Martone: Chris, thank you so much for joining me today to do this interview on IRMIXRadio.net – I need to tell you from the start, I am a fan. I love the song Glad in It, and it spoke to me on a personal level especially with all the things that are going on in the world with COVID-19, social injustice, and many other things. Did you write this song by yourself?
Chris Bender: Thank you so, Martone! I really appreciate it, man. Ya know “Glad in It” is a little piece of a very BIG testimony of the last 3 years of my life. It speaks to my consistent fight through and fights with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. The song has really helped to change and shift my perspective and it has been a therapeutic system, while definitely causing me to become a victor. I did! I wrote this song by myself, it actually came to me while I was sitting in church, which is absolutely insane. But that’s normally how I get my songs, God starts singing me lyrics and melodies, AFTER I’ve sung lyrics and melodies, which is so funny, however, yea this song is interesting because it is completely oppositional to where I was. I was in a very dark space and nothing about me wanted to be glad, nothing about me wanted to rejoice. I was literally the walking dead man and I didn’t really have any joy, any hope, and I just felt like my life was always going to be, where it was. So honestly, the song has really taken me out of my dark place to one of the greatest seasons of my life.
Martone: Congratulations on the success of Glad in It reached #3 on the Digital Gospel Sales Charts, and your spread in Billboard Magazine. Where were you when you found out that you have reached the top 5, and how did you react?
Chris Bender: You know what’s crazy when I found that I hit #3 in the top 5 of the billboard charts, I was actually, Oh my gosh, I was actually in Chicago. I was in Chicago, and one of my friends that works for another label, called me and was like, “Hey, just wanted to wish you a congratulations”, so I was like “For what?”. He said, “for your newest accomplishment”. I was like “what are you talking about?”, he then disclosed the information, and you know, honestly, I continue to tell people, and this will be my mantra until I transition to Glory, awards aren’t rewards for me, but awards are accolades of reminders from God to me that this is what I’m supposed to be doing and that I’m reaching lives and that people are being impacted by my sacrifice, by my story, and by the ministry that God has given me. So it’s always an honor to be able to be admonished, affirmed, and appreciated for the work that I’m doing, because, honestly, this is hard work, and it’s very strenuous and stressful. It costs a lot of money, it costs a lot of time, it costs a lot of relationships, it costs a lot of resources, but God always makes good on his promise and it all is worth it in the end.
Martone: I have read your bio and there are a lot of luminaries in the gospel world mentioned in it from Shirley Cesar to Donnie McClurkin. How have they influenced musically, and did you happen to train under them?
Chris Bender: First of all, let me just tell you that any opportunity you get to be amongst legends, is such a surreal moment. It’s so packed with different emotions and feelings. You’re laughing, you’re crying, you’re silent because you’re in awe. And then you’re belting out notes and trying to hit melodies and things. It’s really an experience. They’ve influenced my music tremendously. I didn’t train under any of them, you know I grew up in a small city in Boston, called Brockton, Massachusetts, and I mean nobody goes to Brockton, but you know being able to listen to their CDs and listening to how their ministry affected the rooms that they were singing and ministering to, it always gave me a different level of confidence and inspiration to be as effective.
Martone: What inspired you to write the song Glad in It? Was this something from personal experiences and you felt compelled to write it? How did it all come together in the songwriting process?
Chris Bender: As I mentioned earlier Martone, 2018 into right now has been a very tumultuous time for me, it’s been filled with so many curveballs and surprises, fighting depression and anxiety, PTSD, have all been big hurdles for me. Glad in It was given to me as a safety raft or safety boat, being cast out into the water in the middle of a great storm. It’s been my safe place, and Glad In it has really helped to usher me out of the anxiety and depression and things that I was feeling. During this space in my life, it’s just been really hard to identify what’s next after so many major losses. I think that has been the biggest hurdle for me, having to fight through and cope and be healed from significant levels of grief and loss of relationships and people and it has been an experience. However, Glad In It helped me to process that although it may not feel good, everything is working for my good in the end.
God gave me this son in pieces. I got the bridge first “the enemy wants you to quit….” that was the first thing that I got, and then a week later I got the chorus, then two weeks later, I got the vamp, but God is so strategic, I can’t even tell you how smooth he put this thing together. It seemed as if it was always gonna work, it was always gonna fit, it was always going to minister to people as it has done thus far, and I’m really grateful.
