"Honestly, those are some of my favorite summertime gigs," said Heath from his Nashville home. "I do at least one a summer."
Heath will do a pre-game concert June 29 at Fifth Third Ballpark before a West Michigan Whitecaps game.
Earlier this summer Heath performed at the home of a Whitecaps rival, the South Bend Cubs in Indiana.
"They gave me some cool Cubs swag," he recalled. "I wasn't able to sing the National Anthem for them that day, but I promised to come back and do it another time."
Heath comes to West Michigan with a pocketful of new songs from his latest album, "Faith Hope Love Repeat." The artist was on a plane flight when he began the thought process for the title song during a "freak out moment."
"My wife and I were expecting our first child, and I think that reality was hitting me for the first time," he said. "Should we bring a child into a world that's just a little bit crazy? But actually, there's a lot of good that we forget because we're often focusing on the bad things in the news."
The ballad points to the principles and the way of Jesus as the instruction guide for life. Offering someone faith, hope and love is the ultimate gift from above.
A NOVEL APPROACH
Thanks to a persistent fan, Heath's eyes were opened to a whole new arena for his new music.
A young man from a small town in Kansas had been interpreting/translating his songs into American Sign Language (ASL) and placing the videos on YouTube.
Heath and his wife Siebe befriended the young man – who has limited hearing himself. That's when the artist took the bold step of having all of the songs on "Faith Hope Love Repeat" professionally produced for video in ASL.
"I have an interpreter friend who lined up some certified ASL people and each did a few songs apiece," said Heath. "It kind of blew me away that there were people who were trying to hear my music. I thought, 'If you want to hear it, then I want you to hear it, too!'" (See the ASL version of "Faith Hope Love Repeat" online - signed by Colin Analco).
Two of Heath's best known songs have followed him around for several years. The ballad "I'm Not Who Was" still brings the most reaction from listeners.
"People are always telling me stories about how that song impacted them or got them through a hard time," said Heath of the song's personal expression of extending forgiveness in a difficult situation. "Hopefully it's led some people to reconciliation."
The 2007 tune was his first No. 1 song on Christian radio.
Another of his signature songs is "Give Me Your Eyes," a musical plea to see people as God sees them. Both songs were co-written with producer-writer Jason Ingram.
The life of a traveling music artist makes church look a little different for the couple and their six-month old daughter.
"I work the majority of weekends and Sundays," he noted. "I meet with a group of men on Mondays and my wife has a group of women that come on Monday nights, and that's kind of what we see as our church community."
The artist noted there are several churches where they worship when back in Nashville, and as an area native, Heath still has a "home church."
"I realize there are artists who work very hard to be loyal to Sundays at home, but often in a touring situation, it's just very difficult," he added.
IN THE FIELD
For his "sports stadium" concerts, Heath sometimes brings along a single side-player, other times a full band. Often it depends on the size of the venue. Two years ago he did a post-game concert in the 41,000–seat Minute Maid Park, home of the major league baseball Houston Astros.
"I had to have a band – literally 10 thousand people stayed afterward for the concert," he said.
One of his little-known claims to fame: country music superstar Carrie Underwood asked Heath to play his song "Love Never Fails" at her 2010 wedding reception. It was a surprise to her husband, Mike Fisher, and served as the song for the newly-married couple's first dance.
Meanwhile, Heath – who turns 40 in July – is constantly cultivating ideas and phrases for future songs. "I'm always jotting down little notes, thoughts and titles," he said. "When I walk into a room with a co-writer, I always come in with ideas so I can give creativity some direction."
Brandon Heath, a pre-game concert at 4:45pm Fri. June 29 (gates open at 4:30pm)
at Fifth Third Ball Park, 4500 West River Dr. NE in Comstock Park.
Concert tickets include passes to the West Michigan Whitecaps baseball game (7:05pm vs. Bowling Green).
Tickets range from $15 to $23 and are available at the box office or online
(Concert is general admission seating, game tickets are reserved seats. Stage is set up along the third base line. Parking $7).
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