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Community Worship Night with Jason Gray & Beckah Shae

May 22, 2020

6:00pm ยท Colonial Theater

$25 + tax & fees

"One of the things I'm most grateful for about the way the kingdom of God works is that we have a place to bring our wounds so they don't harden into scars; instead htey can become a source of healing for those around us.  I believe God heals us by making us healers, and the worst things we go through create in us a deep compassion for those who go through the same things.  It becomes our gold that we're then able to give to others."                   -- Jason Gray

Jason Gray

When Jason Gray explains that his last three records were written in the hardest years of his life, he's not being dramatic.  He's just stating facts.  And when he says that his new Centricity Music project -- Where the Light Gets In -- is a brighter and more hope-centered travelogue of the next leg of that  journey through deep sorrows, he's not suggesting easy platitudes, but an active sense of God's redemptive presence at work even in the midst of great brokenness.

The songs that have propelled Jason's recent successes -- multiple ASCAP Performance Awards, an album hailed by critics as "Album of the Year," five top 5 radio singles including a #1 for 9 weeks straight -- ironically came during his own darkest day.  Then again, maybe it's not irony at all.  Maybe that's how redemption actually works.  Maybe it's only by walking through the valley of the shadow ourselves and finding a real hope there that we have anything of substance to offer to others walking deep valleys of their own.

"The hope of Easter," Jason says, recounting words his pastor once spoke, "isn't so much for the people sitting in the hospital waiting room fearing what the news might be.  The hope of Easter, rather, is for those who already got hte worst news they ever could have imagined.  And yet . . . A little over a year ago my life came to that point.  I had to say, 'The worst has happened. Now what?  Where do we go from here?' And in that aftermath I started to write the songs I needed, and the songs I needed most were songs of hope.

As a project, Where the Light Gets In is a stirring weave of sorrow and light and hope and even celebration.  That it holds together thematically is to be expected.  Jason Gray's candid, confessional songwriting approach delivered in his easy, distinctive vocal style and channeled through his artful pop aesthetic is a given.  But the sonic cohesiveness of the thirteen-song project is nonetheless remarkable, considering that the tracks were built simultaneously by nine different producers (Jason Ingram, Ben Glover, & others) helming one or two songs apiece. (In case you're wondering, this is not the way records are typically made in Nashville.)

"I'm a one-producer kind of artist," Jason explains.  "Making a record this way scared me.  But my life was in flux so being in Nashville for a month at a time wasn't an option.  I either had to record this way or not record at all.  But by the grace of God, recording with nine producers ended up not only working, but working really well, because every song had a champion, a producer who was so invested in their one track.  Every song on the record got treated as if it were the only song on the record, and you hear that passionate attention to detail through the whole album."

The project's title track, The Wound is Where the Light Gets In, anchors the album, masterfully utilizing a deftly understated production that makes listeners want to lean into the song.  Lyrically, the track is a redemptively subversive Christian manifesto that beautifully rewrites the narrative of suffering, investing it with eternal meaning and spinning it into a hope more deeply rooted than any grief.

"One of my favorite quotes ever is by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross," Jason says.  "She wrote, 'The most beautiful poeple we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known loss, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.  These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.  Beautiful people don't just happen.'  I wanted to capture that idea in my songwriting.  I set out to write songs for people that Ross describes . . . as if to say, 'fear not . . . This storm you're in will pass, and when it does, you'll find that it was making you into something beautiful."

I think Where the Light Gets In is really about having a more fully realized hope.  It's not a hope based on circumstances or on things going the way you hoped they would, but on a hope that abides, even when the worst happens."

For Jason Gray, the worst came during a time when his stepfather was battling cancer, and he and Jason's mom were losing their house as a result of the medical bills.  Jason was trying to help them, but that ongoing emergency was only the tip of the iceberg.  He was also standing amidst the wreckage of his own home, and trying to learn to balance the demands of providing for his family as a touring recording artist with being, for the first time in his life, a single dad.

"People tend to think of the failure of a marriage as an event," Jason says, "but the reality of it can be more like a long, slow death that goes on for years, right in front of your eyes while you feel helpless to save it.  After many years of painful struggle my marriage finally ended in divorce.  Just three weeks later, I had to be out on the road again.  I was completely insecure, scared, numb, jaded, dealing with my own pain and anger at God, and asking, 'How did this become a part of my story?'  I was in shock and grief and so exhausted and disillusioned I didn't even know how prayer worked anymore.  I had prayed for my marriage with all my heart for several years and it had still crumbled.  How could I even get up on a stage again and sing to people about God and hope?"