Martone: Tell our readers about working with Rashad McPherson, and being featured in You’ll Live, Not Die, back in 2015. How did this particular collaboration come to be?
Chris Bender: So, Rashad McPherson, at a time, was a very influential piece in my musical growth and evolution, if you will. Rashad was a student at Berkeley and was literally taking Boston by storm. He found this little ol’ country boy from Brockton and took me under his wings, and gave me several opportunities, that I will forever be grateful for, and I would attribute some of my ability to hear certain things, is from listening to Rashad. Oh my Gosh, Rashad is the arranger of all arrangers, the vocalist of all vocalists, he is absolutely incredible. I definitely give a huge, HUGE, shout out to Rashad for allowing me to be apart of his journey and for being apart of mine for that time that he was there. It’s definitely a blessing.
Martone: I do not know how old you are, but by listening to your singing voice and looking at the photos – it seems that you have a very mature voice for your age. Do you get that a lot?
Chris Bender: Thank you so much! I am actually 26 years old. I turned 26 in October, and yea man, I’ve been called an old soul since I was 5. It has been the stamp on the back of my head, which is hilarious, but I take it in stride, and I do understand that I grew up in a different age, buy the time that I was 12, a lot of best friends were 50 plus. I really had the opportunity to glean from a lot of wise counseling and really soak up all of the knowledge and all of the grace that came along with being on earth for a little while. I’m telling you it’s an experience and it’s a learning lesson and I’m so grateful that I have to opportunity to learn a little more, a little faster.
Martone: How long have you been singing professionally?
Chris Bender: Let’s see, I’ve been singing professionally for 10 years now, and it has been a complete ride! Music wasn’t really something that I wanted, I suffered from stage fright, severely, and I actually wanted to pursue a career in law, but God had other plans of course. And I am so grateful that I followed his plan because his plan is so much better than mine anyway.
Martone: I noticed that you won an Angelic Award, for Artist of the Year award in 2014, and Best New Single Award back in 2019 for More of You, at EDDY Awards. By winning those awards did it allow you to see that you were on the right path in terms of a career in gospel music?
Chris Bender: Well, Martone, as I told you earlier man, this is all I can say to it, awards aren’t rewards for me, they’re reminders that this is what God has called me to do. This is what I’ve been purposed to do here on earth. What greater privilege than to be exposed to the appreciation for your purpose. It is completely one of the most confirming things that you could ever feel, and it is a feeling honestly that cannot be replaced by anything else in this world, and so I’m grateful, I really am.
Martone: It seems to you that 2020 has been a good year for you professionally, The Blood Song, your sophomore single debuted at # 22 on the Billboard Charts, and Glad in It, reached #3 on the charts in July as well. Has the success of these singles changed your life? If so, in what way?
Chris Bender: You know, I don’t think that I would say that success has changed my life, I think that my life has changed before I experienced the success, which has completely been for the better and the good. I believe that God unlocks levels when we’re ready for them, but sometimes we don’t understand that we have to go through some very hard spaces in order to get to the next level. I can remember as a kid playing Crash Bandicoot and struggling to get past level 8, forever! And it would take me almost 2 weeks to get through it, and I would get upset, I’d get frustrated, but I would always come back because I realized that there was a need for me to pass the test, and I believe that God honors us for our diligence and our commitment, so for that, I’m really grateful that he chose me.
Martone: In 2016, you were featured on Amante Lacey’s Alive how did the two of you come to work together?
Chris Bender: Well, you know, Amante is one of my good friends in the industry, he’s always just a phone call away. He is one of our generation’s greatest writers, and he has literally consistently been, just a great guy, a great friend, and a brother to me. He came to Boston a few years ago for a concert, and I had him come over to the church that I was working at to minister to the congregation, and they fell in love with him. Since then, he had been back maybe once or twice, because he was just so amazing. It was definitely one of those God connections, that you really can’t put your finger on how it came to be, you are just really grateful that he did.
Martone: I ask every artist that sits down to do an interview with IRMIX Radio about career highlights, I have already mentioned a few from the top 5 song sales, debuting at #22 on Billboard Charts, and winning awards. Are there any other career highlights that you wish to share with our readers?
