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Rhett Walker Band

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Essential Records

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Rhett Walker Band Biography
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ìI wonít be caged to the status quo. Iím not afraid to stand and say what people wonít.î
-Rhett Walker, ìGet Up Get Outî

Now thereís an understatement. Rhett Walker is not like any rising Christian musician you have met before or will meet again soon. The outspoken 25-year-old son of a preacher was born and raised around the South, his mellow yet animated voice a sure mix of Georgia and the Carolinas. In that drawl, he tells an intense wild oats story tempered by Godís grace, a testimony that fuels the deep-fried rock and deep-down worship on Rhett Walker Bandís debut, Come To The River.

Indeed, Rhett is a shining example of faith, family, and country values todayóan experienced man who teaches that grace comes with a calling, a clear message in his transformative single ìWhen Mercy Found Me.î But nearly a decade ago, no one would have predicted as much.

ìWe moved away from my hometown when I was 16, and I didnít like that. I just went nuts, doing whatever I wanted to do in the moment,î he says. ìI mixed with the rough crowd, got into fights and drugs. It wasnít long before I was expelled from schoolójust always in trouble. So they sent me to this Christian school, the only one that would take me, and I met this girl. It wasnít long after that we found out she was pregnant. That was the stop in the path for me.î

Walker grew up in church; he knew the answers to the questions on Sunday morning better than other kids. Heíd gone on to play drums in the praise band, too, but generally just stopped caring. Presented with a ton-of-bricks reality at 17, Rhett could stay on the downward spiral or step up.

He stepped up.

ìIt was like, Man, what am I doing?î he remembers. ìIíve still got my senior year left, but Iíll have to leave this religious school where Iím high most of the time anyway. My girlfriendís having a baby, and I have no job. I finally sat down with April, who is now my wife, and said: Weíve done everything wrong that we possibly can. Letís do everything right from here on out

Rhett and April got married. He rededicated his life to God, and she accepted Jesus for the first time. He got a diploma, and she made their $300-per-month apartment into a home. They welcomed a daughter, Rileigh, and became active in church where Walker began leading worship.

As they matured in faith and expanded their family (a son, Jett, was born two years later), a growing number of opportunities for Rhett to lead worship at other churches and on college campuses helped him let go of his construction and factory work. It was a dream come true.

ìI always knew I wanted to do music, but I couldnít sing as a kid; I was just terrible at it,î he says with a trademark matter-of-factness that is charming and disarming. ìSo I was a drummer at church growing up until one day they called me out front to sing ëGrace Like Rainí by Todd Agnew, and I never went back to the drums. The more I sang the more things started opening up.î

With a bold trust in God that most peopleólet alone teenage parentsódonít exhibit, Rhett and April chased this calling laid on his heart to pursue music and songwriting. First, they moved six hours away from the security net of local family and friends for him to take a conference-based worship leader position. After that, the next stop was Nashville, where Rhett Walker Band and the grace-themed, movement-inspiring songs for Come To The River would begin to take shape.

ìIíve loved covering Passion songs as a worship leader, but I feel like some of the crazy things Iíve done and need to sing about donít always fit that mold,î he explains. ìSo I want to write music that isnít really congregational worship but still inspires a movement that champions what grace really is. Thatís what got me excited about coming to Nashville and doing an album.î

And with so much experience packed into so few years, Rhett Walker had a lot to say about human nature, Godís mercy, and how it should look when those things collide. Like his life, his songs are a gritty and graceful open book, direct statements thickened with Southern rock influencesóThird Day, Black Crowes, Lynyrd Skynyrdóand hints of praise, even poetry.

It wasnít long before his music won independent songwriter contests and gained the attention of Provident Label Group (Third Day, Casting Crowns), who signed Rhett to Essential Records knowing that his no-bones Christian message would reach the heart of the industry as well as the rough edges.

ìThereís just nothing we can do without grace; weíre all dirty, messed up people, but Christ still loves us,î he says of the drive behind Come To The River. ìSo thereís two things we must do. One: rejoice, because now we have a purpose on this earthóto share that grace with others. Two: take up the calling. You canít just take that love and not tell the story that goes with it.î

ìGonna Be Alrightî opens the set with a wall of electric guitars that soon falls back to a single acoustic, making space to highlight Rhettís instantly appealing Mac Powell-meets-Mark Hall voice. The title track follows with a cool country-folk stomp no one would see comingóa brand of wild and free worship that celebrates Godís provision with around-the-campfire abandon.

To get the full sense of Rhett Walker Band, listen to the soaring, ìWhen Mercy Found Me,î a song that radio could get used to fast across every format from adult contemporary to rock.

ìThatís the one song on the record that showcases most everything about me, and it just about whooped us,î Rhett admits. ìItís radio friendly, but thereís an edge, and it doesnít shy away from my story. That old life just about broke me . . . this is my testimony.î

Quoted earlier, ìGet Up Get Outî is his status quo-buster; an Iím-going-with-or-without-you call to tell the world what Jesus did. He hopes fellow believers will join him instead of going soft on the defense of Godís absolute truthóa trend Walker sees in todayís church and laments.

ìWhatís right is right, and whatís wrong is wrong,î he says. ìIím headed to conquer. I want this to be a movement. We have all these other people in the world with non-Christian beliefs that arenít scared to speak their minds. They donít hide behind anything; neither should Christians.î

That isnít to say Walker lacks compassion for people who donít think like himóitís quite the opposite in fact on the albumís most defining cut, ìBrother,î an introspective worship duet with All Sons & Daughtersí David Leonard. Built upon a mournful steel guitar and escalating toward eternal hope, they sing about how weíre all beggars and thieves in need of the very same grace.

Sure in his purpose and ready to sing about it, Rhett has seen his past mistakes washed clean at the river. The rebellious teenager has become the courageous family man; those two scared kids who did everything wrong just a few years back are, by Godís grace, striving to do everything right and even counseling other couples now. Still leading worship at his home church, Walker is excited to take Come To The River through every door the Lord will open.

ìIím someone living my dream through the grace of God,î he concludes. ìIím blessed with a beautiful wife and two children who have walked with me every step of the way. My faith, my family, and my country are the most important things in my life. Come To The River tells all that.î

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