Jonathan McReynolds had no idea that The Unofficial EP of JM, he packaged as Christmas gifts to family and friends, would transform into a new ministry of music and a recording deal with Light Records. Within one year, McReynolds has traveled the world, inspiring people with the love of God. In the middle of running errands, he chatted it up with Y.S. Mag to discuss his debut album, Life Music and who the makings of Jonathan McReynolds.
Check out the interview.
JC: One of the first songs I heard from you was ‘No Gray’. What kind of place were you in, when you wrote No Gray?
JM: I wasn’t in the best place. People probably might think I was at the feet of Jesus at that time. I wasn’t. That was really the pillar of everything. When it comes to my ministry, it’s that constant battle. You know what you’re supposed to do, but yet sometimes what you want to do is out of your flesh or with your friends. You know, everybody is human. That song really summed up me and many of my friends around me. I was inspired by my own situation. I was preaching to them, but I was preaching to myself. Just realizing, I want to be saved. I know what mother said, sunday school teacher and pastor said, my whole life. But, now that I have that freedom in college like everyone else does. I want to have that freedom as well. How do I navigate being a christian in an anti- christian society.
JC: How do you define yourself in terms of music?
JM: A new approach to christian music. I want it to be transparent. The bottom line is I want it to be authentic and straight out of my heart.
JC: How was your transition from your teenage years to adulthood?
JM: High school was when I actually started singing…kind of one of the popular kids a little bit, still kind of one of the lame kids at the same time. As I got into college [interjects] I’m kind of an old soul too. So when everyone was wilding out, I was sometimes hanging back, which showed me who I was. To know that you are different, to feel you are different- he [God} started giving me different music. [In] high school, I wrote funny, R&B songs, [but] in college, especially the first two or three years, he started giving me a new song, and a new outlook on life.
JC: So how old are you?
JM: [Playfully jokes] I’m 57.
JC: In real life?
JM: I’m 23.
JC: How long did it take you to create the entire project, Life Music?
JM: Well, that’s hard to say, because some of those songs, I wrote a long time ago. Everything, thats the first song on the album. I wrote that song before college even started. It evolved as I got older. I would change the songs, change the music. Finally, the finished product came out, and I got to record it in Europe. It’s crazy all the stuff I was writing, I didn’t think there would be much to come of it.
JC: Do you consider yourself a gospel artist?
JM: I never understood the actual terming of everything. It seems like, when it’s called gospel music, it has to have a certain style, and not necessarily a certain spirit. I can show everybody, the spirit is christian. It’s coming from a Christian heart. It’s motivating myself and other people to move closer to Jesus Christ. Some of it is so transparent, it made me feel vulnerable- it made me feel convicted. That’s what the Holy Spirit can do, it can comfort, but it can also convict and make you think.
JC: When you’re writing songs, do you get in a zone?
JM: I don’t know what a zone is. I wish I could figure out what a zone was, so I could just write when I felt like it. It really kind of comes spontaneously. Could be walking down the street, just talking, and I might change a line and sing it. A lot of times, a lot of songs come from just sitting there in front of a TV, talking to friends, without much planning like that. I have to get in the zone, so I can finish the song- figure out what the verse is going to be [and] what the bridge is going to be, how it’s going to sound musically. Then the rest of the song, I have to really dig deep and figure out what God wants to say through me in the song.
JC: How do you stay grounded?
JM: You know, I think God made me this old soul for a purpose. Sometimes I check myself. I believe that your circle is very important, because when you start tripping, worrying too much, to have good family and friends that are like minded [sic] pull you back up to where you are supposed to be. The holy spirit definitely keeps you grounded, but God provides you with family and friends that can really serve a huge purpose.
JC: What was your first show like?
JM: I was at a small church. They asked me to come, and sing. I kind of did a set. It was crazy. It was a small room, at a college. It was like fifty people there. For some reason, I was comfortable. I didn’t expect to be comfortable. Now, I’m still very nervous sometimes, before I get on. When I first started doing it, I was just talking and laughing with people. Just being myself. I sang, Loving Me, No Gray and Everything- and people received it. All of this is just a learning experience.
JC: Where are you at in your life journey right now, as far as goals?
JM: I think it’s a big shaping time. I’m thankful for all the things God is doing for me, as far as music goes. I, and a lot of my friends are seeing what God is trying to do. Using this as not an end, but as a stepping stone- another facet of ministry. I’m just trying to grow with every opportunity, because I didn’t see this coming.
JC: What was it like to sign a deal?
JM: It’s something I didn’t really strive to do. I didn’t really want a deal. I liked being independent. I liked having everything on my time, but I knew, and my team knew how fast God was moving things; that I would need that extra push. God has proven to me that he wants this done right and he wants me to be successful. To answer your question, it felt scary. It felt like I was putting my life and ministry in someone else’s hands.
JC: You’re a multi- tasker. You sing, play the guitar, and I read you produce as well.
JM: Actually, this album, I wrote all but one song. I co- produced the whole album. I love music to death. I went to school for music (Columbia College Chicago).
Make sure you grab Jonathan McReynolds latest album, Life Music.
Interviewed by Jonnita Condra