Christian singer performing for rescue mission benefit concert says speech obstruction is a gift
Christian singer / songwriter Jason Gray will be the lead performer at a benefit concert in Idaho Falls on June 11. Listen to our conversation with him in the video player above. | Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
IDAHO FALLS – Talking about uncomfortable things is something Jason Gray has grown used to over the years.
The 49-year-old Christian singer / songwriter, who will be the lead performer at a benefit concert for the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission on June 11, has written hundreds of songs about personal struggle. Many of them stem from his own life experience. A song he wrote several years ago called “Death Without a Funeral” deals with his feelings about his recent divorce.
âI would probably put this in the top three songs I’m most proud of,â Gray told EastIdahoNews.com.
In a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com, Gray spoke candidly about another personal struggle he has had his entire life.
âMy ssssss-sss-tuttering is mysterious,â says Gray. âI’m not sure what the cause is, but as far as I know it’s genetic. I am genetically predisposed to it. It lurks inside you and is activated by a traumatic event. “
Gray developed a stuttering problem when he was 5 years old. He says it was linked to his parents’ divorce and an abusive relationship with his father.
It was difficult for Gray as a child to live with a speech disorder, but he has learned to cope over the years with the help of speech therapists and breathing techniques. It’s a challenge he’s largely mastered now, but there are still a few words and sounds that stumble upon him from time to time.
“Has it gotten better over the years, or have I just learned to hide it?” I think it’s a combination of the two, âhe says. âYou will notice that sometimes I will speak, and I will take a breath before I finish the next (word). When I do this, I do my bb-breath control. If I can say I’m going to hang on to one word, I’ll quickly find another word. “
Even with a speech impediment, Gray says he always knew he wanted to be a singer. He wasn’t sure how it would work, but he quickly realized that his weakness wasn’t a hindrance to his success. Quite the reverse, in fact.
When he picked up a guitar and started singing, it was suddenly much easier to communicate, and the messages inside his heart could finally be released.
âWhen I sing, it automatically clears up, and the idea behind it is that when you sing, you automatically breathe properly. You (communicate) from another part of your brain, âhe says. “I could sing it all, but I think it would be more awkward than the speech handicap, so I just (embrace) the speech handicap.”
Embracing and accepting this weakness, however, is not something that happened naturally for Gray. For a long time he was ashamed of it and didn’t feel he could become what he was meant to be unless God stepped in and took him out of his life.
âI got into a fight with God, saying, ‘I can’t be your spokesperson until you mm-mm-mm-mmâ¦ uhâ¦ m-do it so I can speak.’ But then I thought, âI see how this is supposed to be. I’m supposed to go out and do this anyway, and when I do, GGG-God is going to make it go away, and that will be my story. ”
But that’s not what happened. Several years later, he had an experience that changed his perspective.
Gray says he stuttered like crazy between concert performances. He could barely utter two words when addressing the crowd, and he wanted to hide.
His attempt to disappear after the concert was unsuccessful. As he sat in a cafe there was a line of people waiting to talk to him.
âI’ve heard variations of the same story. I’ve heard people say, âJJ-Jason. Thank you for what you have done this evening. It reminded me that I am not defined by my weakness, âGray recalls. âI remember coming home that night and realizing that it wasn’t the content of my concerts that spoke to people. What told people was that I was a broken and imperfect person, and I took the stage, and I did it anyway.
Today Gray considers his weakness to be an incredible asset to his performing career as it allows him to reach people in a way few can.
âMaybe this thing that I always imagined is a liability is really a gift,â he says. âMaybe God doesn’t intend to heal me of my speech impediment, but maybe God does intend to bring healing to others through it.
If there’s only one song Jason Gray is remembered for, he hopes it’s this one. It’s his favorite, and he says it’s the defining message of his music.
LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE CONVERSATION WITH GRAY IN THE VIDEO PLAYER AT THE TOP.
Helping others find healing is what he hopes to accomplish on his final tour. Earlier this year, he appealed on social media for the locations to happen. There was a tremendous response, and among them was a message from the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission.
Idaho Falls Concert
IFRM’s community relations manager Olivia Stauffer said the nonprofit had planned an event with Gray in 2019 but had to cancel early in COVID-19. As staff were planning a fundraising event for this year, they reached out to Gray, and he agreed to do a live benefit concert to close the mission’s week-long virtual fundraising gala.
From Monday June 7, videos from community members will be posted on the IFRM Facebook page. The person featured in each video will talk about their experiences with the mission, their programs, and the benefits to the community. Among those featured will be Idaho Falls Chamber CEO Chip Schwarze and local pastor Todd Wood.
Stauffer says it takes around $ 800,000 a year to keep IFRM running, and the purpose of these videos is to encourage people to make a contribution.
âWe’re asking for people’s financial support, but the support isn’t always monetary,â Stauffer says. âWe also need volunteers at the mission or to help with this event. Just sharing the videos on social media that week will go a long way in spreading the word. “
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The concert will begin on June 11 at 6 p.m. inside the Westbank Convention Center at 525 River Parkway. Accompanying Gray to the event will be Beckah Shae, another Christian singer / songwriter who will perform for the crowd. Although this is a paid event, Shae’s performance will be streamed live on Facebook.
There are only 18 tickets left for the concert, which cost $ 150 and cover admission for two people. Cost includes dinner hosted by Dixie’s Diner, meet the artists, and raffle tickets for multiple prizes.
Stauffer is hoping to find sponsors for the event and she would like to raise between $ 15,000 and $ 20,000 throughout the week.
âAt the bare minimum, we need $ 10,000 just to cover our expenses (for the gala),â she says.
After an eventful year, Gray says he’s excited to be touring again and performing to a live audience in Idaho Falls. It promises a night of laughter and hope for those who attend.
âMy desire is always to arrive at a real and authentic place of healing. I think healing can happen when we come together and tune our hearts together. There are healing properties in music. I know I’ve definitely been through this in my life, but you can’t go as far as you go high, âhe says. “We are going to laugh and we are going to have fun.”
If you would like to get involved as a volunteer or sponsor, send an email to [email protected] To purchase tickets or learn more, click here.
Poster for the event | Courtesy of Olivia Stauffer