There are musicians who know from the very start just what they want to do. For the contemporary Christian worship artist, that often means learning guitar, moving to Nashville, and "paying your dues" in the smallest of venues while you struggle to get by.
The path for new Centricity music artist, Jared Anderson, is anything but typical. He lives with his wife and six children in Colorado, where he ventures outside to check the chicken eggs every day and makes breakfast for his family. His first instrument is piano, not guitar, and he's drawn more to songs that make you feel something in your soul over those that try to explain something to you. And Anderson, who is now a worship leader and Christian music artist, isn't afraid to confess this proclamation from his past, "I promised myself that the two jobs I would never hold in life would be Worship Leader and Christian Music Artist."
Music has been a part of Anderson's story since he asked his parents for piano lessons when he was eight years old. He found a love for the instrument that carried him all the way through a degree in musical composition at Oral Roberts University. Anderson was taken with classical and jazz arrangements and admits that he had his misgivings about worship music, which sometimes contain simple melodies and repetitive lyrics. However, it was right in that time of scrutiny when Anderson's worship pastor asked him to help out with the church's music program and Anderson gained one of those labels he was certain he'd never have.
Following his graduation in 2001, Anderson somewhat reluctantly joined the church's worship staff. Despite his reticence, he never felt a peace about doing anything else, and finally, God stepped in to ask for something big. "It was 2005," Anderson recalls, "when the Lord told me, This is the year of obedience. He wanted me to commit not just my actions, but my will also. By the end of that year, I remember having a real change of heart. It wasn't about the music anymore. As I began laying down my hang-ups, doors slowly began to open. I wrote a couple of worship songs that started getting recognition on the CCLI Chart (Christian Copyright Licensing International) and were being recorded by other artists."
One of those songs was "King of Kings" that Anderson wrote with Ed Cash, who happens to be Chris Tomlin's producer. Cash played it for Tomlin and the two re-worked the song into Tomlin's "Almighty". For most relative newcomers, such an opportunity would be met with overwhelming gladness. But for Anderson, it was a little difficult to accept the changes that had been made to his song. He had never been to a Passion conference and he realized a February conference was planned for Houston, a bit closer to his native Colorado Springs than the usual Atlanta events. There's a charming innocence in his next thought. "I've got this song that they're doing and I bet I could get in free." He and his wife were a little late arriving and they found their seats just as Louie Giglio was finishing his introduction. Then Tomlin took the stage and began, You have no rival. You stand alone. The heavens worship before Your throne. There is no one like You. "I knew no one had heard it before, but then everyone started singing it and I thought, well that's pretty amazing. I can't argue with that."
As more songs emerged, God showed Anderson another important truth. "I've come to realize that a genre of music exists because a lifestyle exists. People who write country music don't just write it, they live it. Christian music is the same. Our ears respond to our values. To be a disciple of Jesus is the highest job description anyone will ever have. I pray that my music will expand people's imagination about God."
That mind expansion of music is featured on Anderson's Centricity debut, a 5-song EP that will be available at all online music outlets and the full-length, 14-song album, Where I Am Right Now that can only be purchased at Anderson's tour dates. The Seth Mosely-produced songs reflect a richness of musical variety, lyrical depth, and emotional range.
Three particular songs highlight Anderson's adeptness at a range of styles. "Sweet Salvation" has a Billy Joel-esque street corner doo-wop vibe. "Overboard" is a foot-stomping, chorus-shouting anthem, with "Forgiven" being a gentle piano ballad describing the paradox and feeling of God's grace.
The lead single and title track, "Where I Am Right Now," has a thoroughly modern sheen with relatable lyrics informed by Anderson's life story. "We worked and worked for that song but I'm so happy we did," Anderson recalls. The infectious hook brings to life lyrics that speak to obedience to God's calling and contentment with one's present circumstances.
"Wake Up to the Shepherd" is another first-person narrative born from experience. The vivid lyrics describe a literal angelic wake-up call and Anderson's piano chops and expressive vocal are reminiscent of Keith Green.
A whimsical side of Anderson's personality is reflected on "Joy is the Flag" on the full album, a resurrected kid's song turned into a grand rocker. Family is clearly important to Anderson -- he and his wife recently adopted two children, ages 4 and 2, from Haiti -- and he recorded an album of kid's music. That caught the attention of a church staff member planning a multigenerational worship event, and the rewarding experience elicited a description from Anderson that tends to underscore much of his work: "Freedom and wisdom collide and it's beautiful."
Perhaps it's his atypical path that makes Jared Anderson such a fresh voice in Christian music. He understands in a profound way that God's perfect peace does not come from a label, a position, or even a particular chord progression. It comes from obedience to His calling and knowledge that He's right there with you, where you are right now.