Podcast Episode 14 – Keith Everette Smith – Producer, Songwriter & Musician



Keith Everette Smith is a Grammy and Dove Award winning producer, musician, husband and father living just outside of Nashville, TN. He has appeared on close to 100 contemporary Christian records playing various instruments. He tours as a “utility” performer with TobyMac and assists with song arrangements. He’s married to Christian music artist, Tasha Layton, and they have 2 children together.


Keith: Four Roses Single Barrel
C4L: Tom’s Foolery

Show Notes:

  • Keith graduated from Aurora High School
  • He went to Ohio State for 1.5 years
    • Got in on music, not academics
    • Ended up going to the championship with OSU marching band
  • Got married after 1st year of college when he was just 20 years old
  • Got into music ministry while in college
    • Someone from his church heard him play trumpet and got him into Liberty University
    • Was there for 3 years and started producing music for artists
  • Moved to California and was Instrumental Director at Saddleback Church for 3 years
    • Life was most out of balance then
      • Working full time while also still producing on the side
    • Called asking a question about moving to California and ended up getting a job offer
    • That job put him in a position to meet tons of people in the industry
  • Moved to Nashville
    • Been there for 11 years now
    • Couple months into living in Nashville and working at a church his wife left
    • The church loved him through the divorce process
  • Ended up meeting TobyMac and being asked to be in his band
    • Been with Toby for 5 years
    • Met his wife, Tasha Layton as a result
    • TobyMac’s first name is actually Kevin… but don’t call him that
  • Played lead trumpet with Denver & the Mile High Orchestra
  • Has recorded horns or other instruments on nearly 100 albums
    • LeeAnn Rimes, Josh Groban, Colony House, Lauren Daigle, Danny Gokey, and Brandon Heath just to name a few
  • Married to Tasha Layton for about 5 years
    • Have 2 children together – Levi is 3 and Lily is 6 months
  • Likes to workout, but it’s tough during the current state of things
  • Sabbath is a command that we should take more seriously
    • Something we’re going to challenge each other to do

Podcast Transription

Have you ever thought about making podcast with thought, probably too hard to get started. Couldnt be further from the truth when you use anchor. First of all, its free. So, check off box number one. It has easy-to-use, creation tools on your browser or your phone, Acura distributor podcast for you and you can make money. No matter how many listeners you have, it really is a One-Stop shop for all of your podcast knees. So stop delaying and download the free anchor app or go to Anchor. FM to get started. Welcome, everybody to the core for Life podcast. Today, we are extremely excited to welcome Keith Smith, the show, and Keith. And I go way back to our high school days in Aurora. Ohio, and today, hes a successful musician, producer, husband, and father, and hes living near Nashville. Keith, thanks so much for taking the time to be on a show with us. Really looking forward to the conversation is awesome. Call. You know, Ive done a few podcast here and there but you know, getting called by one of your high school friends to do one. It was definitely a first, you know, so thats awesome. Yeah, thrilled to have Ian and excited to hear a little bit more about you and, you know, how your kind of exemplifying are pillars that weve come up with, in your life, will talk to you that a little bit. But first, as always on our podcast, we like to start off talking about the bourbon that were drinking. Is actually in Nashville now and were here in Stow Ohio, but he still has a glass of bourbon with him. I think youre drinking Four Roses Single Barrel, right? That is right. And we have Toms Foolery. Which is a 90 Proof hits one. Thats got a little bit different taste but its right here in a bourbon there. Yeah, thanks again for coming on. I guess to start out, like I said, its been awhile. So well start out with a nice. Open-ended question, man. What, what have you been up to since high school health rundown on what you been doing? Its been a lot, but I think we would assume that, you know, its been what, how many years has gone by almost 20% in a 19 years? When did you graduate? Where is your year behind me? Right? 2002. Or now she doesnt want the hell you were. It has been a while since that fateful day. Yeah, I went to a couple years year-and-a-half. I I didnt get it in on academics, but I got it on music and they called and got me in any way, which is, you know, tells you a little bit about what I thought of school like that. And so, I did a year and a half of that. I, I wasnt going to go back. I I got married after my first year college and that was an interesting thing to do, I was four days, 20 years old, you know? And so I wasnt going to go back. I was in the Ohio State University marching band and I was going to do it and some friends showed up on my wedding and convince me to go back, and thats the year, Ohio State won a national championship. So, That was a, that was a good thing to have done a second time, but I, I left, I was working at a church as an instrumental music director. And I just really loved doing Ministry. I was studying music at Ohio, State and just my music schedule and my Ministry stuff. Were just clashing like crazy, you know? And so I decided to leave and a guy who came to our church, Herbie play trumpet and offered me a scholarship to go to Liberty University, so I know the two of us packed up and moved to Liberty was there for 3 years. Thats where I kind of started producing music and for different artists. And yeah, it was really cool. It was a good experience. I was definitely ready to go, you know, a bubble like that, with just a bunch of twenty-year-old Christians, all telling themselves, how right they are about, you know, Theology. And, you know, it was, it was time to go when it was time to go, you know, soap left moved out to Southern California and I was the instrumental director at Saddleback Church at Rick Warrens church and was therefore, 3 1/2, some years and again producing a time and this was the most out of balance. My life had ever been. I was working full-time at a church and still producing full-time. So I go home after work and stay up till two 3 in the morning and you know, sleep for 5 hours and get up and do it again. And I did it for years and years and You know, I was a part of putting together a band called Anthem Lights. Theyre kind of a YouTube thing kind of a boy band and so Christian boy, band, Christian boy, band type of thing, we got them signed to a label in Nashville and I decided to kind of see what Nashville was like and so got up in there and moved to town and it was cool, the Southern California was awesome but like so many I was not, I was working so hard that I couldnt do any of the things you want