Passion for music leads Briercrest alum to his career

Posted: December 9, 2013

Even though Joel Henderson has always had a passion for music, it was something he was never going to pursue, or so he thought.

“Based upon general convictions of mine, and from what I know, I have seen a lot of people where it seemed like their musical pursuits were very selfish and I really wanted to avoid that,” the Briercrest graduate and Indie Folk musician explained. “Music was not a part of what I was going to do with the future at all.”

Yet, a career in music is exactly what God had in mind for him.

“I finished my four years at Briercrest in the youth ministry program and went into an internship with a church that went sour right away. I had one of those bad church experiences and then it took me into another job working with at-risk youth here in Regina,” Henderson explained.

Struggling with negative aspects at his new job, Henderson entered into a place where he no longer believed in what he was doing.

“I didn’t believe in the system and I didn’t believe in a lot of things I was doing and it made it hard to go to work,” he explained.

After quitting his job Henderson began searching for what was next and an opportunity to create music came along.

“I had applied for a grant from a radio station in Saskatoon and I ended up receiving a grant from them for $10,000,” he explained.

It was then he made the decision to take some time off to explore the possibility of pursuing music fulltime.

Since then Henderson has created a name for himself in the music industry, recently released his new full length album, The Activity Book, and has spent his time traveling and performing.

Henderson said his passion for music is deeply rooted within his family.

“My whole family is a family of musicians. My dad was a traveling musician for many years, my brother is a country musician, my uncles where full-time musicians as well and one of my uncles now runs a bunch of radio stations,” he said. “So music has always kind of been in my blood but I never pursued it until now.”

Inspiration for his music and lyrics comes from those around him and through his personal experiences.

“I am inspired from people who are writing music and who are very talented now. In my own case I love listening to musicians and bands that just make me shake my head with how good they are. How seamless they can include instruments and tracks that some people might not hear,” he explained.

“A lot of my inspiration for the lyrics, especially in my last album, had to do with frustration. I tend to write when I am really frustrated and it either comes out positively or it comes out negatively. So If I am frustrated Kids games with culture, society, my friends and family or something that is happening that I feel is unjust or unfair I tend to write about it.”

Looking back over his journey, Henderson said he is very grateful for his time at Briercrest.

“One of the things Ken Dosso taught me was everything you say, specifically in a song, will last forever. People will not forget that and it is a reference point to your character and who you are,” he said.

“So if were to release something in song with something that is not going to shine the light of Christ through my life then I have to live with that for a long time. It’s crazy how much people still bring up songs I have written six or seven years ago.”

He said the environment at Briercrest also really influenced his music and his faith.

“Briercrest helped to shape my faith. There were so many men and women I still have significant conversations about how to live my life and what messages I should promote to others in my music,” he explained.

“I would recommend to people who are going to Briercrest is to engage in questions of faith and scripture because it is very, very hard to promote faith in society. It is also hard beyond that to continue to strive to build community and to build purity and wisdom in that community. Briercrest has an opportunity to promote that kind of stuff within the dorms and it’s a rare opportunity.”