Fueled by the success of his latest single, “Dead Man Walking”, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Jeremy Camp has released his 12th studio album, The Story’s Not Over.
Balancing pop nuances with vulnerable and transparent writing, the new album chronicles Jeremy’s journey out of what he describes as a spiritual and emotional desert. The Story is Not Over is a musical journal of sorts, where personal reflection and God’s truth collide.*
I recently sat down with Jeremy to talk about the fragile state he found himself after the release of 2017’s The Answer, what God taught him about that experience, and a new movie that is being made about his life, set to release in March 2020.
I always love reading what publicists have to say about an artist’s new project. It is often very wordy and verbose. So, I turn the tables on you. How would you describe The Story’s Not Over?
This album in particular, had a massive amount of vulnerability because there were some things that I went through these past few years and I wrote about them in a sense. You wouldn’t necessarily know what it is from, but you hear that vulnerability, some of the pain and some of the hurt that came from all that. I think that’s why all of a sudden you have this mix of new sounds.
I’ve been in this for a long time. My first album I did was right after my (first) wife went to be the Lord. A lot of songs were birthed from that. It was a lot of vulnerability and a lot of just sharing how God was so faithful amidst those trials. And then, a few years ago, my wife (Adie Camp) and I really battled with a friend who was going through an addiction that we didn’t know about. They were a person that we looked up to spiritually and we trusted so much. And then we realize, oh my goodness, they had been battling with addiction for a long time. There was a lot of back and forth where we tried to love and walk through it with them. Unfortunately, with addiction, there’s manipulation and deception.
Then we find out, this person who we trust and look up to is manipulating and deceiving my family and me. It really rocked us because it was hard. I got to the point where I started to not trust people. When you don’t trust people all of the sudden you stop trusting anything. So, I felt this started reflecting my relationship with the Lord as well. For a long time, I had battled with that after my (first) wife died. But I feel like God dealt with my heart in a massive way. Well, when everyone started talking about the movie, it was about the same time this was going on. So that discussion started bringing up old stuff again.
We were doing these interviews because they wanted to write the script. They were asking questions about deep, deep, deep things. And one day I could just tell I was fearful. I was worried about everything. I was worried about my kids. What if something happens to them? They were just irrational worries. Then I found myself literally on the floor in my room just weeping and asking what is happening? I couldn’t breathe and I was like, what’s happening Lord? For about two weeks I was pretty much bedridden. I was having debilitating panic attacks and it spiraled into this weird depression. And I’ve never dealt with this before and literally I was just crying out. My wife was laying hands on me and just asking the Lord to help and to reveal what’s going on.
But God spoke to me in a very loving way. He said, ‘Jeremy, I love you and perfect love casts out all fear. You’re not trusting me.’ In a loving way, He showed me what was happening. And then you have forgiveness in your heart towards this person. And when I basically repented to those things, the weight started lifting. I started walking through it with God’s hand of grace, faithfulness, and peace. Honestly, from that it birthed this new season, which has been amazing, but not without some really hard things. I wrote a song called “Father” that says:
I cover up the pain that I’m lost in
I want to be enough but it’s exhausting
I’m trying so hard, but I wear my heart out
This album is basically me reflecting on my life, it is a reflection of my life. It’s all about what I’ve been through, but this is what God has done and the story’s not over. I’m being vulnerable and I’m being honest. That’s what the record is all about. It’s allowed me to drop some really sweet creativity as well. So that’s a really long-winded answer.
That’s fine. You just answered my first four questions … which is great. (laughter) But with that said, if there’s one key thing that God taught you through all this, what would it be?
That even if things don’t turn out the way we think they should, God is still good and we can still trust Him with everything. I think that’s what this whole thing was about. It’s like, yeah, life is hard and there’s difficult things, but you can trust the Lord. He knows what He’s doing and is actually in control. And no matter what happens, even if it’s something that hurts and doesn’t make sense and you may go through a time of grief because of it, He’s still going to be there. We can trust Him with it.
Changing gears, I had the opportunity to be on the movie set in Mobile, Alabama a few months ago to observe some of the filming for the new movie that is based on your life called I Still Believe. I attended a wedding scene on the beach at sunset. This must be a tremendously surreal experience for you to have a movie made about your life. Your thoughts?
I think it’s so surreal and so humbling because first of all, out of billions of people in the world, why are they wanting to do a movie about me? You know what I mean? Me and my wife think this is a crazy, huge big deal. We’re not taking this for granted at all. We wanted to be on set all the time. We wanted to be there because we know we’re not going to ever experience that again.
What I went through is very true to life. I wrote a book about the experience (of losing my first wife to cancer at a very young age). It really just connected with the Erwin Brothers. They said this should be a movie. Through this, I think God is saying, ‘Nineteen years into your career, I’m going give you a whole new platform.’ And I’m going, okay, God, if you’re doing this, let me be a good steward of what you’re giving me. I think that’s where a lot of this is coming from. Wow, Lord, I can’t believe this is happening. Why me? But thank you. We understand this is a huge opportunity to be a good steward with this new season, because it’s a big deal, it’s a big production, big actors, and a big movie studio (Lionsgate). And then the Erwin Brothers, who know how to tell stories very well are directing. I give all the glory to God and I will honor that.
Was it a difficult decision for you to greenlight the film knowing that you would need to relive some of the more painful moments in your life?
I think God kind of eased me into it because I had already written the book about it. We kind of went down this road about eight years ago. We had some interest in doing a film and it fell through. And so, when this came about again, it was like, yeah, if it happens, cool. If it doesn’t, that’s okay. I wasn’t like, oh my goodness, yes, or no way, I don’t want to deal with it. It was more like, let’s just see. As time went on, I just knew that it was from the Lord. No matter what, if it’s going to be hard or not, it doesn’t matter. This is something that God has opened up the door and who am I to not want to deal with this? I am not going to do that because we cover others with what we’ve been comforted by. I want to use what God has done in my life to comfort me and to minister to people. We have seen the completed film and it is powerful. It exceeded my expectations and I had high expectations for sure.
Final question, after people have listened to The Story is Not Over, or see the forthcoming film I Still Believe, what would you like to see audiences take away from those experiences? What is your greatest hope for these projects?
I think my greatest hope is the fact that people are going to see that life is not always easy. Even being a Christian, you go through hard times. But you either go through hard times not having hope or realizing that Jesus is the only hope. We’re going to all face trials. The Bible says it, but Jesus has overcome the world. For me, that is pointing toward the fact that hey, it’s hard sometimes. I know. My grief, anger and my hurt all come out in this movie. But I ran to the feet of Jesus because He was right there beckoning me. I just went okay and surrendered. He is the only hope and that’s my prayer.
Watch a music video for Jeremy Camp’s latest single, “Dead Man Walking”:
* text courtesy of Epic