In just a short time in the music business, gospel singer Travis Greene has achieved tremendous success. Best known for his hits “Intentional” and “Made A Way,” the Grammy and Stellar Award nominated artist has landed on the top of the Billboard charts. Kirk Franklin even called him one of the artists who are “the future of gospel music.”
Recently, JET spoke with Greene about his musical journey, the miracles that inspired many of the songs on his new album, and founding a new church.
JET: Your career has taken off in the last two years. From the outside looking in, you seem like an overnight success. Does it feel that way to you?
Travis Greene: Not at all. It was not an overnight success; it has been quite a journey! I started recording, and even attempting to make music about 10 years ago. I grew up playing the keyboard in church. I even played drums and really any instrument that I could get my hands on. So, that was always a part of my life. Then about 10 years ago, I made a decision to try it out. I decided to really go after my dream, and like you said, the past two years have really been out of this world!
JET: Considering how much time you have put into your career, do you ever wonder what caused things to take off now?
Greene: I honestly believe it was just God’s divine timing. I believe it was always on God’s schedule. I just think that sometimes we desire things out of season. I wish someone would’ve told me 7 or 8 years ago that those years were just preparation. That would’ve really helped me out a lot, instead me going through so many ups and downs and frustrations from thinking that it was time when it wasn’t.
I’m so glad that He listened to Himself and not to me, because those years were very necessary to sustain. I think that’s what our generation really needs to hear, because getting there is not the problem. Everyone is always in grind mode–that’s the easy part. You can go on any show today, whether it’s American Idol, The Voice or Sunday’s Best or anything, and you can arrive to a place of glamor and lights. But, the question is can you stay there once you get there? I think that only comes by way of process, and God really developing you and equipping you through that process. So, that’s what was necessary for me and I’m glad He did it.
JET: What lessons stand out the most from your season of waiting and being equipped that you would share with this generation?
Greene: I think the most profound lesson that I learned was really finding my identity in Christ alone. I’m 32 now, but, for so many years, I attributed my value to what I had–what I had in the bank, what I drove, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I was content with God and I was satisfied with Him and growing in Him. But, I was young and immature.
The lesson of finding my identity wasn’t necessarily just for where I was, but it was for where I was going. What I mean by that is that God really had to deliver me from finding value in things, affirmation, pleasing people, and even with being impressed with people or wanting them to be impressed with me. He really extracted that from me, and then launched me to this level of success.
I’m grateful; because now I don’t crave the stage in order to feel like I’m important, and I don’t anxiously crave an award, or anything like that. Now I’m able to really categorize all of those things in its proper place and prioritize which is more important–that’s God and family. Everything else is just secondary to that.
JET: Miracles seem to follow your family and the stories have found their way into your music. Tell us about that.
Greene: A couple of radical things happened in my life. When I was born – on the spot, my mother said that I wasn’t breathing. My skin color was purple, and doctors immediately said that I was stillborn. My mother and father just started praying and believing God, and He performed a miracle.
Then, when I was four-years-old, I fell out of a window and I was pronounced dead. They covered me with a white sheet. But, then my mother came, she picked up my lifeless body, and prayed to God to give me my life. He did it. The crazy thing about it is they kept me in the hospital for a couple days, then as we were leaving, I told my mom, “I remember falling from the window, but I never hit the ground. Right before I hit the ground, a man with a big hand caught me. I couldn’t see his face because it was so bright, but I heard a voice that said, ‘Do you want to go home with your mom or come with me?’ I looked up and said, ‘I want my Mom’ He said, ‘This time you’re going home with your mom. Next time, you’re coming with me.’ I said, ‘Excuse me Sir, what’s your name?’ He said, ‘Son, my name is Jesus.'”
That happened to me when I was four-years-old. Now, I’m 32. Twenty-eight years later I’m traveling the world, literally letting people know that He’s alive, and He’s still able to do the impossible.
JET: That’s amazing! Both your mom and your son have stories as well, correct?
Greene: Yes, my mother went through a tough sickness when I was around 12 where we were literally preparing for her funeral. It was scary. But, we watched God perform a miracle with her by fully restoring her health.
Recently, my wife’s water broke halfway through the pregnancy, at 21 weeks, when carrying my son. The doctors pulled me into the hallway and said, “It’s obvious that your son didn’t make it, so we’re going to take the baby out and you guys can go home and try again.” But, she wasn’t aware I knew another doctor named was Jesus, and that’s who we prayed to.
My wife was on bed rest for two months, but at 28 weeks, she gave birth to our son. He had two blood transfusions while in the ICU and several other complications, but he’ll be two months old next month with no signs of prematurity. It’s an absolute miracle!
While in the hospital, I wrote several songs for the album, “Made A Way” was one of those. Before the ‘Way’ was made, I was singing of how God would make a way and provide a miracle, and He did it. It’s amazing to see the hand of God move the way He did right before our eyes.
JET: You recently started a new ministry. Tell us about Forward City Church.
Greene: Yes, it’s really explosive and exciting!
Forward City just started having public gatherings this year, however, we’ve been pouring into leaders and training for almost two years now. God has really surrounded us with people who are like-minded who sacrifice and go as hard as we do. It’s a huge honor to lead them. We’re really passionate about the college ministry at Forward City, too. It’s probably one of our major outreach initiatives.
My wife and I met in a college ministry at Georgia Southern University, and our lives were radically changed forever. So because of that, and knowing those vulnerable years of college, it really inspired us to want to make a difference on college campuses here in Columbia South Carolina and abroad. August 21st is our official launch where we will shift to Sunday services. Right now, we meet on Mondays at the Agape Conference Center in downtown Columbia. But, we’ve been in prayer about finding a permanent location somewhere downtown where we can continue reaching the college students.
JET: Do you have a mission statement for your life right now?
Greene: I think right now, It’s really a chorus that we wrote live in a concert a few weeks ago: “Let your faith rise now as you lay it down.” What that means is, allow your faith to increase as you lay down all anxiety, all worry, all trouble, and the noise of life–really canceling that out–and living the word of faith of whatever God has spoken to you. That’s really my motto and anthem right now. It reminds me, I don’t want to forfeit any peace and I don’t want to carry any unnecessary pain, so instead, I allow my faith to rise and lay everything down at the feet of Jesus.