Hello! My name is Justin Hooper, and I am the singer-songwriter for the Denver-based music project The Simple Parade. Just to give you fair warning, this is not a typical musician bio. Yes, I have a history of making music, yes some of my songs have won some accolades, and yes I sound like some other artists you may have heard of before. But instead of expounding on all of these things, I would rather start by giving you a little context, a mission statement, and an invitation.
We are going to start by taking it back to the beginning. You see, I was born on the wrong month of the year. I came into this world 6 weeks early, and while my mother was in labor she was told by the doctors that I would have a multitude of severe health issues. While she had a moment alone amidst the chaos she looked up in desperation and prayed, giving her life and mine to the will of God, truly accepting Jesus as Lord. After this prayer, she heard a still, small voice that said, “He is a boy, and he is fine”. Sure enough, I was (and still am) a boy, and I had none of the health issues the doctors said I would have. Some might call this a miracle.
Since then, like most people I have been on a life journey full of hills and valleys, epiphanies and depressions, light and darkness. I have actually seen personal prophecies come to fruition (always weird to see), literally seen the deaf hear and the blind see (both from behind my guitar), and yet I am still often filled with skepticism and doubt, trying to make sense of the craziness we call life. Even in all my wrestling with history and philosophy and religion and science and morality I have found that I keep coming back to the life and teachings of Jesus. I myself have heard that still small voice on many occasions, and one of the messages I have heard over the years in regards to music has been, “Do things different, do things in my name…” For the most part I have ignored this voice and tried to do things like everyone else, but somewhat recently I it has become clear that this strategy needs to change, so with that nagging message in mind I have put together a simple mission statement. TELL STORIES. ASK QUESTIONS. LOVE BEYOND YOURSELF.
TELL STORIES. When you read about how Jesus taught, he often tried to get his point across by telling stories (a good example being The Prodigal Son, in my opinion one of the most powerful stories ever to be shared). Not only that, he also took the time to listen to other peoples stories. It is not often that we genuinely make time to listen to where people are truly coming from, and I feel like if we actually did this we might learn something and even develop compassion for those we would normally be tempted to just write off.
ASK QUESTIONS. Jesus asked over 300 questions throughout the gospels, was asked almost 200, and only answered 3 directly. He wasn’t nervous about questions like some of us are. I think there is an underlying fear that no matter what our worldview, there might be that one big question that comes along that topples our convictions like a house of cards. Personally, I have gotten to the point where if I am wrong about something I believe, I genuinely want to know. I think being willing to ask each other tough questions can be a great way of moving closer and closer to truth.
LOVE BEYOND YOURSELF. Jesus is famous for saying “greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. This is a beautiful sentiment, but it is also extremely challenging to live out. Jesus actually did it though, and not just by dying a gruesome death in his mid-30s. He did it by living every day looking for ways to love those around him. This is truly a humbling way to do life, and to be honest I am naturally a pretty self-centered person, so this one is going to be hard for me to live out on a regular basis…
As a singer-songwriter my goal is to try to work these 3 “simple” things out with the power of music. I will write songs about my stories, your stories and stories of people from the past. I will ask big tough questions that hopefully will make you think. Finally, I will play these songs all over the place (hospitals, prisons, bars, churches, homes, on the streets, festivals, music venues, etc), sometimes with a full band, sometimes with my lovely wife Kayla, and sometimes with just me and a guitar. More importantly, at these shows (and in life in general) I want to make sure to take the time to truly connect with people. I will by no means do this perfectly, so please keep me accountable in this.
Finally, if any of this is at all intriguing to you, my challenge is for you to try this mission statement out yourself with however you are wired. These seem to be the top 3 techniques used by the most popular person who has ever lived (no matter how you feel about Jesus or his followers, from a strictly historical standpoint it is hard to argue his impact), so let’s just call it a social experiment to see if His strategy for “living life to the fullest” actually works. In fact, the name of this music project is a personal reminder that life is meant to be a parade where everyone plays his or her part, and the simplicity is that we are never meant to do this thing alone. So with all that said, I have one “simple” question…
Will you join The Simple Parade?
Learn more here.