Jason McAtee is a blue-eyed soul singer with a message for the hurting.
He pairs his gravelly voice with soul-shaking anthems and heart-rending ballads. His songs are sure to please the folks in the amen-corner even while sharing a thoughtful message of hope through dark times.
Jason’s latest release, Goin' Home, contains six original songs that speak of a deep faith tempered by life’s difficulties. Having lost both of his parents as a young adult, he offers these songs to anyone dealing with emotional pain.
When asked what he says to people going through a similar experience, he says, “I don’t know how to answer that question, other than I’m living a testimony of loss. I let the music speak for itself.”
This “testimony of loss” comes mixed with a joy rooted in a family tradition rich in both music and the Gospel.
How a Broken Window Led to a Life Change
Jason was born in Alton, Illinois to his parents William and Renee. Though he gave his heart to Jesus when he was young, his energy soon turned to an all-encompassing passion for baseball. From first grade through his freshman year in college, he worked to become the best baseball player he could be. It wasn’t until he was seventeen that he even gave music a second thought.
While playing baseball with some friends behind his church, he broke his pastor’s window. He knocked on his pastor’s door to confess.The pastor was new to the church but had heard Jason was learning to play the bass. The pastor said, “You can pay it off by playing bass for the praise team on Sundays.” This changed everything for Jason, who found a new passion for the Lord through music.
Music ran deep in Jason’s family. His dad, who had spent his early career as a drummer for a successful band, and brother were both musicians. Jason and his brother formed a cover band late in high school and started playing classic rock covers wherever they could get a gig.
In the beginning, they didn’t have a lead singer, so Jason filled the role. He learned he had a powerful voice. As he sang in church and the cover band, he found himself influenced by artists as diverse as Steve Perry, Michael English, Israel Houghton and Marc Broussard.
Jason became his church’s chief worship leader and music director, a position he held for ten years. His role in the church taught him a lot about himself. He learned, in his words, “I can be a leader. I never saw myself as a leader [before].”
When his time as a church staff member came to an end, he auditioned for the role of bass player in the Soul'd Out Quartet thanks to a recommendation from a mutual friend. Instead, the quartet decided to make him their lead singer, a position he held in 2016 though 2019, touring the country and singing an average of four shows a weekend.
As a solo artist, he’s shared the stage with such talents as Sidewalk Prophets, Josh Wilson, Royal Tailor, and others. He also released his first EP, Goin’ Home, the same year.
But while Jason’s professional life started coming together, he experienced some of the most significant losses of his life.
Walking through Pain
Jason always knew his dad had heart problems. He had already had two heart attacks. But nothing prepared then 17-year-old Jason for losing his dad to his third heart attack in 2006.
Thankfully, Jason had the chance to play a song with both his brother and his dad the Sunday before they lost him. Jason later wrote:
“I will never forget my dad’s last Sunday here on earth. It had always been a dream of his to play music with my brother and me. On that Sunday we stood before the congregation in that brick church that had become such an important part of my life, and we played ‘People Get Ready’. After the last chorus of the song my dad leaned into the mic and said, ‘Are you gettin’ ready? I know I am.’”
But Jason didn’t know how to handle the loss. He responded by throwing himself into his work at the church and his other musical pursuits. Then his mom, Renee, whose infectious personality he describes (tongue in cheek) as a “trouble-maker” and “life of the party,” was diagnosed with cancer. From the ages of 23 to 25, Jason took care of her, spending as much time with her as possible, aching as she faded away.
Not long before Jason married his now wife, Kaitlyn, and the two were still engaged, she lost her own mother. As Jason comforted her, Kaitlyn started comforting him, saying, “Now I know how you feel.”
This astonished Jason. He hadn’t been able to process his pain until he started walking through the grief process with his wife. Looking back, Jason said:
“When my dad died, I was pretty mad at God. Like, I didn’t want anything to do with him, really. But you either keep moving forward, or you’re mad at God forever. There’s a bigger picture. We’re not here forever, and I hold onto the hope that I’ll see him again.”
In the beginning, Jason wasn’t able to think those words. But now, thanks to the passage of time and the support of his wife, he’s been able to put those thoughts and feelings into song lyrics.
Jason co -produced his newest EP, Goin' Home, with national recording artist Mark Roach. Collaborating with drummer and brother Jake McAtee and guitarist Jake Widenhofer who also plays for Mathew West. Jason wrote and co- wrote the songs with Daniel Patton and Christina Askins. Jason also contributed bass, keyboards, and vocals.
Jason lives with his wife Kaitlyn, son William and their three dogs in Godfrey, Illinois, not too far from the church where he broke his pastor’s window. He’s looking forward to sharing these songs with audiences, hoping they’ll touch people right where they are.
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