Last year, as Jeremy Camp’s record contract was coming to an end, he was at a crossroads about whether he should continue his career as a musician, pursue mission work or do something entirely different.
He left it up to God.
“I was at a place in my life where I was going, ‘OK God, do you want me to keep doing this?’ I was willing to do whatever. I started talking with some people, sharing my heart, and God really just confirmed and clarified this next season,” Camp said during a phone interview this week.
And so Camp re-signed with Capital Records. He’s been busy in the studio the past few weeks finishing up a new album that will be released mid-February. His goals are very clear as he moves forward.
“To go deeper, and minister the Gospel everywhere I go,” he said. “I had the clarity of ‘go for it again’ and all these songs started coming. It’s been an amazing season creativity-wise with the depth of the songs. For me, this feels like the best record I’ve put out. I’ve grown up a lot spiritually, as a father and as a husband.”
Camp performs at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater on Sunday evening. Three Christian artists will open for him — local 16-year-old Kaylene, as well as Adam Cappa and Roy Tosh. The gates open at 5 p.m.
The first single from Camp’s new album, called “He Knows,” will be released at the end of September.
The lyrics for the song came to Camp while he was writing a book about his life, called “I Still Believe: Discovering Hope and Healing in the Midst of Life’s Deepest Valleys,” which came out in 2011. The book is a personal reflection on his story of losing his first wife, Melissa, to cancer just months after marrying, and how he has grown in his relationship with God since. Camp has since re-married and has three children.
The chorus, in part, is “He knows, he knows, every hurt and every sting. He has walked the suffering, he know, he knows; let your burdens come undone, and lift your eyes up to the one who knows.”
“Christ understands, even if no one else knows,” he continued. “He was reviled by his friends, the same people who were waving palm branches at him and praising him before. He was tortured and beaten.
“With all of the chaos happening in the world right now, in the midst of not understanding certain things, for me, this was perfect timing, God gave me the right songs,” Camp said. “He understands what’s happening. Don’t lose hope or heart, he understands.”
‘Outreach in Vail’
Camp is friends with John David Webster, the assistant pastor and worship leader at Calvary Chapel. The men have known each other for 17 years.
“John David called and said ‘It’s been on my heart big time to do an outreach in Vail, to have an outdoor event in Vail. We have a heart for Vail. I want them to understand we love them and want to be there for them. You were on my heart to ask,’” Camp said. He agreed to the concert immediately.
Two years ago, Camp performed at Calvary Chapel’s anniversary celebration for the church.
It was at that performance in October 2012 that Calvary Chapel Youth Director Luke Wegner met Camp for the first time and saw him perform.
“I’ve met a couple of different Christian artists before and the thing that really stands out about Jeremy is he has a pastor’s heart.” Wegner said. “He really cares about the people. That comes through in his message in the music and the gospel message he presents on stage, which is that Jesus loves people. I sense that from him in a very real way.”
Wegner is organizing the youth portion of Sunday’s event, planning a pre-party and special surprise for the 350 middle school and high school students who will attend the show. Vail Valley Cares purchased 300 tickets, which they donated to youth from 16 churches in the valley.
Wegner has been in the valley 10 years, and this is the first time he’s heard of a Christian concert taking place at the Ford Amphitheater, he said.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this going on before,” Wegner said.
Cabal Yarne, owner of Arriesgado in Lionshead and one of the event organizers, hopes to see the venue filled with people who love Jesus on Sunday night.
“I’d like to see the place filled,” he said.
He’s also hoping the concert becomes an annual event.
“The idea is to make this a bigger event with multiple artists in the future,” he said.
‘It’s not about me’
Camp has performed for 14 years now. He’s gone from playing in front of a few dozen people in small town churches to taking the stage in front of anywhere from 2,000 to 7,000 people in giant arenas around the world. But for him, it’s not about the numbers, he said. If his music can touch just one person, that’s what matters.
So how does anyone, even a devout Christian, stay humble in the face of such success?
“There are so many things in this world that try to distract you,” Camp said. “The great thing is I have great people around me. My wife, for one, will slap me around. I have multiple pastors who are amazing, and the people I surround myself love the Lord.”
Reading the Bible on a regular basis keeps Camp focused on God, he said.
“When reading the Bible I realize it’s not about me,” Camp said. “When you stand in the word of God and see what Christ has done, you can’t go and take credit. It had nothing to do with me, it all has to do with Jesus.”