Winter Jam 2018: A Conversation with Kari Jobe

NOTE: This is the second in a four-part Winter Jam Tour Spectacular preview leading up to the Jan. 26 performance in Des Moines, Iowa.

Christian music fans are set to rejoice once again this Friday night as the largest Christian music tour in the U.S. prepares to land at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

This year’s version of the annual Winter Jam Tour Spectacular features the usual crowd-pleasing mix of pop, rock, rap and worship, led by platinum-selling rockers Skillet and 3-time Dove Award winner Kari Jobe. Building 429, comedian John Crist rapper KB, tour founders NewSong, and Jordan Feliz and Dan Bremnes will also perform.

For Jobe, the Grammy Award-nominated and golden-voiced singer/songwriter with two No. 1 albums (2012’s “Where I Find You,” and 2014’s “Majestic,” ) and a No. 2 (2017’s “The Garden”) in her impressive resume, returning to Winter Jam after a six-year absence has been wonderful. Hurried, but wonderful.

“Yeah, it definitely feels a bit rushed,” she admitted during a brief interview with ListenIowa when speaking of the tour’s rapid-fire format of quickly transitioning from one act to another. “But if you sit out and watch the show from beginning to end, it’s really good, because everything just kind of keeps moving. I’m kind of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), so as somebody who goes to shows, I like it when it’s moving. (laughs) From a worship aspect, and sharing the burdens that are on our hearts, we have to do that quickly. But everybody is doing it, so it feels like a group effort and not just on one person. It’s really cool.”

Talk to me about your involvement in Winter Jam and how it came to be.
I came out on Winter Jam about six years ago, and this year I’m doing the worship segment of the night, sandwiched between KB and John Crist, and Building 429 and Skillet. So it’s kind of the lull in night where we can kind of cleanse our ears and just worship. (laughs)

How much different is this from going out on your own tour?
Very different, which is nice. It’s nice not having to carry a whole tour. We just came off a year of it. It can be fun, but it can be real exhausting. As far as worship, you go from an hour-and-a-half set to 25 minutes, and you’re like, “Ahhhhh!!” (laughs) It’s like, “Hurry on, worship-worship-worship-worship, OK, goodbye!” (laughs) But it’s good to have the balance. Doing them both has been really nice.

Has the tour cycle ended for “The Garden”?
It has.

You were out for year-and-a-half supporting that. That’s a long time.
Man, that tour was so sweet, though. The album was written when my sister lost her baby right toward the end of her pregnancy. I was still pregnant at the time, so, as you can imagine, it was a very hard season. But I chose to write out of that season, go through my process with the Lord, and ask all of my questions. That tour really brought people together who were in the middle of tragedy and had questions of God. It was just a powerful, real, raw worship. It was beautiful, but it could also be hard in some ways. I felt the room, and I felt the needs of the people in the room a lot. But God showed up and helped the people in such a powerful and mighty way. We have over 60 pages of testimony from that tour of people sharing their stories with me. Every one of them will make you cry; it’s just unreal. I’m glad we did it. Even if people who were in a really hard place, even if it was just a whisper, they could whisper their worship to God.

So how is your sister now? That’s a tough subject matter to write about, and, from her standpoint, go through.
That song was literally written for her in the middle of that. It’s been more than two years, but, as anyone can imagine, there are good days, and there are really hard days. Christmas was difficult again. But my sister said something recently that I was floored by. She said that her daughter being in Heaven has given her a relationship with God that she isn’t sure she would have had at this point of her life. She said, “He has my baby. I want to talk to Him. I want to have a relationship with Him, because I want to feel near to Heaven,” which is such a beautiful perspective.

As far as your music, you are an actual songwriter rather than relying on outside contributors for the most part. Is this a source of pride for you?
As a worship leader, I connect to songs that have stories behind them. As a songwriter, being a part of my own songwriting is helpful in that I know where it came from and how it was written and why it was written. It helps me want to sing it. There are songs that I haven’t written, though, that I like to lead. There’s a song right now called “Reckless Love” that is just erupting in the church. I don’t know how it was written, but you can tell it was written after some kind of encounter with God.

On the new music side of things, can people be expecting any new material from you in the near future, Kari?
I feel like this next season there will be another live worship project. We’re kind of gearing up for that. We have kind of a slower year after this Winter Jam tour. I plan on just sitting at the piano and just really trying to hear the Lord on the next season of songs.

What do you want people to take away from your time onstage at Winter Jam?
I love this question. I really just want people to connect with God. I really want them to just take their eyes off the room and off the stage, look up, and have a moment in the night where they can get a perspective of God’s love. We serve such a mighty God, that many people can have many different kinds of relationships with Him. Worship can look different at times. But worship is so we can bring Him our burdens and lay them at His feet and then take on His perspective in His heart for us. It’s an exchange, and I want that exchange to happen.


Feb. 8            Ft. Wayne, IN Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
Feb. 9            Cleveland, OH Wolstein Center
Feb. 10          Indianapolis, IN Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Feb. 11           Detroit, MI Little Caesars Arena
Feb. 15          Evansville, IN The Ford Center
Feb. 16          Pittsburgh, PA PPG Paints Arena
Feb. 17          Cincinnati, OH U.S. Bank Arena
Feb. 18          Birmingham, AL Legacy Arena at the BJCC
Feb. 22          Tupelo, MS BancorpSouth Arena
Feb. 23          Knoxville, TN Thompson-Boling Arena
Feb. 24          Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum
Feb. 25           Chattanooga, TN McKenzie Arena
March 2         New Orleans, LA Lakefront Arena
March 3         Memphis, TN FedExForum
March 4         Houston, TX Toyota Center
March 9         Wichita, KS INTRUST Bank
March 10       Bossier City, LA CenturyLink Center
March 11       N. Little Rock, AR Verizon Arena
March 15       Council Bluffs, IA Mid-America Center
March 16       Kansas City, MO Sprint Center
March 17       Oklahoma City, OK Chesapeake Energy Arena
March 18       Ft. Worth, TX Ft. Worth Convention Center
March 22       Augusta, GA James Brown Arena
March 23       Columbia, SC Colonial Life Arena
March 24       Raleigh, NC PNC Arena
March 25       Greenville, SC Bon Secours Wellness Arena
March 29       Peoria, IL Peoria Civic Center
March 30       Chicago, IL Allstate Arena
March 31       Lexington, KY Rupp Arena



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