Conversation: Jonny Lang
Blues musician Jonny Lang had a record contract before he was old enough to drive. Now 25, he has five albums and years of performing experience under his belt. He has been nominated for a Grammy, performed for a president, and toured with the likes of B.B. King, Sting and the Rolling Stones.
Yet these days the young celebrity is more interested in faith than fame. His latest album, Turn Around, is a musical tribute to his spiritual journey. Lang recently talked with Staff Writer Christina Quick about how a relationship with Christ altered his perceptions of life and success.
tpe: What were the challenges of achieving success at such an early age?
LANG: Starting out young in a band, there were a lot of venues we would play where you could only get in if you were 21. Stuff from that environment rubbed off on me. I started smoking when I was 12. I became an alcoholic and a drug addict in my teens.
tpe: When did you realize something was missing in your life?
LANG: I always felt it. When IÕd go to bed at night and when IÕd wake up in the morning, I realized something was missing. When you feel something is missing but you donÕt know what, itÕs horrible. Somewhere in my heart, even during my most jaded times, I knew about Jesus.
tpe: How did you make the leap from having a vague knowledge of Christ to experiencing a relationship with Him?
LANG: God sort of chiseled away at me over the years. The main event took place when I was 18 or 19 and dating my wife. Her father, Cliff, was dying of hepatitis C and had cancer. I had grown really close to him.
There was a break in our tour schedule so I was able to go and visit them. One night as he was being taken care of, I went to leave their house to go smoke pot with a friend. Before we had a chance to get high, the phone rang. Cliff had just died. As I headed back to their place, something sort of hit me in the chest, and I felt total peace. All through that night as I was grieving with the family, I felt this strength I had never felt before. It was so different and so powerful.
Later, as we were sitting in the backyard, I felt that same feeling and all of a sudden I just said, ÒJesus!Ó right in the middle of the conversation. When I said His name I began shaking. When it was done, I knew IÕd had a personal encounter with Him.
I was both ecstatic and horrified. I was confronted with how IÕd lived my life. I knew Jesus was the true, living God, and IÕd denied Him all those years. It grieved me. I fell down on the ground and gave my life to Him right there. He totally, instantly delivered me of my addictions. I had no taste for those things anymore.
tpe: What else changed in your life?
LANG: IÕm not the person I was. I lost a majority of my friends because our friendships were based on partying. I had to let go of everything.
I used to play music for myself. It was the only thing that fulfilled my life. Music was sort of my god. Now I understand music is a gift God has given me. IÕm trying to be a good steward of that gift.
True success is serving God successfully, nothing else. If I can be obedient in the things He asks me to do, I think IÕve been successful.
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