Even in the midst of the pandemic, Matthew West just can’t sit idle. At a time when many artists are fighting boredom from being off the road, West has written more than a dozen new songs, is connecting with fans during his weekly “Quarantine Quiet Times,” and he’s launched “The Matthew West Podcast” on best-selling author/speaker Annie F. Downs’ That Sounds Fun Network.
“When a tour gets cancelled, your voice doesn’t have to get cancelled,” West tells Sounds Like Nashville. “Just because I can’t sing in front of people doesn’t mean I can’t get in front of people and still be a voice of encouragement because ironically our tours are cancelled during a time where people need hope more than ever. People find hope at concerts. They find encouragement, joy, happiness and a break from the problems in their world. Tours are able to provide that and that doesn’t mean I’m going to sit back and stay silent. This podcast is really launching at a perfect time because I feel it’s another way for us to continue to still bring those same things that we would normally bring on stage. This is just a different stage. I still get to bring hope and encouragement and inspiration to people.”
A five-time Grammy nominee and Dove Award winning singer/songwriter, West is known for such hits as “More,” “The Motions,” “You Are Everything” “Hello, My Name Is” and “The God Who Stays.” In addition to penning his own chart-toppers, West has written songs for Rascal Flatts, Joy Williams, Casting Crowns, Billy Ray Cyrus, Point of Grace and Mandisa, among others. He also co-wrote Jeremy Camp’s recent multi-week No. 1 song, “Keep Me In The Moment.”
West says the new podcast has been in the works for a while. “Three years ago, I was working with this consulting firm that was helping me start my own management company and they came to me and said, ‘Hey we think you’d be perfect for a podcast with you hosting. You make music. You write books. This could be the perfect place of convergence for all the different things you love to do,’” West says, recalling the genesis of his new venture.
He initially declined because he felt there were just too many podcasts already out there. “Three years later it’s even more crowded,” he admits with a laugh, “but the idea makes sense to me. I just needed time to kind of wrap my head around exactly what kind of show I wanted it to be because if I’m going to do anything, I’m not going to do it half way. Once I wrapped my head around like what I wanted the content to be, who I wanted to interview and how I wanted the show to flow, I just got as excited about creating this podcast as I do about making music. It’s been so much fun.”
Among West’s first guests are Casting Crowns’ frontman Mark Hall, mother and daughter Korie Robertson and Sadie Robertson Huff of Duck Dynasty. “The whole heartbeat of this podcast is really the same heartbeat of my music and that is it’s the power of story and more importantly the power of the story that is being written with each one of our lives,” West says. “In every episode, I highlight stories, and it’s been different kinds of stories. In every episode I’m going to interview some of my favorite athletes, artists, authors, speakers and influencers. The stories we are going to tell and the conversations we’re going to have from our experiences together are going to be sort of an inside look maybe a different kind of conversation. For example, I knew I wanted my first guest to be Mark Hall from Casting Crowns because he and I have done a lot of life together. We’ve had incredibly meaningful conversations. He’s spoken into my life in such a big way and so I knew that that conversation was going to be really special and so every episode has an interview like that.”
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Have you heard? ‘The Matthew West Podcast’ is available right now! Perfect for listening when you’re commuting to your home office, taking your weekly shower, working out in your living room, or for when you’ve run out of TV shows to watch. But seriously… I’m extremely excited for you to listen, and I really hope you like it. Stream at the link in my bio!
West has structured each episode into three segments. “The first one is that interview with a high profile individual. The second segment in every episode is called ‘Songs From the Story House.’ My studio is called the Story House so every episode has this musical component because obviously music is my first love,” he says. “In those segments, you are actually going to get to hear from the people who have inspired the songs or you are going to get to hear from an artist and myself talking about one of the songs we’ve written and what it means. A lot of songs have been born in the Story House, so we get to share those stories.”
West is particularly excited about 14-year-old named William, who is featured on the first episode. “William met me backstage at a concert and shared how he suffered several strokes and his life has been about defying the doctor’s predictions and overcoming impossible odds,” West shares. “He inspired a song on my last record called ‘Walking Miracles.’ I was like, ‘Man, this kid is incredible. I don’t want to just tell his story. I want him to tell it.’ So you get to hear from Mark Hall and then you get to hear songs from the Story House and be inspired by this kid William’s powerful story.”
