24 CCM They’ve all had ‘em. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, most of the great artists, the ones that stick around for a long time, have a career song. It’s the song that will forever represent their name, their face and, of course, their music. Michael W. Smith… “Friends” Amy Grant… “Thy Word” Clay Crosse… “I Surrender All” Rich Mullins… “Awesome God” Nicole C. Mullens… “Redeemer” “More Beautiful You”… um… the “More Beautiful You” guy… “As I’ve been around the country, I see a lot of people who know the song, but not a lot of them realized who played it,” says said player, AKA Jonny Diaz. Chances are, with his sophomore release dropping April 12, that’ll all change sooner than later. The fact that the project mirrors an artist debut probably doesn’t hurt. How, you ask? For one thing, this album is self-titled. “Nothing really jumped out at me as a title,” says Jonny. “And I’m trying to get my name associated with the songs as much as possible. I love what God has done with ‘More Beautiful You,’ but I care and put just as much thought and effort and time into all my songs.” Given that this was his first album to record while signed afforded him all three—thought, effort and time. “More Beautiful You was an indie record,” says Jonny, who was signed by INO soon after its release. “This was the first chance that I really had the resources and time,” says Jonny. With powerhouse producers Ed Cash and Chris Stevens taking turns at the helm, Jonny Diaz seamlessly flows from the poignant, yet catchy first single, “Beauty of the Cross,” to the emotionally charged “Here and Someday,” which touches on grief and the fact that it never looks the same way twice. While that particular song wasn’t borne out of a personal tragedy, “I wrote it because I thought people could relate to it,” explains Jonny. Without a doubt, they can. But that’s no surprise. Throughout his musical career, Jonny’s music has fortified his personal mantra, “to create music that entertains, encourages and challenges the church.” “For the last three years, I’ve been playing in church after church,” says Jonny. “At first, I got a little jaded. Some churches I went to, some of the people didn’t even want me there. So what challenged me was to stop seeing the church as an organization and start seeing it as the group of believers who were there. Instead of being discouraged, I was encouraged. They were serving us and loving us the way you see Christ love in the Bible.” As Jonny’s eyes were continually opened to the hearts of the people in and around the church, so too were they opened to the rigidity and over-structuring of worship and the time spent in fellowship. “I appreciate the reason that kind of structure is there, but the problem arises when we start thinking that this is what God looks like and this is what the being a Christian looks like,” says Jonny. “All of a sudden our bubbles become so small, we think a Christian has to be a white American driving their SUV to church where they park in the same spot and sit in the same pew. I think that’s where the danger sets in. We don’t worship a God that can be contained in certain boxes. We worship the God of the Bible and that needs to be our only guide to seeing who He really is and how we should be worshipping Him.” From beginning to end, Jonny Diaz, lives in the key of that God. Jonny Diaz does too. His songs are his journal, giving us a peek into the heart of a man seeking humility, excellence and compassion. A song called “Break My Heart” is one of those dangerous prayer songs that seeks brokenness from God in an era where we have become numb to the suffering of others. Another, “What Water Can Do” compares the devastation of an earthly flood to the eternal redemption of baptism in Christ. The list goes on and on. Each song a testament to God’s faithfulness and power. Each song a journey to the heart of truth, God and faith. Each song, you might say, more beautiful than the next. “I recorded the songs I really think God wanted me to share,” says Jonny. “I did the best I can and now it’s in God’s hands.” From his heart to God’s hands to your ears, the music and ministry of Jonny Diaz is clearly much more than a single song. And so, while the “More Beautiful You” guy will forever be respected and appreciated, Jonny Diaz is no one-hit wonder. No… Jonny Diaz, an entertainer, encourager and challenger will be so much more. 24 CCM The man behind a career song returns to claim his spot as the creator of a hit and so much more. by Caroline Lusk Presenting Jonny Diaz