Contributor Two Contributor Two
Joseph Habedank--Happy Days Are Here Again
Contributor Two Contributor Two
Daywind recording artist Joseph Habedank is an award-winning singer and songwriter who sang with the Perrys for a decade before striking out on his own as a soloist. After struggling with an addiction, God has brought him out of that into a much happier, healthier place. Now, he is excited to release a brand-new album with a message that reflects his testimony--Resurrection. Here, Joseph talks with editor Deb Patterson about the inspiration behind the music.

Deb:  Hi Joseph, it’s great to speak with you. How has your year been shaping up so far?
Joseph:  You know what, it's been really awesome. I just feel really blessed and grateful that I get to do what I do. I love what I get to do.

Deb:  That is a blessing, for sure. OK, let's talk about this album. Did you record it in Nashville?
Joseph:  I always record in Hendersonville at Daywind Studios, which is the record company that I've been with since I was 17. I joined the Perrys when I was 17, and they were always Daywind artists.

But anyway, I'm really excited about this record. It is my second album with Daywind as a soloist, and it's just an exciting time. I always kind of feel bad because everybody always says this record's “the best they've ever done,” so it feels odd to say that every time, but it really is.

Deb:
 I think it's good to be excited about it, because if you weren't, then why would you be recording it? 
Joseph:  Exactly. 

Deb:  Who produced the album?
Joseph: Wayne Haun actually produced. Again, he was our producer with the Perrys the whole time I was there. We had a lot of fun making this record. Wayne's brilliant … just a brilliant guy.

Deb:  I’ve heard others say that about Wayne as well. I see that you co-wrote all the songs, is that right?
Joseph:  I did, which is a lot of fun and a lot of pressure, because if people don't like it, it's all on you. But I'm really excited. I tell you what, that's the fun thing about being a soloist, to get to write your own stuff, and it can be a very time-consuming process. I think I wrote probably 100 songs for the record.

Deb:  Wow!
Joseph:  And then only 10 of them make it, so [choosing] that 10 percent is kind of tough. But man, I'm so excited. I feel like we got the best 10 songs for the record, and this album is just really special to me.

Deb:  I’m just curious … what do you enjoy most? Do you enjoy the writing process or recording in the studio or actually being on stage or just all of it?
Joseph:  I think I love all of it for different reasons. I love writing, because I get to write what I want to say every night. Then, the recording process is so exciting because I get to watch it come to life. I always look at these songs as like my babies. Then obviously, the stage is exciting because you finally get to share this heart that you have for these songs, and you get to watch people respond. It can be a little terrifying the first time you do a new song and you wonder if anybody's going to like it, but it’s such a gift to be able to get to do what we do.

I just love it all, but as I'm walking through that process, I would say the recording process is pretty fun to me, because it's getting to see these works of art come to life.

Deb:  It's like the baby's being born at that point.
Joseph:  Exactly. It's exactly right.

Deb:  Well, speaking of writing songs, tell us about some of the songs from this project.
Joseph:  Our first single is called “Here He Comes.” I'm really excited because it's the life of Christ in three or four minutes. It's basically this anticipatory thing where it's the manger, it’s Bethlehem, and you can almost feel creation saying, "Here he comes." The song traces His life's events, ending with His resurrection, and of course, ultimately He will be coming back from heaven to get us. It comes full circle. 

Deb:  That sounds like a great story song.
Joseph:  And I tell you what, what I love about this record is it takes you on a journey. It really does, and it starts with “Here He Comes.” It is like a story, and I hope people will be able to feel what I feel when I listen to that song and all the songs.

Deb:  Who did you write that one with?
Joseph:  I wrote that with a guy named Tony Wood, who is my songwriting mentor, and a younger writer named Chris Cron who was actually a pop guy for a long time. He became a believer and does Christian music now … just a great, talented guy.

Deb:  I want to get back to songs in a minute, but are there any guest vocalists on the project?
Joseph:  Yes, actually, and I'm really excited about it. My wife Lindsay sings on a song called “Say the Name” that I wrote with Tony Wood and Michael Farren. She's a brilliant singer, just an amazing, amazing voice. Singing live is just not really her thing, which I respect. She runs sound for me a lot, and she works the product table, and she's a big part of our ministry, but she just doesn’t sing live very often. But she just did an amazing job.

Deb:  What is the song about?
Joseph:  I love the lyric, and the first line is From prison cells to desert places, broken homes and hopeless cases….

Deb:  Oh, wow….
Joseph:  …From every prayer on desperate knees, time and time again you'll see what it can do, any time that you say the name. It's about the name of Jesus and the power that that name has, and it’s just very, very honest. One of the lyrics is From worried looks on doctors' faces, empty cribs and faith that's shaken. It's just a really raw song, but man, I think it's powerful, I really do. I think any time that you emphasize the name of Jesus, there's just something powerful about that.

Deb:  Are there any other songs that come to mind as your favorites?
Joseph:  It’s so hard to pick favorites, but there's a song called “Just When You Thought” that I wrote with Wayne, my producer, and Michael Farren. One of the lines is Just when you thought you could somehow outrun Him, you're chased down by mercy.

