?I love life,? Aaron
Benward confesses unapologetically. ?I mean, I REALLY love life!? It
is a confession that takes on added weight in the wake of a devastating
auto accident that nearly took his life. Aaron was brought face to face
with death, and death blinked. Aaron walked away with cuts and bruises,
and a profound appreciation for the important things in life ? love of
God, love of family, love of life itself. It is a love affair that
permeates Aaron?s eagerly awaited solo debut IMAGINE.
Aaron co-wrote ten of
IMAGINE?s eleven songs, resulting in an album that is deeply personal,
running the gambit from bright, pop-inflected praise tunes, to intensely
introspective love songs. Set against a sonic soundscape that falls
somewhere between Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls and Michael W. Smith; IMAGINE
passes seamlessly from crunchy, guitar rock, to keyboard-driven anthems.
The title, according to Benward, says it all. The 26 year-old father of
two explains, ?Philippians 4:13; it?s my life verse. ?I can do all
things through Christ who strengthens me?. God wants to do so much more
than we can fathom or imagine. He wants our dreams to come true. Those
things that we strive for, those things that are deep down in our hearts
? He put them there. He wants those exact things for us. It is a theme
that runs through the album.?
highly-anticipated solo project has been a long time coming. Three
critically acclaimed albums as the ?Aaron? half of father/son duo
Aaron Jeoffrey created a demand for more, more, more. But Aaron waited
until the timing was right before launching out on his own. ?The plan
was for me to eventually be able to do my own thing, to chase my own
dream. That was understood at the outset. It?s time for me to focus on
my generation, and the one following; to make my own decisions; to take my
own risks. It?s an exciting time,? Aaron understates.
IMAGINE is an album that
almost didn?t get finished. With just over half the songs recorded,
Aaron was involved in a potentially fatal auto accident. Sitting alone
with his wife, trying to process the accident, he found himself listening
to the one song on the album he did not write, ?God?s Here.? ?All
of a sudden life took on new meaning,? he says. ?I realized that in an
instant my wife, my kids, all of us could have been taken. And if it had
been time for us to go, Jesus would have been there to usher us into the
presence of God. But God has more that He wants me to do for Him here. All
the little trivial things that mattered before the accident, material
things, they don?t matter anymore.?
What does matter is a new
found focus on his ministry?his primary ministry. ?I realize now that
my primary ministry is not to the people who come to my concerts, or the
people who buy my records,? he explains. ?My primary ministry is to my
family. After the truck stopped flipping and came to rest on the
passengers side ? when I saw that my wife was okay, and then when I
looked in the back and the kids were all right, it was like I took the
deepest breath you could ever take. I realized that it?s not about the
car you drive, the house you live in or the kind of clothes you wear. It?s
about leading my family as a godly man.?
IMAGINE, like the man who
sings it, is a dichotomy of sorts ? at once intense and strong, yet
vulnerable, sensitive, and unafraid. It is a delicate balance that Aaron
makes look easy on the anthemic love song, ?Captured,? where he sings,
?The moment You set me free was the moment You captured me.? He
displays flashes of brilliant, pop sensibilities on the evangelical ?Let
It Out,? and experiments with some gentle acoustic flavorings on ?God?s
Here.? And his innate sense of fun bursts forth on ?Famous and Alive.?
Lyrically IMAGINE plumbs
the depths of the Christian experience. The autobiographical, ?Renaissance
Love,? compares new life in Christ to the historical Renaissance, when
the Dark Ages gave way to rebirth and renewal. ?Salt? and ?Let It
Out? are straight-ahead songs of encouragement for believers to spread
the good news of Christ. ?He Believes? and ?Make Your Mark?
celebrate the high calling of God on our lives. ?He created us in his
image, but He created us uniquely,? Aaron says. ?He wants us to dream
our own dreams. He wants us to succeed. He wants to be the God of our
hearts. He is concerned with us. That is way He died for us.?
As Aaron prepares to
launch his solo he reflects back on things his father taught him; things
that have now become a part of him. ?He let me grow up and experience
God in my own way,? he says. ?I discovered my Jesus instead of his. He
taught me to stay focused, to stay true, to communicate and to make good
decisions. And he taught me how to love people, because Christ came and
died for people.?
?I made a mistake
growing up,? he muses. I had a great opportunity, to use my faith to be
salt and light at my high school. Instead I was really submerged in my
youth group and only hung out with my friends from church. So although my
classmates knew I was a believer I didn?t know if I had any real impact
on them. We as Christians have to get outside the arena of just
surrounding ourselves with other Christians. That is a big conviction of
?The impact that I want
to have with IMAGINE is to bring joy,? Aaron insists. ?I want people
to walk away from listening to me with a renewed sense of joy in their
lives. I want them to walk away encouraged. I want them to walk away
having experienced a touch from God.?