By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
He grew up in Chickasaw County but his music and his message are aimed at an audience that has grown to become the largest concert tour in the world each winter.
NewSong drummer Jack Pumphrey was raised in Houston and he will take the stage at Winter Jam in Tupelo tonight along with Toby Mack, Red, Matthew West and Sidewalk Prophets. The concert is expected to be a sell-out.
“It is awesome to see what God has done with Winter Jam,” said Pumphrey. “It has grown to become something more than any of us ever dreamed.”
Winter Jam began 18 years ago as a way for NewSong to play at neutral venues with a simple donation at the door. It has now grown into the largest annual music tour in the first quarter of the year – bar none. It is also a major launching pad for new Christian music artists.
“I’ve gotten to know some of the biggest names and hottest bands on the planet,” said Pumphrey. “Touring and going on the road is a lot of work but I have grown to love Winter Jam because of the musician I get to know and the fans I get to meet.”
Through Winter Jam, Pumphrey has developed relationships with the likes of Steven Curtis Chapman, Jeremy Camp, Newsboys, Anointed, MercyMe and Skillet.
But like himself, Pumphrey said Christian artists work very hard to be down-to-earth people, because it is part of their witness and rooted in their soul.
“They really are normal people just like me and you,” said Pumphrey, who comes home to Chickasaw County to hunt each Christmas. “We’ve got personal problems, family problems, career problems just like everyone else.”
And just like their fans, Pumphrey said he turns to music when life sends him a challenge.
NewSong has just released Swallow the Ocean, it’s 18th CD.
Pumphrey said the CD is beginning to pick up a little momentum and he hopes the Winter Jam tour will get it in front of people who need it most.
“The whole concept is how big God’s love is,” said Pumphrey. “Think about the ocean as ink and the sky as your canvas. If you tried to write or paint on that canvas you would run out of ink before you finished depicting God’s love.”
Pumphrey said NewSong produced Swallow the Ocean the old fashioned way.
“Now days I can just show up and lay down the beat and with technology the rest of the guys come in and lay down their tracks,” said Pumphrey. “We did Swallow the Ocean old-school. We all came in and looked each other in the eye as we put it together. It was a lot more personal and emotional to me. I truly think this CD has a different feel to it.”
NewSong was founded in 1981 at Morningside Baptist Church in Valdosta, Ga. They have eight Gospel Music Association Dove Award nominations and have also been nominated for a Grammy Award.
Winter Jam opens at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo Thursday evening. Tickets are $10 at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.