A couple of weeks ago, Glenn asked some friends and staff members if anyone had some favorite songs that could be the theme song of 8/28. Someone sent him the song “Do Something”, and Glenn loved it. And then last night, totally unbeknownst to Glenn, the artist for the song, Matthew West, was in the studio for the TV show.
"Today is the day I'm supposed to put the program together. The beginnings of the program for 8/28 in Birmingham, Alabama," Glenn said. "[Do Something] was the song I wanted to have as the theme of 8/28. And here you are. It's just such an amazing coincidence."
Listen to the song below:
Matthew joined Glenn on TV Tuesday night and on the radio show Wednesday morning, and shared the incredible story of how losing his voice and undergoing a radical surgery ended up launching his music career.
Glenn: I want to introduce you to Matthew West. He’s an award-winning singer-songwriter whose latest album, Live Forever, like a few of his previous albums, was inspired by the stories he receives from his fans. How are you?
Matthew: Doing great. Thanks for having me.
Glenn: You started doing this because your vocal cords went out, right?
Matthew: That’s right. Several years ago, about seven years ago, my career was about to take off to the next level, or so I thought, and my voice left me. I was unable to sing or speak. The surgeons in Nashville are some of the best in all the land, working on the greats like Johnny Cash back in the day. They told me I was going to need to have career-threatening vocal cord surgery and warned me that my voice may never sound the same again. Following that surgery, I spent about two months with nothing but time on my hands, completely silent, unable to sing or speak. You do some pretty intense soul-searching during that time. My wife enjoyed that two months of our marriage.
It was during that time that I began to think well, if my voice does come back, how could I use my voice differently? I wrote in a journal, and I really begin to sense that what if God was going to give me my voice back to give a voice to other people? Fast-forward, I feel like that’s become my mission in life, using my voice as a singer and songwriter to tell the stories of other people’s lives and in doing so, hopefully empower people to realize that their life is a one-in-a-million, unique story that can indeed go out and change the world if only they’ll choose to be a storyteller and not just a story keeper.
Glenn: And believe. I was in church, somebody was supposed to teach this last weekend, and he didn’t show up. So, we’re all going to sit there and waste an hour. I’m like I’ll teach, and so I got up. I happened to be reading Romans 8 the day before, the night before, and so I said take out your Scriptures and turn to Romans 8.
I don’t remember how this happened, but somebody had made some comment that a lot of people don’t believe that they’re capable or whatever, and we need God to do it. I came to Romans 18, for I reckon that the sufferings of this present time—now, think of this—I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in all of us. So yeah, that’s going to suck hard, but the glory revealed in you, that means we’re going to do something great. All of us are going to do something great if we just let it happen.
Matthew: Yeah, what I sense in the last six years, I’ve collected over 40,000 stories and counting of people who have answered my invitation simply to tell me their story. What I sense is this overwhelming spirit of defeat in people’s lives where because of circumstances that have been thrust upon them, abuse that they’ve suffered, choices that they’ve made in their life, they begun to just hang their heads, lower their sight line, and believe that their best days are behind them.
I heard your interview that you just had. We’re talking about changing the world. I realize there are so many people that are so defeated they don’t even believe they can change their own life. So, they’re defeated before they even step out into the world. How can they expect to go change the world? I believe that every single one of our stories, as broken as they might be, was designed ultimately to become a redemption story.
Glenn: That’s it.
Matthew: And when we begin to live our redemption story, not out of defeat but in hope, I mean, the world can’t help but change and be impacted by the shockwaves that’ll send. So, that’s the mission. I feel like I’ve been telling the stories of people’s lives and letting other people know hey, if this person can change their life, if they can find strength in God and begin to realize that there’s hope for them, imagine the possibilities for you and you and you and everybody else.
Glenn: That is my story. I mean, I was down at the bottom, live or die, alcoholic, you name it, washed out—lost a family, lost a job, lost a reputation, everything, and then turned it around. Honestly, if I can do it, anybody can do it. Tell me about the song, because I’m going to have you sing here in a minute. Tell me about the story behind the song that you’re out with.
Matthew: It was interesting you mentioned the Book of Romans that you did the impromptu teaching out of, but another verse in Romans is reminding us that God can work all things for the good, even the most broken parts of our lives. What I love is when the story comes to me from someone who’s not afraid to say hey, you know what, I’ve got some messes in my life, it’s not all put together, but I found the one who’s helped me put it together.
A guy named Josh, I called a manager at a pizza restaurant in Worthington, Minnesota, a few weeks ago to speak to Josh. The reason I called is because Josh inspired the song I’m going to sing for your viewers in just a moment. He wrote to me. He said, you know, I grew up in a rough home life. I never met my mother, bad neighborhood. I got involved in drugs at a young age. He wound up dealing drugs. He wound up getting arrested, and at the age of 16, wound up being sentenced to 10 years. So here’s a 16-year-old kid, all of a sudden 10 years in prison.
Glenn: Life’s over.
Matthew: While he was in prison, he wrote to me. He said he began to find his faith, and he made a commitment that if he ever got out of there, he wasn’t ever going to go back, but he was going to change his life. Of course, all the voices of the doubters telling them you’re just going to go back to your old ways, he said no, you wait and see. So, what he wrote to me was amazing. He told me that his beginning came in the form of a pizza. He said I got out of prison, but nobody would give me a job. Why? I’ve got tattoos on my knuckles. I look rough. I spent ten years in prison. Who wants to take a chance on an ex-convict?
He got involved with a church, and a Christian couple in that church ran a pizza restaurant called Pizza Ranch. They said we’ll take a chance on you, give you a part-time job. He said Matthew, I took that opportunity, and I ran with it. With God’s help, I made the change, and everybody saw it in me. I just want to tell you, now I’m the general manager of that pizza restaurant. I want you to tell my story, Matthew, because I want everybody to know that if an ex-con like me can change, then we can all change with God’s help—powerful, man. That’s what Day One is all about, the power to change, turn in a new direction.
Glenn: I said on radio today, we were talking, and I said we have to stop being church people. Church is not a building we go to, church is wherever we are. And testimony isn’t something we share, testimony is what we live.
Matthew: I heard you say that. I thought that was so profound and talking about the church being more like a hospital. My dad is a preacher, and I’ll tell you what I got really good at, I got really good at looking the part and believing that it was about me making everybody around me go man, he’s got it all together. What I’m drawn to now is when somebody steps up with all the authenticity that I wish I had, and they say you know what, I’m far from perfect, but let me tell you about change and let me tell you about the hope that I found.
Matthew: That’s what is going to speak to the world. And then the world finds that and says I want that. That resonates within you. When I heard you share your story at a conference that we were both speaking at, it resonated within me because I want that authenticity. I don’t want to be the one who’s got all the answers. That’s what the world thinks about the church and Christians—oh, they’re the ones telling all the answers. No, it’s just about telling our story and saying hey, we found the answer that’s helped us change.