She was a mom and a wife and a sister and a friend who knew every word to every Rascal Flatts song, and on this particular night, she knew she was going backstage to meet her musical hero–Rascal Flatts lead singer Gary LeVox.
She also knew she was dying of cancer.
As soon as Gary (LeVox) walked in, he went up to her, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and told her that he would be praying for her tonight,” recalls police officer Brian Michels of the meeting he witnessed at a recent Chicago concert between LeVox and Brian’s wife Jodie, who would ultimately lose her life to the dreaded disease just a few short months later. “Up until that point, she had been very weak. But that night, she smiled.”
Jodie Michels was just one of the millions of fans who, through the years, have laid witness to the musical testimony of Gary LeVox. Because alongside the talents of his Rascal Flatts brothers Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney, LeVox has used the stage to not only sing from, but also as a platform where he has proudly proclaimed his love for music… and his God.
“I feel like God graced us with a platform where we can not only touch people’s lives through music, but by being men of God offstage too,” explains LeVox during an exclusive interview with TwoTen Magazine. “At those times when we are with fans that are going through something like cancer, it is so wonderful to not only sing for them but to hold their hand and pray with them. I want them to know that they have a friend in me. I’m not just some guy on the stage. I feel like Christ has put me in this position because He knew I could handle the obligation, which often means taking the time to lift someone up in prayer.”
So with an ever present cross around his neck and faith filled words coming effortlessly from his lips, LeVox has gone and shown us all how the power of celebrity can be used in his music, straddling the country and gospel genres alongside his Rascal Flatts band mates with inspiring hits such as “Bless The Broken Road,” “Every Day” and “Changed.”
"Gary's graciousness with the fans is always inspiring, and to witness him sing a song like “Bless the Broken Road” is one of the most spiritually moving moments I have ever seen,” says Joe Don Rooney. “So many people from all over the world have been moved by that song. And I feel blessed to get to see it and hear it every single night on stage.”Joe Don Rooney
“God has truly been the biggest thing in our lives since we were children, so there is no way we can remove that from our music,” adds LeVox. “I’m thankful our music has touched people. But yeah…I just can’t believe this whole career was planned out for me long before my conception. It’s mind blowing.”
Living On Faith...At the Beginning
As a kid, LeVox says he was already a true believer of God. “We are all blessed to have had such a wonderful Christian foundation as kids,” explains the 43-year-old, father of two. “Jay [DeMarcus] and I are cousins, and being old Pentecostal boys from Ohio, our first memories of life were not about music, but church every Wednesday and twice on Sunday. [Laughs.] My grandmother had a strong influence on my faith life. She was the absolute center of making sure we got to church three times a week…every week. Throw us a piece of Juicy Fruit, and off we would go.”
Growing up, there were moments when LeVox felt a professional soccer career might have been where his life was headed. His job at the Ohio Department of Mental Retardation had more than fulfilled him after graduation from high school. Yet, LeVox says he always felt another life tugging on his conscience, but never as much as the day he found himself sitting in his mom’s kitchen, contemplating a life altering move to Nashville. “I’ve always had faith,” he says. “Faith is believing in the things you can’t see, and I always had that. But when I started thinking about moving to Nashville, I truly felt the presence of God standing in that kitchen right next to me. I said, ‘Lord I am so sorry, because I think I sound as good as the guys on the radio, or at least I could try to sound as good as them. I think you have given me a certain gift, and I’m just so sorry for not using it. I know You wouldn’t have given it to me if you didn’t want me to use it.’”
And Gary LeVox was ready to use it.
“I decided right then and there that I would quit the job I had for ten years and sell everything, and on a true leap of faith, I loaded my truck and headed to Nashville,” he recalls. “Two minutes after I drove into town, I was in a studio singing backgrounds on Michael English’s gospel record that Jay [DeMarcus] was producing. That’s how good God works and how great He is.”
Living On Faith...Rascal Flatts Style
Since that fateful truck ride to Nashville and a chance meeting on stage between LeVox, DeMarcus and Rooney (“From the very first night we sang together, we knew we had something ordained. God had his hand upon what we were doing from the very beginning”), Rascal Flatts has gone on to achieve the often unreachable. Known today as the best-selling country vocal group of the past decade, Rascal Flatts has sold over 22.5 million albums and over 28 million digital downloads since their musical debut in 2000.
Currently basking in a career resurgence of sorts via their new hit single “Rewind” and the May 2014 release of their new album, also named Rewind, the most-awarded ...
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By: Tricia Despres
Tricia Despres is a Chicago-based entertainment writer whose work has appeared in publications such as the Chicago Sun-Times, Advertising Age and Country Weekly magazine. From making story deadlines to making dinner for husband Paul and girls Taylor and Amanda, Tricia leads a busy life....but is never too busy to listen to the whispers of God.Read More Articles by Tricia Despres