The contemporary Christian tour that stops at Van Andel Arena on Thursday also features Jeremy Camp, Andy Mineo, Disciple, NewSong and Austin French. The interview and a preview at Local Spins.
SCROLL DOWN FOR MUSIC VIDEOS
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
Anne Wilson just keeps finding the spotlight.
The singer-songwriter is a fast-rising star in the world of contemporary Christian music, with a top-selling debut album, hit songs, awards and opening sets on major concert tours.
Now, she’s landed a slot on the arena-sized Winter Jam Tour, coming to Van Andel Arena on Thursday (Jan. 19). Admission is $15 at the door; a pre-jam party starts at 6 p.m.
All of this has transpired before Wilson’s 21st birthday.
“I graduated high school a year after I signed a record deal,” she remarked during a December interview from her Nashville area home.
“My Jesus” with its bouncing pop melody was the song that immediately drew listeners who quickly became fans. Both the single and the album of the same title went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Christian music chart. Wilson also is the first female solo artist ever to debut No. 1 on Pandora’s Christian Airplay listing.
“I never had a passion for music,” admitted Wilson, who studied piano but limited her singing to a church choir. But her mother had heard her solo voice at home as Anne would sing along while at the keyboard.
When her older brother was tragically killed in a car crash in 2017, her mother asked Anne if she would sing at the funeral. A hesitant Anne bravely took the challenge and with a small ensemble performed a worship song (“What A Beautiful Name”) during the ceremony.
The song was so well-received that the players were urged to record a version for video. As the story goes, that’s the one that went viral and caught the attention of music industry folk in Nashville.
VIDEO: Anne Wilson, “What a Beautiful Name” (Hillsong Cover)
“I started meeting with them and they began developing me as an artist….it was quick,” recalled the artist who regular teams with co-writers to craft her songs.
She tells much of her story in her new book “My Jesus: From Heartache to Hope.” Her debut album released last spring.
Another of her songs is the country-slanted “Hey Girl” for which she has added devotional material on the website heygirlnation.com.
“I wanted to expand on the story in the song and give women of all ages something they could read and encourage them,” she said of its theme of struggle for self-worth and the resources offered by faith.
“Hey Girl” topped Christian Country music charts in December and the YouTube video so far has topped more than 560,000 views. Watch it here.
VIDEO: Anne Wilson, “Hey Girl”
Country is a natural for the Lexington, Ky., native. “I was raised on it and it’s a huge part of my heart,” said Wilson who cites classic country influences of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash.
She’s already recorded duets with country artists Josh Turner and Hillary Scott.
‘CONNECTING WITH THE CROWD’ AT WINTER JAM 2023
For Wilson, Winter Jam — a 40-city cavalcade of youth-oriented inspirational music of nearly every style: 10 artists in all, plus an address by an evangelistic speaker, Zane Black — offers an opportunity to build her audience.
Other performers on the bill include Jeremy Camp, Andy Mineo, Disciple, NewSong and Austin French, with “pre-jam music” featuring Thrive Worship, Sean Be and RENEE.
Because of the packed lineup, most artists get only brief stage time. Even headliner We The Kingdom will only get an hour or so.
Wilson figures she’ll have 20 minutes to sing and bond with the arena crowd.
“I’ll be doing songs from the record, but also a couple of new ones,” she said. “The main goal is connecting with the crowd in a limited time and we’ll see how people can soak in the most they can from all the artists.”
What are the long-term goals for this budding 20-year-old artist? Would she steer into country or pop music to broaden her audience?
“I’m very much into following what God has for me, and so far that’s just Christian music,” Wilson offered. “Hopefully I’m always gonna be there, but pop or country . . . if God calls me I’ll definitely be open to that.”
There’s yet another spotlight opportunity: “My Jesus” is nominated for a Grammy Award for best contemporary Christian album, and the award ceremonies are set for Feb. 5 in Los Angeles. (View the music video for the title track below.)
“We’re trying to figure out a way to go,” said Wilson of the date which conflicts with the Winter Jam schedule. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a big deal so we’ll see if it happens.”
Winter Jam also stops Jan. 29 at the George Gervin GameAbove Center at EMU in Ypsilanti.
VIDEO: Anne Wilson, “My Jesus”
VIDEO: We the Kingdom, “Miracle Power”
Copyright 2023, Spins on Music LLC