to do in California. That sounds like Im still have never saw daylight at some point. Yes, totally. I was just kind of in it. And I change the scenery sounded nice. And so Ive been in Nashville now for 11 years, And you know, theres theres lots to be said about, you know, producing music and we can talk so much about that as you want. But Yeah, I did all kinds of different things from playing with different bands to producing and worked at a church out here, and a couple months into me, working at that church. My wife left me, you know, not the best day of my life. And, you know, when you learn what, what thats like, you know, I could have seen signs long before but I really didnt. You know, have any idea kind of, blindsided me. I didnt grow up in a family that went to a lot of counseling or anything like that. And so that was quite a reckoning and, you know, perhaps well get to that too, but Ill move forward for for now. So I one thing I was really cool is that church that I just gone on staff at just really love me through it. You know, I grew up in the church and I just wondered, okay, Im about to tell them that. Im, Im probably going to get a divorce, like Im probably out of a job, right? Thats the way this works, you know. And so, you know, in the end, thats not what happened. They really, you know, wrapped her arms around me and said, you know, go get the bare minimum, John will help you pick up the slack and go try to save your marriage, you know, go get healthy. Go and so I work there another year and it was just, it was a really hard season, I dont know what I would do without them and at the end of that year at a new boss and they wanted someone else in my position and its all I got let go. Which you know what is a merit-based thing at all? It was just kind of this guy wanted another person on his team to kind of bring in and you know I was mad about it didnt want to go all those kinds of things but would need about it was that thats kind of when some of the bigger blessings in my life came as a result of that void that was created. And so, you know, God do something I didnt and leaving and it wasnt long after that that I met TobyMac and got invited to join his bad. And Ive been, Ive been with Toby for about five years. And I met my now, wife, Tasha. Whos the worship leader and Christian recording artist. We met, you know, seven eight months later and started dating and got engaged in a year later. And weve been married now for 5 and 1/2 years and Its just been a really good good season just so much, you know, so many little details but in there to talk about and then sold, but its its been a really awesome thing. I love love hearing that story. Im just seeing like your what God has been doing in your life and like they acknowledged meant of those tough seasons and how that brought you through. Like you mention it, got brought you through some of that stuff and you started seeing some of your biggest blessings. Like what what can you look back on and say, like men, like, that hurts so much then. But now, just looking back on it. I see that was a season of growth or I see how God is transforming me in this way and there was a couple different things. You talked about in that in that story. But could you expand on that a little bit? You know, I say a lot when I talk about this that I would love to be able to wish it all the way. You know. I would love to be able to say, man, I wish that didnt happen, but who Ive become, as a result of, that is something I could never trade if those the two options. Be the man Ive become or not have gone through that tough thing. I mean clearly I would I would choose the other thing to get where were Gods brought me and you know and so you know you the day I realized that people could see through my my mask, you know, that not everyone, I wasnt fooling everyone that was Friday, that was quite a day. You know I read some people can can tell that Im in authentic and tell that Im saying all the right things and you know, kind of coasting, you know, that was That was quite a revelation and yeah, just the Getting to Know Myself, you know, I didnt want my divorce and things like that, but I would I still wasnt willing to say I was just kind of head down moving forward. Just hoping someday things will get better. Instead of just trust in God, with the honesty of, you know what, I dont think Im happy. I dont think, I think Im depressed and I think those are indicators that Gods given me to be able to make some changes, you know, and instead of thinking Im unhappy and that means Im going to choose, leave my marriage or something like that. Thats not what I mean. Is it a lot of time? Sometimes, its something is not, right? And something needs to change and it might be bigger than just kind of willing myself to You know, do better. Lets no like theres Gods given us these emotions and these chemicals in our body, to be altered in certain situations. And so now, what am I going to do now? Im going to go do something to really better, my situation or do you know a person to God or or go better my marriage would be a better dad, you know. That. So you have a son, right? We have two kids. Oh okay. Weve got a, weve got a three-year-old. I hope he three at the end of the month. His name is Levi and weve got a 6 month old. Little girl named Lila congrats. Im sure. Sleep is sleep as a commodity at this point, or she doing pretty well. Sleep is a commodity in this appointment, she said, youre doing what tonight youre going to be on what podcast while I put the kids down. Okay, thanks for letting me know that you let her know. Thats the important thing right before you got on, you know, I was super excited. Like, man, this is going to be such a great story. And yeah, I just excited to hear what guys been doing his life and how hes been moving. And, and then and then I realized, like a second later, Im not. Crap is an audio engineer. Hes a pro sound guy, and I heard some really terrible sounding podcast and so if you and yours was not one of them, that makes me feel so much better. Im out, dont go back and listen to the zoom episodes. Those are anything that you needed to work during the quarantine. And we still kept going. Sometimes you just got to start. Yeah, weve all dealt with certain things in our lives that you look at it, the time, like you said, and you think you know what, why is God doing this? And you, you might take that two different ways, it sounds like you took that too. Turn your life around and go towards a different path for some people can take it and it can drag them down. So was there anything specific that helped you during that time to use that? Ultimately, as a, as a positive to where youre at now? Yeah, I know you guys talked about drive a lot and Im a very driven person and whether it came from place of unhealthy or not, I dont know, but I was, I was really determined to walk through that dark season well and to learn every lesson I was supposed to learn. I was not going to do this again like