Jonny Lang: Beyond the Blues
When most young teens were rocking out in their parent’s garage, Jonny Lang was singing his rocked-out blues center stage with the giants— from The Rolling Stones to U2, Sting and Aerosmith. “Ever since I was little, I loved music and fortunately my parents supported me in doing that. I got to experience a lot musically at a young age,” says the Fargo, North Dakota native who experienced his dream-come-true moments early in life, jamming with childhood icons B.B. King and Buddy Guy.
Acclaimed by U.S News and World Report for his “voice of a grizzled blues veteran … and guitar skills to match”, the artist achieved international renowned status by the time he reached his mid teens. And before Lang was old enough to get a driver’s license he topped the Billboard New Artist chart with his first album, Lie to Me. Although Lang was propelled to the top of the music industry, playing the bar-circuit led the young teen into a downward spiral of addiction. At the age of 12, he was smoking. By the time Lang was 15, he had a problem with alcohol. This progressed to experimentation with drugs. “I was definitely lost in much of that,” reveals Lang. And I had a spiritual hunger inside of me that wasn’t being filled.”
Even though he did grow up going to church from time to time, Lang saw Christianity as a set of rituals — something that people “just did.” It was empty and dead. “I had no idea that you could actually have a personal relationship with Christ.” So he ended up looking for ways to fill the void. It was at this vulnerable time that he met a lady who claimed to be a physic. She revealed many things about his life and circumstances. This only fueled his curiosity in the spiritual realm and he started to visit her for readings on a regular basis. “Looking back, I believe all of the stuff I was involved in spiritually was just strengthening my addictions and leading me into new ones,” reflects the artist.
Although Lang had a lot of negative influences in his life, his girlfriend (now wife) Haylie’s family, who were Christians, provided a sense of stability. But it wasn’t until a crisis point in the lives of Lang and his Haylie that he came face to face with the most powerful force in the universe. “Haylie’s father had cancer. Only a few hours after he passed away, I felt this wind hit me in the chest. In that moment I felt this tremendous peace. I knew it was supernatural. At that moment I wasn’t thinking about Jesus. I just said, “This is supernatural.” That feeling of peace and security stayed with me that whole night and I didn’t know what to make of it.
Hours later I was sitting in the backyard with Haylie. The morgue had come to take her dad’s body out of the house. We were just sitting and talking about her dad and about some other stuff. We weren’t talking about the Lord, or thinking about Him, but right in the middle of our conversation the name of Jesus came out of my mouth. It came from the same spot that I felt that wind hit me earlier that day.” After the name of Jesus escaped Lang’s mouth, he began to shake uncontrollably. “When I was shaking I felt Him setting me free of all the addictions that I had,” he says. “I literally felt it leave me. I gave my life to Him right there. And since then He has done so many amazing things in life. But that was the beginning.”
When someone is out there searching for something to believe in, Jonny knows that it is easy to be deceived, but when you find the truth it’s undeniable. “I thought I was on the right track because I had seen some power on the other side,” says the Grammy nominated guitarist. “But when God got a hold of my life and baptized me in His Spirit then I knew what the real deal was."
Now Lang and his wife Hailey (former cast member of the TV series “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” independent film director and aspiring singer) reside in Los Angeles, and finds support in his strong network of family and friends. “I have an awesome family who are seeking the Lord just like me and we are very strong in the Lord. It’s awesome to have them to lean on. We’ve also got a great church, a great pastor and great friends. Lang explains. “I’ve been so incredibly blessed. My wife and I just had our fifth anniversary. I get to do what I love for a living. I feel a huge debt to give glory back to Him for everything He has done for me.”
Lang’s desire to give back to God lead him to cutting the fifth album of his career, Turn Around, which is the first record released to Christian retailers last month. When the GRAMMY-nominated and platinum-selling artist released the CD on Sept. 19, it immediately shot to No. 1 on the SoundScan® compiled Current Contemporary Christian and Christian Rock/Alternative sales charts in its first week at retail. The recording also lands at No. 46 on the Billboard Top 200.
Produced by GRAMMY winning songwriter/performers Drew Ramsey and Shannon Sanders (India.Arie, Temptations, Nicole C. Mullen), and Lang, and anchored by former Prince New Power Generation drummer Michael Bland, Turn Around continues to garner acclaim. The September 18 issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune lauded the new album saying, “the message is clear; these 13 Lang originals are about hope, faith and finding a new direction... Lang's singing has never been better and more versatile. All in all, Turn Around is encouraging in its message and its direction for Lang.”
The lyrics express deep love and thankfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ, who he gives complete credit for pulling him out a pit of addictions and destructive behavior. “Every record I’ve done has felt progressively more and more like the real me,” Lang sums up. “But more than anything I’ve done, this one comes straight from my heart.”
The message Lang wants listeners to come away with is prominently bill boarded on the CD cover. Turn Around. Turn to Christ. It’s such a simple, yet powerful concept. And Lang agrees, it will transform your life. Lang encourages anyone who is teetering on the decision to accept Christ to sincerely pray, ‘Lord, if you are really there and you care about me, reveal yourself to me.’ “ I truly believe that God will honor that prayer. He will not turn His back. He will reveal Himself to you.”