We were first introduced to the Nelson twins when Jonathan Nelson burst onto the scene, giving Donald Lawrence one of his most infectious singles to date, “Healed.”
Now the baby of 5 siblings, Jason Nelson, is taking his turn front and center with the release of one of the most anticipated CD’s of 2012, Shifting The Atmosphere.
Recently I sat down with Nelson to discuss going from indie to a major label, signing his first deal and a political hot topic!
Lately, everyone is saying independent is the way to go. You were an independent artist for several years and now you’re signed to a major label. Truthfully, which is the better route?
Wow! We’re just going to start right there huh!? (lol) I think it’s relative. The key to being good independently is having a lot of money or resources. Then you can make things happen on a large scale that the “average Joe” cannot. It’s also about who you’re connected to. For example, if you have a high-powered attorney or management, then you can make it happen as an independent. Isaac Carree is doing very well as an indie artist. But he had a system already in place being connected to Kirk Franklin and Monica Bacon, which helped make the transition easy for him. Being with a label allows a lot of the burden to come off of you and they take on the burden of responsibility. But you also must be savvy and smart enough as an artist to make sure they are not skipping over a lot of steps they don’t think you know about.
So which is better?
It depends on what you’re looking for. For me, I felt like I had maxed out as an independent artist. I’m a father, a husband, a pastor and an artist and it started to get difficult for me to handle the rigors of being on my own. So it was advantageous for me to sign with a major label, but it also depends on what label you sign to! And I’ll leave it at that!
Were you successful as an indie artist?
I was successful in certain areas and not so much in others. I was able to sell quite a few CD’s, my bills were paid and I took a couple of vacations from those sales, so I wasn’t hurting. But I didn’t achieve radio success. And as hard as I tried, it didn’t work.
Why didn’t it work?
There were some things I just did not know. If I could go back and use the things I know now, I probably could make something happen. But again, if you’re connected to right people and have enough money to do certain things, then you can at least make a dent on radio. That’s not to say you’re going to have a top 10 hit though. But for me, I probably could have made top 20, based on what I know now.
Was a record deal something you and Jonathan always wanted?
I can’t speak for Jonathan, but it was not something I was seeking. I was a bass player that could sing a little bit, and I was good with that. When Jonathan did his first project, I sang on it and kept it moving. The bug didn’t bite me until 2000. That’s when I started writing a lot more. At that time, I wanted to go the Dawkins & Dawkins route, that urban, contemporary sound. But I did this Gospel Heritage recording with Donald Lawrence and from that it just struck me that I liked live more than the studio stuff. And my desire of being a worshipper translated much better in a live setting.
Watching Jonathan’s success, did that help in your decision of wanting to be an artist?
No not really. I was ok being a songwriter and being an indie artist. When I got signed, it literally fell in my lap. I was singing at a life celebration service for Bishop Moales Sr. and Stanley Brown was in the audience that day. Stanely came up to me after the service was over and said we need to talk. He saw the impact of my song during the program and liked what he saw. Two days later he called me and said, “I think I want to sign you. What you did was different than what everyone else did.” When I went and met with Jazzy Jordan of Verity he hadn’t even heard my music. We just talked and based on our conversation and the recommendations of Jeff Grant and Stanley, he said, “Let’s do it.” Honestly it was God’s hand orchestrating that whole situation.
How long have you and your wife been married and how many kids do you have?
My wife and I have been married for fifteen years and I have a 12-year-old daughter and my son is about to turn 6.
What was your wife’s reaction when you told her Verity wanted to sign you?
Her first reaction was disbelief and excitement. Then it became a little overwhelming because it was nothing we had asked for. It literally fell in our laps. When they sent over the contracts and we had our lawyer look them over, that’s when it became real. Before that happened, it was just surreal.
As a songwriter, what’s your writing process like?
It’s a very random process for me. I never purposely sit down and say I’m going to write. Sometimes a song will come from a message I’m studying or something someone said in a conversation. When I wrote “Don’t Count Me Out,” I was sitting in my car listening to William McDowell’s first CD. He started talking about David and something just clicked for me. I was thinking, “They really counted David out, but he was king.” There was something so significant about that. So I literally turned my radio off, pulled to the side of the road and sang the melody into my phone. When I got home I wrote the rest of it out. And there you have “Don’t Count Me Out.”
Is there a song on your CD that you weren’t initially a fan of?
Actually the song “Favor” I wasn’t a huge fan of at first. My producer wrote that one and I told him I wasn’t sure about that one. I thought it was just ok. But, the more I started to sing it and when the lyrics hit me, I got it! Then as the live treatments were added to the song, by the time we recorded it, I was completely a fan. It was actually a very high moment during the recording too.
What artists are you listening to these days?
I like Preseha Hilliard, Israel, Fred Hammond, Kari Jobe and many others. My palette is pretty wide. One day I may listen to CCM, the next Gospel, another day Jazz and another day nothing at all.
President Obama recently came out and gave his approval of gay marriage. What is your take on gay marriage?
I don’t have a stance. I just believe what the bible says. I don’t believe in gay marriage and I don’t agree with the sin of homosexuality, but I understand they are people and I understand why they are fighting for the rights of gay marriage. They want certain benefits they are excluded from, which makes sense. My thing is don’t make it political issue, go to the health insurance companies and fight them. Don’t make it something that polarizes the whole nation.
JASON NELSON’S 10 RANDOM TRUTHS
- Favorite TV show? “Seinfield.”
- Best player Lebron or Kobe? Kobe of course.
- Would you ever skydive? No.
- Pick your favorite? Karen Clark Sheard, Dorinda Clark Cole, Vanessa Bell Armstrong or CeCe Winans? Karen Clark Sheard.
- Favorite movie? “The Matrix.”
- Pet peeve? When I travel and I’m left at the airport. If you want to irritate me do that!
- The Winans or Commissioned? Commissioned.
- Can you swim? Very well.
- Biggest misconception about marriage? That it’s 50/50.
- Whose the bigger disciplinarian… you or your wife? Definitely my wife! I’m the fun one!