Heath not who he was, but stays steadfast

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Bran­don Heath gives a free con­cert at Cross­roads Church in Wheat Ridge in con­junc­tion with the Den­ver Res­cue Mission’s toy dri­ve. The con­cert was spon­sored by K-Love radio sta­tion.

It’s been a whirl­wind ride the past few months for Bran­don Heath. Yes, he’s not who he was after win­ning the 2008 Dove Award for new artist of the year and after his hit “I’m Not Who I Was” received a Dove nom­i­na­tion.

Yes, things have changed for Heath but most­ly on the out­side. Deep down he’s still the same old Bran­don.

Things have changed, but hon­est­ly with me they haven’t,” Heath said Tues­day before his free con­cert at Cross­roads Church in Wheat Ridge. “I don’t mean to say that to be hum­ble, but I just don’t feel that I have changed all that much. You could ask any of my friends, and a lot of them have said that noth­ing about me has changed.

As far as oblig­a­tions and respon­si­bil­i­ties that’s changed quite a bit,” he added. “That takes a lot of grow­ing and learn­ing — how to man­age oth­er peo­ple but stay­ing patient and lev­el-head­ed. And I got to be hon­est, I don’t do that well. I’m still learn­ing about myself. Learn­ing about what works with me and the rela­tion­ships I have with oth­er peo­ple.

And that’s what life is about – rela­tion­ships.”

Heath learned some­thing about rela­tion­ships and “lov­ing peo­ple well” at Hills­boro High in Nashville when Dove Award win­ning artist Gin­ny Owens, who has been blind since age 2, was a stu­dent-teacher.

It was real­ly kind of neat when she walked into the class­room and our teacher intro­duced her,” Heath said. “I remem­ber lean­ing over to some­one and say­ing, ‘It’s going to be easy to skip class on this lady.’ But it took only a cou­ple of class­es and she just com­plete­ly gained our respect. She had to mem­o­rize all the music because you can’t read music with your hands and play an instru­ment.

And to be hon­est with you, she didn’t have a big influ­ence on me spir­i­tu­al­ly because you can’t bring your spir­i­tu­al­i­ty to high school. You can’t real­ly share your faith, but you can love peo­ple well. And that’s what Gin­ny did. She cared for us well. A lot of us saw some­thing dif­fer­ent in her. … At the time we didn’t know she was a Chris­tian, and we def­i­nite­ly didn’t know she was a Chris­tian singer.” 

Heath’s obser­va­tions about life and peo­ple come through on his cur­rent hit, “Give Me Your Eyes,” in which he asks God to give him a glimpse of what the world looks like through His eyes. The song has been No. 1 on Billboard’s Chris­tian charts for 11 con­sec­u­tive weeks. 

If I had God’s eyes what would I see? I would mar­vel at my cre­ation,” Heath said. “I would look at peo­ple and say, ‘Well, they do bad things but they are good.’ You know what I mean? Because if I look at my hand – how it’s shaped. It’s made to pick things up. It’s got flesh that will grow back if it gets cut. It’s beau­ti­ful. It’s amaz­ing how God cre­at­ed us. I think all we can do is look at our­selves and see God’s hand­i­work. So I just think he has more patience with us than we believe.”

Heath’s South­ern sound stems from his Nashville upbring­ing, and he just moved back to the Music City after liv­ing in Hous­ton for 18 months to reclaim his roots as a song­writer.

I moved to Hous­ton to lead wor­ship at a church. I enjoyed doing it, but I have got­ten so busy in the last year that I feel a lit­tle spread thin. One of the things I first set out to do was to see this career through. The wor­ship thing was not nec­es­sary in the five-year plan but it made a lot of sense at the time. But I didn’t get to write much, and that’s where I come from — I’m a song­writer before I am any­thing.

Nashville is just where I write songs for some rea­son it seems like it comes along with the ter­ri­to­ry,” Heath said. “It’s like you go to the library to read, you go to a bur­ri­to shop to eat lunch. Nashville is where I write.”

As a teenager Heath would head over to the leg­endary Blue­bird Café and spend hours lis­ten­ing to the song­writ­ers and musi­cians.

I was inspired by them … and I would think, ‘I can do that,’” Heath said. “So I would go home, and I would write because I felt empow­ered to. It just seemed like such a far-fetched idea to write music for a liv­ing, but the­se peo­ple were doing it and doing it well. It made me feel as though I had per­mis­sion to do it.”

Heath wrote most of the songs on his first album, “Don’t Get Com­fort­able,” but his lat­est offer­ing, “What if We” is a col­lab­o­ra­tion with many artists.

There’s an ele­ment of oblig­a­tion when you are writ­ing with some­one else,” Heath said. “You kind of feel like, ‘If I don’t pro­duce some­thing out of the last three hours it’s gonna feel like a com­plete waste of the day,’” Heath explained. “The good thing about cowrit­ing is that you are moti­vat­ed to fin­ish what you start. A lot of times I’ll set a song down and it will nev­er get fin­ished.

I’m pret­ty pro­duc­tive when I do it with oth­er peo­ple, and I rely heav­i­ly on them to kind of help me with a musi­cal idea.”

Heath’s influ­ences come from his coun­try roots. His first CDs were Garth Brook and Brook and Dunn, and he’s a big fan of Sting.

Sting is a big influ­ence of mine when it comes to song­writ­ing and being an intel­li­gent musi­cian,” Heath said. “It’s so fas­ci­nat­ing how he recre­ates him­self but stays true to his own artistry. I always real­ly appre­ci­ate that.”

Lis­ten­ing to Heath’s songs you get a sense that he is recre­at­ing him­self, learn­ing who he is or as he sings in “Wait and See” – “Still won­der­ing why I’m here, Still wrestling with my fears.” — all the while try­ing to stay true to him­self.

I think let’s enjoy where we are now, but also learn who God is and what he wants to do with us,” Heath said. “And the more I dis­cov­er that the more I feel like I have a clue of who I am and what I’m sup­pose to do.”

–30-

It’s been a whirl­wind few months for Bran­don Heath after win­ning the 2008 Dove Award for new artist of the year along with his hit “I’m Not Who I Was” being nom­i­nat­ed for song of the year.

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