Matthew West Returns With Jam

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

West Matthew Christmas235Matthew West gets in the Christmas spiritSinger-songwriter Matthew West is back on board the giant Winter Jam tour, coming to VanAndel Arena on Sun. Jan. 3 (see details below).

The Christian music artist will perform more true-life-story songs from his latest CD, "Live Forever."

"The whole record theme is about moving forward," said West of songs such as "Day One" and "World Changers".

West's last three albums have all been based on testimonies found in true stories sent in by fans – gleaned from the tens of thousands of emails, letters and messages he's received. Many of the resulting songs have been assisted by videos introducing viewers to the people involved. Two examples are "Hello, My Name Is" (about Jason, a reformed drug addict) and "Forgiveness" (a mother who forgave the drunk driver who cuased a car crash that killed her daughter).

The artist has another winner with his new anthem "Grace Wins." The song is about a young man name Robert, who was at a West concert and heard the song "Hello, My Name Is," with which he closely identified.

"I'm a drug addict and I need help, too," he wrote to the artist.

West and his ministry team reached out to him, and Robert entered the same rehab program (Teen Challenge) that helped Jason, the man in the previous song. Watch online.

"I've always had the desire to connect to the hearts of people through the songs that I write," said West, who performed in Zeeland, MI in November. "But these past six years have ruined me for ordinary. Nothing is more meaningful than sitting down to write songs from these stories."


Winter Jam is Christian music's largest annual tour, drawing full-house crowds to some of the nation's largest arenas, including the Toyota Center in Houston and Freedom Hall in Louisville. Now in its 21st year, Winter Jam first came to Grand Rapids in 2009 and has returned every winter since. Frequently it has drawn turn-away crowds for headlining acts such as TobyMac and Third Day.

Last year's tour featuring 10 different music acts drew more than 600,000 fans.
Arena-sized staging has allowed for lots of production effects showcased by bands like Skillet and Newsboys. Large screen video, LED lighting and pyrotechnics are standard at Winter Jam.

For the second straight year the pop-rock duo For King and Country is on the bill, this time co-headlining with West. (They were an opening act in 2012). The inspirational-pop Sidewalk Prophets and the hard rockers Red are also along for 2016.

A highlight is newcomer Lauren Daigle, winner of a 2015 Dove Award as top new artist and who now is Grammy Award-nominated for her CD "How Can It Be?"

The host band is NewSong, the group that founded the Winter Jam tour and has watched it grow over the years. There's also an interesting rap/hip-hop artist trio: Tedashii, KB and Trip Lee.

"Pre-Jam" artists (who perform briefly before the actual concert begins) include the bands Stars Go Dim and We Are Messengers.

Tony Nolan, an inspirational speaker and author of the devotional book, "Faith Fuel: A Refueling Journey," is returning as speaker and will make a gospel presentation.

This tour will hit 48 cities over three months. Grand Rapids is only the second stop in the schedule

West appeared on Winter Jam in 2013, favoring crowds with his story-songs and several accompanying videos. But this time he is bringing along a new devotional book.

"Day One" contains 200 devotions revealing that each day is a new gift from God and should be lived with joy, grace and gratitude ( "Day One" is also the title of a song on "Live Forever," and was inspired by a man who came to faith while in prison and now is a successful restaurant manager with a new life and new purpose.

The stories just keep coming. "There's still time to be a Story Teller and share your story," he invited. There's a form right on his website to share your story


WINTER JAM TOUR, featuring Matthew West, For King & Country, Red, Sidewalk Prophets, NewSong, KB, Tedashi, and Trip Lee with speaker Tony Nolan. Also "Pre-Jam" music from Stars Go Dim and We Are Messengers

When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday Jan. 3 (Doors open approximately 6 p.m. Pre-Jam music before 6:30 p.m.)

Where: Van Andel Arena, 130 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids

Admission: No advance tickets, $10 at the door plus donation during concert. Limited number of "Jam Nation" membership passes, good for early admission and other features, may be available in advance for purchase at
Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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