That first night of the tour through, a couple from the audience who had no idea what Jason was dealing with, came to him after the show asking for prayer for their own marriage which was on the verge of coming apart.  The next night in a different city  the same thing happened again with a second couple.  In fact, every night for the first week of the tour, Jason was approached by married couples in crisis asking if he would pray for them.  And in those requests, Jason himself began to find new hope.

"I had walked out on stage that first night feeling like I didn't even know how to pray anymore, but when those people came to me it was like, 'well, I know how to pray for this, I know how to pray for you because I know what it feels like.  I know how you're hurting because I'm hurting in exactly the same way.  That's one thing I know how to do.'  Praying for their broken hearts was a kind of healing experience for me, and it was the beginning of the hope that I still have good work to do for the kingdom of God, not only in spite of, but maybe even because of what I had gone through."

That notion that God takes our own hurts and wounds and brokenness and uses them as a means of grace through which we offer his hope and healing to others is one of several threads that bind the Where the Light Gets In into a coneptual whole.  The idea of being a wounded healer is present in the upbeat pop manifesto Resurrection, in the gentle strength of hte conversational track Learning to be Found and most notably, in the soaring anthem I Will Rise Again, a song of rooted hope penned from a shared communion of loss.

"I wrote I Will Rise Again with a friend," Jason explains.  "He had just lost his dad unexpectedly in a fishing accident and I had just had my life turned upside down and so both of us were still in shock when we got together to write.  We were in places where our stories didn't make sense to us anymore, sitting in the death of so many dreams and expectations.  But it was from that place that I Will Rise Again was written.  Sometimes the worst experiences that you go through may be the things that create the capacity in you to become more like Jesus.  How do we learn to be courageous if we aren't faced with fear?  How do we learn about grace until we know how much we need it?  How can we ever experience rebirth and resurrection unless we first experience some kind of death?"

Other standout tracks on Where the Light Gets In include the bright, celebrative Sparrows, a call to trust even in the midst of anxieties, and the album opener Learning, a song Jason describes as "the most pop song" he's ever recorded -- and an unapologetic empowerment anthem to boot.

"My last album was all about grief," he says, "and also I wanted to make a statement right at the beginning of this record that it's about hope and that it's got some fun in it, too.  So I put Learnings at the beginning of hte record.  I'm usually annoyed by empowerment anthems because I think they can be self-focused and ignore a lot of reality, but in this case I thought, 'I want to tweak the genre to create an empowerment anthem that's based, not on my own power, but on a real confidence in the grace of God.'"

That hard-won confidence in grace emerges in a dozen different ways as the dominant theme of Jason Gray's new project.  It's the idea that no matter what we've been through, no matter how deep our wounds, we are still truly and deeply known and held and forgiven and loved, that our lives still have meaning and our identitites are still rooted in a joyous hope and a call to bring all that we are, even our brokenness -- perhaps especially our brokenness -- as means by which we can love and serve others in desperate need of that same hope.

"The subversive iron of the gospel," Jason says, "is that if you've gone through depression or divorce or loss or failure or a sickness, you are uniquely equipped to be able to bring mercy to other people going through that same thing.  It removes judgement from your life.  It removes self-righteousness or misguided opinions.  That's what Where the Light Gets In is about.  Don't be anxious about the worst thing that happens to you.  The message of the resurrection gives hope that even the worst will produce something beautiful in us, and will ultimately help make us who we most want to be."

Beckah Shae

Since 2005, one year after soulful singer/songwriter Beckah Shae and her husband, manager/producer Jack Shocklee were married, they established Shae Shoc Records and have since written, created, and released 13 full studio projects together.

As a woman she plays many roles.  Wife to her favorite person and partner, Jack Shocklee, mother to three beautiful history makers, Joy, Grace, and Hope, a beloved daughter, treasured friend, aspiring author, speaker, minister, and songstress to the world, passionate advocate and activist of truth and justice.  The message of her heart is summed up, "to see yourself the way God sees you is the beginning of freedom."

In 2010 Shae began traveling and performing globally with several top charting radio singles, and has traveled with favor to places like Kenya, Uganda, Guatemala, Paris, Israel, Belize, Switzerland, Jamaica, Greece, St. Tomas, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, and Papua New Guinea.

