Got your attention didn’t I! Yes, technically, Grammy winning, million album selling, best selling author, Christian rapping sensation Lecrae opened for us. Although technically true, let me give you more details…
June 2012, Rising Life had landed the “Featured Artist” slot on the main stage at Atlanta Fest in Atlanta, GA. This is one of the biggest outdoor Christian music festivals in the country. Approximately 30,000 people would be in attendance to hear us play. This was a very big deal. We would be opening for Jeremy Camp, who at last count had almost 20 #1 radio singles. So the set we would play, would be for the crowd gathered to see Jeremy Camp. What a captive audience. This was prime time, the big time, the 9PM Friday night slot. We hadn’t “made it” yet, but we were on our way.
I had been so busy praying for mercy from the Lord, to not let me walk out on stage and drop my guitar, or forget my lyrics, or break a string, or my pants to fall down, I hadn’t stopped to see who was playing right before us. We had all access artist passes so we were backstage tuning guitars, etc. It was still an hour or so before we played, but we were just calming our nerves and getting ready. I had befriended the stage manager and we were talking as I was changing strings on a guitar, I saw an army of folks coming towards the stage. I said, “Who is this?”
The stage manager replied tongue-in-cheek, “It’s your opening act man! This is the guy going on right before you.”
So I look up, and getting off the golf cart..was…Lecrae…..
Lecrae, the Heavy Hitter…
Take out the fact that he has sold millions of records or the Grammys, this guy’s music is just amazing. Artistic, relevant, and a message that hits you in the head with a sledgehammer of truth and love. So for a split second, I was the fan boy. I got giddy, goose bumps ran over me, here was one of my musical heroes and inspirations…Lecrae!!!
Well….then….dread set in. This was the first big performance of my life…and….I am following…Lecrae? Oh Lord in heaven!! Why hast Thou forsaken me!!!
I panicked. I believed in our music, but I was still in my infancy of writing music and getting my stage presence together! This was going to be a disaster. Folks would be riding the high of hearing and seeing Lecrae perform, and then the announcer would say “Here we have the podunk wannabes from West Kentucky!! Give it up for the ultra boring Rising Life!! Prepare to head for the exits and go to sleep!” What were we going to do?
I don’t think the other guys in the band really understood the gravity of the situation and ignored the whole thing. Honestly I am not sure they knew who Lecrae was. I was always the most musically daring and open of the group, at that time anyway.
Lecrae Speaks to Rising Life
So here he came. Right up to me. He saw my artist pass and said. “Hey man.”
I think I let out a gutteral sound and spit all over myself, but it is possible I said Hi back, I am not sure. He then asked what the name of my group was…Oh…you really want to know? Seriously? So I gathered up the strength to tell him. He said, “Cool man.” I told him nervous about having to follow such an amazing artist.
He laughed and said, “Man I am just a person like you, but I’m gonna pray for you right now that God’s hand comes over all of us and we reach the folks out there. Don’t forget it’s not about us, it’s about God.”
And he did, he prayed right there. As I said, I’m not sure half of Rising Life even knew who he was. Believe me though, in about 10 minutes they would know, and would want to leave the premises right away!
Lecrae made the final walk up the ramp, and walked on the stage. I am pretty sure I had counted over fifty or so 18″ subwoofer speakers under the stage. At outdoor events you need 4 times the speakers you do inside. He opened with “Go Hard,” and the bass hit so hard I could feel my chest caving in. What came next was 45 minutes of pure audio bliss and ministry to even bring the most ardent atheist to Christ. I could see it on everyone in the band’s face, Message received. If they didn’t know who Lecrae was before, they sure did now. The whole group understood what had just happened.
The Master Takes the Stage
30,000 people had been whipped into a frenzy and the spirit of the Lord and the bass hits of Lecrae had came over them, and now we had to go out on stage….
I said a quick prayer, “Lord you brought us here, you know what you are doing, we are going to follow you and trust in you.” Lecrae walked off and patted me on the shoulder and said “I got ’em ready for you!” He winked at me. Right then my nerves calmed, he said exactly what I had needed to hear. He lightened my heart at the right time.
Saved by the Bell
We walked up the ramp, got ready to walk out. The announcer called us to the staging area. A mistake had been made. There was a 10 minute speech from a motivational speaker……wait…what? WHAT?!! YES YES YES!! GOD YOU HAVE DELIVERED US!!!!!
So for 10 minutes, this poor guy with the best of intentions, tried to speak to 30,000 Christian music fans about positive attitudes or something. The crowds energy dropped to below zero!! WE HAD BEEN SAVED!!!!
He walked off, we walked on, the lights, stage fog, and pyrotechnics went off, and we rocked the crowd and shared Christ with 30,000 people. My life has never been the same since and I have never looked back.
So now you know the story of when Lecrae “opened” for Rising Life!!!
Heath and Kristy