Mobile native honors God through music
By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
October 23, 2008
Chris Lockwood never planned to play guitar in a contemporary Christian band, but the Mobile native is now topping the Billboard charts as a member of 33Miles.
Along with Lockwood, 33Miles consists of Jason Barton on lead vocals and Collin Stoddard on keyboard. The band, whose name represents the time Christ spent on earth in miles, gained instant attention, and the group was a Gospel Music Association Dove Award nominee for New Artist of the Year after their 2007 debut album, “33Miles.”
While the award went to Brandon Heath, 33Miles would not soon be forgotten.
Just last month, they released their second album, “One Life,” which has already peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart.
While the success seems to have come overnight for 33Miles, Lockwood said God has been preparing him in ministry for many years.
His parents divorced when he was 8, and although he was baptized around the same time, he can’t say he really understood what he was doing. When friends invited him to a bowling event with their youth group, he said the Lord used the people to “knock on his door.”
At 16 years old, he felt a call to the ministry.
“The Lord got my attention,” he said. “It’s that whole mentality of I didn’t really choose the Lord. He chose me.”
Lockwood’s love for music started when his father gave him a guitar for his ninth birthday. Lockwood soaked up everything he could learn about the guitar, whether playing alone in his room or watching his uncle play.
“I spent hours in my room, and my dad always yelled, ‘Get out and do something!’” he recalled.
After graduating from Baker High School in Mobile, Lockwood attended the University of Mobile in pursuit of a music degree. He said his college experience gave him an appreciation for reading music and learning all types of music from classical to jazz.
After four years of college, Lockwood moved to Cincinnati and toured with Mobile-based TRUTH for a year and a half.
When fellow TRUTH member Jason Breland moved back home to Mobile, he asked Lockwood to join him as a worship associate at First Baptist Church, North Mobile, in Saraland. Lockwood led the music part time for about a year and with his wife, Joy, had plans to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston.
A phone call from former TRUTH and 4HIM member Mark Harris, however, changed everything.
“Jason (Barton) was filling in for Andy Chrisman with 4HIM, and Mark called out of the blue one day and said [Jason] was trying to start a group,” Lockwood said.
He had given up the dream of playing in a band when he was 16. Playing in a band was the furthest thing from his mind.
“When you have a family and have bills to pay, you don’t pursue dreams,” Lockwood explained.
Out of respect for Harris, Lockwood agreed to meet Barton and his management team at a sound check in Nashville and was immediately impressed. So Lockwood and Barton, along with Stoddard, cut a demo and waited.
Six months later, INO Records called.
“It happened really fast. Three guys who didn’t know each other, and God was the mastermind behind it all,” Lockwood said.
At 30 years old, Lockwood said he hopes to make the most of God’s master plan for his life not only as a husband and father to his 9-month-old daughter but also as a worship leader.
“We, 33Miles, paint a picture of Christ’s life in miles, and we turn it around as a challenge to ourselves and others,” he said.
Lockwood said the group sees the ministry as encouragement to believers and wants to promote the gospel.
“We can’t change everybody but ministry is what sticks. Christ is what sticks.”
Copyright The Alabama Baptist, 2008.