Wednesday, September 14, 2005
A conversation with . . .
Jimmy Davis is part of a triple-bill
performing to benefit hurricane victims
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In Hurricane Katrina’s wake, New River Valley residents have attempted to raise money for survivors in a number of ways. On Sept. 22 they will have another opportunity, with a benefit concert in Radford featuring a performance by Richard Kiser, David Cook and Jimmy Davis. Davis, who pastored at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Christiansburg for 18 years, and last month celebrated two years as a full-time evangelist, has been active for a long time in what he sees as his life’s work: to minister. Davis has been honored on several occasions by the Country Gospel Music Association (CGMA), taking home awards such as 2003 New Male Vocalist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year both last year and this year. Here Davis, who a few months ago released his fourth album, "Light of That City," shares some thoughts on the upcoming concert and the nature of ministering through music.
Can you tell me something about the upcoming concert in Radford?
Jimmy Davis: I wanted to do something to help Katrina survivors. And I’ve done some work with Franklin and Billy Graham and still do sometimes, so I know Samaritan’s Purse is real good at situations like Katrina, and I wanted to raise some money for that project. So I asked a couple other artists--Richard Kiser, who lives in Salem, and David Cook out of Charlotte, NC. And we’ll receive an offering that night, and 100 percent of what comes in is going to Samaritans Purse for the survivors.
What’s your goal as a religious songwriter?
JD: My goal is to minister to people. I try to look at the performance end of it, because some people are into that. But I’m not about that too much. I’m more about ministering to people. And songs that touch me I like to sing because if it’s touching me it’s probably touching someone else. And the same with my songwriting. God has really done something in my heart and life, and from that comes these words. And I’ve found that, like the Bible says, we’re not the only ones going through those things. So to put it in words in a song--of course music itself just has such a power--but if you put it in a song, it tends to have a ministry to other people who are going through the same thing.
How long have you been playing and writing then?
JD: I’ve been playing since I was a kid. My mom and dad sang, and my brother plays piano, and I was raised in a church where my pastor played the mandolin and a bunch of other folks in the church played music, and in fact that’s how I learned to play the guitar. I’ve never had lessons. I used to sit around with these guys and eat pie and drink coffee and play music. I’d watch them, and that’s how I learned how to play.
Do you mostly play original material?
JD: It’s about half and half, half original and half songs that have moved me.
Modern covers too?
JD: Both. On my new project I have an old hymn called "It is Well With My Soul," and then I also have some contemporary stuff on there. I hear the comment quite often that I sound like John Denver. That’s kinda the sound of my music.
What are you doing most of these days?
JD: Being a full-time evangelist. And that involves many things. Again our goal is to share the gospel with people, minister to people. And the means we use to do that are concerts. We have a lot of churches these days who will have me come in and do a concert, and I’ll give testimony and so forth in between songs. That’s been a real good tool. Here coming up in the next four or five weeks, I’m doing Sunday through Wednesdays meetings, and that will involve singing and preaching in some churches. And in the last week of October into November, we’re going with a team from CGMA to Nigeria. We’ve been invited by the governor of Nigeria. And we’re gonna be doing crusades and speaking in the universities there and doing concerts. There’s a venue there that some folks--some big names--have gone over there and rented and it cost them $50,000 dollars to rent the place. It’s a big stadium. And the governor’s giving us that free. And so we’re excited about that and praying for the lord to use us there. In February we were in the Philippines for a couple weeks and saw over a thousand people receive Christ. In November I’ll also be in Shreveport, La., with the Franklin-Graham crusade. So we’re just kinda going through the doors that God opens.
A benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina survivors will be performed at Cavalry Baptist Church, 624 6th St., Radford, at 7 p.m. Sept. 22.