By JASON REYNOLDS
Tennessee Christian News
What do you get when you mix an R&B influence from childhood with a California high school heavy metal band and the Nashville music scene? You get rising Christian pop artist Jordan Feliz, one of Centricity Music’s shining stars. He recently launched his freshman album, “Beloved.”
A single from the album, “The River,” has been playing non-stop it seems on Christian radio stations. It’s a very catchy, uplifting song of faith: “We’re goin down to the river/Down to the river/Down to the river to pray/Let’s get washed by the water/Washed by the water/and rise up in amazing grace/Let’s go down, down, down to the river/You will leave changed/Let’s go down, down, down to the river/Never the same.”
Feliz told me recently that he grew up with his parents’ love of R&B artists like Sam Cooke and Earth Wind & Fire. His father called this the “good music era.” By the time Feliz realized he had the gift of a singing voice, he had been shaped by R&B. He said he started writing songs as a high school freshman. In his senior year, he joined a heavy metal band.
“We wanted to be the light in a dark genre, to help people who did not have Jesus,” he said. “I’ve kept that mentality.”
Four and a half years later he was leading worship at a church. God called him to start writing again, he said, and a friend, who is now his manager, called and set him up with some writers in Nashville. He and his wife prayed for nearly a year about moving. They finally took the plunge. The only problem was, they only had enough money to make it to Phoenix.
“Getting here was a huge part of my testimony,” Feliz said. “I’m a planner. The year we prayed, I had to get my head around how to move.”
Feliz did something logical. He booked tours for a two-week period along the route he and his wife would take to Nashville. Then the crazy happened two weeks before the move: Every single concert cancelled for different reasons, for “crazy reasons.” The couple prayed some more and felt that God was still saying “Go.”
“I cold called churches I didn’t know. My first show was booked on the way to LA for a Saturday night worship. Each show got us to the next point.”
However, “outside Texas, everything started crumbling.” Feliz called friends to find a venue in Oklahoma City. He connected with a new church, located in a barn of all places. Feliz was offered $100 to play three services. “I thought it’s better than nothing. I got there and was excited. The barn was awesome.” Another problem arose, it seemed — nearly all the church members were attending a memorial related to the Oklahoma City Bombing. Feliz had an audience of 26 — yes, 26 — spread over three services.
Then he experienced a God thing: He collected love offerings totaling more than $1,500. One man gave him a check for $300 and said he felt that God wanted him to give that amount.
“We pulled out of the lot while I was crying,” he said. “I made money to move” versus breaking even.
Later, the struggling artist with a pregnant wife left a job as a valet parker to drive for Uber part-time. There was one issue: the couple was already sharing an old car. A friend agreed to sign up with Uber as well so both men could take advantage of a hiring promotion to win $1,000. The friend delayed by a few weeks and Uber had started a new promo: get a chance to win a Prius. Win the Prius he did.
“I had never won anything in my life. Uber asked me to be there (for the drawing). I think I was in a short drawing. I was like, ‘Wow.’”
One month later, the couple had a daughter.
“That was a blessing on top of a blessing.”
When he was writing “Beloved,” he realized his childhood memories of R&B were pouring out of him. He turned that into modern Christian music. The song “Beloved” is written for his daughter. The song says you are not what the lies of this world tell you.
“The world would tell her she’s not good enough. But she is beloved by me and her Savior. Having her gives me more respect for God’s children and how God looks at us. Your relationship in Christ does not have to be difficult. You are loved by Him.”
Feliz is currently writing music for his next album and spending time with his family. He will hit the road next spring with Big Daddy Weave and Plumb in the Beautiful Offering Tour. He should have an easier time getting from Point A to Point B then.