Below is a recent interview that I done with artist Matthew Kennedy. I would like to start off by giving you a little bit of Matthew’s background.
Matthew Kennedy’s life got started when he was born in Zimbabwe, though he was raised in South Africa while it was still under apartied rule.
He has had to overcome losing his father to a sudden heart attack when Matthew was only 12. Matthew has had to also overcome addictions to alcohol and cocaine, including several arrest related to those addictions.
Matthew’s life took a turn for the better when he got married, reconnected with Jesus, adopted an 8 years old girl from Columbia, and in that same year had the birth of another daughter.
All of that struggle and despair, ultimately ending with hope and redemption, has brought Matthew Kennedy to the point where he can share his experiences, both good and bad, with others through his music.
Here is our interview:
1. How has having been raised in South Africa, while apartheid was still happening, affected your life?
It was definitely a very unique experience because life, until the age of around fourteen or fifteen was a complete illusion. The government controlled all forms of media in order to separate black from white and to ensure the success of the apartheid institution. I think fear is the main drive behind many types of aggression and intolerance so I guess it’s easier to attack someone else’s difference instead of looking inward for change. That is what is at the core of the Christianity Christ was trying to teach us. Change your own personal imperfections in order to affect those around you. Growing up in South Africa, I was surrounded by people living in fear and this caused them to act out in very racist and violent ways. Even different African tribes would fight among one another instead of sticking together to create change. I was confused myself but eventually my heart did not agree with what I saw and it went against the things I believed. Belief in God or not, human beings are human beings and we all bleed the same so why do we hate to the extreme of taking life? We see it all around the world where militants fight in the name of God, politicians lobby in the name of God, preachers use the name of God to get an agenda across. So, I guess my experience in South Africa has really enabled me to look past the surface and try to see the heart inside every person. People get judged all the time. It’s wrong.
2. Since you moved to the U.S. have you gone back and visited Africa?
The last time I went back to South Africa was about seven years ago but I hope to get back there within the next few years. I really miss the culture, which takes pride in community and family.
3.What was the point in your life when you realized that you were heading down the wrong road of life and needed to change?
I am not sure if I was actually ever on the “right” path but I guess God knew what He was doing in my life and the outcome was obvious to Him. I think things took a turn for the worst when I moved to L.A in order to pursue a solo career. Looking back though, if it wasn’t for my walk in the dark, I never would have met the people that are heavily involved in my life at this point, especially my wife, who has given me two children. With that said, I strongly believe that some of us have to go down certain paths in order to find out who we really are.
4. Do you consider yourself a Christian artist or an artist that’s a Christian?
That is a question asked by many and answered by even more. I am just a guy who writes music, who has a passion for music but who happens to love God so therefore all aspects of my walk are exposed through the songs that I write whether it be about my love, my losses, my gains or my relationships. To define myself as a Christian artist would definitely pigeon hole me as a writer but my relationship with the Lord is pretty transparent in the music I write.
5. What are the main things that you hope to achieve with your music?
To tell a story and to make people feel cared for without any preconditions or agendas. Grace is something I have experienced so I hope people are able to see that in my music.
6. What’s best piece of advice that you’ve ever gotten related to music?
To have fun, tell a story and remember what we are created to do. Above all, don’t take yourself to seriously; we don’t need anymore rock stars!!!!
7. What are your future musical plans, touring etc…?
Future plans are susceptible to momentary change. In other words, nothing is really set in stone right now but playing in a couple of prisons has been one of my focuses. Singing to people that need to hear something compassionate is important to me so I hope more opportunities present themselves.
8. Who are some of the artist/bands that you enjoy listening to?
U2 is an obvious one. Coldplay, The Brave, Boxbomb, Mute Math, Feist, Muse, Ours. Then there are great vocalists I enjoy listening to like Jeff Buckly, Robert Plant, Brandi Carlyle, K Max, Lenny Kravitz.
9. The song “Wait” found on your new release Avise La Fin deals with your father’s death, that happened when you were only a teenager. That must be a really emotional song for you to perform?
I have still not performed it. I am really careful when performing songs that tend to open my chest up and leave my insides on the stage. It was a difficult song for me to write and to record so I guess I am just putting it off until the timing is right. It’s a pretty raw song that I am still recovering from writing. Not to sound dramatic or anything!
10. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. Is there anything that we missed that you want to tell our readers?
Thanks for taking an interest in my stuff, I really appreciate it a great deal. I don’t think I have any pearls of wisdom but I guess what I have learned through this entire experience is that I am truly happy doing what I do on ANY level. People need grace and transparency and I hope I can deliver that message each time I stand in front of a mic or not.
C.W. Ross is a freelance writer who enjoys both listening to and writing about Christian Music. You can learn more on his website: www.christianrockersonline.com
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