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.”
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.