While he feels like he’s “just beginning,” Jeremy Camp has 12 years of accolades and accomplishments as a songwriter and recording artist, including four million albums sold, four RIAA Gold albums, a multi-platinum DVD, three American Music Award nominations and a GRAMMY nomination. He’s been a part of more than 25 tours (headlining 18 of those) in the U.S. and has performed in more than 32 countries. Jeremy describes himself as “a minister who happens to play music as a way to minister.”
Over the last year and a half, this ordained minister has experienced a season of artistic growth and musical creativity, evident with his new album, I Will Follow. This eighth studio album, released with Capitol CMG, reveals a new level of versatility and depth. With producer Seth Mosley at the helm, a new sound emerges with a host of guest songwriters including the likes of Mosley and Jason Ingram. “To write with these amazing writers who helped shape the different elements of these songs was just an amazing experience,” he said. “I’ve never done that before. There were no parameters when we were producing and when we were writing. Vocally too, I feel like I’ve never pushed myself this much. I just went for it and said, ‘All right Lord, I am 100 percent in.’ I think I am more excited than ever about what I’m doing.”
Jeremy often finds God teaches him through song. The first single off the new record, “He Knows,” is one in which God spoke comfort over Jeremy’s past. As he shares in his book I Still Believe, Jeremy lost his first wife to cancer at age 21 and in recent years, lost a baby to miscarriage with his wife, Adrienne. There are a lot of people hurting, and they often turn to Jeremy because of his platform.
“When I sat down with this record, I just said, God, ‘I feel like I still have a song pertaining to all that. Just give me wisdom.’ I was drawn to the Hebrews 4:15 scripture where it says that we have a high priest that can empathize with our weaknesses. Jesus Christ is our high priest. Jesus is my everything. The whole concept of the song is saying, Listen, in the midst of all these pains and wounds that may come up, He knows. Christ knows every single thing. We have to come to that peace and that rest of just going ‘Okay, God, you know who I am. Where can I go from your presence? You’re everywhere. You know every part of me. And you know, you’ve been through it.’ And so I think that for me, that is the greatest comfort.”
Is Jeremy ready to move past those painful chapters of his life? Would he prefer not to talk about them? Not at all. “I always say, ‘It’s a part of my life. It’s not my life.’ It’s not all that I share. But it’s part of what shaped me, and people still go through hard times. And so the scripture says in 2 Corinthians, if we comfort others, we will be then comforted.”
The lyrical and biblical depth to Jeremy’s songs reflect years of studying God’s word, in which he gained a foundation from growing up in a pastor’s home and attending Bible college. Ministry for him is a lifestyle, one in which the whole family, who occasionally joins him on the road, participates. Jeremy and his wife Adrienne, have two daughters (10 and 8) and a son (3).
So when missionary friends in the volatile country of Kyrgyzstan reached out to Jeremy asking for him and his band to hold a crusade-style event, the families involved had to carefully consider the danger before agreeing to go.
Through Jeremy’s Speaking Louder Ministries, he and his band provide free crusade style events in partnership with local churches and missionaries in countries where the Gospel has not been heard. Political chaos and civil unrest are the norm, and the church people “live in fear,” Jeremy said. When he arrived in the summer of 2013, he said he felt “oppression and fear like I’ve never felt in my life.”
As the day of the big event approached, intimidating threats and imprisonment warnings targeted the missionaries and Jeremy’s band. Even the local news channel told the public not to come. And yet, 8,000 people still showed up. As the crowd gathered, Jeremy lay on his face crying before God. “Lord, I can’t do this,” he said. “This is too much.’ I realized the dangers of what was happening. In my heart, I wanted to go home and raise my kids; I wanted to grow old with my wife. When I said, ‘I can’t do this,’ the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘Perfect. You finally got it. You can do this.’”
The moment was pivotal. “Something clicked,” he said, and he finally grasped a powerful truth. “I had been sharing the scripture all my life, Acts 20:24, where Paul says, ‘I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.’ And in Galatians, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.’ It’s just all these scriptures where Paul is saying, I know. My life is not my own. I’ve given my heart to Jesus. He’s my king, I’m his servant. And I think from that, I began to understand, it’s not me. I can’t do it. It’s all Him.”
The name of Jesus went forth at the event, and it was a success. When the group returned home safely, Jeremy had time to reflect. He came home changed, he felt he was at a crossroads, unsure if he should continue to pursue music. “When I got home, I said, ‘Okay, Lord, I’m completely yours. So whatever you have, I’m going to do it 100 percent wholeheartedly, and I’m ready.’”
Some time passed, and he felt God finally telling him, ‘I want you to do this again.’”
When the doors opened to continue doing music through Capitol CMG, he went all in. “I knew what I had been called to do: to follow him wholeheartedly.” That’s when the theme of his new record, I Will Follow, emerged. “In the Old Testament when God was talking to the Israelites, they’re just rebellious people, and it says, but Caleb has a different spirit. He followed me wholeheartedly.’ And that’s what I want to do.”