If you hear Charles sing or watch him lead worship, you know you are experiencing one of the great talents in all of the Church- but when you know him, you quickly discover his talent is no longer what blesses you. You will be challenged by Charles' passion for Christ and His kingdom. The depth of his love for the Lord is what you will love about him!
- Mike Harland, President of Lifeway Worship
When he was 22 years old, the day after his college graduation Charles Billingsley packed up his red two-door Ford Explorer, attached a little trailer behind it and headed to a church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to perform his first professional concert. Almost twenty years later, after 24 records, 17 years of marriage, two children, and 3,000 concerts, Billingsley is releasing his 25th album. Never Forsaken, releasing early 2012, is a collection of songs ranging from recreations such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Another Day in Paradise” to intimate autobiographical tracks like “Baby I Blinked,” as well as the impassioned truth-telling like “God So Loved the World” and the title track.
With Never Forsaken, Billingsley is certainly not holding back on delivering an album that contains a variety of music styles. “It’s time to do a record for my generation,” Billingsley says. With a more distinct pop edge, he notes such artists as John Mayer and Phil Collins as influences, yet the listener will no doubt still hear Billingsley’s classic artistry.
Eight years since his last solo artist album, Billingsley is excited to share Never Forsaken with the world, and its catchy tunes are served with a powerful message: “It’s a plea to the church,” Billingsley explains. “Look beyond the four walls of our buildings and get out there and love the world. It’s just a reminder to us all–God actually loves them as much as he loves me.”
Elaborating on that message is the album’s catalyst song, “God So Loved the World.” Written by Billingsley along with Keith Smith, Adam Lancaster and Tony Wood, the song serves as a wake-up call to the church: “Every preacher in the pulpit/Every cynic on the street/Every poet/Every pauper/Every soldier/Every lawyer…God so loved the world.”
Billingsley, with his with his wife Shae and their two boys, recently took an eye-opening trip to Guatemala along with the humanitarian organization Causelife. During their visit, as they journeyed through numerous villages in dire need of fresh water, Billingsley’s inspiration deepened to help build wells across third world countries.
This trip also grew the inspiration for his new project, especially for its title track. “The song ‘Never Forsaken’ is for those people in the world who are hungry, lost, afraid, malnourished, thirsty, who cry out every day for something called hope,” he shares. “They won’t hear this album. This record is for the people who will hear it to do something about it.”
Billingsley’s message for the record became clear: “Give away today, whatever that means. Your love, time, money, talents, whatever it takes, let God use you.”
With a career spanning two decades, Billingsley has ministered to hundreds of thousands through his gift of song. Two years after graduating from Samford University Billingsley joined Christian music group, NewSong as their lead vocalist. In 1996 he moved on to begin his solo career and traveled the country, performing an average of 200 concerts a year. In 2000 and 2001 he and Shae were blessed with the births of their sons Caleb and Cooper, and when the boys were just babies the family decided to take a step of faith and move to Lynchburg, Virginia where Billingsley became worship pastor at Thomas Road Baptist Church and artist-in-residence at Liberty University, both led by founding pastor and chancellor the late Dr. Jerry Falwell.
In 2005 the family moved across the country to serve alongside Dr. David Jeremiah at Shadow Mountain Community Church and Turning Point Ministries in San Diego, California. Two years later the Billingsleys felt God’s call to return to Lynchburg where the family has been residing ever since. In addition to his roles as worship leader at Thomas Road and his involvement in the worship department at Liberty University, Billingsley has also taken on Red Tie Music, a music publishing company, and several small businesses on the side. Billingsley still makes time to minister to an average of 100,000 people each year by leading worship at conferences all over the country.
In 2009 the future of Charles Billingsley’s music ministry looked uncertain. An aggravated blood vessel burst on his vocal cords leaving the singer with a sizable polyp. Billingsley was told he would have to undergo surgery to remove it and no other options existed. With many fearful questions arising about his voice, questioning if he’d ever be able to sing again, the night before his surgery friends gathered to pray over him. The last man to pray put his hand on Billingsley’s throat and said, “If you never sing again, will you still love God? Will you still serve God? Will you still worship God?” Billingsley replied, in a moment of pure transparency, “I think so.” After surgery and five days of silence Billingsley’s vocal cords healed. Two weeks later he did a concert. Through that faith-trying experience he was reminded that the source of his song is God alone.
“God used that polyp on my voice to refocus me,” Billingsley said. “Before that polyp, I used my voice for success. Now I want to use it for significance.”