It’s been a decade since Jeremy Camp entered the scene with his breakthrough debut, Stay (BEC). Over the course of his extraordinary career thus far, Camp has amassed four RIAA Gold-selling albums, five Dove Awards, a GRAMMY® nomination and 25 multi-format No. 1 songs. In honor of 10 years of ministry, this month, BEC Recordings is releasing I Still Believe: Number Ones Collection, a “hits” project that contains 15 of Camp’s most beloved songs, as well as one brand-new bonus track.
When asked which No. 1 holds the most meaning for him, without hesitation, Camp attests it’s one of his earliest hits, “I Still Believe,” written following the death of his first wife, Melissa. “I think that song defines so much of me. There are times when I’m like, ‘I don’t understand Lord; and that hurts and that’s painful and that doesn’t make sense, but I know You’re faithful. I know Your Word is true, and I’m going to continue to serve You no matter what happens, no matter what the road ends up looking like.’ I think that has been the defining point of what God has done in this whole thing,” shares Camp.
The singer/songwriter sees the retrospective project as a timeline of sorts, detailing his growth not only professionally, but spiritually as well. Yet, he remembers his early days with a dash of humor. “I look back at when I first started, and I’m just like, ‘What was I thinking?’ Even up to the funny sideburns and the crazy hair and all of that,” Camp laughs.
With his songs topping charts across a variety of formats, Camp has proven he’s adept at coloring outside the lines and continues to make music that is diverse and relevant. He can write an emotive ballad just as effectively as he can deliver an aggressive rock song.
So what’s kept him grounded amidst all the success? Camp says it stems from the foundations of discipleship. “For the ten years that I’ve been doing this, I go back to the simplicity of just staying in God’s Word and spending time on my face before Him. That’s what it’s all about,” says Camp.
“When I first started, I realized how easy you can get caught up in the next thing,” he continues “So I’d start, and I’d be like, ‘Man, if I just had a No. 1, that would be amazing. OK, well, if I just had a gold record, that would be amazing. OK, if I just had... It won’t stop. Unless you’re completely satisfied with your relationship with Christ and who He is, you’re going to be craving more. You’re never going to be satisfied.”
Camp tries to impart lessons he’s learned, like this one, to younger artists. He and his wife, Adrienne, provide a place of rest and hospitality at their home, with bunks in the basement open to bands passing through town who need a place to stay. Adam Cappa is Camp’s most recent protégée. Camp has been instrumental in Cappa’s career – co-writing with him, producing his debut album on BEC and even providing him with an opening slot on his current headlining tour with Francesca Battistelli. Camp feels that mentoring younger artists is one of the most important things he’s doing in this season of his career.
“It [goes back to] the old saying, ‘Have a Paul and a Timothy.’ Have the person you’re looking up to that’s pouring into you, and have a person that you’re pouring into,” says Camp. “To be honest, there’s not enough of that in this industry, and I know because I didn’t have that; and I haven’t been doing that. I think it’s a crucial point, especially in my life right now, and I love it. I’ve seen how God’s used it in my life, too.”
Although Camp is in a place professionally where he feels like he has something to offer new artists, he’s quick to admit he doesn’t have it all figured out. That’s one of the reasons he was hesitant to ever write a book telling his story – one of deep highs and lows through the death of his first wife to the immense joy he’s found with Adrienne and their three children – Isabella, Arianne and Egan.
Camp’s book, I Still Believe, released last year months before Egan’s birth. Writing his first book was a therapeutic process, one Camp doesn’t believe he was ready to endure until now. “It honestly all goes to the growth process,” he says. “I wasn’t ready to write the book yet. I’m glad I didn’t write the book even five years ago, because there were so many things God had to teach me still.”
Camp says his marriage and the birth of his children have also had a profound impact on his perspective. “I think as a father you understand a little more of the heart of the Father,” Camp explains. “With my writing, when I think about the Father, I think about my kids and how I love them and [God’s] love for me. It deepens that understanding of His love. So songs that I write are more reactive of that love. Having kids has changed me tremendously. I love being a dad.”
When he’s not spending time pouring into other artists or his family, Camp can be found in the studio. He’s currently working with Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, MercyMe) on his first Christmas album. He’s also begun work on a brand-new studio project which will release next year.
In the meantime, he plans to focus on his heart for service for the remainder of 2012. This spring, Camp will roll out Speaking Louder Ministries, an outreach arm of his platform that will combine all of the things that are most significant to his ministry – music, leading people to Christ and serving. Under the Speaking Louder banner, Camp and his team will spend a few days in select cities, meeting needs in local communities and inviting residents to join them in their efforts. The time in each city will culminate in a night of worship and teaching, free to the community. “It’s a three-fold type of night – encouraging believers, worshiping and evangelizing, and serving,” Camp explains. “I really feel like God wants me to dive into more of that type of ministry. It’s been really exciting to see [doors] already open.”
With 25 No. 1 singles and a decade-worth of experience under his belt, Jeremy Camp’s career has only just begun. Looking forward, the award-winner seeks to pour out everything he’s been given – lessons learned, spiritual insights, the hope of Christ that fuels his ministry and the musical gifts he’s been blessed with. “I want to get better in every aspect,” says Camp. “God gave me an ability, so I want to work hard at it. I don’t want to take it for granted.”
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