Christian music fans from around the area will fill the CenturyLink Center Friday night to see performances by Christian music's biggest acts at the Winter Jam 2013 Tour Spectacular.
Founded and hosted by Grammy-nominated Christian music mainstay NewSong and presented by World Vision, Winter Jam will be headlined by Grammy-winning, multi-platinum recording artist TobyMac. The pay-at-the-door Winter Jam Tour Spectacular will begin at 7 p.m. and costs $10 to enter.
On tour this year is Jamie Grace, a 21-year-old Georgia native who attended WinterJam concerts growing up. Grace, whose father is a preacher, was raised in the church and developed a love for music at an early age.
“I love music a lot,” she said. “I love singing, I love playing [instruments], I love listening to it, but I never thought music was something I could do as a job.”
It was still her dream though. At the age of 9, however, that dream almost vanished – she was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome.
“It's a neurological condition that causes me to have movements and sounds that I can't control,” she said. “Between the age of 11 and 12, I was really sick all the time. It was hard for me to walk sometimes or even complete sentences because my symptoms were so out of control.”
Her dream of being on stage performing music seemed to slip away before her eyes.
“I went through a rough patch and came to a point in my life where I wasn't really sure if God still loved me,” she said. “Yeah, life is hard. Yeah, life is difficult. But God still loves me. I'm using his plan for my life to inspire and encourage other people.”
By the age of 14, however, Grace said she reconnected with the Lord and developed a stronger faith through her love of music. She made the decision to pursue her dream and began putting her music on YouTube.
It didn’t take long for her dream to become reality.
“Before I knew it, I was 17 and TobyMac saw my videos,” she said.
She received a message from TobyMac on Twitter expressing interest in her music. Grace said she was already a fan his music so she jumped at the opportunity.
There was only one problem – she couldn't respond to his message.
“There was literally nothing I could do for almost 24 hours with this message from TobyMac asking to talk about music,” she said.
Grace eventually made contact with TobyMac’s manager and they all had a good laugh about the Twitter mishap.
“It was really funny when we finally told him the story – I tried to reply, but couldn't because you weren't following me,” Grace said.
Her dream was now a reality. She signed with TobyMac's label and is now on tour with him and the other artists on WinterJam 2013.
“This has been the wildest thing in the world,” she said. “I can't believe I'm actually getting to work with him.”
TobyMac, on his third tour with WinterJam, said the diversity of music not only makes for a good show, but it creates an atmosphere unlike any other.
“Walking into a packed arena is always amazing,” he said. “The people really make it a big celebration and party atmosphere.”
That atmosphere, he said, is the right fit for his music. TobyMac brings his own blend of hip-hop, soul and rock to songs inspired by his faith.
“They are songs about life and everything that comes with it,” he said. “They aren't just songs about my faith, but how my faith plays a role in everything I do.”
The singer-songwriter recently won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for his recent compilation “Eye on It.” TobyMac said there's an energy that musicians on the WinterJam tour live for.
“The live concert setting is what an artist dreams of,” he said. “We spends months on end writing these songs before we release it. When you walk out on stage for a live show, it all comes together into one setting and that's a very special moment. That, to me, is what the live experience is all about.”
Jamie said WinterJam concerts are an indescribable - like nothing you will ever see with Christian music or non Christian music.
“You literally get every single genre, every single style of music that there is possible for $10,” she said. “There's pop, rock, rap, hip hop, country and a little bit of soul – all for $10. There's no other place to get this kind of experience.”
Today, Grace is living every day to the fullest and she hasn’t let Tourette’s Syndrome keep her from the dream she had as a child. In fact, Grace said her symptoms aren’t even that noticeable anymore.
“I always dreamt of doing this, but living it is completely bigger than my dreams could ever comprehend,” Grace said. “When you serve a big God, you can't be surprised when he does big stuff. He's pretty awesome.”
The tour will also feature RED, NewSong, Matthew West, Sidewalk Prophets and Royal Tailor, with a message from national speaker Nick Hall. In addition, the Youth Music Vault Pre-Jam Party will include performances from Jason Castro, OBB and Capital Kings.
JAM NATION door time is set for 4:30 PM with general admission opening at 6 p.m. and concert time set for 7 p.m. Admission is $10 per person at the door.
For more information and a complete list of Winter Jam 2013 Tour Spectacular dates and cities, visit www.jamtour.com.