Most people that drive through rainy and foggy conditions will grab the steering wheel tightly and concentrate on safely reaching their destination. For upstate New York based singer/songwriter Jared Campbell, a recent drive home in such conditions was the inspiration for his new album, Beyond The Gray. That’s not to say Campbell didn’t grip the wheel as he strained to see more than five feet ahead of him, but he realized that the weather that night was symbolic of his journey as an artist. The white line was the only thing guiding Campbell, and he likened that line to the values of family, faith and interest in life that were guiding him when he didn’t know for sure what his future in music was.
“Beyond The Gray” became the new album’s title track, and the perfect symbol for the last few years of Campbell’s career, which were trying as he has changed management more than once. But Campbell’s faith in God, as well as the support of his wife Meridee, family and friends, kept him inside those “white highway lines.” The result is a set of music that is Campbell’s strongest and most powerful to date.
Beyond The Gray features all of the stylistic sides that make up Campbell as an artist– from straight up pop/rock tunes such as “Maybe With Me” and “Memories” to an infectious dance groove in “Teach Me to Love,” or a playful side in “Music Man” (which features Campbell on ukulele) to his softer, more sensitive side in “My Queen”, a song written for his mother. “This was the first time in my career that I felt I finally had the say in what was going into every nuance of every song on the record,” says Campbell. “I went in the studio with a clear vision for each song and how I wanted them to translate to my audience.”
And powerful as it is, Beyond The Gray does have history to live up to. When Campbell released Rest Out in 2004, he did so to a sold out Forum Theater in Binghamton (capacity 1500). A subsequent live CD and DVD set, Anderson and I, was recorded and released in 2005 to 1,200 adoring fans. In all, Campbell has sold over 18,000 units, all without the support of a record label. He was hand picked by the editors of Billboard to perform in the Disc Makers Independent Music World Series, and his music has appeared on shows such as MTV’s “Real World” and “Road Rules.” Campbell has shared the stage with the likes of Gavin DeGraw, Jason Mraz, Collective Soul and Hootie & The Blowfish.
For the release of Beyond The Gray, Campbell is celebrating on November 28 back at the Forum Theater. “This is my favorite venue to play in my hometown,” he beams. “I dreamed of playing that stage from a child, and having the chance to return is a thrill for me. I hope to see all the familiar faces there that helped shape my career from the start.”
In addition to performing in clubs and on campuses nationwide, Campbell is moving forward with “The Blue Project,” an interactive live show presented to students to teach them more about the power of songs and about the music business in general.
Jared Campbell’s career has had its ups and downs, but he’s always had a passion to be known for and to meet others through his music. And if Campbell can grab control of the wheel again, and continue to make music for a living, he will have achieved success.
“My main focus,” he says, “has been allowing my music to impact the lives of listeners by experiencing joy, finding comfort through pain, and looking past obstacles toward living a better life.”