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I want to wish my dad a happy birthday today! Follower of Christ, Pastor, dad, grandpa, teller of dad jokes, prayer warrior, and so much more. He’s spent his life not just telling people about Jesus, but showing them Jesus in the way he’s lived his life. Many of you have gotten to know him on the road, during Quarantine Quiet Time, or through our ministry, PopWE. You can now hear him in each episode of the new podcast. He’s got his very own segment in each show called “Dadvice.” Everybody wish my dad a happy birthday! Love you Dad!
West concludes every episode with a segment with his father Joe West. “My dad has been a pastor for 40 years and he and I have a non-profit organization together,” he says. “He’s a great guy and I include him in everything we’re doing. He’s a big part of what I do and people love him. So he and I get on the mic together. He still doesn’t know what a podcast is, but I just put the mic in front of him and say, ‘Hey, encourage the people,’ and he leads people with some parting words of encouragement and a scripture. So each episode is like three parts—storytelling, entertainment, but then a really solid spiritual take away and encouragement for people.”
West is serving up three new episodes of his podcast a month and then the fourth installment will be a Q&A with fans. “In the absence of touring, we don’t get to have those moments with the fans where they get to share their story or talk about how the music has inspired them or ask a question, so it’s been really cool,” he says of continuing his dialogue with fans during quarantine. “We’ve created a hotline where people can call in and the show is all about them. They can talk about where they are from and what they are going through. So we release a Q&A episode every Wednesday.”
An upcoming podcast will feature an interesting conversation with Jon Steingard, former lead vocalist for Christian rock band Hawk Nelson, who recently announced that he no longer believes in God. “We had a two-hour conversation and he was just real and honest,” West says. “My goal was not to convert him and his goal was not to like trip me up with my beliefs or anything like that. It was just an honest conversation with a guy who is really trying to figure it out. I was able to share with him what my belief is and why I believe it. I think people are really going to be inspired by it because here’s a guy who sung about Jesus for a long time and now he’s having sort of a crisis of faith, and he’s working through it in a public spotlight because that’s what we have to do when we’re in the public spotlight. We don’t go through anything really privately. Everybody knows.”
Earlier in 2020, West released his latest album, Brand New, which spawned the multiple-week No. 1 single, “The God Who Stays.” His current single is “Truth Be Told” and he recently filmed a new video. “It was very strange because we were all socially distanced and my part was in an empty theater,” he says, “which is kind of fitting right now to record a music video and me standing in an empty theater.”
Two of the songs he wrote during the pandemic—“Quarantine Life” and “Take Heart” — have gone viral.
“That thing went viral in a big way. It almost got me in trouble with my label because radio stations started playing it,” he says of “Quarantine Life” getting airplay when the label is pushing “Truth Be Told.” “But hey we got a laugh with ‘Quarantine Life’ and we’ve got to laugh sometimes.”
Even in the midst of the pandemic, West been extremely creative. “I’ve written 15 songs and started working on my next book,” he says. “I’m actually recording vocals on a new Christmas song that’s going to be coming out this year that was written just because I had plenty of time on my hands. I’ve just been keeping busy. I love writing music. The podcast is fun, but there’s no doubt I’m still always going to make time to write songs because that’s a passion for me.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, West has been keeping in touch with fans by hosting his weekly “Quarantine Quiet Time” devotional from his home studio with his lovely wife Emily and their two daughters. “That’s some of my favorite minutes of the week because people are sending in their prayer requests and we’re getting to encourage them. It’s a perspective and game changer,” he says. “The thing I’ve tried to say with everything I’ve done— whether it’s a song that I’ve put out or a broadcast or the podcast—is really a message of hope. It’s my whole career and what it’s been about. I know things might look hopeless in your life, but there is always hope.
“We are not the ones in control and if we ever need a reminder of that, we have sure gotten it. So when you realize you can’t fix what’s broken in this world or in your life, where do you turn? If you keep looking within, you’re going to keep hitting that wall because we can’t fix what’s broken in our world. A politician can’t fix it. The experts don’t know, but we have to believe that there is somebody who is in control. So I hope that everything I’ve done and continue to do will point people in the direction of the one I believe who is in control even when the world looks like it’s in complete chaos.”