"My parents own every record he ever made," said Feliz, 28, of the veteran Smith. "I never thought I'd ever be able to share the stage with him."
The relative newcomer Feliz is an opening artist on Smith's current tour, coming to downtown Grand Rapids at 20 Monroe Live on Sat. April 29.
"I feel like my childhood experience of listening to CDs in my parents' car is being lived out right now," he smiled.
Smith, 59, needs no introduction to Christian music fans. More than two dozen albums, nearly three dozen No. 1 songs, and various collaboration projects have left an indelible mark for the Gospel Music Hall of Fame member.
Smith's current Revolution Tour is expected to be a retrospective of his long recording career. He last performed in Grand Rapids in 2015 at a Christmas season concert with the Grand Rapids Symphony. Smith returns this December for a holiday performance in Van Andel Arena with frequent musical partner Amy Grant.
THE RIVER JORDAN
Feliz made an immediate impact on Christian music with his anthem "The River" which topped multiple Christian charts two years ago. It's a song he says was inspired by a single verse of Scripture – John 7:38.
"I read that (verse) one morning – it was the verse of the day on my phone's Bible app," he recalled. "'Whoever believes in me will have rivers of living water flow from within them.'
"It speaks about what the cross accomplished: because of the cross we have this communication – the Holy Spirit – that's the living water within us. So every day we have this opportunity to rise up and be made new."
His latest charting song, "Beloved," was written before the birth of his daughter as a message to her and to others - that our true worth is found in Jesus, not in what the world says.
THE ARTIST'S JOURNEY
The California native grew up in a church environment and was coaxed into singing while still in middle school. When Feliz's youth group worship leader didn't show up one Sunday, young Jordan stepped out from behind the drums to sing and lead the worship songs.
"My youth pastor told me it was a good thing for me and that I should continue," he said. "That kind of lit a fire and I eventually started writing music and singing."
Feliz fronted a regional rock band for five years out of high school. But the music of his faith continued to call and he took a job as a church worship leader. A trip to Nashville and some experience in co-writing led the artist and his wife to move there and see what happened. Feliz secured a record deal and five months later, "The River" flowed to radio.
"For me songwriting is all about feeling – not about the numbers or what works with what," he said of his style.
His initial Christian music industry "splash" helped him to a 2016 Dove Award as New Artist of the Year. Feliz said he had earlier received some great advice from a songwriting friend regarding such accolades.
"He told me awards are not why we do this (Christian music), and for me to have the freedom of not needing to win awards to continue. Although I was honored and grateful for the recognition, that concept was very freeing for me."
TALES OF A TOUR
A tour's opening act doesn't get much stage time. Feliz has 20 minutes in his time slot, which should be enough for at least four songs. But he's getting in front of many more people than he would at a solo concert.
"This tour has been about half theaters and clubs and half churches," he said by phone before a date at The Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisc. "The venues have been beautiful and it's fun to kind of bring the church into them."
This is the first faith-based concert at the new 20 Monroe Live venue, attached to the B.O.B. in downtown Grand Rapids. Facility marketing manager Amber Stokosa said the Smith concert is a venue rental by the tour and was not booked by Live Nation Entertainment, their usual booking agency.
Felix is coming back to West Michigan this summer. He performs July 2 at Worship on the Waterfront in Grand Haven. The stage is right alongside the Grand River, an appropriate setting for his signature song.
"I'm excited. That's gonna be so much fun," he said.
Michael W. Smith, with special guests Jordan Feliz and Nathan Tasker
7 p.m. Sat. April 29 (doors open at 6 p.m.)
at 20 Monroe Live (street address 11 Ottawa Ave. NW), Grand Rapids
Tickets: Reserved seats range from $25 to $50. Some general admission tickets available for $32. There may be VIP tickets remaining at a higher price.
To purchase and for more info: https://concerts1.livenation.com/event/0800524E2098667D?disable-widget=true; 844-678-LIVE (5483)
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