Music is at its best when it transcends mere entertainment to offer insights that are challenging and life changing. To create that caliber of music, an artist must have really lived, fighting through life’s toughest emotional canyons and embracing the victories that wait on the other side. Brian Bates is such an artist.
Bates’ journey began in Northwest Indiana. He was a sensitive child who always had a passion for Jesus and music. “Musically, two negatives must make a positive because neither of my parents could carry a tune,” says Brian with a laugh.
His parents did instill in him a love for the Lord, yet even as a child, Brian developed his own relationship with his savior. “I definitely knew Jesus when I was a kid,” he says with a smile spreading across his face. “I remember loving Jesus and going to church and just knowing that kind of relationship with God. That was a blessing because down the road, as I strayed away, I knew my way back home.”
Though he loved to perform and was active in his church’s music ministry, it wasn’t something Bates really considered pursuing as a profession. Instead he headed to college and somewhere along the way lost his sense of self. “I didn’t really sow my wild oats until college. I felt like I needed to experiment and that’s when my faith really got challenged." Falling into a party lifestyle, Bates understands now what he really was looking for. “I wanted love and acceptance, to find community and finally fit in somewhere,” he says candidly. “Mostly, I was looking for my identity as a man. But it wasn’t working. My friendships and relationships weren’t satisfying. I knew something was amiss. I was not at peace.”
The prodigal son started to miss home. "In those five years of trying to find my own way without God, I somehow felt like He was a part of my life the whole way through. He was watching over me and waiting for me to come home, to trust Him again as I did when I was a child.”
Brian’s turnaround started with a friend who showed him unconditional love. “Julie loved like Jesus. She knew my life was a mess, and her kindness and compassion really affected me.” Bates continues, “The Bible says it’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance. That’s so important to remember if we want to help people who are lost find God and grace and find their way home to a restored relationship with their Heavenly Father."
Within a week, his life turned completely around. He recalls being in a bar one Sunday night and by the next Sunday morning, he was back in church. “At the age of 23, I was at the end of my rope and I really felt God call me back home,” he says. “When I started my life over again, God resurrected the two desires of my heart - my love for Him and for music. I remember God saying, ‘Brian, you know what you’ve always wanted to do, let’s get back to it!’”
Like most aspiring artists, Bates supported his musical habit with a day job. Instead of being a waiter or working in retail, he forged a successful career as an investment broker. Soon his musical pursuits began eclipsing his day job and Bates cut his schedule back to allow more time for his burgeoning music ministry.
In 2005, Bates recorded an album, Outside The Lines, with producer Nate Sabin (Sara Groves, Jason Gray, Michael Olson). It was well-received commercially, producing two Top 30 radio singles, 40+ radio interviews and several positive industry reviews. Through radio and a growing concert ministry, Brian began attracting an enthusiastic fan base that was drawn to his honest lyrics and the emotional integrity in his performances.
On his second release, Worlds Collide, Bates took his artistry to the next level. This was confirmed early on by Infinity Distribution signing a contract with Brian even prior to the CD’s completion. “It’s this passion in me,” he says. “I know there’s a calling in me to share my songs and story.”
Brian has a gift for pouring his complex life experiences into songs that acknowledge the struggles in life, yet also serve up hope that can be found in a relationship with our creator. “I write and talk about what it’s like to experience a closeness and connection with God. I’m really passionate about that. I’m not settling for a status quo Christian faith. I’m diving in because God is all about relationships.”
Many of the songs on Worlds Collide were inspired by Bates’ work in Africa. He helped develop a project called “Mission Bo”, a partnership with World Vision dedicated to bringing clean water, food, healthcare and education to the people of Sierra Leone. “It was a window into learning about things that break the heart of God,” says Bates of traveling to Africa. “We are committed to this 10-15 year development project. Seven buddies and I went over there...for the first time, going to the poorest of the poorest of the poor, no running water, no electricity. It all got under our skin and just completely changed our paradigm about what really matters.”
Brian Bates knows firsthand the power of God’s restoration – from his work in Africa, from his own life. That knowledge infuses his music and directs his life. “The bottom line is Jesus is my hero,” he says. “I love him and I love how he lived his life. I want to follow in those footsteps. I wanna take it a little outside the box, but absolutely represent the heart of the Father, just like Jesus did. That’s my goal.”