this hurt enough to, you know, maybe its just my body trying to avoid pain like we you know, our kind of Bill to do that. I am not going to do this again. You know, Im not going to have another marriage fail because I didnt walk this road. Well, you know, and so theres quite a bit of chart, determination in that. and that, that made a big difference and I think You know, growing up in the church, I had a lot of knowledge stored up, I dont know if it is quite hit my heart, the way that it needed to, but it was still up there and in knowledge and I still have things that I know that, I knew that I was supposed to do that were supposed to help that could help. And so I dont know that I did them for the right reasons, but I knew the things to do. I knew just to start. Im going to take this step next and some days going to click going to take this next step. Next. And at some time, those decisions those emotionless decision paid off. So kind of a guiding hand, that you didnt even know it was happening, then, thats pretty cool. But you said you grew up in the church, your dad is or was a pastor, right? So youre at your ad in the truck until I was Till I was in Middle School actually through through my freshman year of high school and he wanted to start pastoring. And so he started going to Seminary and we move to Aurora because my dad became the pastor of this little fledgling church right in front of the high school. And the end of the church was kind of voting whether or not to close their doors or not. And they had a little money in the bank like we should just hire a pastor for six months and see if it works. You know, and so thats kind of what we did. Thats how we ended up in Aurora and it was a really good season and the place that I was before Aurora was not a great place. You know, North Aurora is kind of a quaint little, you know, bedroom community in and it was nice while the place I came from before that was not particularly nice. You know my dad really wanted us to live in the city that we ministered and it was this place outside of Columbus Ohio and it was just it was a really hard place to do. Middle School in a Middle, Schools hard enough in a good situation without doing that. And so You know, that move, I think save me from a lot of Heartache, you know, and a lot of serious difficulty. I remember going to that church, couple times just walking across the high school parking lot. And doing the youth group, there was like, Wednesday night or something like that. Just had, like, the, the music and stuff is a good time. Yeah. Its a, its a weird thing. When Church makes it so easy to skip class. Its just right there. Surely no ones going to get mad at me for going for this reason that perfect. Excuse for everything. Well, alright, well, at some dive into a pillar is a little bit, you know, since Ive known you, youve been an amazing musician. Your your first chair trumpet in the band. And, like, every time at the football games be like, man, I hope he has a solo during this song during the halftime show. And it now has almost always there. It was, it was really cool, just watching that but so youve been amazing musician, you hurt your whole life and obviously youre still riding playing and producing music. No. Can you give us a little bit of an overview of where your careers take you? But can you give someone like the highlights of your career? Like, things that youve liked been super excited to do? I mean to run with Toby Mac? So it definitely is and its been a really good thing being with Toby. Ive never really sat out to be a touring musician. You know that was never really the the dream you know I was a little kid like thats all I Knew music to be was standing in front so that was a little different once. I kind of figured out all the different facets of the music industry, I wasnt like kind of gun in for a chance to leave my family and go on the road and play to a bunch of strangers though. Its been a really rewarding thing. you know, so yeah, producing and writing songs is always kind of been Something that Ive loved doing lucky. When I was in high school I spent I made money writing arrangements for the high school bands, like a lot of the things we did at Auroras marching band were stuff that I wrote, I would do that for, I would do that for a lot of high schools around the area, and thats kind of, that was more, my job than anything. Thats what made me money. It during high school was doing things like that and so I didnt know what a producer was. I didnt know that that was, you know, kind of the arranger. The person, you know whos score, is it on page and the pages and stuff and comes up with it creatively? Thats kind of, essentially, the biggest role of a modern producer is, is that but in a studio format? And so, when I figured that out, I was kind of all in on that and I love doing it and started doing it kind of long before, maybe I should have. And what I mean by that is, you know, youve only got one shot at your first impressions and I really, you know, that the day I became a producer, was the day. I called myself one, you know, not the day. I got a, I got a big, big room for Mojo and, you know, I always like rising to the challenge of the opportunities may be better. I was always kind of put myself out for things that I wasnt good enough to do yet, you know. Im so that came with some, some nose and that came with a lot of yeses to that maybe would have come to someone who wasnt so bold. So yeah, that thats kind of been there. Ive developed a lot of artists and development you know, kind of took someone who may be one of the recording career and help them get signed. Help them, can I find their sound? And so I did that with Anthem Lights Meredith Andrews whos the worship leader now, we went to college together. I produce their first record and and then again with Tasha my wife and so thats been a development that tends to be something that a young producer can do to try to find an opportunity is take something, built it from nothing and if you did a good job you know, youll have help them and then Ill bring you opportunities. And so that was kind of the beginning of it. And I moved to California, really do want to produce my conversation with the worship. Pastor at Saddleback Church was. Hey, Im thinking about moving to California to be a producer. What do you think? Ive never been to California. Are there Christians in California? Is this a bad idea? And are there not anymore? I suppose in some ways, but So I moved out there and that turned into a job offer that phone call saying Im thinking about moving out there to be a producer is what turned into a an offer to come on staff there. And I wouldnt be able to go out there and I I had I not. and so, like I said, Saddleback is such a giant Church, you know, Rick Warren Purpose, Driven Life that was that put me in the company of so many influential people and writers and producers with giant cuts and, and opportunities, and people to learn from, and And so I really took