Chris Bender: You know man, I think for me, another great highlight of my career has been the international attention that it has gotten. The Blood Song, and even more so, Glad In It, has literally swept across Europe, South Africa, and the UK, really grabbing the hearts of the people there. I’m really excited to see what God is going to continue to do through that.
Martone: On the other side, has there ever been a time where you felt like giving up and not pursuing a career in gospel music? If so, how did you overcome it?
Chris Bender: Man, to be honest, I was actually going to revert on my release of Glad In It, I was going to cancel that. I was also going to retire from the music industry. I had just really gone into a space of hurt, pain, anguish, and to be honest, anger. I was angry at everybody and everything, including God, because I felt as though he wasn’t with me. I had a very carnal moment, if I can be honest, where I didn’t feel that I was safe in Godoy the time where I was contemplating giving up. It was actually during the pandemic, I released the song in July, and a couple of months prior to, were very hard. However, there is something different about those that are committed to their walk Christ, beyond what he can do for you, and I’ve always been in love with the Lord Jesus Christ. I’ve always had a passion for his ways, and his thoughts. I’ve always had a passion to know his heart and to be like him, and I’m grateful for my foundation because those spaces of devotion to my relationship with God are the reasons why I’m still madly in love with God today. Man, I think that it is coupled with the fact that he is an amazing God to me, and that we have history. He has never, ever failed. He always brings me through to a place of triumph and I can’t do anything but trust his record, and his record has always been good with me.
Martone: In your song, Glad in It, which is your favorite verse, and why?
Chris Bender: I think my favorite verse in Glad In It is verse 2. The lyrics are “So many things are going wrong, but these trials come to only make you strong, the Father really needs you to keep holding on, and keep a praise on your lips because it won’t be long” That is my favorite line because I wrote it! No, I’m joking. It’s a favorite line of mine because it speaks to the everyday individual. The entire song does, to be honest. It helps to put your perspective in order so that you don’t miss God while you are going through. It helps you to see that he’s with you even until the end.
Martone: We all know that COVID-19 has hit the gig circuit pretty hard with Government lockdowns and on performance venues. How have you coped with not being able to perform as usual?
Chris Bender: You know, honestly, Martone, it’s never an easy thing to be pulled away from what you love to do. However, it’s something about being a creator that helps to create alleviation sometimes, where, honestly, if you’re given lemons, you figure out how to make lemonade. I think that is what most of us artists have done in this pandemic. We’ve decided to not allow this very questionable time, to rule us, but we’ve decided to take it by the horns and see how we can still be effective and reach people.
Martone: Besides music, what are some of your other dreams or aspirations? If you were not a recording artist what would you be doing with your life?
Chris Bender: Well, outside of music, I am definitely encouraged daily by my secular or corporate job. My 9 to 5, my day job, I work as a therapeutic mentor for youth and young adults in the inner city, and that has inspired me tremendously to start thinking and working towards my own non-profit organization to help empower and encourage the generation of now and the generation of next and to be a positive light to them. There are so many young people out here with so many gifts, talents, and abilities, they just need to be shaped and developing. That’s what I’m looking to do in the near future.
Martone: Do you have any upcoming releases for 2021?
Chris Bender: For 2021, I don’t have any solidified dates. However, I’m sure there will be some music coming out for all of my followers.
Martone: Where do you see yourself within the next five years of your gospel music career?
Chris Bender: In the next five years, and I’m speaking from complete faith, I see myself signed to a major label. I also see myself more accomplished, I see larger awards associations, recognizing me for the work that God has allowed me to do, which is always an honor. I see me as a homeowner, that’s more of a personal goal, that really will be done. I see myself really working to develop up and coming artist in the future.
Martone: Is there any question that I have not asked you or something that you would like to share with our readers about yourself?
Chris Bender: If you are looking to stay connected with me you can find me on Instagram @IAmChrisBender, on Facebook and YouTube at Chris Bender Music, and also, my website, IAmChrisBender.com, Thank you
Martone: Where can our readers find out more about you and your music?
Chris Bender: You can find my music, anywhere that music is sold, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, SoundCloud.
Martone: Thank you so much for sitting down and answering my questions today. When our station has officially relaunched in March 2021, I hope you will come back and by my guest for an on-air interview.
Chris Bender: Martone, thank you so much for this opportunity. I really appreciate it.