It's just a really powerful ballad, but when it comes to some things that I've been through in my life, it talks a lot about being a prodigal and how we spend so much time trying to outrun God and it's like, you can't outrun someone who's everywhere. You can't outrun somebody who loves you that much.

Deb:  I remember that thought from Psalm 139 … If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
Joseph:  Exactly. I think a lot of us, I know I have in my life … you run and run and run and you just want to do your thing. You try so hard, but you cannot outrun the love of Christ. The song speaks to that. It was funny because Wayne and Michael and I were writing a fast song for this album, which didn't end up being chosen. In the middle of writing that song, Michael said, "The Lord has just given me this," and he started singing the song. It was a ballad. It's totally different than what we were writing, but something had sparked him. We ended up writing two songs that day, and the one that we hadn't planned on writing was the one that made the record, interestingly enough.

Deb:  I love things like that.
Joseph:  Pretty neat.

Deb:  You mentioned having struggles in your own life…. I really admired how wonderfully open you were about overcoming your addiction. Has that experience changed the way that you approach writing or performing, or just your whole ministry in general?
Joseph:  Oh, absolutely. It's funny, the first record I wrote after that was Welcome Home. There were some more heavy undertones to the writing on that record because of what I’d just walked through.

With this album, it was a little harder to tap into that emotion because I was in such a great place. I was sober and happy and I had this new career. Things were taking off and everything was so good, and I realized, it's OK—write about that. Write about the goodness of God rather than the badness of what I had been.

Don't get me wrong, there's still some emotion on this. There's quite a bit of emotion on this record, but it's called Resurrection, so it's more of a victory. It's very uptempo; it's very happy. But at the same time, there's a few of those songs like “Say the Name” and “Just When You Thought” that have that emotion.

I think I write from a different place because of what Christ has done in me, and I'm able to tap into different things that I would have never been able to tap into before because I never experienced the depths of God. I never experienced this sort of depth of His grace and His mercy. I had never been this deep. I didn't know how much He could love me. When I was walking through all that, I remember someone told me, "You know, Jesus loved you when you were an addict, but He's crazy about you now." Man, that rocked my world, to hear somebody tell me “Jesus is crazy about you.” God loves me, and that has really changed my writing. I want other people to know that Jesus loves them, no matter how broken they may be. In fact, I think God might even love us just a little bit more when we're broken….

Deb:  It says He's going to leave the 99 and go look for that one.
Joseph:  Exactly. To make a short story long, I definitely write from a different place and I just live from a different place. I’m so grateful, because I know what it's like to sit in a treatment facility and not know if you're ever going to get to sing again or if you'll ever write another song and if you do write another song, if anybody will ever hear it. If you'll ever get to sing it. So now if I have a bad day, the quality of my problems now is so much better than it was four years ago.
Deb:  It has to be such a ministry to your audience, too.

Joseph:  Yes … I can sing to an audience for an hour and absolutely feel like I'm not connecting whatsoever, and as soon as I tell them my story, they're there, they're in, because it makes you human to them. And that's what we are, man. We're just humanity. We are a broken, fallen people that need Jesus, and that's why Jesus came to die.

We spend so much time hiding these sins that we've committed, when, if we could—and it's not for everybody—but if we could just come out and say, "Hey, I'm broken, I'm messed up. This is what I did, and I hope it helps you to realize it's OK that you've messed up, too. Jesus wants to forgive you and love you and bring you back home."

Deb:  That's good. It has to make you more approachable, because I think many of us look at people on the stage and think, oh, they have it all together or they don't know my struggle.
Joseph:  I think I had that, especially. I think it’s because I started so young and I came from this broken home where I was the oldest child. I was the father figure, and I wasn't always approachable. I had a little bit of maybe arrogance to me and I haven't always been that guy that people can come up to at the table and….

Deb:  That was your survival mechanism….
Joseph:  Yeah, I think we all have our insecurities, and we hide them. We mask them with other things, and mine was to come across as overly confident to overcompensate for my stuff. Then when I went through what I did, it was like all that went out the window. It's like, who cares about a façade? Who cares about what they think? Just fix your life. Let Jesus fix you, and then go help people.

Honestly, I've taken some criticism for sharing my story. I think there have been a couple of people that have told me nobody wants to hear where you've been. They want to know where you're going. That's OK. People are allowed to have that opinion, but this is what I feel like God has called me to do. I feel like I walked through that for this reason, to shine a light on redemption and addiction, and let people know that there is a way through.

Deb:  Yes, I think it is needed. So, other than promoting the new album, is there anything this year that you're really looking forward to? 
Joseph:  I'm really excited about this Reba [McEntire] thing. This was a song that was written for this record, but somebody sent it to Reba, and she cut it.

Deb:  For those reading along here, Joseph co-wrote a song called "Sing It Now" that was chosen as the title song on Reba McEntire's new album, Sing It Now--Songs of Faith & Hope. That is exciting!
Joseph:  Yeah, I'm just really excited. I'm really honored. It's very humbling, just again to see where God has brought me from. These are blessings that I probably wouldn't have had I not gotten to this place in my life. I would say these are the gifts of sobriety, when you do the right thing and good things happen. I'm just really grateful.

Deb:  I’m glad for you, that you are at such a good place in your life, and thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today.
Joseph:  Thanks for asking me! I'm honored to do it.