advantage of that. It came at a cost, you know, like I said my life was completely out of balance. Had a large part in to do with with that divorce, we talked about and But, you know, career-wise, you know, I I gained a lot, you know, it just cost me something. And so when I came to Nashville, started riding produce, and theres a band called Denver and the mile high, orchestra, that is kind of a Christian, big band, like, a Michael Buble Brian Setzer kind of kind of thing. And I quickly got a job, playing the trumpet with them, and its funny like In high school I was like, you know what, I need better better music in my life and so I went to this Christian bookstore. I think it was like rainbow bookstore. I dont know that, all that matters, Bedford, Heights or something. You know what Im talking about? Is that right? As yet there and I went there. No, I dont think I better not smell like I smell like a hundred bucks. And I have these little kiosk for you to like demo like the albums to see what they sounded like. And I found this album by Denver and the mile high Orchestra and I bought this record and and it was just like mind-blowing, I like, they were so good and theyre so much better than I was. And Ive had all these full circle moments in my career where Ive come back like this, where I like this album that was doing High School, all of a sudden, Im Im in this band, you know, thats crazy. Theres a story of TobyMac where I was I was at Liberty University and TobyMac came to Liberty. They had just left DC, Talk and I sat there in the back of the room like eyes wide. This is so much better than I am. I will never be good enough. To do this, you know, and its funny, right? Like I said, I have terrible memory but there are some of these like, formidable formative conversations that Ive had with myself or with other people and to watch some kind of turn around later has been thats my most favorite thing about some of these things that Ive been able to do is not that anyone else thinks theyre cool. Is like, they mean something to me its really been awesome that way. And so my time with Toby my time with Denver and the mile high Orchestra turned into a bunch of recording opportunities on trumpet. recording for other bands and this and that and it became kind of my greatest love, like so now Ive kind of Play Don couple hundred different records for people and written a rain horn arrangements for all kinds of stuff and thats how I ended up meeting Tobias. I got hired to play and arrange on his record, you know, over the course of several Several sessions. He said you know how I think I might need somebody coming up. Do you play other instruments? And yeah I play a lot of different instruments. Shes okay and I thought he was just more less making conversation, you know roaming around kind of looking for options. But I didnt really ever think that it would come true in. The next time I saw him, he was with his managers and he said, hey this is the guy I was talking to you about and I went home, he might be kind of serious about this. Toby hired me without hearing me play anything else except for trumpet and like, 80% of what I do with Toby is not trumpet. And so, you know, a couple years ago, I said, Do You Realize like you hired me and you never heard me play most of what I do for you and he said, you said you were good at it. Yeah. And he really is a master at personnel and picking great people. You know, I was the first new band member in like 12 years and there have been people who have been with him for 25 years. You know, he treats people that well, you know, hes a really. So its definitely a highlight, you know, some other things Ive just played on a colony house record. I played on like Josh Groban. I didnt show last year with LeAnn Rimes, Lauren, Daigle, Danny Gokey. You know, Ill talk to you tomorrow. If its their horns on it and its a Christian artist, theres a fair chance. I was you youre the youre the Christian Horn Guy. Now is that the unless you dont like them? And thats probably not me a people here being me, Andrew. And Matt when it comes to instruments, you say you you have a full list of ones that you play. Can you just e-mail pump yourself up in this office on the ones that youre fluent in right now? Yeah, drums, keyboard, guitar bass, any brass instruments? Thats kind of the the summary of it. As you do do, do all of that for Toby Mac besides trumpet. Or do you do certain ones for? Yes, I do. All that for Toby do all of us crazy. I roam around the stage, picking things up that. No one else will pick up. Whats the loudest instrument? Youve picked up, oh well, I play a mean, cow Belles. Dont, dont we all it is. One of my favorite, one of my favorite nights of the favorite moments in the night is playing that dang cowbell as a part of the show. You dont just grab it just for fun. You actually its part of the show. No, I dont VI and I I managed to only use it when Im supposed to be a couple weeks ago, Gabe in the band heat, he sings and wraps and you beat boxes and theres this spot of the show and it kind of started to sound a little bit Latin. And so I literally start playing the cowbell and a couple bars and he leans back and just description was more cowbell. He knew something was sick back there and he couldnt hear the click track in his ears. It was distracting him and if so I was glad to find out it wasnt because I sounded terrible at the house. Thats a relief. I dont know if you can sound terrible. Thats fine. Its really, I dont know. Ill test that theory. Ill let you know. Its so cool. So are you, so youre obviously on a first-name basis with TobyMac. You call me, like Tito and Toby are, you know, something, its whatever you say, mister, Max and Toby, but you know, his first name is Kevin really. So when you say, am I on the first day? I dont know if theres anyone in the world who calls and Kevin. Ive never heard it done little in the way you say. Am I on a first-name basis? Know if you mean calling and Kevin do not got it at school, she talks about you do in your your career. Thats how you ended up meeting your wife. Can you tell us a little bit about that and like how that happened? Yeah, her name is Tasha Layton for you. Get gone out of the murdered by my wife. If I didnt tell you how much you loved your wife song Theyre so theyre speaking to a right now. So Im just got a huge fan over here. That is really cool like a cooler than, you know, really does not get old like not at all. Especially, shes so kind of new at this has done everything. She says, she sing background vocals for Katy Perry for 5 years, you know, in the middle of Teenage Dream and that whole thing, I mean shes an amazing talent. She had, you know, and did all that with a masters in theology. You know, when I leave her is basically on the whole to her, you know, shes a really impressive person, you know, so shes not been doing her own music for very long and so, you know, we talked a lot about This song into the sea which is done so well at Radio. I