Although Zach Williams is from St. Louis Cardinals country in northeast Arkansas, he also was a fan of several Kansas City Royals.
“Where I grew up, almost everybody roots for the Cardinals,” he said. “But I was a huge Bo Jackson fan. I remember the Memphis Chicks (a Royals farm team), and Bo played for them back in the day. I also was a big George Brett fan.”
Williams looks forward to combining baseball with music when he performs at Faith & Family Night at Kauffman Stadium this Saturday.
“I have been talking to the Royals about trying to get a vintage Bo Jackson jersey for the event,” he said. “We saw a game there about a month ago on an off day, because we knew we were going to be playing there. They asked me to throw out the first pitch. I’m excited.”
For the Grammy Award-winning artist, however, the message he will share is far more important than a baseball fan or music.
“I hope there are some people there who haven’t heard of Jesus or haven’t asked him into their hearts,” he said. “It may be the night that they want to make a change. We will play as many songs as we can in the time we are allotted, but I also am going to tell my story and share my testimony and make it available for people to accept Christ that night.”
Williams is perhaps best known for his song “Chain Breaker.”
“That was my first big song that got me into Christian music, but I think it also really embodies everything I am about,” he said. “That’s really what I am trying to write music about — to tell my story about what God has done in my life and the things that he has allowed me to break away from over the years. That’s what I continue to write about. I try to figure how to do it a different way each time I write a song.”
More recently, he teamed up with country legend Dolly Parton to record “There Was Jesus.”
“Working with Dolly was absolutely amazing,” Williams said. “She has never forgotten her roots. She’s always rooting for the underdog. She told me from the day she heard this song she knew it was special. She told me the day I wrote it that I was going to win a Grammy, and I was like, `yeah, right.’ She knew a little something. She championed that song from day one and wanted to serve it the best she could. We have kept in touch for the past couple of years, and she’s been awesome. She is everything you hoped she would be.”
Williams’ music appeals to a wide variety of tastes.
“It’s not your typical contemporary Christian music,” he said. “I grew up listening to blues, rock ‘n’ roll and classic rock, so I feel like I’ve taken a little of the things I’ve grown up on. I grew up not too far from where Johnny Cash was born. I would say it’s a little mixture of Southern rock, country and classic rock all put together. I have tried to come up with my own style of music for the Christian market, and I am grateful it was accepted.”
Williams is happy to be back on the road performing for fans as the pandemic eases.
“I spent a lot of time with my family during the first couple of months of the pandemic after being on the road for so many years,” he said. “It was kind of a nice break. It was something we all needed. But there came a time when I felt like I needed to get back to work. We recorded a Christmas record last summer down at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. We worked on that most of the year. I also started writing songs at the top of this past year for a new record.
“We were fortunate. We work with a promoter, and he figured out how to get us into playing some shows. From last September until this June, we played about 60 shows. We were doing drive-in movie theaters all over the United States. We felt very blessed that came along. Through it all, God continued to show me that he is going to provide the way.”
He encourages everyone to come out this Saturday for a memorable evening of baseball and music.
“If anything, it’s a chance to get out of the house after everybody’s been cooped up for a year and hear some music for a good cause,” he said. “I think there is going to be something for everybody. I like to think my music appeals a bit to all kinds of crowds. I’m not going to push it down your throat, but I’m going to make it available. If you want something better for your life, I know a way. I think it’s going to be a great night for friends and family to get out and celebrate and worship.”
Faith & Family night is presented by Hobby Lobby and co-sponsored by Metro Voice and starts 6:15 on Saturday when the Royals play the Baltimore Orioles. After the game, Williams will perform, several players will share their testimonies and Scott Dawson of Safe at Home will speak. Tickets are available at www.royals.com.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice