In today's 12th CMB Spotlight, we are introduced to Christian singer and guitar player, Jonathan Wilson, also known under the name Jonathan 4Christ. We talk about his story, his musical journey, his album I'm 4Christ, and more....
CMB: How did you get started in music?
Jonathan 4Christ: Growing up in a musical family, it was only a matter of time before I picked up an instrument. Because we had everything else in my church band, I decided to play the bass. Ive been playing bass exclusively from the age of 14 until about two years ago. Which is 17 yrs. You gotta work out the math if you want to know how old I am! ;)
CMB: Who would be your top non musical influences?
Jonatan 4Christ: I would say God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit if I wasn’t sure they had a rocking acapella trio going on. But seriously, the people who have been my biggest influences in life are somewhat personal ones. The first would have to be my parents. Living in a house with 10 sibling we never had much growing up. However, my folks made sure they gave me what's most valuable. They taught me the value of setting my affections towards Christ.
They taught me at a young age that everything else in this world has the propensity to let you down, but God never will. This is a thought that never left me and helps me even now as a grown man. My Dad now has Alzheimer and I care for him here in my home. I hope through my care for him, I can somehow show him the appreciation for that lesson.
Another influential person in my life is my loving wife. She may not know it, but even when we are at odds she teaches me and helps mature me as follower of Christ. Her spiritual growth, love, and understanding during our current journey propels me. I thank God for giving me the perfect person for me.
I will have to say the third most influence is a combination of multiple people. These would be the servants of God who have pastored me in my life. I thank God for each one that has been an intricate part in my development as a man, servant and musician.
From times when I didn’t know what to do, or just needed someone to talk to, these men and women of God truly poured in to me in a way that if I had not known them, my life would be drastically different. I think we all owe a lot to the people who bear the burden of teaching us the Word of God and building us up in all areas of life.
CMB: How about your top three musical ones?
Jonathan 4Christ: Since most of my brothers are musicians (one who is a musical genius), they have been a huge influence on me. Two of my brothers, in particular, have literally taken me from showing me where to put my fingers on the bass fret board, to teaching me how to mix and master a record. I'll always be grateful for God giving me this giant “leg up” in learning music.
As far as musical stylings, the music I grew up listening to is oddly very different than the type of music I ended playing. However, I would have to mention Fred Hammond as one of the song writers whose songs still stick with me. I think I really loved both the depth and personal quality of his writing. His writing comes from a true brokenness. I feel this is something that is missing in a lot of music today.
A current musical influence of mine will have to be Brandon Heath. I love how his messages are poetic, but still clear and present in his songs. Also his music rocks and is always technically perfect. And also the dude has a great voice.
CMB: What would be your general process for writing a song from start to finish?
Jonathan 4Christ: Honestly for me it has to start with a message. It has to be something that I feel I want to say or needs to be said. I feel that music is such a great tool but at the end of the day that's all it is.
I endeavor to use this tool for the purpose of building up God's people and glorifying his Kingdom. So at the center of it there must be some message that needs to be delivered. Once I have something that is God inspired to say, I just write it all out. It doesn’t have to rhyme or be in any type of timing. The idea here is just to get the thoughts on paper.
Then, there will come a melody that will coincide with the general theme of the thought. From there I begin to shape the thoughts into stanzas - as if I was writing poem. Then I structure verses, bridges, and so on in order of the progression or completion of the thought and dynamics. There are many times when the thought does not match the melody, and I have to continue to reshape things. But most of all I truly try to be lead by God to make sure what I'm saying and singing is not just coming from my heart but from His.
CMB: Lets talk about your new album “I'm 4Christ” Where did it all start?
Jonathan 4Christ: The “Im 4Christ” album is probably the most interesting and miraculous thing that has ever happened to me. As I stated before, I was always just a bass player in church. Through many years of service I came to serve as minister of music at a large ministry in North Jersey. Then I came to a point in my life where I hit a brick wall.
I was not growing spiritually, or in any other aspect of my life, but I was still very comfortable where I was in the ministry. At that time I knew God was calling me away from everything I was involved in, but I had no idea to what. So, after much internal struggle, I finally said Yes to the voice of God and made many hard decisions for me and my family which left us in a place that was uncomfortable.
This is when God started to show me what he wanted me to do. He started to give me song after song that had the recurring theme of standing bold “4” Christ. But not only that, I started to learn new instruments seemingly over night. I never had any aspirations of singing or recording a record and never dared to step in front of a microphone, But he gave me the courage to sing loud the songs he was giving me. So only in about a year's time, coming from no money and being able to play one instrument to now playing 3 the “Im 4Christ” project was completed, and is now touching many hearts and minds.
This has been an amazing journey! I know that this music is just a tool to champion this message, spearheading a ministry that encourages us not to conform to the world, but to unite and stand taller 4Christ and His truth.
CMB: What recording software do you use? Can you tell us a little bit about your studio?
Jonathan 4Christ: I spent a few years after high school working as a recording engineer where I became well acquainted with Protools. Protools is my software of choice with a small helping of Logic on the side. I recorded the entire project in my humbled basement setup which I named “Isaac's House Studio” after my 2 yr old son who constantly reminds me whose house we live in.
I currently run Protools 10 off of a mac pro , with a 003 rack and a AU 710 pre amp with a c414 mic. Its A very simple, relatively low end set up which God has graced me with in order to get the project done.
CMB: Whats the biggest piece of advice to us as a believer when writing and creating original music?
Jonathan 4Christ: If I can give any advice it would be to remain sincere and unique. There are so many out there who wish to follow a formula because they know what people want to hear. I believe we have no idea how intricate the gifts God has given us are until we give them back to him.
Last Christmas, I gave my son a race track. He opened the box and started playing with the separate pieces. It wasn’t until he finally gave it to me and let me put it together that he saw it had loops and ramps and all other cool stuff.
It's only when we surrender our gifts back to the giver when we'll see the total scope of it. And we should understand that these gifts have purpose that supersede our benefit. So don’t seek to follow a mold. Only follow God. He will show you what he wants you to write.
CMB: Can you tell us about your local church community where you worship? How does that fit into your ministry as a recording artist?
Jonathan 4Christ: I fellowship at a church in Newark called The Rock Fellowship. It's a ministry that believes in teaching the Word of God verse-by-verse, and places a great emphasis on the growth of the congregation and also reaching the community.
I believe that being a worship leader and a recording artist “4Christ” is really no difference at all. We are all servants. So whether Im playing and singing at my home church or the other side of the country, it's all the same. I think only when we don’t have the mind to serve is when things can get complicated.
We are all one body with many members. The music God has given me is to serve the other parts of the body - no matter where I am. I think the only thing to be mindful of is time commitments. If you are a worship leader in your church and an artist, there needs to be an understanding of expectations of when you can or cannot be in service because you may have to be somewhere else. Other than this, I think it's great to have the support of your local church in your endeavors as a Christian artist.
CMB: Thanks again for sharing your music with your fellow CMB-ites. Where should people go to find out more about you online.
Jonathan 4Christ: I want to thank everyone at CMB for allowing me the opportunity to share. This is truly a great service to the body of Christ.
We are currently involved in a great effort to reach the youth and encourage them to stand bold for Christ. Everyone can check it out and find out how they can be a part at http://riseofthevanguard.com. You can check out my personal website at jonathan4Christ.com and listen to the music for FREE at Soundcloud.