think its number 15 or something and thats a big deal, you know? Theres hundreds of artists and you know certainly less than a dozen spots for someone new to try to break through an end. So its been a really significant thing and one of the things that I love about her is Ive never seen her. Try to bust down a door that wasnt opening, you know, shes just more than anyone Ive ever met. She seems to sit back and really let the Holy Spirit go before her and make opportunities. And, and Im sitting back there thinking this is never going to work. Youre not working hard enough if it is, you know. Actually you know, and shes like just trust me, you know, and so to watch your sit. So comfortably in trusting the Lord with her future and then to watch it actually work. I mean, its its huge and this song its just such a powerful song and I I was able to help her write it and to learn firsthand the difference between a song and a song, Like a Lady song that really affect people. I mean its the difference between messages that Mary, like, your son has been encouraging to hundreds of messages with people going. I dont know what I would do, if I hadnt heard the song I play it over and over. That song in particular, I think hit at the perfect time like the first time that we heard it. Here was no during this pandemic, the first time I heard it or my wife hurt at the into the sea, and it just speaks to that desperation, but also to the enormous faith during that time. And so I think hitting during this time, was perfect for it for that. And theres a little bit of a story behind that. And then we had written the song and the song is really about our marriage. We, we had a big fight before this riding session and we walked in just completely Just not in the mood to write a song. And, and so, You know, I dont know if its that the spirit realm, we all walk in has so much so many more connotations to our interactions between one another than we realize. But you can tell when someone is Faking It. Like I said, you can tell people have a BS meter whether they know it or not and you can tell when its real and you can tell when its put on and some things are compelling and some things arent when it comes to Art. And I think you can tell whether or not you can put words to it, you can tell. And that was just such a real moment where God did Ministry in that writing session. As we wrote that song and Months later. I woke up in the morning and covid-19 and I went were supposed to put the song out, not in a in a dollar signs in my eyes, kind of thing. But in a real Ministry way, I were supposed to put the song out so I I called Tashas manager and I texted the, the GM at her label and I said, I think were supposed to put the song out and Tyson at the label said weve already had two conversations about that today you know? And and the same thing Managements. I woke up with the exact same thing and Tasha 30 minutes later. So hey I just called the label and management and told him that I want to put this song out, nose all the same day everyone at the same day woke up with the same thing that we were supposed to put the song out and so we normally you give radio at least a month ahead of time. They get a list of songs that they can listen to and consider which ones they would. To add some people do testing on it and see what works. Its a whole weird thing radio it is not random at all, you know, and so but we didnt do we skip the the month before and the day the day it went to radio was the day. It was pegged to come out. You know, which means we were behind, you know. Basically but we just felt like it was worth it to just get it out and let it minister in this time. And its its been really cool to watch. So that is awesome at school store, yet. and if Im honest baby, I need you to We met because I was doing one of those development thing as I put together, this boy band Anthem Lights, and me and a business partner wanted to do a female version of Anthem Lights. And so, we put together this group signed at your label, then we went and found girls. We did this International contest to try to figure out who these girls were going to be. It was a wonderful idea that was terrible in the end. And so anyway, I wanted someone to work on this record of vocalist, like, a professional vocalist to. I could do the vocal arrangements with. Like I said, these girls didnt have experience, they were just kind of picked out of midair. And when that happens, you You really have to help that process. You cant just I needed a professional singer. I could do the vocal arrangements with and then the girls would learn them and we were record them. And so, I called a friend in La news about the producer on Glee and theres Tim Davis and a bunch of other things. I said, hey, who can I call to do this work? And he recommended Tasha. And so we had a 15-minute conversation and I did not expect Katy Perrys background. Vocalist to so quickly. Just start talking about how much she loves Jesus and it said I had to work on a Christian record and and so that was kind of it, you know, but we can became Facebook friends like people do and especially a single guys who are interested in anything that may pan out And so we became Facebook friends and like a year-and-a-half later. She posted, hey, I just moved to Nashville. She said she had been living in LA and I was already in Nashville, but I was willing to fly somebody in or or, or work remotely and and so I said, well, I can definitely find some work for this girl to do background vocals on things. Is she jokes that I would have made the work up? Even though I do have legitimate work, So you know we started talking about hey can I have you do these demos and why dont we why dont we go to coffee? Ill welcome you to town and in the whole thing and do the gentlemen later. Yeah. Easing my way in and I called Tim the guy who it introduces of hay she seems really awesome. Is this true? He said yeah, man, shes amazing. And I said, do I have a shot? And he said, maybe And so anyway, we do not read a, you know, texting and I got up the nerve to transition it from coffee to dinner that weekend. And, you know, that was kind of see you in a bit. Thats awesome, man. So many things. You got to be bold sometimes, right? Yeah, I stepped and stepped into it and you talked a little bit before about your previous marriage and the work that you were doing at the time and how that probably cause some of that to fall apart. What have you done? Now with your current marriage and your current family to balance, I mean, you said your touring with TobyMac, youre youre obviously very driven still and youre doing a lot. You know, how do you balance that with your your current wife and family and that man that time the answer is terribly. I balance it terribly in a different way. But I think its that, you know, that self-awareness to try to listen to. My body and the way I feel about certain things and just know when I need to stop, you know, sometimes when Im the busiest is actually