shed a few tears and poured out his heart to his fellow collaborators. That’s when he landed on an important truth: It had been a hard few years.

One would think a man who tragically loses his wife to cancer in his early 20s would get a pass on suffering for the rest of his life, but unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Despite the undeniable redemption that’s transpired in his life over the past two decades, Camp has still had his share of hard times.

It took four hours on his producer’s couch for him to recognize this difficult reality, and that’s precisely when inspiration struck and God “downloaded” some of the lyrics to “Closer To You” — an anchor track on “Deeper Waters.” The song’s pop-centric chorus sums up Camp’s journey over the past few years: “So I can stand in the rain and just let it pour if I know that You’re standing with me in the storm. I can handle this life breaking my heart in two if it means I’m closer to You.”

“All these things I’ve been through, it’s brought me to the place where it’s forced me to run to Jesus and nothing else. And I’m thankful for that,” Camp reflects. “It doesn’t mean I always run in His direction, but that’s ultimately what I want. I just don’t always love the process, to be honest.”

While he’s being candid, Camp admits he used to think God using his story for good was the biggest way He was glorified in pain; but now, with a little more experience and perspective under his belt, he knows better. The 46-year-old values relationship over impact.

“I think we all tend to believe we go through hard things so God can use us, when really, His current concern about you is as His child. He loves you as a child, and He wants you to grow closer to Him. That’s actually His first desire — it’s relational. And then it’s, ‘Now you can be a part of what I’m doing, and I’ll use this.’”

When Camp released his debut, “Stay,” in 2002, he poured the first 24 years of his life into that recording. Granted, by 24, the respected songwriter had already been through more than most people his age. And many of the songs on his initial project were inspired by his first wife’s death and the unflinching faith she clung to until the very end. His story was later turned into a feature film. Talk about impact. Camp’s entire career is proof that God can and will use our suffering for the greater good.

But, now, more than two decades later, Camp’s learning a different lesson. “This album feels like an overview of my last 22 years of life and all the trials and tribulations and hardships and good things — all that combined — but seeing God be faithful and so present in the midst of all of that,” he says of “Deeper Waters.” “This record is an audio representation of what the Lord has been teaching me and my family over the last two years.”

Although he could have easily compiled a retrospective “greatest hits” package, instead, Camp crafted an original musical memoir that birthed some of his most transparent offerings to date. “If I’m not writing songs that are from the depths of my heart and what God’s poured into me, I don’t want to write it,” he affirms.

Even the cover art is a portrait of Camp’s desire to grow closer to Christ as he’s strapped to a parachute, poised to take a proverbial leap of faith into the deep end. He even references the contraption in the rhythmic “Ready Now.” “I’ve been busy, busy, busy; and all I want to do now is just lay at Jesus’ feet and learn and grow and go deeper with Him. And so the whole process of this album was basically me saying, ‘How can I fully surrender?’” Camp shares. “All I want is just to go deeper with Him because I know that’s where true peace and joy and hope and rest come from.”

Sometimes the best things take time. “Deeper Waters” is a testament to that, arriving nearly three years after Camp’s last LP, “When You Speak.” That’s the longest gap between projects in his storied discography.

Although he started with an empty well, inspiration came quickly after “Closer To You.” With the help of studio aces Jordan Sapp, Emily Weisband and Paul Duncan, as well as a handful of other trusted co-writers, Camp hunkered down to create one of the most lyrically raw and sonically ambitious efforts of his career.

“Deeper Waters” pulls from all eras of his catalog — from his consistent pop to his worship phase and even his earliest days as a rock outlier. Don’t believe me? Press play on track three — “No Survivors” — and we’ll chat. Unless you were an early fan of songs like “Take My Life,” you’ll think your ears are deceiving you when Camp scream-sings a pivotal line.

Shimmering pop selections like lead single “These Days,” however, return Camp to the territory he’s been dominating for the better part of the past 20 years. The optimistic anthem became an eleventh hour addition. “I’m not minimizing the craziness going on or the pain,” Camp says of the message behind the relevant offering that speaks to the negative headlines of the day. “But as believers, we have an opportunity in the midst of hardships to show that we have the hope of Christ.”

While Camp’s anxious to share new music with fans, especially on a headlining fall tour, the husband and father says he’s most looking forward to what’s next for his family. “It’s been about ‘Jeremy Camp’ for so many years,” he says, “but what really excites me right now is watching my girls grow up and love Jesus; and watching my son thrive; and watching my wife write a Bible study on the book of Psalms and get her master’s in biblical studies.”

All three of Camp’s children are musical — a predictable development considering both of their parents are extraordinarily gifted musicians. (His wife, Adie, was the frontwoman for South African rock outfit The Benjamin Gate when the two met.) Since returning home from a stint with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Norway and Cambodia, his oldest, Bella, 19, is writing and recording a follow-up to her first EP, which Camp produced. His youngest daughter, Arie, just turned 18 and recently left for a four-month internship with a missionary in England. She, too, is working on original music. Meanwhile, Camp’s son, Egan, who will turn 13 later this year, loves piano pretty much more than anything else in the world — with the exception of soccer.

When asked if his daughters becoming adults is a nerve-racking prospect, with little hesitation, Camp simply replies, “It doesn’t feel scary; it feels big. We have to trust that hopefully we did the right thing, and hopefully, we raised them OK.”

And just like that, we’re back to trust.

Jeremy CampK-LOVE Cover StoryMusicBehind the Music

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