At CCX’18 recently, JB Rocket of Country Music Television’s “Can You Duet” were headliners at the event. One of the members of JB Rocket is Jonathan Dale, our guest Christian Country artist this month. This family man is born and bred country, from the foothills of North Carolina, and a recovering addict who grew up singing gospel music. He is also a professional photographer and website creator.
Lorraine Walker: Who or what inspired you to begin your musical journey?
Jonathan Dale: Music for me has always been my source of survival. I started singing Southern gospel music when I was eight years old. My mom entered me into the local 4-H talent search, where I was named the overall winner, and I went on to perform at dozens and dozens of North Carolina political events and galas. At that time, I was literally and totally obsessed with performers in the Southern gospel genre like Jason Crabb, Sheri Easter, Michael Combs, and TaRanda Greene. I love it all so much.
Later in life, I found influence in my music from all different types of genres. I find inspiration from a range as wide as current top 40 hits to Tony Bennett jazz music. It all inspires me to create and develop whatever the theme of the song I’m working on may be. (It inspires me) to pull a little gospel, add a touch of pop, with a hint of country … sign me up.
I love music more than anything else material. It holds me together on most days, because I’m able to express whatever I feel through writing or just listening. Music is powerful.
But I think the moment, or what inspired me to begin my musical journey, was when I performed the national anthem for an NFL (National Football League) football game. I was 12 years old, and the game was in Charlotte, N.C., between the Carolina Panthers and the Dallas Cowboys. I stepped onto the field, and there were 80,000 people screaming for me and with me as I hit the high notes. In the moment, I saw my name going around me in lights. I felt like I could see each and every single person. I thought to myself, as young I was, (that) if I can positively impact this many people’s lives with music, then this is what I want for the rest of my life. I’ve been going non-stop ever since.
Walker: How many dates do you perform each year?
Dale: The last few years I’ve been very picky about the events I’ve played. In 2016, my wife and I were planning a wedding. Then, in 2017, my wife and I were expecting our daughter, and now we are trying to learn how to be first-time parents. In 2018, my calendar is wide open though. I’m excited to talk with people and promoters, or anyone holding an event that they feel I would fit the style of. I’m excited for 2018, because I’m trying specifically to spread awareness about opiate dependency at all my events.
However, I have to say the event I am most excited about in 2018 is the Christian Country Expo, in Cookeville, Tenn. (Editor’s note:this event has passed.) My old friend and duo partner, Brandon Green, from CMT’s “Can You Duet,” will be reuniting with me for our first performance in seven years. I cannot wait to take the stage with him again. I look up to him more than he will ever know or understand. He’s partly responsible for (me being) the man I am today. I really am thankful for the time we sang together, and I can’t wait to do it again.
Walker: What has been your most memorable experience in your career to date?
Dale: The most memorable experience in my career thus far was most certainly my time on CMT’s “Can You Duet.” Working with the same production company as “American Idol,” the celebrity judges were Big Kenny of Big and Rich, Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Label Group (BMLG), and Naomi Judd of the Judds. Naomi and Scott specifically were just wonderful. Big Kenny wasn’t a JB Rocket fan, but nonetheless, it was a wonderful experience. We signed a record deal with Big Machine Records after being the first runner-up on the television show. Learning how the industry works and being trained by BMLG was the most rewarding experience. All together, it’s something I’ll never forget, and it’s something else that has molded me into the man I am today.
Walker: What is your most favorite song to perform?
Dale: My current favorite track to perform is my latest single, “This Is Your Now.” I wrote this song with my old duo partner from JB Rocket, Brandon Green, and Parker Wellings Nohe. This song is all about self-empowerment, inward faith, and overcoming the obstacles at hand. We live in a time where we question every move we make, because of bullies or insecurities. But this is our now. I’m ready to see a generation rise up that believes just that … “This Is Your Now.”
Walker: Some say Christian Country is experiencing a resurgence not seen since the 1990s. Do you agree?
Dale: I spent from the time I was eight years old, until my time on CMT’s “Can You Duet,” traveling all over the country singing gospel music. Those memories are special to me, as are all the opportunities that God has allowed me to walk into. But personally, when it comes to Christian country, I think the reason it saw a decline for almost two decades was because of recording and writing quality. Instead of just rewriting a popular country song with Christian lyrics, I think artists in this genre are finally evolving into true artists.
I see artists writing songs about true life experience again, songs people can relate to lyrically instead of melodically. So, I totally agree that there is a resurgence happening in the industry and with the artists. I applaud people like Red Hen Records and Rick Schweinsberg for developing true and authentic Christian country records and music. I literally love every song they put out and (every) artist. It’s a formula that, in my opinion, will catch on and be the core of the Christian country.
Walker: What one message do you hope to convey to your audience?
Dale: The message I want to convey to my audience is hope … hope in the darkest situations. When we walked away from our record deal in Nashville, I fell into a dark addiction – heroin addiction. But on Dec. 7, 2017, I celebrated being clean from heroin and a long list of other drugs for five years. I owe the success of my sobriety to my family and now my wife and my daughter.
But totally and fully, I owe the daily deliverance from that long list of drugs to my Lord and savior. It was when I found my identity in Christ that I found my recovery.
You can find out more about Dale here
By Lorraine Walker
First published by SGNScoops Magazine in March 2018.
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