the time that I need to rest the most, you know, and so I still stay up later than I want to but I kind of end up taking baby shift number 1 as a as a result and you know and Im better about taking breaks and my career has developed in such a way that I have a little more help than I used to. You know, I can hire out for menial tasks that I used to not be able to afford to give other people. And and so I utilize the help of other people more, you know, nothing maybe want to balance my life and to be a good human being like, becoming a dad, you know, that was quite a, quite a shift, you know, there are times when its just time to take a day off, you know, and really just I think if we had the guts to take Sabbath, you know, to really take a day. I dont know that the rest would be a big deal, you know them, cuz I dont know, I dont know that God gave us this big instruction and make sure youre done by 6 p.m. and, you know, and and things like that. I mean I think work means work and Im not in it and Im kind of stating a theory, you know, more more than it is. I just think if you have the wherewithal and the trust in Jesus, to take that day to consider it a command, Maybe its that youre in the same headspace to also extend that balance into the rest of your life or maybe its the fact that when you take that day you have the margin to go hard the rest of time. I dont know what it is, but I think theres something about the fact that that commandment is a legit commandment. And if we would start taking it seriously, you know, I think wed be in a much better spot than we tend to be. And so Ive worked really hard to just take a day a day off. You know. I dont do it perfectly but I try. Whats a Sabbath look like for you like whats the top Sabbath? If you can plan it out. The bottom, would it would it be? I think church with my family time without my phone. You know, I find that the, that the rest of the time I, I tend to do things that are pretty good to do. I really want to spend time with my kids and I want to spend time having great conversation with my wife and I do enjoy a good book and and things like that. And I I like I like I listen to the Bible more than I that I pick it up. Ive got like the message is on Audible. I think theres other translations too. And I just, I really enjoyed just listening to it, you know, soaking it in. Instead of a discipline. I dont do too well with it in the background, it really is like in the car. You know, or just taking a minute in the morning, just turning it on and listening for 10-15 minutes and then moving ahead, Tasha teaches a lot. And want to think she said is, you know, we are the sum of who we are, is the sum of our memories essentially. You know, who we are in the things, weve learned in the habit, we are, is the way our brain, collects experiences, and in memories. And, you know, in the same way that The Israelites forgot who they were and do that. We were still in Egypt, like they forgot what they have been brought out of and if we dont take enough time to stop and remember what weve been saved from, you started, just think you can do it on your own again, you start thinking, youre better than you are. You knows lots of things that if you dont take the time, I think thats what Sabbath is the time to stop and remember who we are what, weve been safe from and who saved us from it, you know, and if you take that time, I think you have a better shot at dependents on Jesus, instead of our coping mechanism, isnt that, you know, all those kinds of things. So, Ive always gravitates that man. If you dont take time to remember who you are, what you been safe from and who saved you from it? Youre in a world of hurt. Yeah, I think that time also gives you a reflection to look at, you know, you said, look at who you are, who save you. But also allows you to look in the direction that youre going and to kind of analyze if thats a good direction to head in because like you said you have previously, it might have been working too much From Dawn till Dusk and if you dont take a break or just continue that pattern, you continue down that path and never never look back and you know youre cant see the cliff or you dont continue on any path and you didnt realize youre stuck do you know or its time to jump on another path and you know like just what youre saying like I totally totally, you need to be able to stop and say, is this really what I want? Is it good for me? Is this what youve called me to? You know, all those kinds of things I have to have, they got to ask those questions cuz those are, those are not necessarily easy questions to ask, you know. You dont necessarily want to hear the answers to that all the time. So I think Thats a good good thing. Considering it may be something that we can try as like a little challenge to do. A Sabbath like a strict Sabbath for that time. And see see if we can make that work. Yeah, I think thats awesome. Thats cool. Awesome. So I mean weve talked a lot about your drive and you know where that comes from and it might come from stubbornness or just your your, your will to the to move through. But like what else inspires you is there is there somebody in your past or somebody that you look up to significantly that has you inspired you where you get your ideas for the new music that you create a good question? I think one of the things that I love about making faith-based music is it has more purpose behind it than just someone like my song, you know. It made someone feel something good for 3 minutes. You know, when I was in California and trying to do some of those things and just advancing my own cause I woke up one day and just felt so empty. That I just like this is this really does seem quite meaningless, you know? And so Ive really pressed into music that brings hope and that help people through tough things and trying to write more than just, the stereotypical kinds of things like, you know, to write from real places. Like I said, in the spiritual realm of things, I think were connected bike or emotions, the things that we all feel in and shared experiences. And I think if I write what Mean something to me, its bound to mean something to someone else. And so I think one thing that motivates me and keeps me inspired is Theres such an opportunity there to make a real difference in peoples lives. You know. And with Toby, Ive heard so many stories, it was so easy, not touring to sit back and be cynical about. And you know, like you said you getting your Christian Bibles with in your church or that Christian School, you went to that can become easy to be jaded and think more highly of yourself that youre the one whos willing to think better of it than everyone else around you, or Ive been in all kinds of places like that. But as we toured around the country and around the world, like Ive just heard some pretty remarkable stories of like legit, like 180 life change that came as a result of this song, like Gods truth in a song and thats really meant a lot to me. And I dont