On July 23, Jonathan Cain, singer and songwriter of the highly acclaimed group, Journey, released his first solo single of 2021, “Oh Lord Lead Us,” to digital outlets worldwide. Jonathan shares, “Being beaten down, closed up, and churches shuttered. The lockdown. Quarantine. All this stuff. It seemed like this is a new season. We’ve got to make ourselves brand new again. The song was a prayer for a reset and renewal. I just thought we needed something that had a little joy in it.”
As an aspiring singer/songwriter in Los Angeles, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and longtime Journey member Jonathan Cain was advised by record executives to pursue a different vocation.
“They told me that I couldn’t sing and I couldn’t really write and I should get a day job,” Jonathan recalls. “Somebody asked me, ‘What are you going to do now, Jon?’ and I told him, ‘I’m going to find somebody to sing my songs’.”
Encouraged by his father’s words to “don’t stop believin’,” Jonathan pressed forward, eventually writing, touring and recording two albums with The Babys before joining Journey, rounding out the lineup and songwriting prowess on the band’s defining 10X Multi-Platinum album, Escape, which fittingly opens with the 5X Platinum single, “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Along with penning Journey’s mega hit “Faithfully,” as well as co-creating huge anthems like “Open Arms,” “Who’s Crying Now” and many more, Jonathan’s musical contributions along the way, including with Bad English, have earned him numerous Billboard hits; multiple Gold, Platinum and Diamond-selling records; a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; and a GRAMMY® nomination, among other accolades.
Now, more than 40 years into his career, Jonathan Cain continues with Journey, contributing a wealth of new songs to the band’s forthcoming studio album. In addition, Jonathan is a seasoned solo artist—a venture that allows him to come out from behind his keyboard and step into the shoes of a lead vocalist, proving those early critics wrong on every front.
Following a transformational encounter with God, Jonathan committed time and space to begin writing songs about his growing faith, culminating in five albums in five years: What God Wants to Hear (2016), Unsung Noel (2017), The Songs You Leave Behind (2018), More Like Jesus (2019) and Piano Worship (2020). Continuing his tradition of crafting a new solo project each year, Jonathan is currently working on a worship record slated to drop in the Fall of 2021.
The collection’s lead single, “Oh Lord Lead Us,” could very well be a post-pandemic anthem, but the story that led to the song itself was a lifetime in the making.
A Journey of Faith
Jonathan Cain’s personal journey of faith, which he chronicles in his 2018 memoir named after Journey’s career-defining song, Don’t Stop Believin’, began when he was a kid growing up in Chicago. As a young choir boy, he entertained thoughts of going into the ministry, but when his school caught fire killing 92 of his peers and three nuns, Jonathan, only in third grade at the time, found his faith on shaky ground.
Decades later, after experiencing both personal and professional success and watching it all come crashing down, Jonathan found himself in Florida crying out to that same God of his youth. He soon discovered redemption and, ultimately, unconditional love when he met his now wife, Paula White-Cain, who serves as the senior pastor at City of Destiny church in Central Florida.
“I started out wanting to be a priest when I was 8-years-old,” Jonathan shares of the way his life has come full circle, “and I ended up marrying a pastor. I was a choir boy, and now I’m leading worship.”
Music, Ministry, and More
Jonathan leads worship weekly at City of Destiny, the first place he often debuts his new music. “It’s always been the testing grounds. When I write something, I will usually play it at church and see if it moves people. I don’t force my music on our people. I just kind of drop it on them once in a while,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed getting away from the piano and just leading worship and getting people to connect. That’s our job, really. My wife, Paula, she always teaches that God rides on the waves of sound.”
“Oh Lord Lead Us” rides a powerful wave with the help of a wealth of studio pros who brought the driving track to life. Produced by Jonathan Cain, mixed by David Kalmusky (Justin Bieber, The Fray, Keith Urban), mastered by GRAMMY® Award-winning Adam Ayans (Paul McCartney, Carrie Underwood, Foo Fighters), and featuring Journey background vocalist Jason Derlatka, “Oh Lord Lead Us” was recorded at Jonathan’s state-of-the-art Addiction Sound Studios in Nashville with select parts crafted remotely due to the pandemic.
Jonathan wrote the track as a prayer for the new year, as 2021 came into sharp focus following a season of hardship echoed around the world. Inspired by a passage in 1 Chronicles 16:11, “Oh Lord Lead Us” takes its lyrics directly from Scripture. “Being around all this Bible teaching, I get excited when I see something that triggers my imagination,” remarks Jonathan, who grew up Catholic.
Oh Lord Lead Us
The joyful single’s artwork, capturing the sun setting behind the mountains with Jonathan Cain in the forefront, was shot at Nevada’s Red Rock Canyon. “That valley has been unchanged for close to a million years,” Jonathan explains. “It’s just exactly the way God intended it to be. So it just seemed like a holy place to go.”
It also felt like the ideal setting for the song’s music video, but weather delays and rental car shortages prevented Jonathan from getting to the location on time. Arriving later than originally planned but determined to use the area’s natural beauty as the video’s backdrop, Jonathan and the director got up before dawn to shoot against the bright blue sky now seen in the official clip. Right as they wrapped, the skies promptly darkened, brewing up a storm.
The experience could very well be a metaphor for Jonathan’s life—a story of stormy skies and vast horizon, perfect timing and God’s faithfulness, and the subject of much of his new music. While “Oh Lord Lead Us” previews his next studio effort, which Jonathan says will boast more vertical lyrics and congregational-friendly choruses, it’s only one brick in the ministry he’s building. He is also the host of the “Anchored” podcast, where he discusses everything from faith, family and marriage to manhood and music. And he regularly appears on his wife’s television shows, “Paula Today” and “Faithfully,” seen on the Life Network for Women and Daystar Television. In addition, he’s working on new Journey music, with the band also headlining this summer’s Lollapalooza festival in Chicago.
Don’t Stop Believin’
Whether he’s ministering with his wife, testing out new songs on his congregation or playing to millions alongside his Journey bandmates, Jonathan Cain’s faith always takes center stage. “During Journey events I can minister to people who haven’t considered Jesus and who can see the light in my life. I always say, ‘When all else fails, consider Jesus.’ It’s a game changer, absolutely. There are not very many rock ‘n’ rollers praising the name, shouting hallelujah. I take my spiritual life to Journey and have the confidence of being Spirit-filled,” he attests. “Now, more than ever, it’s time to be transparent and stand up for what you believe. If you’re a follower of Jesus, it’s OK to say so. I’m not out there evangelizing. If people can just see my Jesus on me, that’d be fine.”
That’s one reason Jonathan Cain is so grateful to be able to craft solo music that more explicitly displays his faith, while simultaneously continuing to record and tour with Journey. No matter the genre his music is classified under, Jonathan strives to create songs that are both hopeful and timeless. “When you write songs for God, they’re time posts,” he offers. “I’ve found that out as I go back into my old catalog and sing songs. They’re still relevant. They don’t get old, and that’s kind of neat as a writer. They’re there forever, and if somebody wants to sing them, they can,” Jonathan explains.
Although he’s been playing music for four decades, Jonathan Cain continues to climb to the next level, showing no signs of slowing down. If anything, he’s writing some of the best music of his career—music marked by a changed life. “I continue to grow in lots of ways,” he says. “I’m looking forward to seeing where God’s going to take me next.”
Courtesy of Hoganson Media Relations