“Turn the page because where we are is not where we’re going...”
Canadian-born singer/songwriter Matt Brouwer’s latest single, 'Waking Up', is more than just a nod to the past 14 years of being a recording artist, which Brouwer is celebrating on the release of his first career spanning ‘best of’ collection, Writing To Remember. The sentiment of a bookend and a new beginning is no accident and reveals a season of transition that Brouwer is happily embracing. With more than a decade of hit songs, including “Water,” “I Shall Believe,” “Tonight,” and the Top 20 "Sometimes”; two GMA Canada Covenant Awards; two Canadian people’s choice Vibe Awards—not to mention a 2010 Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy equivalent) for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the year—Matt has a lot to celebrate in all that has been accomplished so far over the course of his career. With the passage of time inevitably comes change and it is in looking back that Matt is starting to see a new and exciting road ahead.
Matt Brouwer got his start in the music industry while studying music at school in Alberta, Canada. While in college he and fellow students founded the band Monday Night Worship (MNW). Because of the spiritual content of his lyrics he was 'discovered' by a Nashville record company in 2000, and in 2001 recorded his solo debut CD Imagerical. The album was released on May 29, 2001 on Reunion Records. He then formed his own label called Black Shoe Records and released an album titled Unlearning in 2005, Where’s Our Revolution (Universal) in 2009, and Till The Sunrise in 2012. Brouwer's music has been hailed for its relentless vulnerability as he shares his life's story of tragedy (the tragic death of his father) and hope (his Spiritual pilgrimage) with his listeners.
“I never imagined where this journey would take me”, says Brouwer. “I can remember being 17 or 18 and feeling so compelled to want to shout from the rooftops about the Spiritual awakening I was experiencing. It was like being embraced by the most incredible love and connection to the Lord and the key to unlocking this door to my heart was through music. I was so hungry for that and totally committed and determined to follow it wherever it might lead me. My time in college and the friends I made there, the energy that was driving us, or driving me, to write songs and attempt to share them with the world felt like a humble but passionate expression of a new but relevant faith that was growing like a wildfire at the time. Fifteen years or so later, I still feel that longing. With all the miles travelled and water under the bridge, I still sit down in front of a piano or with a guitar and dream about what could be possible. I believe in the power of God’s love, transforming hearts through music and worship because I’ve experienced it and I’ve seen it happen in sometimes subtle and not so subtle ways. It’s something I believe I’ll be pursuing my entire life.”
That’s not to say that Brouwer believes that all anyone needs to find peace in life is a three minute pop song to solve all of their problems. Born February, 28, 1976 to a very devout Christian family, Matt’s mom made sure that he and his siblings were memorizing full chapters of scripture by the time they started kindergarten and spending as much or more time during the week at church gatherings than in front of the tv or devouring any type of pop culture media. “I used to feel embarrassed by how sheltered we were, but now I am so thankful because it gave me an incredible foundation of solid teaching and an education in Biblical theology. But knowledge alone is pretty useless until it makes an emotional connection somehow and finds it’s way into your heart. For me, the music is what connected the two.”
Like so many new beginnings, much of the genesis for this fresh optimism happened when Hannah entered Matt’s life. The two first met while Matt was on a mission trip in Guatemala, where Hannah’s parents serve as medical missionaries. The relationship blossomed and they were engaged in spring 2010 and married later that year. The couple welcomed their first child, a daughter, in September of 2013 and life forever changed. The balance of career and family has been a stretch at times, but it’s something Matt says he is learning to embrace and explore. “It might sounds strange, but I’ve never been less interested in pursuing a music career. Being married and having a family has re-oriented my priorities completely and the career things that used to be so important to me have become less so. In that way it’s been very freeing and has forced me to let go of control and allowed my steps to be directed by opportunities that the Lord brings our way rather than striving and trying to ‘make it’. If ten or ten million people are listening, it really doesn’t matter. Being a great husband, father, and friend are much more important to me right now than striving for some big career that takes me away from these precious gifts of family and community.”
Community and camaraderie has become increasingly more important to the singer and one listen to Writing to Remember reveals this collaborative spirit that is a hallmark of Matt’s musical pallet. Those lending their vocal talents include JJ Heller, Jill Paquette, and even Vince Gill and Amy Grant on a deeply personal and emotional track, 'The Other Side'. Writing to Remember is equally saturated with a spirit of hope, togetherness and God’s love. The album beautifully bookends this first chapter with a nod to the next waiting to unfold. “These 15 songs truly represent the progression of learning for me and express the joys and struggles of life that has been lived these past 14 years”, says Matt. “It’s been cool to re-discover how relevant these simple truths still are in my life and I believe for all of us.”