By Michelle Nikolai
With a No. 1 song, “Dependence ,” on the charts for nine weeks, Christian artist Jamie Slocum may seem to be the proverbial overnight success. Truth be told, he’s been working steadily on his songwriting craft for the past 15 years, and this isn’t his first time around the block. On a leap of faith, he moved to Nashville after a brief stint in college, and soon got his first songwriting credit for a tune he had co-written with Peter McCann for EMI. The Phoenix, Arizona native signed to Curb Records in Nashville in 1994, but after a while he felt the need to break away and find his voice.
“I think at the time, I felt like I just needed to grow a little bit. It was a lot of pressure being on a big label. I thought, if I go to a little label, they won’t expect as much and I can learn a little bit more and find out who I am,” says Slocum.
He released two successful Christian pop albums on independent label Freedom Records (an imprint of Malaco Music Group) and Mike Curb invited him to resign with Curb Records in 2003. His major label debut, My Heart Knows, helped him break through to an even wider audience through touring. Offers to produce other artists, as well as jingles, starting coming in, and though he intended to take off a few months, it stretched into a few years. “It was good for me, because I needed some time to find out what I wanted to say. I wasn’t really ready to make another gospel record,” explains Slocum.
The time away got his creative juices flowing. His upcoming album, Dependence, was originally scheduled for release this fall, but has been moved up to April 21 due to the huge success of the title track. Another single he released in the interim, “Say Hello to Heaven,” was nominated for a Dove Award in 2007 – for Country Song of the Year. Both songs are on the new album.
Some personal and professional setbacks inspired Slocum to pen the melodic, flowing “Dependence,” which was written fairly quickly in a flash of introspection at Slocum’s piano one night. It has struck a major chord with his audience.
“It was a heartbreaking moment for me, and then I thought, well, at the end of the day, my dependence is on the Lord and not on all these things that are out of my control. It was kind of a refreshing feeling – it gave me a little bit of lightness in my step,” he says thoughtfully. “If people feel that way when they hear my music, I think that’s awesome!”
Tenacity is what has kept him going for the past two decades. He recently produced a new country/Christian artist, Molly Reese, and he’d like to write movie scores.
“I’m grateful – there are so many talented people out there, and any time you get a chance to be remotely successful at all, I feel like that’s a big gift,” he says. “Success to me is longevity; it’s not having a hit one year and then never being heard from again.”