I was introduced to the artistry of Justin McRoberts by a wonderful accident. My freshman year of college (2000) I was trying to come up with an excuse to ask a girl on a date and knew there was a Caedmon’s Call concert coming to the Saenger Theatre here in Mobile, Alabama, so I bought some tickets, asked the girl, and somehow got her to say yes.
The date was less than successful in many ways. I never went out with that girl again, and I wasn’t even that impressed with the headliner that night. But there was one aspect of that date that stuck with me for the next 13 years: Justin McRoberts.
Justin was the opening act of the evening (Nichole Nordeman was also there), and he absolutely stole the show. I don’t normally expect much out of opening acts at concerts, and maybe that added to the shock, but I was completely astounded by the songs, music, and stories coming out of the vertically challenged acoustic light-rocker standing barely above me on the stage.
So I bought one of his CD’s. Again, I was blown away by the amalgam of grace and reality that I found there. In fact, his was the only CD of which I ever burned an illegal copy and gave it to a friend (another girl I was subsequently trying to impress) before the Holy Spirit convicted me of how stupid and wrong that was (BTW, Justin, if you’re reading this, I owe you an apology and $10 plus about 13 years of interest). So I kept buying his CD’s and continued to be impacted by the raw truth I found in each of his works. His music plucked strings deep in the recesses of my soul, giving me expressions for emotions that I had yet to discern how to express. I’ve followed his music for more than 10 years now, and I don’t regret a single penny I’ve spent supporting his art.
That’s why I’m so thrilled to introduce you to another expression of his art: his writing. This year, Justin released a series of EP’s leading up to a larger simultaneous release of his new book and CD, CMYK: The Process of Life Together. If you are a fan of beauty and truth, then you don’t want to miss this project.
The book is a collection of letters and correlating reflections written by Justin to or about various people he has encountered along his life’s journey. If there is any single word I could use to describe Justin’s style, it would be real. But I certainly wouldn’t use it in the corny, alliterative, youth ministry sort of way (“he’s real, relevant, and ready” etc.). Nor would I confine him in the box of people trying so desperately to be ‘real’ in their lives and ministries but utterly failing so completely. No, he’s real in its true sense. What he presents in his music, and now in his book, resonates with what actually seems to happen in life.
I can’t help but believe this is true because his art seems to spring from what actually happens in his life. And because it seems to have actually happened, I can relate. I relate because I too have felt the joy of friendship, the heat of anger, and the sting of sorrow. I relate because, though my process has been very different from his process in life, we have shared the experience of accepting life as a process.
Justin recognizes that life is not confined to simple, dissectible black and white truths. He realizes that we need the darker moments in our lives to give proper perspective to the bright spots. He understands that we need each other in order to properly live out the lives to which we have been called by our great Creator.
“I think it has become clear that a beautiful and meaningful life is lived and worked together.”
If you have ever been frustrated by the canned feeling of some materials that approach life with graceless rigidity, pick up a copy of his book. Buy the companion CD to find another facet of raw and unbridled truth expressed with beauty and grace. You won’t be disappointed.
And in 10 or 12 years’ time, you can look back on the moment I introduced you to Justin McRoberts, and you can send me a thank you note on whatever the prevailing form of communication will be in the future. My guess is iCarrierPigeon.
[Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book and its companion CD for free from Justin McRoberts for this review. I have not received any compensation for writing this post. The views expressed herein are mine alone and were not affected by the reception of these review copies. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”]