Through Songs I Was First Undone
Justin McRoberts is a highly respected singer, songwriter and speaker who, over the past nine years, has carved out a niche for himself in the independent music scene. He is one of those rare artists who blends artistry, honesty and humor almost seamlessly. In much the same way that Anne Lamott has written "music let's us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way," Justin McRoberts believes songwriting is a way to help people to see their world differently. McRoberts says, "In and through art, we can learn to understand ourselves and our world more completely; less fragmented or uninspired, but rather a cohesive Divinely-orchestrated story." Sharing his songs and stories with an audience is where Justin's gifts are most fully realized. His live shows strike a delicate balance between intellect and emotion, which allows the 34 year old to approach difficult or controversial subject matter with his listeners. While his audiences can be quite diverse, from playing for congregates in a small rural church, to young professionals in DC, most of Justin's schedule is made up of appearances on college campuses in the continental US. McRoberts' most recent release, Deconstruction (2008), is laden with the same disarming honesty he is known for both in his recordings as well as his live performances. The album is shaped by the classic "call from the desert" overtone that seems to pervade his story. Without becoming heady or overbearing, Deconstruction is a prescription for a healthy re-examination of established religious, consumer and scientific worldviews. The instrumentation on the record is as carefully chosen as Justin's lyrics. "We really wanted to limit the instrumentation to what was essential; let the songs breathe on their own." The record's feel supports it's theme in limiting or even tearing down what is superfluous in order to more intimately engage in what is real. The themes of hope, justice and compassion also run through Deconstruction much as they run through McRoberts' career in general. Justin writes "I believe these are the defining characteristics of our likeness to God. The need and desire to care for the poor and oppressed is something we share in common with all humanity, not simply the religious." Central to Justin's work is advocacy on behalf of the poor and oppressed, predominately through Compassion International, the International Justice Mission and the Blood Water Mission. "Not only do the poor need us," he writes "we need a the poor to remind us what being human is about. In the same way that the poor learn to identify themselves with their lack, the wealthy likewise learn to identify themselves with their wealth. It is in the meeting of the two that we can recognize ourselves and one another as human."