think if I, I dont think if I did it with that, in mind, Id be very inspired to do this, you know, I probably be inspired to do something else and so back that keeps me going, you know, those stories. I think that ties back into what youre talking about with that writing session, where you and Tasha rode into the sea and how that kind of spoke to your current situation in your marriage. But then after its been released, now, its speaking into so many peoples lives. As theyre feeling like theyre falling, and indeed, they need someone to help them and thats a perfect point that youre not necessarily writing it. For those things are writing it out of what youre feeling or what youre experiencing. But then its also going to make that impact on a another person down the road which is, Im sure that thats really cool to hear those stories. Absolutely. So yeah we talked a lot about your career. What do you like to do when youre not working? Like we talked about the Sabbath you read sometimes and you know, that kind of stuff. But what do you what do you do with your family? What you do with your kids, any favor games or anyting any things you like to do? Im working on it. Ive been terrible at Hobbys, my whole life, you know, youre a nerdy music kid when youre in high school and you do school and then everything else I do is music and that feels really good and then it becomes your job and its like crap this, I only do one thing, you know, you know, I do. I I do like to work out thats been shut down, you know, Im not particularly good at it. And I and I think I enjoy the social aspect of it far more than even what it is, but You dont mean a friend would go in the mornings and even thats hard cuz I travel so much and so I mean we like good TV shows on Netflix and you know re-watching old ones and things like that. Whats your, whats your favorite? We watch that, or something that you watch all the time, all the one that gets used most over again is the office and Parks and Rec you know, good Staples store on so many people so yeah, I like that. Ive tried my hand at golf and Im pretty terrible at golf. You know, but I recently have kind of been doing more real estate investing. And so though thats kind of a professional Venture sounds like another job is to a lot of people. But Ive done so much so much of what Ive done. Creatively is Chris is just creative and musical like it does, it feels like a hobby, you know, its really been fun and, you know, we went on a vacation last week and Bought a house that needs completely renovated. And I spent the whole thing time, like, learning cat and and working on house plans and, you know, had a business partner. Go, you know, you need to rest was like this is rest. I might as well be painting. A picture right now of the sunset. This is really fun, I guess where our questions about the chill turned into how much other like, drive and motivation stuff, they didnt know. And I like to read and what was the Supreme Court decisions through all of the Supreme Court decisions? Im telling you like when it when I meet somebody and theyre like tell me what its like to be a musician. Tell me what its like to be in the music and shes like no you tell me what its like to be an accountant. That is what I want to hear about. Like I do not want to talk about this thing that you think is really cool and I want to know whats it? Whats it like? Whats it like to go to sleep? Funtime whats it like to leave work? What can not bring it with you? Ive job. Thats interesting. All about perspective, man. See you mention working out. Have you been doing that? Lady said, its been shut down. So you havent had a chance to now we eat well and its been its been so hot. We spent so much time. Tasha from South Carolina. And so when covid hit and Nashville was a bit of a hotbed at first, we just decided to go to South Carolina to Spartanburg where there were no cases essentially at that point. So we spent six weeks there. And it was awesome and we spent so much time outside and going to the pool and we took you know we probably walk 3 to 5 miles a day you know and just talking and me and Tasha just enjoying each others enjoying each others company and so that kind of filled the workout void. And, and then it just got got so blazing hot, you know, but its been its been a little bit hard to do that. So now So you mentioned, when youre on a mile out, am I allowed to do one of the pillars poorly? Yeah, man. That okay, okay, how about Balinese right now? All about balance that you mentioned being on tour. They dont have like a gym that they take with him or anything like that. we dont take one with us, but most of the Arenas that we are in have a gym and And so, and then, you know, Ive got a Planet Fitness membership and you know, theyve got those and so me, the places we are the biggest problem with touring is your schedule gets so backwards, so quickly. You know, I want one of the things thats really great about the gig that I have, is there someone there to set up set up my stuff and I really dont have to do anything. I show up at a dressing room between 8 and 8:30 and hop on stage at 9 and Im done at 10:30 and, and youre so wired talking about exercise. I mean, I know I said a great many calories on that stage and Ill even move as much as Some people do, but youre so wired when youre done. I can imagine no and Kana. Kind of high off. It is just fun and, and your gentlemans rushing and it just takes a long time to get sleep. You know, you get get down, get on the bus at 11:30 and have a bunch of really great conversations with your road, family for a couple hours. And it its its really weird and so its just tough to get up at any kind of good time. So, if Im up before noon, it was a productive day and I still hustle, you know, like I said, because I never set out to be on the road. I still really work my production stuff as if I didnt have the road job. So Im still, I still got a computer, Im still working on stuff and trying to make things happen. So that if Toby ever goes away, you know, I didnt just up in my opportunities in other areas and things like that. I think it says something that was important that you asked, Are you allowed to do one of the pillars poorly? And I thought you were joking, but I think we all do some of the pillars poorly at different points in our, in our life, and our current week. I mean, whatever you, whatever youre talkin about, where we talked about him, cuz its a good kind of balance of what youre looking to do. But what you said earlier, which I think you is emanated throughout the, the pike ass here. Is your your focus first on the most important thing in your life, which is your relationship with Jesus putting him first and letting that kind of Lead You In lead that path that youre on. And I think that again, Im a week we talked about a lot here and thats you can put that you also mentioned coping mechanisms, you can have different coping mechanisms that can get you by for a certain. Of time. But all that stuff is