You love his music, whether you know it or not. You own his music, whether you know it or not. And that’s both exciting and concerning for John Mandeville. The celebrated songwriter penned many favorites for all sorts of artists like Point of Grace, Avalon, 4HIM, Tammy Trent and others, including the Song of the Year “Jesus Will Still Be There.” very few in the industry have his keen ear for merging melodies and lyrics in such incisive, insight- ful ways, so when a writer like John Mandeville announces an album of his own, it’s a big deal. We Belong To Heaven is his debut, a 12-song worship collection that Mandeville describes as full of deeply personal songs never intended to be heard by anyone else. “All those songs come from me wrestling with those things, wrestling with life. They came through some really difficult times. I didn’t write them for the public, but because I just needed to get them out of my system. So it’s been really cool to see how it’s been received.” The early reception is good as lead single “Glorify” hit Billboard’s top five on the Christian AC chart and stayed there for seven weeks. It’s a sign that listeners grabbed onto the thing that Mandeville hoped they would: the hope he found in dark times. “I’d love to see the people finding the hope in these songs as I had when I was writing them. I wrote a bunch of worship songs when I was going through a difficult time in my life. I wrote about 35 of them and then narrowed it down to these 12 to feel like a record. All of the songs latch onto this idea that there’s more to life than just this life. Where we really end up is that destination of heaven, so we should live there now. Alarms are going off and all the stuff we trusted in is going away and we have to decide whether we believe in the kingdom or not.” After writing for so many, Mandeville says he had a personal storehouse of several songs that were a bit too personal to give away. Writing for others and for himself are “two totally different crafts using the same tools,” he says, and he describes the ability to live in both worlds as a real joy. But it’s not without its tensions. “If I’m writing a song from my heart that’s from my own heart, I keep it for myself,” he says. “But if there’s a part of it from someone else, I actually enjoy the fact that I can help facilitate a dream for somebody. It’s nice to be the wizard behind the curtain. As an artist, you always want a little bit of the platform once in a while, so I can miss the public aspect of it. But I also continue to write songs for my own artist heart all through that time. They become my therapy sessions.” — Matt Conner www.johnmandeville.com John Mandeville CCM 47