Play it forward
Singer and songwriter Jason Truby hopes to ‘help the helpless’ with concert to benefit kids in foster care.
Jason Truby is a native Little Rock singer, songwriter and guitarist. He was a founding member of the band Living Sacrifice and a former member of P.O.D. He has released five solo albums, including last month’s Our Time Here. He also produced and performed on last month’s Grafted, a collaboration album to benefit adoption awareness nonprofit Project Zero.
Q: You are performing in a free show on Sunday at Parkway Place Baptist Church where gifts will be collected for kids in foster care. Tell me a little about that event. Casual? Black tie? Just some good tunes for a good cause? What should folks bring as far as gifts?
A: This is a casual event. I will be performing some songs off my new album as well as some Christmas favorites. This is our fourth year, and each year we work to make the performance unique and engaging. This year I will have some string players and guest singers with me. We are collecting Christmas gifts for foster care children of all ages, toddler to teenager. Last year we collected over 500 gifts. These gifts will be distributed to foster care families here in central Arkansas.
Q: How did you become involved in adoption and foster care awareness — this event, Grafted, Project Zero and so on? Was it through your family’s experiences with adoption?
A: I got involved with adoption through my own personal experiences. I have three children, all of whom my wife and I adopted, and we are in the process of our fourth. Sometimes necessity opens our eyes to a world of need we may have otherwise overlooked. We as a people should help the helpless and speak up for those with no voice. Foster care and adoption do just that.
Q: Last month saw the release of both Grafted and Our Time Here. Clearly you’ve been busy. Were you working on both projects at once, or was it just sort of a thing where the timing happened to line up that both came out in November?
A: I have been working on Our Time Here off and on for a year or so. I knew that producing the Grafted album and working with so many different artists would be a daunting task, even though I truly enjoyed it. I used the tracking of my album as a more personal release, and it just so happened that they came to completion at the same time.
Q: You’ve obviously done a lot of solo work since Living Sacrifice and P.O.D. Can you talk about the differences in working solo compared to working in a group? More freedom but less feedback? Easier or harder?
A: I feel that both are powerful in their own way, writing in a group or when co-writing with another artist (which I really enjoy) there is a lot of give and take, compromise and multiple perspectives. Composing as a solo artist can be a bit more personal and introspective, there are less distractions and the process seems to go a bit faster. I just enjoy creating music to whatever capacity is in front of me at the time.
Q: Speaking of harder, can I ask you to talk about the transition of your music from metal to the more recent acoustic work? Is it as big a difference as it seems to the (admittedly untrained) ear?
A: Well, I would say it was not so much change as a natural progression over 20 years. Acoustic finger style has been a passion of mine from the very beginning. Even during all the rock and P.O.D. years. I trained on jazz and classical music. I am very influenced as a guitarist and songwriter by players like Tommy Emmanuel, Michael Hedges and my good friend Phil Keaggy, who I featured on my new album. I think I needed to get all the tension and frustration that is in the heavier music out in order for my true voice to develop. Maybe I am just getting older, but I feel that if the melody itself is good it will connect with others without me needing to manipulate it. In fact, the more we get out of the way, the more the music will come through us and not from us.
Q: I want to ask about a certain moment. You count guitarist Phil Keaggy as both friend and influence. You spoke and presented him at his induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. That had to be a big moment, maybe even a lifetime highlight kind of moment. Am I right?
A: That is right. I have had many larger than life moments, which I do not take for granted. From being asked to write the title track to the Matrix Reloaded movie, performing in Times Square New Year’s Eve 2006 in front 1.1 million people, to touring the world with P.O.D. But by far the greatest honor was speaking and presenting at the induction of my friend Phil Keaggy into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. What do you say when one of the greatest guitarists of all time asks you to present him with this award? I was truly humbled beyond words. There are few musicians that reach the creating ability and performing ability of Phil. He is an even better human. Guitarists will know just how much of an honor that really was for me.
Q: Lastly, I’d like to ask what’s next. Are you focusing on more new work for another album? Development of upcoming artists through your label Rockville Productions? More work for Project Zero? All of the above?
A: I will be releasing the first single “No Matter Where You Are” in January (you can see the video now on YouTube) and plan on performing acoustic sets to promote it for a while. I am working with a few young singer/songwriters writing, tracking and producing demos and EPs. I have another acoustic instrumental planned for next year — as you know the music business is very difficult so we have to stay busy. For those who would like to hear more about my music, performances or producing, visit jasontruby.com. Thanks for listening.
You can see Jason Truby at 6 p.m. Sunday at Parkway Place Baptist Church. Admission is free. Gifts will be accepted to be donated to children in foster care.