going to fall apart, you know, and if you can keep your eye set on the one, True thing that we all know here, then I think youre going to be okay. And from what Ive heard from you, you can you sound like youve got your, your priority setting that right direction, even though youve gone through a lot of different things in your life, a lot of different challenges and, you know, we appreciate you being open about all those things and letting people know what what is really most important. Yeah. And you know, it seems like theres always part of life is the vacuum, you know, theres always a vacuum somewhere, you know, theres something Being drawn to you and you know what are you going to let? Fill that vacuum? You know is it a coping mechanism or going to take the longing and that draw and let it be filled with the right things you know or is it is the vacuum you know sorrow or is it grieving you know and to where youre trying to get to have to sit in that you know youre going to have to walk through it not around it you know and do you have the strength to draw to to move through it? And not fill the vacuum with things that cause you to avoid and go around the mountain instead of going up and over it. You know theres theres always that vacuum. Some people use exercise as that coping mechanism and some people use their intellect to do it, some people use food to do it you know, and some people use Jesus to do it, you know? And thats the it like youre saying thats the only the one that really that vacuums meant for and and you know and all of it so long. I think that vacuum is continually a longing for home. You know, this is not our home. you know, this place sucks a lot of time, you know, and thats not supposed to cause you to You know, I think were naturally going to try to fix that, you know, fix that uncomfortability that that pain, you know what, at the end of the day its not quenchable. I always think that its really interesting that you know, everything David and Paul like so close to the heart of God and theres so much despair in their writings if they couldnt get it. Like what hope do I have? Certainly that the answer is not to remedy the uncomfortable feelings, its to recognize that theres something not right about us here, you know, this is, I think it is continually drawing us back to Jesus. And if we can let it draws to Jesus, I think its good. And if you let it draw stutter things, I think you can only do that for so long. Yeah. Thats I mean we were just talking about this to last time I think a little bit on our podcast, Ive been reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn and again, what you said, their Rings true. Like were not meant for this Earth. Lot of the things that are going on especially right now that youre saying and were dealing with it. It makes you question. What is happening? Whats going on? And if youre not, you dont have that Faith grounded and something, you know that we we do you can obviously, you can get your life in in a pretty bad spot. And when you think about, I think be chill. I mean, is one of our pillars and why we put it there is, is because a lot of the things that youre talkin about, that might be not what some other people might think about as being chill. But youve loved, obviously, a lot of your music, the time that youve gotten to spend with Tasha, your wife, your kids. I mean, doing those things, just give you that little bit of taste of what that new Earth. What heaven is, is really supposed to be like in Its just a taste you know its not what it is. If you can live towards that and towards what thats going to be versus just living what this world has to offer, then you know youre going to be in a much better spot than trying to go after those little high as you can get on this Earth. I think you touched on something else. That was pretty on point. You said you as men, we feel this vacuum. But our initial responses to try and fix it like everything, everything that comes our way. Its like all that youve got something got a problem, let him fix it. Your wife comes up to you. She just wants to talk. She just wants you to listen. Like yeah I can fix that. But yeah. I think thats our natural bent as men is. We want to try and fix things. And like you said, this isnt fixable by us. Its something that you have to lean in and rely on somebody else. And thats not natural for a lot of men to do. So. I think thats maybe one of the toughest steps is to admit that you know I cant fix everything and thats what the law is, you know, the Commandments that we continually break you know we like to think its that were supposed to strive to do them well and you know, I guess on some level we are its its the Benchmark for a holy life, you know, but its real purpose is got her. Midas you cant fix this. You know, these 10 things are unfixable by you, you know, you know, nothing that right now. Nothing. Nothing thats offered for free. Has value until you understand the meaning of the gift, you know. And if we didnt understand how depraved we were, and how much we needed a savior, the free gift of Salvation means. Nothing to us, you know? And without that law, without things like that, to prove that we cant save our self. You know, its, I heard someone say once, you know, it its very different when you walk in the mall and someone hands you a piece of chicken, you know, like, you know, it from the chicken, I think its very different to someone who just scored some cells at with Thanksgiving dinner and a homeless person hasnt had a meal in in days, you know, and, unless were that homeless person hasnt hasnt had anything to eat. That is starved for salvation for her food to sustain you. You dont consider that chicken valuable at all. No, I dont need that. Im full, you know, thats what the law does to us. It shows us that we need Leaving, we tried it out. We cant fix it as men, you know. And I that always stuck with me so much like, you know, cuz I just would beat myself up. You know, you cant keep that, you know, where to go. You know, you really do suck at this, you know, self talking though. And all all that filling that void with shame and with guilt instead of filling it with the realization that no, like Ive been offered a way out of this. Thats awesome. Cool man. You know what? This has been a fantastic conversation and really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with us and Im sure we could talk for another like, 2 or 3 hours, but were trying to do that in. When we come down to Nashville, the next time well get didnt More Death than some of those different area. Really appreciate everything that you poured out here and just answering Thanks for checking out the core for Life podcast. If you like what youre hearing, why dont you tell a friend about us? Share a link to our podcast on social media or get in touch with us at 4 for life or 4 for life.com. Thats cool though you are life. Calm catch next time. Google for life. Diddy.

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