BET’s "Sunday Best" judge and award-winning singer Jonathan McReynolds released his new single “People” in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic and said the tune is a message that can help listeners shift their focus back on God.
The song “People” highlights McReynolds’ signature vocals while the lyrics describe the emotional trauma people inflict on each other.
It's the debut single for the upcoming album of the same name that is scheduled to be released in April. McReynolds’ last full-length album, Make Room, made history by garnering 1.3 million streams in the first week of its release. The album also debuted at No. 1 on Billboard Gospel.
The following is an edited transcript of The Christian Post's interview with McReynolds where the musician talks about the messages he's conveying in his new single.
Christian Post: How are you coping with social distancing during the quarantine?
McReynolds: I think there's a secret part of us that wants to be quarantined a little bit. So even though it has not been officially mandated, I'm kind of just sitting in the house and writing. I work on some music and we leave the house when we want to. I think we can rest too. We need some rest and take a look at everything with fresh eyes. It’s a strange time for the country and the world.
CP: Can you share the story behind the song “People”?
McReynolds: 2019, while it was an amazing year for me professionally, a lot of awards won and the TV show and sold-out tours, it was a tough one for me. Personally, maybe the toughest, and most of the trauma that I could point to came at the hands of people.
It came at the hands of me assigning too much power to people, assigning too much weight on the opinions of people, the thoughts of people, what they wanted to say, how they felt, just those types of things. It wasn't even necessarily their fault. It was my fault and the significance that I put on what they had to say versus, more importantly, what God had to say about me.
In this particular song, it's not even directed at certain people, it's really directed at this idea of the “them” and “they” that we sometimes point to in life that has so much weight and has so much influence, and we feel like they're against us or we feel like they’re for us, it’s just people.
I have a line in the songs that says, “I can't point them out. I won't say their name. I don't know the damage or which one to blame? It's just people.” That's kind of the struggle that I wanted to point to for this generation.
Then on the flip side, realize that while we have these people against us, we're part of a group of people that are against somebody else. So it just kind of evens everybody out and really promotes the need for grace.
CP: Can you talk about your own experience of shifting power away from people to God and how to go about doing that?
McReynolds: I think the more self-reflective I've been, the more I understand the frailty of humanity. I think sometimes we look at ourselves and we know our own weaknesses and our own struggles, and we don't necessarily realize that everybody else has some as well.
So the same understanding of how you need help, everybody has those too, which makes us all really terrible judges, terrible evaluators. We don't necessarily have any better perspective sometimes than the believer sitting next to you. So the best thing that we can do is go after and pursue and seek and research the perspective from a divine God. It's the only thing that really has a shot at looking at all of this craziness with the right perspective.
I'm kind of a nerd, don't judge me. But it was almost a very logical understanding of, "Wait a second, if I'm not that great, then they're not that great, and so why am I giving them all this power when they don't see things any better than I do," which means we really have one place to turn and that's somebody who has seen the end and the beginning.
He knew who we were before we even got here and started to find out who we were. That's God! It was the only logical decision, not even a big enough spiritual epiphany. Let's give God a shot at defining our lives and our identity.
I think we got to reconnect to the people who are closest to us, because we sometimes, in our generation, because social media, we're closer to the people farthest from us. We hear what they have to say, and their love or their hate, more than the people who are very close. Then the Spirit, who is supposed to be living within us, we ought to listen to Him as much as we listen to our Instagram followers. So it could have a benefit.
CP: Tell us the story behind the "People" music video.
McReynolds: It's one of my favorite videos I've ever done. And of course, with the song, it has a different, interesting, visualization of people surrounding me as I try to sing the song.
What I really love is the story that goes alongside it. Ultimately, it will be a part of a full visual album where the story gets spread out and elaborated on and finished. But as far as this particular standalone video, which kind of compacts the stories in one, it really shows how everybody, every character, is a victim of people, but also a perpetrator.
They receive some negativity from people, which causes them to negatively affect other people. So everybody is both a victim and also complicit in this great crime of humanity.
Again, when we go back to grace, which is the single most unique and special element you have in Christianity, this idea of grace, I think it's really great to look at how we all need it.
I think sometimes we thank God for having it for ourselves, but then we don't like that it was given to the people that we don't like. It just shows the beauty and the terribleness in every human, and I believe that’s what God can see from His perspective. And it's why He decided to save us the way He did.
I just want to be clear, the song called “People” is absolutely not about the people. It's about the place they have in your mind.