Josh Wilson: "I got really convicted because I realized I was praying, but sort of using my prayers as an excuse not to do anything myself. I realized that as a disciple of Jesus Iím called not only to pray, but also to serve and to go and to show Christís love through my actions."
Hard work and seeking answers became a passion for young singer/songwriter Josh Wilson, and his songs have become richer as a result. In the two years since his critically acclaimed debut release, Josh has discovered a marked clarity regarding his vision and mission for his music, and it is aimed squarely at followers of Christ.
“I feel like I am called to challenge and encourage the Church,” he declares. “I want to make people think, particularly about why they believe what they believe. As soon as your faith is challenged, that is when you’ll realize that Sunday school answers are not enough. Hopefully I can encourage people to dig deeper into their faith.”
NRT's Bill Lurwick recently spoke with Josh about his latest project, See You, and the inspiration and influences that fueled it.
A lot of people know you as John Wilson, the airport singer. Are you still surprised by all the success that YouTube video got from a year ago?
Yeah. It’s a lot of fun. There are a lot of people who still want to talk about it and it was really a neat opportunity. That’s definitely out of my comfort zone--singing in an airport for strangers--but something I’m really glad that I did.
A lot of us have been influenced by a book by David Platt called Radical, and have been as well, as indicated by the single that's doing incredibly well, “I Refuse.”
Yes. It kind of coincided with a flood that came through Nashville and there was 10,000 houses under water. About 20 people lost their lives in this flood. It was the kind of thing where I was tempted to just kind of sit back and pray and ask God to help, and then let that sort of be it. I did that for a while. I prayed for God to rally our community behind those that lost everything. It was while I was reading that book, Radical, that I got really convicted because I realized I was praying, but sort of using my prayers as an excuse not to do anything myself. I realized that as a disciple of Jesus I’m called not only to pray, but also to serve and to go and to show Christ’s love through my actions.
So, that book really calls us to live out the Gospel and to show why we believe what we believe.
I understand that on this, your third project, you had to play a few more instruments. Tell us about that.
Well, I worked with producer Matt Bronleewe and he’s just incredibly talented. I’ve recorded a couple of tunes with him, and when he said he was on board to do this whole album, I was so excited. We hired a bass player and drummer, and then Matt kind of challenged me to play everything else on the album. I’ve sort of tinkered with that idea on previous releases where I played quite a few instruments, but we kind of made it a rule where besides bass and drums I played everything else. So, there’s everything from – all the guitars, electric acoustic to piano, organ and then some kind of crazy stuff. Ukulele, mandolin, banjo, hammer dulcimer, accordion, things like that. It was a lot of fun.
That is awesome and out of all of those, if you could pick one, which one was the toughest?
I think the toughest was hammer dulcimer. There is a very small margin for error on that instrument. The strings are so close together and the hammer... you really have to get used to playing that thing.
Big shout out to the late, great Rich Mullins, man. He could really bring it on that.
I was kind of inspired by some of his recordings. He was an incredible player.
Now, See You opens with a song, “Sing It,” that came together after most of the stuff on the record was done. You said there was a real worshipful moment for you in the writing of that song.
It really was. As we wrote it, I was writing with a buddy of mine. His name is Jeff and we had written 10 songs in three days and it was just sort of this overflow of music that God had given us. And at the very end, that’s what came out and it almost wrote itself. It felt like we were writing and worshiping at the same time. We just sort of wrote down the words we were singing. It basically says I’ll never have enough words. I’ll never have enough melodies, but still God you’ve placed this song in my heart and all I know to do for you is sing it.
You had a chance to go to India not too long ago, and there’s a song that find its way onto See You out of that experience: “They Just Believe.” Talk about the story behind that.
Sure. We were doing to some work in Mumbai with some local pastors and churches and really kind of going through neighborhoods and slums and just telling people about Jesus and about these local churches.
And there were a group of women that invited us into their home and one of them was very sick. She had, we think, Parkinson’s disease, because she was kind of shaking when we walked in. We shared the Gospel with her and told her about Jesus and said that we had come all the way across the world to tell them that Jesus loved us so much and we wanted to share His love with them as well.
While we were saying this, there was another woman that walked in and we got to the end of our story and said, “Is this something you believe? Is this resonating in your heart?” And the woman who had walked in said, “If you pray to your God and He heals her,” and pointed to the sick woman, “Then we’ll believe in Jesus. And if He doesn’t, then we won’t.”
So, we prayed, and my friend Mike prayed out loud. I prayed silently and the interpreter translated into Hindi, so they could understand and he said, “God, we’re not putting you to the test. We believe that no matter what happens in this room, you’re still God. You’re still in control. We pray for these women’s eyes and hearts to be opened to the Gospel,” and then he prayed for healing. He said, “We pray to a healer right now,” and I sat there praying thinking if any time in my life I felt like these were the purest motives I had ever prayed for, if God healed this woman, all these other women were going to believe. He said, “Amen.”
I looked up and looked straight at the woman who was sick and she was still shaking and still sick and my heart in that moment sank because I was just sure God was going to heal her. I don’t know why He didn’t at that moment, but she did say something in Hindi and the interpreter said, “She wants you to know that she feels peace in her heart.”
I still don’t know what happened in that room that day, but I know it was something special. It was something holy. I don’t know why God didn’t choose to heal her, but I really related with the man in scripture who came to Jesus and said, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” So that's where “They Just Believe” came from.
Hey, you’ve been married a little over a year now and you’re a good husband, Josh. You put a song on your record for your wife. That’s definitely some bonus points for you there.
Well, I had done a song for Becca on my second album, and I wanted to kind of continue that process and give a snapshot of where we are sort of a year and a half into our marriage. It’s called “Always Only You.”
And she’s actually on the song, right?
She is. I sampled her voice into my iPhone on a program called Music Sampler, and it turns her voice into a keyboard. Then I took that into the control room and played it into a microphone.
Well, that’s incredible. Sounds like it was a good time.
It was a lot of fun. We tried to find creative ways to get her on the album and that seemed like a pretty neat way to do that.
Tell us about who you’re heading on the road with.
I’m going to be out this spring with Matthew West on the Story of Your Life Tour. We were out last fall and this is the continuation of that tour. So, we’ll be out for a few months and I’ll be opening for him, playing songs from my new album as well as songs from my previous albums. And then this summer I’ve got quite a few concerts here and there. We’re still looking what the fall will hold, but certainly excited to share these new songs with people on this tour.
Posted March 15, 2011 | Bill Lurwick, the voice of NewReleaseTuesday.com's weekly New Christian Music Podcast, has been in radio since 1989 and is currently heard on KJIL in Dodge City, KS.