If you’ve listened to Christian Radio at all this year, you’ll know Jordan Feliz even if you don’t recognize the name. His folk rock and soul style finds its groove in Feliz’s new single, “The River”, a radio hit that peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Christian Airplay chart.
The 27-year-old husband and father’s trajectory to the top of CCM playlists wasn’t even thinkable a few years ago. But, God knew. The Lord knew that Jordan’s plan of going to college on a sports scholarship wasn’t his calling. And though his musical journey began as the frontman for heavy metal band, A Current Affair, becoming a worship leader changed everything for Feliz.
Now, the California born and bred singer/songwriter is making his mark in Christian music. Feliz’s sophomore album, on which you’ll find his chart-topping tune, offers soon-to-be fans even more favorites and releases this Friday (April 22, 2016).
Feliz recently called to chat about The River. While on the phone, he shared the stories behind some of his more powerful songs, about life in Nashville with his wife Jamie (his high-school girlfriend), and their newborn daughter Jolie, and what drives him more than anything else. Here are excerpts from our conversation:
Jordan Feliz on what drives him…
Feliz: I feel like my largest driver is honestly seeing the Kingdom [of God] advance. I feel like the Lord has kind of given me a calling. Whenever I’m pursuing that day to day, being able to see His work and His will be done in my life, it’s such a great honor and a privilege.
On Feliz’s favorite new song off the record, “Beloved”…
Feliz: That song for me, it’s one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever been a part of in my life, just because of how personal it is to me. A couple months before my daughter Jolie was born, I was sitting in a room with two other dads, both with little girls and we were talking about what dad life was going to be like. Then, we really started talking about what the world was going to tell our girls.
My baby girl, she’s not even born yet, and we’re talking about how she’s not going to be pretty enough, and that she’s not going to be skinny enough, and that ultimately to this world’s standards that she’s just not going to be good enough, you know? We’re talking about all of these magazine headlines and all of these things about how to be skinny and how to be fit, and how to do makeup and all of these things, and it’s like, ‘man, no, I don’t want her to be concerned about any of that’. I just remember sitting in the room and being almost irritated and frustrated that we’re already talking about this and my baby has not even seen the light of day yet.
More than anything, I wanted her to know that she was loved, and not only by me and her mom, but she is loved by the Creator of the universe, the King of all. So in that, and then holding her for the first time and seeing her, and looking into her eyes, it’s like all of a sudden you’ve become a dad and you realize that I have a dad. I have a Heavenly Father and He’s looking at me the same way that I’m looking at my baby girl. He’s looking at all of everybody, everybody who’s listening, everybody on this entire earth he looks at that way. So for me, even though the song was written for her, it almost translated into this thing. It took this whole new form after she was born, because the respect I gained for the love of God just took a whole new form. I already have respect for it, but it just took a brand new shape in my mind after I had her.
On unconditional love and his new song, “Never Too Far Gone”…
Feliz: “Never Too Far Gone” was actually one of the first thoughts that I had when I held my baby. I knew that there was nothing that she could ever do or say—there was just nothing she could do that would make me not love her, and that I was going to love her with my entire being. Everything I had in my body was going to love her forever. I just was thinking, ‘man, that’s the way that the Lord feels about us, that there’s literally nothing we could ever do that would separate us from His love, that no matter how far you feel like you’ve run or gone, you could never run far enough to escape the love of Jesus.
On how the Bible inspired “The River”…
Feliz: I read John 7:38 for the verse of the day one day and it just says, “Whoever believes in me will have rivers of living water flow from within them.” That just stuck with me. It branded onto me for a couple weeks. I just couldn’t shake it. I brought it in to both of my producers and I just said, ‘there’s something here. There’s something about this whole thing that through Christ Jesus we have this opportunity and this invitation from Him, we have these rivers of living water that is the Holy Spirit that flow from within us. We have them constantly. They’re there no matter whether we like it or not’.
I think that’s really what the river is about for me. It’s an invitation, maybe to the person who feels like they’ve lived their life by the book or to somebody who maybe feels more like me, you know, it’s not even 11 in the morning, and I already feel like I’ve acquired stuff. I think people have lifetimes full of stuff that they just have not released yet. But the song is really about the opportunity to let that go, and to go down in amazing grace and rise up being made new in that.
On how “The River” speaks to him differently each time he sings it…
Feliz: It hits me differently because I see people worshipping to it, which is really crazy. I never would have thought that I would have seen that. For some reason, I always loved the song. It’s like my personal happy place, that song. I just love everything about it. But, sometimes you love something and everybody else hates it. You’re like, ‘oh, no!’ But the overwhelming amount of support and embrace that I’ve received from people who listen to Christian music and Christian radio and everything, it’s been so overwhelming. So I think seeing people be able to worship to it, hearing the stories that have come from it, I’m pretty much praising God every night for it, thanking Him for using me for some reason.
On the inspiration behind “Best of Me”…
Feliz: I felt like the song stemmed out of stepping out of a time of being a little bit angry with the Lord. We had lost our first baby before we had our daughter and I think it’s probably the most angry that my wife and I have ever been at God. I’ve never really been angry at God, so it was the first time that I had really expressed anger to Him.
“Never Too Far Gone” was almost my crawling back and saying, ‘I’m so sorry’. Feeling Him just embrace me with open arms and just lovingly accept me back was almost something that I needed to feel. I felt like, ‘man, I hope people would want to hear this’, because then we have our baby, and I’m realizing that that’s how He does feel. There’s nothing that will separate you from the love of the Father.
The entire record almost is like my story of who I was becoming and how the Lord was guiding me, the paths that the Lord was guiding me through. In that moment of really seeing Him just love me, it was probably one of the first times in my life that I felt like I gave Him all of me. There were no reservations for me anymore. It was like, ‘take it’. In giving Him all that I had to give, I feel like I found the best version of myself, because He’s Christ inside of me.