Matthew West

April 25, 1977
  • Matthew West was born on April 25, 1977 in Downers Grove, Illinois. West was a fan of baseball from an early age and had initially planned to enter a career in the sport. In 1997, however, he decided to pursue music instead. West released his first independent album, September Sun, that same year.
  • In 2002, a week before he was due to sign a contract with Universal South Records, West suffered a serious injury which would put his music career in jeopardy. Having accidentally locked himself in his house, West attempted to escape through a window. West's arm, however, went straight through the glass pane.

    West told The Fish: "Blood starting spewing out of my left arm everywhere and I ran down my street screaming for help. After seeing so much blood, I went into shock and just blacked out in the middle of the street. The next thing I can remember is some construction workers praying over me in Spanish and then being taken to the hospital." West revealed the severity of his injury: "When I got to the hospital, they told me I was very close to severing an artery and that the chances of me regaining full use of my left arm might be severely limited. Since I'm left-handed and play guitar with my left hand, that wouldn't have been good, especially a week before signing a record deal." Faith in God helped West through this tumultuous time: "I'm not going to candy coat it and say, 'Life is hard but God is good.' No, I was at the depths and my weakest moment. It took months of recovery. I had to be driven to physical therapy. I couldn't tie my shoes or even write my name, let alone write a song or play guitar. I began to have nothing else but to lean on my Savior."
  • Having recovered from his injury, West signed with Universal South Records and released his major-label debut, Happy, on December 26, 2003. The album included the hit single, "More," which stayed at #1 on Christian radio for nine consecutive weeks in 2004.
  • West married his wife, Emily, on May 10, 2003. The couple and their two daughters currently reside in Nashville, Tennessee. In our interview, West joked how his daughters are unfazed by his success: "You know, I don't think they're impressed by much. At least not these days. (Laughs) But one of these days maybe they'll think it's cool what I do. But these days I'm just Dad. If I was Taylor Swift, I'd probably be really cool to them."
  • In 2007, West began to experience what appeared to be vocal fatigue. West told The Fish: "I had lost some of my vocal range, staying on higher notes and lower notes. I even began having a hard time speaking." West went for a check up and was diagnosed with having polyps on the vocal cords. Yet again, his musical career was in jeopardy: "They felt that since a few weeks had past, surgery was going to be the only option for me. I was pretty devastated by that news, as you can imagine. Knowing that other singers had gone through that was little comfort. The doctors are very realistic in preparing you for the worst saying that even if the surgery is successful, there is no guarantee that your voice is going to sound the way it once did. So I was really fearful: my livelihood was going under the knife." West admitted he questioned his faith during this tough period: "My wife and anyone else around me during this trial will tell you that there were times I was going to throw in the towel. When you ask some of those questions and you don't get the answers that you're hoping for, it's tough for your faith to be strong." It was just before his surgery that West had a change of heart: "...I felt like I was going to be okay. I just felt like God was going to heal my voice, but most importantly, that he was creating in me this incredible story of his redemption." After surgery, West had to enter a six week silence in order to allow his vocal cords to recover. West's recovery was documented in the film, Nothing to Say, directed and produced by Benjamin Eisner.
  • West released Something to Say, his first album after vocal surgery, on January 15, 2008. Ironically, the album title had been chosen before West even knew he had to have surgery. West told BREATHcast that he believes this was God showing his sense of humour: "Because here I was, I was getting ready to make an album called Something to Say, and I went to the doctor's office and they were like, 'You got nothing to say. You gotta have surgery.'" Something to Say produced two #1 singles, "The Motions" and "You Are Everything," the latter of which was the most-played song on Christian radio in 2008.
  • In 2010, West asked fans to submit their life stories to him through his website. West would go on to receive over 10,000 responses, from over 20 countries. These stories would influence West's seventh album, The Story of Your Life, which was wrote and recorded in a secluded cabin in Tennessee. West admitted to The Boot that it was a daunting project: "I knew how to write how I see the world, but it was very scary to think I had opened it up to write about how others see the world when I told them to send me their stories." West added that the writing process helped to expand his outlook: "Writing about these things allowed me to see that I have a very narrow view of the world, and they allowed me to look beyond my sheltered life. When I would read stories of sexual abuse of children, I first was shocked, then angry, and then I thought about my own children. One of the songs I wrote about this topic was 'Broken Girl.'"
  • West's songs have been recorded by many mainstream artists, including the former American Idol finalist, Mandisa, Miley Cyrus' father, Billy Ray Cyrus, and the country band, Rascal Flatts, the latter of whom recorded "The Day Before You," which West told us he originally penned for his wife: "I actually wrote it for my wife for our wedding. My publisher had taken it over to their producer, and they loved it and wanted to record it. I thought that was pretty cool. My wife, I thought maybe she wouldn't like some other guy singing this love song I wrote for her, but she told me I should let them do it because they're going to sell a bunch of records and I could buy her a couch or something. (Laughing) I was very grateful. They sold a lot of that record and it definitely helped me to provide for my family, because Christian music isn't a genre where you're going to make a whole lot of money. So sometimes it's nice to be able to pay the bills." West added he enjoys writing for other artists: "To get the chance to write more songs than that and have them see the light of day is a really cool thing. So I enjoy it and for me, I just want to continue to write songs, to try to be creative, and I just love it. Every day is a new song and you never know where it might land."
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Comments: 1

  • Alexis from Kansa City, MoI'm glad he got through those hard times because I love his music!
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