Consider John Waller a major buzz artist for 2007. Fresh off being named one of Billboard magazine's "Faces to Watch," the Colorado-based worship leader, songwriter and erstwhile lead singer of According to John becomes the latest signee with Beach Street, a Reunion Records imprint that's also home to Casting Crowns.
Speaking of the Crowns, Waller's passionate style and church ministry mindset impressed that band's front man, Mark Hall, so much that Hall helped Waller get signed. What's more, Hall lends his voice to Waller's debut title track, which challenges believers to speak positively into the lives of others.
Waller's distinctive sound reflects the praise-oriented heart of a humble, devoted servant. From the propulsive opener "Calling for a Flood" to the balladic intonations of "Breathe on Me," Waller's robust, inimitable vocals and reflective lyrics should resonate well with fans of modern worship purveyors such as Chris Tomlin and David Crowder.
Bright spots occur on buoyant tracks like "Love to Say Your Name," wherein Waller reminds listeners of the power of verbalizing God's multifaceted moniker ("Elohim ... Adonai ... Jehovah Jireh ... El Shaddai"). Then there's his fresh take on the prodigal son evidenced on poignant cut "Still Calls Me Son," which tackles the reality of universal rebellion.
As one who has previously struggled with depression, Waller conveys his message with refreshing authenticity and unabashed openness. And while the 10-track disc seems to end a bit abruptly, it's sure to leave listeners wanting more. Bottom line: the buzz is certainly well deserved.
Ones to Watch: John Waller- by Paul Colman
John waller is a singer/songwriter/worship leader who originally gained national attention fronting According to John. After the band ended, John and his family moved to Denver, Colorado, and focused on writing songs for his church congregation. The people at SouthLink Church loved Johns music so much, they raised the money to finance his record. He eventually signed to Beach Street Records after Mark Millerlabel owner and Sawyer Brown front manwas captured by Johns powerful songs. The resulting album, The blessing, releases March 6. Earlier this year, Billboard Magazine selected John as one of the Faces to Watch in their inaugural Best Bets 2007 issue. (He was the only Christian artist so honored.) Check out johnwallerproject.com for more details.
Paul: You are on the same label as Casting Crowns and Josh Bates, right? How did that come about?
John: Its really a remarkable story, but Ill give you the short version. After giving up on my dreams for my band, According to John, I moved to Colorado to help my friend plant a church. I became the worship pastor and, being a songwriter, I couldnt just do everyone elses songs. I felt God prompting me to write songs for this body of believers. After about a year-and-a-half, the church insisted on having the songs recorded. We raised more than $50,000 in four weeks, and I headed to Atlanta to record the songs with my friend and producer Jason Hoard. I had become a true fan of the authentic ministry of Mark Hall and Casting Crowns. My friend and current drummer in my band, Brian Scoggin, had Marks cell number, and he called him and asked if hed consider lending his voice for a duet. Amazingly, he agreed. When the project was finished, Mark Hall sent it on to Beach Street Records president Mark Miller, and after six months of the disc being stuck in Millers CD player, he finally heard it. About a month later, Mark Miller unexpectedly signed me.
Paul: Do you tour full time? If not, what do you do as well as perform your music?
John: I am a worship pastor full time. If God gives me a platform in the world, which demands full-time touring, then my family and I will hit the road hard. Until then, I will schedule touring around my responsibilities as the worship pastor at my church.
Paul: Tell us about your new record. Describe your sound and what you
really want listeners to get from it.
John: Because of my band background, my sound is all about guitars. In a live setting, I will have drums, bass, two electrics and a keyboard. I use a lot of orchestral strings in my music as well. I want my listeners to have revelation imparted to them that will actually change them. If I could be prosecuted for plagiarizing the Word of God, Id be in jail. The Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, is what changes peoples hearts, not any cool lyrical ideas I might come up with.
Paul: Are you married? Do you have kids?
John: Ive been married to my wife, Josee, for 11 years. We have three children, Baylee (nine), Hadlee (five) and Sophee (two).
Paul: What artists have influenced your music?
John: No one has influenced me as an artist and a songwriter more than Steven Curtis Chapman. Steven is the bar for what authentic ministry through artistry looks like. Its still my dream to write and sing a song with him. Nobody does it better!
Paul: I love your song The Blessing. Tell us about how it was written.
John: I lived 20 years of my life with depression and medication until God delivered and healed me three years ago. This illness has run through my family for generations. As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is [Proverbs 23:7]. I was told that I had it. I believed it, and it became real in my life. Jesus bore this curse along with every other at the cross. When I began to believe His reality, my reality changed. Its so important that we speak truth and blessing over our spouses and children and everyone around us. The power to bless and curse is in the tongue. I figured it was time for that to be said in a song.