POULSBO — Phil Wickham is a performer of Christian music, and he’s a performing artist who happens to be a Christian.
The subtle distinction is clear in his music. With its sometimes U2-ish sound, backed by his powerful voice and meaningful lyrics, Wickham’s music has strong crossover appeal.
“Honestly, I’ve fallen out of the Christian music scene for a while now,” one reviewer wrote. “After discovering you, I may be back.”
Wickham (www.philwickham.com) headlines April 26, 7 p.m., at 800-seat Gateway Fellowship in Poulsbo. Tickets are available at www.gatewayfellowship.com/events; proceeds will help fund Gateway Fellowship’s Operation Day of Hope, a day of free health, legal and job assistance services Oct. 19.
“Ten days out and we’re almost full. People are coming from all over — Everett, Tacoma, Port Angeles, Seattle,” Gateway community outreach pastor Dave Fisher said Wednesday. “Anybody who comes will enjoy the musical talent as well as the environment. It’s going to be upbeat and exciting. I expect younger people will be out of their chairs.”
Guitarist/vocalist Mikey Moore opens for Wickham. Moore — Gateway Fellowship’s worship leader and lead vocalist for The Exchange — will perform with Jefte Sanchez, drummer; and Ryan Brooks, mandolin.
Spirit 105.3 will broadcast from the event.
It’s the second concert Gateway Fellowship has presented with a nationally known artist. Grammy Award-winning pianist George Winston performed at Gateway in September; proceeds from that concert paid for an electrical generator at the Hostmark Senior Apartments community center.
Wickham, 29, is a contemporary Christian vocalist, songwriter and guitarist from San Diego, Calif. He has released six CDs: “Give You My World” in 2003, a self-titled album in 2006, “Cannons” in 2007, “Singalong” in 2008, “Heaven & Earth” in 2009, “Response” in 2011, and “Singalong 2” in 2012.
According to an online bio (at this writing, the singer was enroute to Charleston Southern University and unavailable for comment), Wickham was raised in a Christian home and his parents were at one time members of the band Parable. The younger Wickham began leading worship for his church youth group at 13; his parents encouraged him to learn popular praise songs and to write his own. Wickham began his full-time music career by touring California and recording his first album at 19.
From fall 2006 to spring 2007, he toured with MercyMe and Grammy Award winners Audio Adrenaline. In fall 2007, he toured with The David Crowder Band and The Myriad. In fall 2008, he had his first headlining tour.
Today, Wickham records on the Fair Trade Services label; formerly known as INO Records, the label’s roster has included CeCe Winans and the Jonas Brothers.
“He’s somebody I’ve looked up to for years,” Moore said of Wickham. “He’s influenced me as a writer.”
As a songwriter, Wickham is sincere to his faith but composes lyrics that can appeal to even the lukewarm. For example, in “Heaven Song,” Wickham sings, “I want to run on greener pastures / I want to dance on higher hills / I want to drink from sweeter waters / In the misty morning chill / And my soul is getting restless / For the place where I belong.” Those are heartfelt sentiments that could appeal to a broad audience, yet it’s still clear of whom and what he sings.
Those who think they are unfamiliar with Wickham’s music may actually be familiar it; according to Fisher, Wickham’s songs are part of the Gateway worship team’s repertoire.
Opening the night, Moore will perform some originals. Moore and The Exchange (www.facebook.com/theexchangerock) are recording in Tyler, Texas, and will tour in May and June.
— Tickets: $20 Golden Circle, $12 advance, $15 day of show. Go to www.gatewayfellowship.com/events.