This past June, following a Saturday night service, I held an audition for a bass player named Jonathan Richards. As I was watching him play the difficult solo in “Salvation Is Here” and assessing his performance, I could tell that he lacked the ability to play the quick rhythm with his right hand. It seemed almost as if his left hand was right in time, but his right moved in slow motion. After he played we sat down and talked about his performance. After discussing things like his gear, history as a musician, and how he found out about us, I brought up his right hand. It was then that he revealed something shocking to me.
In January of 2010 he was deployed to Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion 6th Marines. This was not just a standard deployment. They were tasked with invading and taking over Marjah, the last Taliban strong hold in Afghanistan. Between February and April he had been blown up four times by four separate IEDs (improvised explosive devises).
“On April 14 2010 my whole world changed” he said. He had hit a 5th IED and was knocked unconscious. Upon regaining consciousness he found he was unable to walk, barely speak and had lost a lot of major motor function skills. “I started a long and hard road to recovery. Everyday was a fight to try and regain all that I had lost.” he said. He told me that so many times he wanted to give up, yet something inside wouldn’t let him.
It took nearly two years for him to teach himself to sing and play music again. He said: “God walked beside me through some of the roughest parts of my life and recovery. He gave me the strength to press on when I could no longer do it for myself. So I said to myself, your God has done so much for you, it’s time for you to start giving back to Him again.”
Since that day, Jonathan has been scheduled for multiple positions in the worship ministry, from running sound at two campuses, to playing acoustic guitar and singing. He loves being a part of the worship ministry. He’s a huge asset to the team and is a pleasure to work with. Recently, we had a casual chat and I had a few more questions for him. Here’s a little more about Jonathan:
BB – What inspired you to get involved in the worship ministry at New Walk?
JR – In February of 2014 my family and I moved to Zephryhills Florida and we were looking for a church. We found New Walk, and the instant we walked through the doors we felt so welcomed and loved. After a few visits my wife and I said we have found our home. So after a few months of visiting I heard the church was looking for musicians. I contacted Jacob and after a few emails he referred me to the one and only you “Bruce”. From there it is all history. I am fulfilling my promise and my calling to God and it couldn’t be with a better, more amazing church than New Walk.
BB – Does musical talent run in your family?
JR – I was raised in a family full of musicians, so music has played a huge roll in my life. Before I could even walk I was traveling around the US with my fathers southern Gospel group. Performing on stage all started for me when I was about four when my father put a little red acoustic guitar in my hand and put me on stage with his group. From there it just took off. I couldn’t get enough of playing music. I sought to play every instrument I could put my hands on.
BB – Tell us about your family.
JR – My wife and I are as you call it high school sweethearts. We have been married for 7 years now. We got married on February 24th of 2007. We have two beautiful children. Our daughter Racheal is 6 and is in 1st Grade. She is a big daddy’s girl and holds the key to my heart. My wife tells me all the time she has me wrapped around her little finger. Racheal is also named after my sister whom past away at only 2 weeks old. Our son Jerico is 3 and he is definitely all boy. He is big into football or “hardball” as he calls it, and could spend all day playing with his cars. God definitely blessed me with an amazing little family.
BB – When you’re not playing music, what are your hobbies?
JR – When I am not playing music, which is hardly ever, because since getting injured I have decided to follow my passion in music. I am currently going back to school to get my degree in audio production. I spend a lot of my time outside too. We have 4 horses so my family and I are always at the farm riding or working them, and we enjoy taking them to the local equestrian parks and going on trail rides. I also enjoy a few sports mostly basketball and with my military background I like to play airsoft. Other than that I just hang out at home with my family.
BB – What’s the #1 most played song on your iPhone?
JR – “Dirt” by Florida Georgia Line
BB – Finally, what would your DJ name be?
JR – “The Zek-meister”. Ezekiel is my middle name.
You can friend Jonathan Richards on Facebook HERE and get updates about his country band, “Twisted Revolvers” HERE.