Jasper native part of popular Christian rock band

By DALE SHORT, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 12/31/17

Genesis 2:2 tells us that after God created the world, on the seventh day he rested. All these millennia later, the verse became the inspiration for the name of a top Christian rock group: Seventh Day Slumber.

But the unlikely creation of the …

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Jasper native part of popular Christian rock band

Posted

Genesis 2:2 tells us that after God created the world, on the seventh day he rested. All these millennia later, the verse became the inspiration for the name of a top Christian rock group: Seventh Day Slumber.

But the unlikely creation of the band started many years earlier, with Jasper’s Jeremy Holderfield hating square dancing:

”During gym class we had to square dance,” he says. “Then the band director came in to gym class one day and said we could learn to play instruments...but it was during gym class. So I jumped on that, to get out of square dancing. Being in band brought a new appreciation of music, and I owe that to my band directors, Bill Springer and Freddie Meadows.”

As a teenager, Holderfield learned guitar from friend Jim Odom, played in several bands and then quit because “I figured I’d probably never be able to ‘make it big’. God spoke to me though and said ‘I’m not done with you. I gave you this drive for a reason.’ So I decided if I was truly going to pursue this dream, I needed to move to Nashville. I was so naive, I just thought that if I could get up here and get a record deal, I’d be rich and life would be easy!’” He laughs.

For about nine months he lived the “starving artist” life, he says: “I ate a lot of tuna fish and grilled cheese sandwiches for a while.”

Then suddenly fortune smiled on him...twice. “Iwas so depressed and feeling hopeless. I met a beautiful girl who seemed like a real life angel. I fell in love before I even spoke a word to her. We ended up dating (and marrying after 11 months) and she introduced me to her sister’s husband, who was the lead singer of Seventh Day Slumber. To make a very long story short-ish, SDS needed a guitar player to fill in on the road. So I did it.”

What has followed is 16 years of touring and recording. Sometimes playing as many as 200 concert dates a year, and releasing more than a dozen albums, some of the albums and cuts reaching No. 1 on Christian music charts. But long before the fanfare, “It only took a couple of weeks on the road,” Holderfield recalls, “to realize God’s plan through all of this. Seventh Day Slumber was where I was meant to be. God has used me over the last 16 years in this band to reach more people than I could ever imagine.”

Their touring arrangements are not conventional. Nearly everyone on the bus is related to one another. There’s Holderfield and his wife Annie, their two children, five and three; Annie’s sister Lori, who’s married to lead singer Joseph Rojas, who has three children—the oldest being Blaise, who became the group’s drummer a couple of years ago. Ken Reed plays bass. “So it’s really neat to tour with a big traveling family,” Holderfield says.

When he’s at home, he’s often in the studio helping produce younger bands. “I usually help them out with the songwriting,” he says. “We’ll work the songs out to make sure they’re getting the best song that they can. From me, at least.”

Balancing touring and production has its stresses, though. “I’m generally on my phone or my laptop most of the day,” he says, and adds with a laugh, “I’ve worn out several cell phones.” A generation ago, “Christian” and “rock” were at opposite ends of the musical spectrum. There was often controversy in traditional churches over “contemporary Christian,” and many of them—especially older members—condemned it. But nowadays, there’s a huge audience for the genre, buying records and filling arenas for concerts. There are even radio stations devoted solely to the category.

Though much of Seventh Day Slumber’s music has a soothing beat and uplifting lyrics, they don’t duck the hard life issues facing their fans, especially the younger set. Wikipedia describes their music as embracing “issues such as suicide, drugs and home abuse. The meaning for the album ‘Finally Awake’ was quoted by the band as, ‘We want to empower kids to stop looking to the media, to what the world tells them they have to be, to find identity. You don’t have to be what everyone else tells you to be or even what we think you should be.’”

One of the alternatives, their music offers, is accepting Jesus. Holderfield’s favorite song to play in concert, he says, is “From the Inside Out,” on their album “Take Everything.” “It’s great that lots of people know all the words. It’s just a good feeling song.”

”My heart and my soul,” one verse goes, “I give you control / To fill me from the inside out / And justice and grace become my embrace / To love you from the inside out...”

The emotion he wants audiences to come away from a concert with, he says, “Is just having hope. You know a lot of people, just everybody struggles with things day to day, whatever they’re doing. Whether it’s bills, addictions, depression, whatever it is. When people come to these concerts I want them to have an opportunity to forget that stuff for a minute and then also by hearing the words and the songs that we sing give them kind of an outlet for hope and say, you know there’s a hope for this.

“So that’s what the end goal is. I’ve done so much musically, you know, awards and touring and traveling, I’ve done all that. There’s nothing left really, musically, that I have to prove to anybody. It’s more like the purpose in what I’m doing is to see people gain hope and see Jesus the way he wants them to see him. So that’s really what I want people to leave with. Otherwise, there’s really no point in me doing it on stage any more.”

Dale Short’s email address is dale.short@gmail.com.