It’s been a hard year for entertainers like Matthew West who make their living singing on a stage connecting with live audiences.
The COVID-19 pandemic pretty much shut down live music in 2020 and forced artists like him to park the tour busses, send the band and crew home, and place the production equipment in storage.
West is back out on the road again and will be bringing an acoustic version of his “Truth Be Told Tour” to Longview Heights Baptist Church in Olive Branch on Friday.
“It’s been very surreal not to be able to get out and get on stage,” West said. “So I am excited to be able to get up on stage again leading in worship and hopefully bringing smiles to some faces once again.”
West is a five-time Grammy nominee and winner of multiple Christian music awards, as well as numerous Gold and platinum certified singles, including the No. 1 single “The God Who Stays” from his “Brand New” album. He was recently nominated for a 2020 Billboard Music Award and was named ASCAP’s Christian Songwriter of the Year for “Nobody.”
West made good use of the downtime during the pandemic writing songs and engaging his fans through other mediums like live streaming events such as “West Fall Fest” and “West Fest.” He hosted a weekly “Quarantine Quiet Time” from his home studio and released two COVID-19 themed songs that went viral: “Quarantine Life” and “Take Heart.”
“I’ve been very busy, that’s for sure,” West said. “This has been a year where I have had to go, okay, do I believe God has limited my inability to go on tour? Or is that the only way God spoke through my life? I just decided to believe there were other ways God could use the gifts he has given me. That’s the beauty of music. They always say songwriters love rainy days. This whole world has had a year full of rainy days. So it is no surprise that some new art would be created out of this difficult season.”
West also launched a weekly podcast, “The Matthew West Podcast,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Apple Religion and Spirituality chart and received more than 250,000 dowloands.
“Doing the Matthew West podcast has been so much fun,” West said. “It has helped me stay connected and, most importantly, hopefully encourage people who are going through a tough time. We have all gone through a tough time this past year and a half.”
In January, West charted his 10th No. 1 single on Billboard’s Christian Airplay chart with “Truth Be Told.” The song was his 10th Christian Airplay No. 1 to go along with 22 Top 10s. The feat tied him with Jeremy Camp and Chris Tomlin for third most No. 1s since Billboard began the chart in 2003.
West said “Truth Be Told” might be the most special song he has ever written because it comes at a challenging time in the world.
“I always try and write a good song,” West said. “But most importantly, I try and write a relevant song. That song is all about admitting when you are struggling and being honest about what is going on in your life, and finding the support and encouragement. A lot of times our tendency when we go through a tough time in our lives is to pretend everything is okay. But you know what? I think 2020 made it really hard for us to pretend any more. And I hope this song kind of gives people permission to acknowledge when they are struggling with depression or anxiety or their financial situation makes them feel like they are drowning. We’ve got to speak up when we are struggling, because otherwise we’re going to try and carry it by ourselves. And we don’t have to do that.”
West said he is excited to bring the acoustic show to Olive Branch. He will appear on stage with his lead guitar player - “Jake from State Farm” as his fans know him - and will hop back and forth between the piano and guitar.
“No matter how many big festival kind of shows we do, I always make sure every year to do a handful of shows that are more acoustic,” West said. “It’s a night of storytelling. I incorporate some of my funny social media videos that I like to do. It’s a little bit of everything thrown in there. It winds up being a really special night and the connection with the crowd winds up being unlike anything else. It’s going to be fun.”