Wayne Watson to perform at First Baptist Social Circle

Watson to perform at First Baptist Social Circle

Grammy Award-winning Christian singer/songwriter Wayne Watson will appear at 6 p.m. Aug. 18 at First Baptist Church of Social Circle to perform a free concert. (Special photo)

Grammy Award-winning Christian singer/songwriter Wayne Watson will appear at 6 p.m. Aug. 18 at First Baptist Church of Social Circle to perform a free concert. (Special photo)

Winner of a stack of Dove Awards, including a Male Vocalist of the Year Award and 23 No. 1 hit singles on the radio, Wayne Watson will bring his talents to the First Baptist Church of Social Circle for a free concert at 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18,

The Christian singer/songwriter will sing in Social Circle before he heads out on tour with Sandi Patty in South Carolina and Texas and winds up on the God of All Glory Tour with Larnell Harris, Steve Green and Twila Paris.

This giant of the Christian music field is considered by many to have helped define an entire genre of Christian music in the 1980s and 1990s. His more than 20 hit songs include “Friend of a Wounded Heart,” “When God’s People Pray,” “Almighty,” “Be In Her Eyes,” Watercolour Ponies,” “More of You,” “Another Time, Another Place” and “Home Free,” which became the most played song on Christian radio in 1991.

In the 1990s, Watson became one of the first major Christian artists to garner the attention of a world-wide audience when he performed “Another Place, Another Time” with Sandi Patty on NBC TV’s Tonight Show. In the late 1990s, his hit song “For Such A Time As This” became a theme for CBS TV’s series “Touched By An Angel.”

“The story goes that Margaret Williams, the producer of ‘Touched By An Angel,’ sent an intern to fill her car with gas and get it washed,” Watson said from his Houston, Texas, home this week. “He had been listening to the Christian radio station in Salt Lake City and left it on when he brought the car back.

“Margaret told me she hardly ever listened to anything in the car. When she started the engine, the radio was on and ‘For Such A Time As This’ was playing. She pulled over, listened and hatched the idea for the episode and story that had been so hard for her to figure out.

“It dealt with the issues of civil war in Sudan. We were invited to a showing of the episode for members of the U.S. Senate and Congress as there was legislation pending that would bring some aid to Sudan.”

Watson’s body of work has brought attention and accolades from many directions. He has brought home Dove Awards for Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, Pop Contemporary Song of the Year and Contemporary Album of the Year, in addition to having been nominated for the Grammy Award several times and winning a Grammy Award in 1997 for his participation in “Tribute — The Songs of Andrae Crouch.”

The beginnings of this musical powerhouse are simple. He was born in Franklin Parish in northern Louisiana. He grew up going to the First Baptist Church in Wisner, where his mother played the organ and piano in church and his father was a deacon. He said his parents were tolerant of the music he grew up listening to, including the Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Chicago and the music of Motown.

“My mom was classically trained and introduced me to Mozart, Beethoven and Bach — names which I found funny and told her so until she pointed out some of the names of my baseball heroes — Maris, Mantle, Yastremski, Berra,” Watson said. “Dad wasn’t musical, but was always supportive and encouraging, even when we organized a garage band and practiced at our house.”

Watson studied music at Louisiana Tech University and graduated with a degree in vocal music and education.

The first time Watson ever sang in public was in church when he sang “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” written by George Beverly Shea and his mother played the piano for him. Another early event was when he sang at the Miss Franklin Parish Pageant.

“From there I just played wherever the doors opened,” he said, adding that his musical influences continued to grow with the works of Dan Fogleberg, Kenny Loggins and Paul Simon.

His career took off and with it came a litany of awards and almost two dozen No. 1 hits on Christian radio. His music has chronicled his own life’s journey and Watson said in the past few years he is “learning finally in my life what it truly means to worship God through my music.”

When asked how he finally reached that point, Watson said it was because of “life, experience, getting beaten up a bit, loss, things that were and are out of my control, failure, the discovery of the real definition of grace and mercy, overcoming some of my lifelong legalism, realizing how quickly life passes and how quickly it can be taken away.”

He will share his music and his life’s journey with those who attend the upcoming FBC Social Circle concert. Watson will arrive in town Saturday night and sing a song at FBC Social Circle Sunday morning at 10:40, with the choir as back-up singers. The FBC Social Circle Choir will also sing with Watson Sunday night.

“I always love the opportunity to share with anyone,” Watson said. “After all these years, I still get excited about singing some of the songs that in retrospect, have defined my musical career and some new songs that reflect where the journey has and is taking me.

“And honestly, I just like meeting new people. We’ll have that one measure of time together and I want to remember it for the good that happens and trust that something eternal will take place.”

Watson, who has lived in Houston since 1982, is married to the woman he calls his “best friend,” Megan. He has two grown sons Neal and Adam and is the grandfather of four grandsons and one granddaughter.

FBC Social Circle is excited about having Watson in concert, said Julian Sims, the church’s minister of music and students.

“My favorite song of his is probably the one we’ll do Sunday morning, ‘Blood of Jesus,’” Sims said. “As a believer, it very much directs our attention to the reason we are Christians and reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice for us and that He paid our price.”

Sims said Watson’s concert is one of several big concert events the church has hosted and said, “We’ve packed the house every time.”

Sims said people have come from across the state to hear some of the groups the church has hosted and said any church that plans to bring a large group is encouraged to call FBC Social Circle prior to Aug. 18, at 770-464-3474.

No admission is charged for the concert, but a love offering will be taken that evening. The church is located at 95 North Cherokee Road, Social Circle.

Beth Sexton is a freelance writer based in Gwinnett County. If you have a story idea, contact Karen Rohr, features editor, at karen.rohr@rockdalecitizen.com.