Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 28, 1999
Musician now on God's path
After battling addictions, Denis Grady is using his talents for Christ
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Evangelization via music is Denis Grady's calling - he's convinced of that.
"There are days when that's foggy, and I'm not on drugs anymore so I know it's not from that," joked Grady.
Grady knows the hand of God will not reach down and spell out his path in life.
"How do you discern the will of God for you? You sit and pray and listen and put one foot in front of another. He'll lead you."
Grady, 47, has been led to a life of songwriting and music.
Last year, Grady released his first album, Running Too Long. Since then, he's been receiving kudos left and right for his talent.
He recently won the Alberta Recording Industries Association (ARIA) award for best Religious-Gospel-Christian artist. He is preparing for a U.S. tour in the fall, where he will play 80 to 100 church concerts in the upcoming year.
So he knows he has headed in the right direction.
Religion and music have been a part of Grady's life since birth. Growing up in Ontario, he was an altar boy in his parish. As a teen he joined a band "to meet girls, but God straightened me out and showed me what my music was really for."
Now Grady, who lives in Calgary, is "writing music to God, about God and for God."
Looking at the titles of his songs, it's not hard to decipher that Grady falls into the Gospel singer category.
Bible on the Dash, Thank You Lord, Jesus Throw the Line and Psalm 67-The Harvest of Song are his ways of bringing Christ to the world.
The title track, Running Too Long, is not so obvious. But the lyrics tell a story of Grady's journey to where he is today:
Well I've been running and hiding too long
From the one that I need
And though I've been cut tonight
I won't worry that much I won't bleed
As great as my saviour on a hillside
Has bled for me and you
For the changes that called when my fantasy stalled
Have come through right on time
These words came to life while Grady was in a rehabilitation centre in Claresholm.
Of the dozen songs on the album, this is Grady's favourite.
"Lyrically, it's very autobiographical. When the Lord dealt with my addiction, the hell ended."
The hell took Grady through drug and alcohol addiction, which was followed by a painful divorce.
Grady's second wife, Wendy Lee, to whom he has been married for two years is one of his biggest fans and supporters.
While musicians look for club venues, Grady holds his concerts on off-the-beaten-track locations like prisons, Bible colleges, nursing homes, psychiatric institutes and other people's living rooms.
"I think in a lot of respect doing this with a God focus and serving him, there needs to be a certain obedience of being told where to go and then just going."
Grady's music career has been a combination of trust in God and good planning.
Grady also credits support from singer John Michael Talbot, who founded the Catholic Association of Music, based in Arkansas. Grady has since established a similar chapter of the association in Alberta as a meeting place for local Gospel musicians.
In his 20-plus years writing Gospel music, Grady has seen a growing acceptance of Christian music.
"There's a hunger for it, not just on the part of young people, but everyone. Music provides a place of identity and community.
"God loves singing. He wants you to praise him singing."
And yet there is still a sense of hesitation and weariness when Grady identifies himself as a Gospel singer.
"When I say that, people brace themselves and think I'm going to slap a Bible tract on their forehead."
But if his CD wasn't filed under the Gospel section, it would be found after Garth Brooks in the Country section.
"(Country) has always been an influence," Grady said. "I can't help it; I'm from Calgary.
"It's a very interesting genre. In the traditional country, there's a lot of room to sing about God."
Grady continues to pursue singing full time and sees it as the long path God has steered him towards.
"I enjoy it. I say let's have fun with it. God does not have a shortage of joy."