LISTEN TO 'THE ARTIST SPOTLIGHT'
Aaron Brown speaks with Jamie Kimmett about his incredible transformation from atheist to passionate follower of Jesus & the stories behind some of his songs.
So how did someone from Scotland end up in Nashville?
Basically, I was living in London in 2016 and then I was working for a church, but I used to busk on the streets of London. So I don’t if you guys have buskers, down under. But I was paying my rent on the streets of London. And when I came home that day, I felt like God just dropped Nashville into my heart. And I phoned up my friend and I said “hey I think God maybe calling us to go to Nashville. And long story short, we flew out 2016 on a hunch that God had called me to go out to Nashville and within a few weeks, off on a record deal to make Christian music. It was kind of a crazy story. But that was 2017 I signed the record deal. And I’ve been out here ever since.
There are a lot of artists who work for years and years and years trying to get record deals. You rock up in Nashville almost straight away. You’re given a record deal when you share that story with your fellow artists. Is there a little bit of jealousy from them?
Well, honestly, though, because it seems like it was overnight, but I mean, I’ve played everywhere from prisons to streets to cruise ships to bars to like I mean, you name it. I’ve played there. I’ve worked my whole life, basically since I was 16 years old. And taught myself to play guitar, writing songs. It’s just one of those things, you know, I would meet these big pop record labels and I would get so close to being offered new secular deals and God would close the door every time. But as soon as I decided my music and faith were going to come together, it was like the stars aligned and the doors just opened and it really was a God thing. I can’t actually take the credit for it. And it really was amazing.
Now, you mentioned that you’ve played in some interesting places. Where would you say is one of the most interesting places you’ve had to perform?
I feel like as a musician, if you can walk into a maximum security prison in Glasgow and Scotland and survive to tell the tale, I think you can play anywhere. I love ministering in prison, singing in prison. That’s what my favourite things.
Where did music begin for you? When did you first touch an instrument?
The thing that first drew me to music was actually Michael Jackson’s voice. When I was five years old. I heard Michael Jackson on the radio and asked my dad who it was, and he said, that’s Michael Jackson, son. And so he took me to a music, a record store, and bought me the dangerous album as a child. And that’s what got me singing and got me excited about music in the first instance and later discovered John Mayer. And then it was kind of this fusion of storytelling, singer, songwriter and guitarist. And so really was a combination of that. But 16 years old, I got my first guitar. My dad bought me it from a birthday.
The first song we came to know you by, was a song called Prize Worth Fighting For. Can you tell us a little bit about this song?
Yes. I wrote Prize Worth Fighting For in my bedroom a few years ago in Scotland before I went out to Nashville. And at that time in my life, I didn’t know if I could go on living the Christian life. It’s just being a Christian is really hard. And one of the keys for me was realising that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You know, we have to run the race in the strength that God gives us each day. And that’s where I find hope, you know, Paul says in Philippians – “But one thing I do in the context of suffering, I forget what is behind me and I press onto the prize”. And you know, what a prize it is. The promise of spending eternity with Jesus is a promise that’s so amazing. It literally has the power
to turn around your everyday life. And so I just find myself fixing my eyes on Him, praying and find myself just trusting in His grace to press on to the end. So I would just say to anyone out there that the reason I wrote this song was to encourage me and others, that no matter what we’re facing, there’s always hope because His promises are true and never give up. Jesus is the prize we’re fighting for.
Where did your faith journey begin? Did you grow up in a Christian family or when did it become real for you?
No, I didn’t. We actually never had a Bible in the house. We were kind of seasonal Catholics. We would go to Christmas and Easter. That was really it, you know, and for me, my journey and faith began, I put a couple songs on the Internet when I graduated from music school, and I got a phone call from a management company in Los Angeles. They actually flew me out. And first question, my parents asked us, “who’s paying for the flight?” You know Scottish, that’s really important who’s paying, you know. And so I said, well, they’re paying for it. And they said, “well, as long as, you know, it’s legitimate”. So I flew out there 2008 and then I found myself in studios with some of Michael Jackson’s producers, singing demos & writing songs for Randy Jackson, for American Idol, all these sort of really big and really good pop opportunities. But you know, the funny thing, everywhere I went, people were telling me about Jesus. You know, I’d literally walk into Starbucks and this woman looked me straight in the eye and she said, Do you know Jesus? And I said, I just want some hot chocolate, you know?
It got to the point one day where I was being hounded by questions day in and day out. I was just there for the music. No interest in God, religion, anything like that. And eventually, I turned down this musician that invited me to church and hundreds of church invitations. I show up at this gym, I used to exercise back then you see, so I show up at this gym to exercise and I open up the locker. And there’s a book inside and it has a Bible verse on it that says “Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life”. And so that’s when I looked up and I spoke to God for the first time. That’s just over 10 years ago. “God, if you’re real, the next person that invites me to church, I’ll go”. And sure enough, a couple of days later, I was invited to a church service. I walked in, I heard the Gospel, and then I wept. Scottish men are not supposed to cry in public, but I just cried. That was just over 10 years ago.
How did you find your life transformed? Was it a tough journey? Was it an instantaneous thing or a bit of a struggle for a while?
For me, it was just instantaneous. So it was fairly dramatic. I was one of these people that said “I don’t really need God. It’s not for me. Religions for some people, but it’s not for me”. But I didn’t realise that there was this emptiness. There was a brokenness. There was a void in my life, even though there was lots of new record deals and people I was meeting. It wasn’t until I met Jesus when actually I realised that that’s the reason I was made. So ever since then, no matter what I’m going through, I always have this hope, this
joy and this passion. And of course, as Christians, we have a purpose as well, because it’s amazing that God would take someone like me from a small town and the creator of the universe and say, “well, no, you’re going to work for me. I have work for you to do and things for you to do”. And so it’s a joy to make Christian music and to get to spread the hope found in Jesus.
A big thank you to Jamie for taking the time to chat with us! May God bless you in your walk with Him.