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Between time fronting both The rock & roll worship Circus and The Listening, Gabriel wilson’s musical pursuits have been nothing short of extraordinary, though his recent spiritual journey is just as moving. The veteran’s first solo album The McGuire Side (Maple Bar records/L-Town Music Group) was inspired by literally tracing his birth father’s family tree (in spite of their estrangement), not only discovering his ancestors
include some famous artists, but also sparking a season of reconciliation, all wrapped around a roots rockin’ motif.
CCM: how would you describe your musical journey from The Rock & Roll Worship Circus to The Listening and now solo life? gabriel Wilson: The long and winding road, perhaps? (laughter) The worship Circus was an evangelistic worship band framed in ‘60s and ‘70s pop/rock frames ala The Beatles and T. rex. That project evolved into The Listening, and instead of singing songs from humanity to God, we began writing songs from God’s perspective to ours framed in a radiohead Kid A meets Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon sonic space. And now with The McGuire Side, sometimes the best way to tell the Gospel story is to tell your own story of redemption. Think ryan Adams, wilco, Tom Petty and Americana of any kind.
CCM: After growing up and not knowing much about your birth father, what did you discover when you traced his family tree? gabriel: I grew up Gabriel wilson, but I was born Gabriel McGuire. My wilson dad has been a great dad, and so has my mom. They are lovers of the Lord and good people who have always steered me towards a relationship with Jesus. There was always a part of me that resembled the wilson family, and parts of me that resembled my mom’s side, but there
was this whole other side of me which was a sort of anomaly. As I began to get to know the McGuire side of my family, I realized that a lot of the parts of me which seemed unique to me were actually McGuire parts—the ministry, music and even the church revivalist/rebel side. [Gabriel’s grandfather was a touring minister/artist/songwriter, while uncle Dony and his wife reba rambo were nothing short of Southern Gospel legends]. The McGuires have written songs for elvis [Presley], won Grammy Awards, given their lives and songwriting to blessing the church and being in ministry.
CCM: What did those revelations mean to your creative and spiritual journey?
Wilson: Well, quite honestly, it was difficult to digest at first. I mean, how do you understand a lifetime of a journey in the matter of a few moments? I began to journal and these journal entries became songs. As these songs emerged, I realized there was a large part of myself as an artist I’d never let myself explore. I was finally ready to tell a gritty story. Not only that, but finally the artistic and creative side of me had a sense of belonging.
— Andy Argyrakis