Brandon Heath Biography
“Music, for me, has always been about the songwriting,” Heath says. For him, songwriting is a lifestyle, not merely a necessity of building a pop career. Therefore, he’s destined to be a power player in the music scene for years to come.
“When I listen to a song, I really want the lyrics to actually mean something,” he says. “There are a lot of songs out today that aren’t very positive—alluding to sex and rebellion. It takes more skill to write a song with a message or story, and I appreciate the skill of good songwriting.”
Unlike most musicians living in “Music City,” Heath was born and raised in Nashville, Tenn., using the city’s rich musical history to influence him in a variety of ways.
“This is a songwriter’s town,” he says. “There’s something about this town that really creeps into your creativity—whether it’s being influenced by other people or by being influenced by Southern culture.”
Heath is set on contributing to the Southern hospitality. A few years ago, he and his roommates moved to a lower income neighborhood in Nashville, and they’ve made it a point to join a community very much unlike the one in which they were raised. Although Heath’s heart for missions and those living in poverty has recently taken him around the world to places like India and Ecuador, he has realized that there is a mission field right outside his front door. “For most of my life, I’ve never had the perspective of a poor person,” he says. “A couple of years ago, I noticed how often Jesus talked about the poor and being among the poor. It’s forced me to lower my expectations of what I think I need.”
Heath’s music is also influenced by his hometown. Most of the music that inspires him today is made by Nashvillians like Ryan Adams, Josh Rouse and Matt Wertz (who is actually Heath’s roommate). When Heath began playing guitar and writing songs as a 13-year old, it was thoughtful songwriters like Sting, Shawn Colvin and David Wilcox who inspired him the most. That and the Bluebird Café. Heath had his first experience at the famed Bluebird Café, a legendary Nashville hotspot for songwriters, as a teenager. More than the great music, the camaraderie between the songwriters grabbed hold of Heath. In a community of songwriters, he noticed, the songs became bigger than mere songs. They were about shared experiences and lives that are bound together in true friendship.
“It was the way they created together, hung out together, went on vacation together,” he says. “When they were talking about their songs, they were talking about their stories. That was something that I noticed and I wanted immediately.”
Also during his teenage years, Heath was invited to attend a Young Life camp. Although he didn’t grow up in the Christian faith, he agreed to go, simply because he’d always wanted to go to summer camp. “I heard about Jesus for the first time,” he says. “It was Young Life that showed me Christ and got me plugged in to a church.” After high school, Heath became a leader at Young Life camps and is still involved in Young Life throughout the US.
After years of longing for the same musical community that he witnessed at the Bluebird Café, he began to find it in college. Over the next few years, Heath became close friends and songwriting partners with the likes of Bebo Norman, Matt Wertz, Dave Barnes, Chad Cates, Philip LaRue and Ben Glover. He finally found the songwriting camaraderie for which he’d longed.
“We all create with each other,” he says. We’re able to work together toward the same goal.”
He began to write songs for other artists, including Norman, Joy Williams and Christopher Williams. One summer while leading worship at a Young Life camp, Heath began to develop a passion to be more than a songwriter. “I saw how people reacted to not only the songs but also to how I sang them,” he says. “I wanted to be the one to share the songs myself.”
Don’t Get Comfortable is Heath’s major label debut, and it is the culmination of all of his years studying the songwriting greats. Super-producer Dan Muckala (Backstreet Boys, Nick Lachey, The Afters) uses his pop music dexterity to mold earthy songwriting into the stellar sound that rises above the clutter of mindless radio pop without losing its larger than life hooks.
The first single off of Don’t Get Comfortable is “Our God Reigns,” which Heath has been playing in churches for several years already. He wrote it shortly after the United States went to war in Iraq in 2003. During a time of anxiety about war and national security, Heath had a revelation about the Lord’s sovereignty. “I decided that I can’t put my faith in man,” he says. “I have to put it in God.”
The most personal song on the album for Heath is “I’m Not Who I Was.” “It’s about forgiving someone in my past,” he says. “I don’t know where they are now, but I need to forgive them whether they want it or not.”
He says that this is the song that connects the most with his fans. “People have said that it gives them permission to forgive someone that they have been unable to forgive. For me, moving someone to think about their life is the biggest reward as a songwriter.”
Heath’s heart for youth and Young Life becomes most clearly evident on “You Decide,” a song written as an encouragement and challenge for his Young Life kids. “It’s about all the decisions they have to make in their life. There are tough choices to make at 15-years old.”
With its intelligent pop pre-eminence, Don’t Get Comfortable is an album sure to be only the first chapter for Brandon Heath, the truest of songwriters who has finally taken his rightful place behind the mic.