Derek Webb: different kind of contemporary Christian musician

Derek Webb brings a new perspective on Christianity to Maryville College. His performance was one that many didn't see coming, as he utilized many lyrics not usually heard in church. Photo courtesy of concertboom.com

When Derek Webb stepped onto the stage or the Lambert Recital Hall at the Clayton Center for the Arts for his February Meeting performance on Feb. 7, it wasn’t with a flash and a bang. He simply walked out and started talking. As a Christian artist, he didn’t lead the crowd with flashing lights, fog machines and a big glowing cross. In opting for awkward, slightly nervous jokes, he abandoned the passionate plea of the clichéd Baptist preacher.

Still, his performance was simple and true, and his oddball persona just kind of worked.

His presence left a fairly soft impression; casual attire, somewhat slouched, joking back and forth with a 10-year-old requesting Justin Bieber songs. Still, for a seemingly average fellow, Webb’s a pretty bold guy.

His longtime wife is the subject of many of his songs, and the two have a fairy-tale love story.

After only a brief conversation in a coffee shop to his then-engaged wife-to-be, Webb decided he’d fallen head over heels and moved out of state in an attempt to pursue her. The two were married less than a year later and have stayed together for years.

Still, it’s not his love stories that have garnered attention. Webb is unique in his Christian witness due to his bold message.

In a very liberal take, he stands for rectitude in social issues around the world. Often political, he demands justice, saying, “Peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication; it’s like telling someone murder is wrong and then showing them by way of execution.”

Through his music, he condemns dogmatic and judgmental practices and criticizes those who abuse power from the church. With lyrics like “’Cause I am a whore, I do confess, but I put you on just like a wedding dress,” Webb has received both criticism and praise.

It’s raw and edgy, but Webb is unapologetic.

His new-age take on the teachings of Jesus Christ made up the bulk of his message during his CCA performance.

His community conversation was very much a simple one. Requests were taken, jokes were made and he performed for over an hour, armed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar.

Webb may not have been a powerhouse rock star, but his voice soared through the roof. With catchy lyrics infused with a potent message, it’s no wonder he’s been making an impact in the Christian music community.

Afterwards, Webb met with audience members to sign autographs and discuss his message. His words may have been controversial to some, but they seemed to strike a chord with the many who gathered with him afterward.

His persona almost served as a contrast to his sometimes venomous and accusatory songs, but this was perhaps the most effective thing about him. He is not a media leviathan rock god challenging the system.

Just a nice guy with some suggestions on how to make a better world.

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