A musician with local roots came to entertain Lakeview recently. Christian recording artist and Bonanza native Ryan Stevenson played to a standing-room only crowd at the Faith Center Foursquare Church, located at 324 N. M St. in Lakeview.
A crowd of over one hundred showed up to enjoy the musician’s mix of modern, pop-style Christian worship.
From his own, original songs like, “We Got the Light,” and “In the Sun,” to a rousing, stylized version of The Sugar Hill gang’s classic, “Rapper’s Delight,” Stevenson had audience members dancing and singing along.
“He is so cool,” said Dylan Still, 12, of Lakeview, “I love his music!”
His mother, Naomi Still, enjoyed the concert as well. “I didn’t know what to expect, “she said, “but Ryan is awesome!”
It would seem that Stevenson was meant to play here. His travels have brought him through the area many times, but recently Stevenson was stopped by local OSP officer Curtis Weaver while driving home from a concert in the Medford area. They struck up a conversation that led the musician back to Lakeview to play. “It was snowing heavily,” Stevenson recalls, “and that man gave me his own cell number to call, in case we got into trouble on the roads.” He shakes his head in wonder.
The 34-year-old singer and songwriter began his music career in third grade, where he learned to play the drums. But when he was 18, Stevenson’s youth pastor gave him a guitar. “It didn’t make sense for him to give it to me, because I was a drummer,” he recalls, “but once I started to play, things just sort of clicked.”
After graduating from Bonanza High School, Stevenson attended Northwest Christian College in Eugene, with the intent of becoming a doctor.
However, when the time came to declare his major, “It wasn’t in the cards… I was taking classes in theology and music, and it just didn’t fit. So I became a teacher instead.”
It was in college that he was able to work with musician and friend Paul Wright. “Once I got up on the stage and played, I was hooked,” he chuckles.
Stevenson graduated with a degree in education and taught for two years, but realized that teaching was just not where his heart lay. “I was not happy.” Stevenson describes a moment that would be pivotal in his career: “I was driving one day, when I heard that still, small voice telling me to move on, to Idaho. I listened.”
Now married, Stevenson and his wife Kim, who is originally from Idaho, were packed and on their way to Boise only four days later.
“After that,” he says, “my music career just started to fall into place. It was the right thing.”
When doing an outreach project or concert, Stevenson says, “If even one person is impacted, it is worth it.”
Stevenson now has two young sons, Keegan and Joey. He admits it is hard to be away from his family, and says that the on-the-road lifestyle is hard on faith, too.
“There are lots of things out there that attack you when you are trying to do this kind of work,” he said.
The congregation Stevenson works within, Vertical Church is on the front lines of ministry in the Boise area. He says he sees so many hurting people coming through the doors, from drug addicts to abuse victims, to those in life recovery.
His songwriting talents recently received critical acclaim when best-selling worship artist Toby Mac won a Grammy award for his platinum-selling album, Eye On It, which included, “Speak Life,” a song penned by Stevenson himself.
The album is the first Christian album in over 15 years to go to #1 on the Billboard charts, and Stevenson is excited to have contributed to it.
So after such success, what’s next for Ryan Stevenson? Now under a new record label, he isn’t at liberty to tell us exactly what’s in store, but could say, “It’s good stuff.”
Stevenson says he plans to continue to bring his music and ministry to small towns like Lakeview.
He describes Lake County as being, “organic,” and, “unspoiled by the big-city pace.
“I love places like Lakeview, Paisley, and Christmas Valley. The people here are very unique, very honest.
For more information, visit www.ryanstevensonmusic.com.