Along the way, she's racked up top 10 Billboard Christian CHR radio singles like I'll Be Alright, Here In This Moment, and LIFE.  Shae scored two Dove nominations and won Indie Artist of the Year at the We Love Christian Music Awards and the JFH Award for Christmas Album of hte Year.  She's served as a featured guest on TobyMac's Billboard blockbuster Tonight album, as well as joining him on stage for a performance a hte GMA Dove Awards.  Beckah's sound has a strong hip-hop, pop, and R&B influence coupled with Top 40 influences, taking in everyone from Lauryn Hill, P!nk, Katy Perry, Meghan Trainor, Lady Gaga, and more.  She has collaborated with fellow multi-platinum album seller Montell Jordan on his latest Victory World Music project Shake Heaven, as well as Mr. Talkbox, a multiple Grammy Award-winner for his recent intro on 24K Magic (Bruno Mars).  She has collaborated wiht multi-platinum hit co-writers: Crystal Nicole (Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Beyonce) and Eric Dawkins (Justin Bieber, Christina Aguilera, Chris Brown) as well as award winning gospel legends like Israel Houghton, Crystal Lewis, and gospel rapper T-Bone.

Shae has appeared on the movie soundtack 'I'm in Love with a Church Girl,' shared her testimony on CBN's 'The 700 Club' and 'RevolutionTV', hosted JCTV's '1 Music Village', and has appeared on TBN's 'Praise the Lord'.  Her music has been heard on hte holiday movie, 'Once Upon a Holiday', the Lifetime TV series 'Dance Moms', as well as several others.

Shae has promoted and worked alongside ministries like Kids Alive International, an organization that rescues abandoned and orphaned children.  After a visit to Kenua in 2010 with Kids Alive, she filmed the music video, Imagine, from her album LIFE.  In 2011 she traveled with the A21 Campaign to Greece and acted as a "walking billboard" as part of an initiative to raise awareness of human trafficking.  In 2011, Shae performed and linked arms with keynote speaker Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Women and Girls Benefit Luncheon held on the campus of Lipscomb University in Nashville.  With family roots, Shae has a deep connection, a strong love and support for Israel, and has been traveling back to Jerusalem every year during the fall since 2012 to lead worship and participate in the All Nations Convocation through the Jerusalem House of Prayer.  Leaders and delegates from over 180 different nations gather together for 2 weeks to pray and worship.  Shae filmed an impromptu music video there to her song Heartbeat off her album Champion.

"I was en route to Jerusalem, literally asking God to forgive me for not preparing and making plans to film a video for this song.  As soon as I showed up, the host shared with me about a couple from France who God spoke to on their way to Jerusalem at the same time about helping me to find a video!  I was amazed.  We did this in two days with no plan.  God had the plan all along."

Beckah is no stranger to humble beginnings.  She used music as a form of therapy growing up in a broken home.  Her parents were divorced at an early age and Shae had to walk with her mom through two more toxic and abusive relationships.  Beckah found herself in the throes of uncertainty, staying at times with family members, friends, battered woman shelters, and foster homes.  Seeing much and having very little taught Shae to depend on and be grateful to God for everything.  She now walks in complete freedom from the anxiety, bulimia, nad depression that plagued her younger years.  Shae has written the majority of everything she sings and transfers all of her emotions into her song writing.  She says, "I have never written a song I didn't need, and I never sing a song I don't mean."

Through the years, Shae Shoc Records have pioneered what it looks like to be successfully independent.  With very minimal support from the industry they have proven to find that sweet place where they can balance a successful marriage with three children while running a thriving business and keeping the purity and authenticity of their faith throughout the heart of their work.  They have chosen to test limits and push barriers with their sound and style, having managed to beat all statistics and odds against them.  Shae has determined that pioneering requires taking the road less traveled.  "It hasn't been easy, but it's been worth it!  We have a great time creating songs that can easily be played in a mainstream club or during a youth night at the church."  Shae says she refuses to limit her reach.  She is passionate about remaining uncompromised and relevant.  For so many, Beckah's music provides a wholesome, God focused, alternative for people who are bombarded with the provocative pop culture.  "I love good music, music with a message that can move me.  When I listen to music without heart and a positive purpose it feels as though it's taking something from me rather than adding to me.  I'd rather spend my ears on something that will help me grow.  This is what I hope to give others."

Shae Shoc's missio and heart is to break through and reach a culture tha thas become out of touch with the heart of God and draw them bakc to Him by living in light of eternity.  Beckah says she wants to dive deep into the well of God's truth and be faithful to share all the treasures she finds.  "We win when we see the lost found, the blind see, and the dead breathe!  We believe that through music we can usher in divine revelation to restore lost identities nad bring freedom to those who have felt paralyzed by the lies of defeat!"