It is no secret that many country music stars don’t write their own music. Most of the time, they listen to tracks and get to pick and choose what to put on their latest album.
That couldn’t be further from the truth for Matthew West.
Last year, West and his wife sat on the floor together for two months in a small cabin outside Nashville, Tenn., and read 10,000 stories that had been submitted to them. They were tales of happiness, of despair, of rebirth. Then, he wrote.
“They always say you never know when you are going to fall in love, that it just happens,” West said. “That’s how it was with these stories. I would read and read, then one would just hit me. I would feel something unexplainable and just start jotting things down.”
The singer started with a very simple concept in February 2010. Searching for inspiration, he posted on Facebook that he wanted to hear his fans’ stories. He created a link on his website for submissions. Within two days, he had received more than 1,000 submissions. He spent March and April in the cabin, with a huge whiteboard of ideas.
“Listening to all of these stories really makes you take inventory of your life and what is going on in it,” West said. “There is a whole world outside that needs hope. There are so many songs of redemption and heartbreak.”
West’s writings eventually became his newest album, “Story of Your Life.” His tour stops Sunday in Paducah for an appearance at the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center. But instead of singing on a stage, West plans to tell his audience those stories that inspired him in deeper detail.
“These stories read like a movie,” West explained. “So instead of just sitting up there and playing, I am going to give people more of an idea of the stories behind the songs as well. It’s more of an experience than just a regular concert.”
Of course, West will play all of the fan-favorites, songs that have gotten him to where he is. His last album, “Something to Say,” reached No. 8 on Billboard’s Christian music chart. The song “Motions,” off that same album, rose to No. 14 on the Billboard chart and earned him a Grammy nomination.
Along with his successful solo career, West also has written songs for big-name recording artists like Rascal Flatts and Billy Ray Cyrus. He penned the song “The Day Before You” for Rascal Flatts, which was released on the group’s album “Feels Like Today.”
West wrote 36 songs during his two months in the cabin and kept notes on at least a hundred more. The songs picked to be on the album were spawned from a variety of different stories, including battles with disease, broken homes and the loss of a loved one. Although some of them have deep context, the message West sends is always clear: There is hope.
“All music has an impact,” he said. “When it comes to my music, I want it to be a positive one.”
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652.
Want to go
- Who: Matthew West
- When: 7 p.m. Sunday
- Where: Luther F. Carson
- Four Rivers Center Tickets: Start at $10
For tickets and more information, go to thecarsoncenter.org.