I recently had the opportunity to represent NewReleaseToday at the Uprising Festival in Casper, WY, a two-day festival featuring multiple headlining artists. Before he took the stage, I got the chance to sit down with Austin French and chat about his new album, Wide Open, and his journey to get here.
I asked some friends of mine if they, or their kids, had any questions for this interview. Their son had this question: Do you ever get nervous on stage and forget lyrics?
That’s awesome. I’ve been singing since I was 2 years old, so I grew up on stage. I don’t get nervous about the crowd, I get nervous about remembering the lyrics. Sometimes when I’m introducing a new song, I worry a bit about getting all the lyrics right.
What is your favorite part about playing festivals?
This is my first festival season, but I’ve done a number of them this summer. The elements are crazy! You never know what the weather is going to do. I love how festivals are like a big family reunion for the artist community. We’re able to get together and see each other when we wouldn’t normally get to. We all live in Nashville, but don’t often get to see each other due to differing touring schedules.
I got hired as a worship minister when I was 18. Some people on the worship team were twice my age, and I felt like Moses in that I wasn’t qualified. I was open and honest with the team, saying that "I am just figuring this out. We are all working towards the same thing, so will you follow me? Can we build this together?"
You've been touring and leading worship since you were young. Did you ever face challenges because of your youth?
What was the smallest show you played?
I played for a prayer service. We were told that there was going to be 150 people, but only 4 people showed up. We brought a full band, and it was one of my favorite shows. It really reminded us who we are doing this for.
In 2014, you went on ABC’s Rising Star. How intimidating was that experience from playing small shows?
I’ve been singing my whole life, but nobody teaches you how to sing to a camera with millions of people on the other end. I had to learn how to really focus and learn to sing to one person: the camera. I told God “You gave me this opportunity, use me.”
How did that show prepare you for your career as a CCM artist?
My goal on the show was to share the gospel with as many people as I can. I always wanted to be a Christian artist, but I didn’t have any connections. Sometimes on the journey, you never know who you will run into and whether they’re interested in hearing the gospel. Sometimes, sharing the gospel is controversial, and maybe it should be. There were times where they told me I shouldn't be talking about Jesus and just sing, but I stood firm in sharing the gospel. At the end of the day, the show introduced me to my manager, and that’s how I am where I am now.
Your first album with Fair Trade comes out in September. What are you most excited to share with us?
It took me four years to get this album written and out. A lot of life has happened in the meantime, and I’m excited to share the life that’s happened in the process. That’s what you’ll hear in this album. I hope people will hear this and be inspired by it.
Editor's Note: Austin mentioned how weather can be crazy at festivals. A few hours after this interview, wind, rain and lightning delayed the last two artists. After the delay, the headliner, Mandisa, invited Austin out to the help sing "Bleed the Same." Check out the video, and be on the lookout for Austin's new album, Wide Open, to release September 7, 2018.