ST. GEORGE – Contemporary Christian music artists Matthew West, Jason Castro, and Sidewalk Prophets were “in the house” Saturday night, rocking it to a sold-out crowd at Dixie State University’s Cox Auditorium in St. George. The groups stop in St. George was part of their Into the Light Tour, named after West’s recent album inspired by personal life stories from his fans worldwide.
Before the show started, West came on stage, he said he wanted to “see what a sold-out show looks like.” Earlier in the evening before the show, meeting with those who had VIP passes, West said that he is always amazed that people even come to his shows and that God has truly blessed him to be able to spread God’s message through music.
“Everyone is all one big psychotic family,” West said, engaging the audience as he led them in an a capella version of “Happy Birthday to you” for one audience member, Barbara.
The Into the Light concert included American Idol’s seventh season fourth-place contestant Jason Castro, who started off the night on his ukelele, singing his now reknown soulful rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Castro continued his performance of other top hits to a visibly happy crowd. With charming personality, Castro introduced a song he wrote for his 2-year-old daughter, he said he hoped that she would understand how precious and perfect God has made her.
The Dove Award-winning Sidewalk Prophets came on second, also to a standing reception. The band sang and shared stories of Jesus Christ through their music with video clips in the background and help from the audience on the choruses. Fully engaged in the invitation, everyone from children to adults of all ages belted out the words to every song.
When West came on stage, the crowd went completely wild. With his good nature and humor, West pleased the crowd with his hit songs about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. He even went into the audience and met his fans, making each one feel welcome and happy.
After a short break, West and his band showed a video clip of a recent trip to Haiti with Compassion International, and their ministry to children around the world in need. He asked the audience to consider sponsoring a child, as his wife, mother and two daughters passed out packets of information on Haitian children while he and his band offered another song.
A recent mission of West is to tell people’s stories through music. Stories inspired his previous album, “The Story of your Life,” were followed by a floodgate of personal stories, from which his current album, “Into the Light” was developed. To date, West said he has received over 25,000 story submissions through his website, Facebook, Twitter and email.
“There’s something that feels important when I sit down with the responsibility of somebody’s life story in front of me and I’m going to put that to music in some way,” West said on his website, and “… it feels important because this person has trusted me with their story and my responsibility is to them.”
At the concert, West showed video clips of some of these people and sang some of songs derived from their stories. The first clip was of a former athlete-turned-drug addict, who said he had been able to get past his dark days with the help of Jesus. The next showed a U.S. serviceman, serving in Afghanistan, who was missing his wife and new baby daughter. A young man suffering with cerebral palsy his whole life followed – his being that he knows he is perfectly made, he said, he is doing what he loves, being an assistant baseball coach.
But the last one, which provides the backstory to West’s song, “Forgiveness,” was nothing short of a tearjerker. It was the story of a mother whose daughter had been killed by a drunk driver on Mother’s Day several years ago. In a short video clip, Renée Napier said she felt like she was the prisoner, even though the drunk driver had been convicted and was in jail. She said she was the one trapped because she couldn’t forgive him. And she said that when she realized that if she couldn’t forgive him, she couldn’t expect God to forgive her, she found a way to do so. In time Napier and her family went before the judge and asked that the man’s sentence be reduced by half. The judge granted their request, she said, and she now has a healthy relationship with the young man.
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Matthew West video – story behind “Forgiveness”
As West and his band finished performing “Forgiveness,” he brought Napier out to meet an immediate standing ovation from the audience. She spoke to the crowd about forgiveness and about asking Jesus Christ into their lives.
West continued the conversation and prayed with the audience, offering any who wanted to accept Jesus to pray with him. After the show, several pastors, including West’s father, were also available in the hallways to pray with those in need.
He had never been to St George, West said, and he will be counting the days until he can come back. From the response of those in attendance – an emotional range of laughter, tears, expressions of appreciation and more – it was apparent that Michael West and his companion bands, Jason Castro and the Sidewalk Prophets can expect a welcome return to Utah’s Dixie.
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Written by Misty Amodt. St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.
Matthew West website
Jason Castro website
Sidewalk Prophets website
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