Ryan Stevenson has had many experiences on his path to rising as a Christian rock artist. Each one has offered inspiration for his songs; particularly his breakaway hit titled “Eye of the Storm” from his newest album, “Fresh Start.”
Born and raised in southern Oregon, in a quaint farming village with roughly 300 residents, Stevenson’s family frequently attended his hometown’s community church. This is where he discovered his love for music.
“I grew up on the hymnals,” he says. “That’s how I really got my first love of music, by listening to the hymns and learning about Jesus through the hymns.”
Stevenson picked up the drums in the third grade and rocked the instrument through his senior year. He originally wanted to be a drummer for a band, and had little interest in the guitar. Upon graduating from high school, he received a gift that changed his life.
“My youth pastor at the time just came to my house, showed up at my house one day, with an acoustic guitar and a little black case that he had just bought at a music store,” Stevenson remembers. “He said, ‘I felt like the Lord was telling me to give this to you.’”
He shelved the guitar until his first semester at the University of Oregon where he quickly picked up the new instrument from others in his dorm. “I learned how to play literally overnight … and then I could start writing all these things that were just in my heart.”
He graduated with a degree in education and taught kindergarten then high school Spanish in his first two years out of college. Drained from teaching, Stevenson decided to change professions. He studied to become a paramedic and worked in the field for eight years. That job, he explains, is where he got his break into Christian music.
“It was bizarre,” Stevenson says. “I was working a shift one day. We got a 911-dispatch call that came across as a lightning strike.”
Stevenson’s team responded to a 911 call for a 40-year-old woman who was struck in the head by lightning. By the time the ambulance reached the site, she was already dead, but Stevenson was not going to give up. He was able to revive her in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and she made a full recovery.
When they met a short time later, she asked what he would do if he weren’t a paramedic. After Stevenson responded that he wished to record music, the woman did something he did not expect.
“This lady that I saved, literally saved her life in the ambulance, wrote me a check, sent me to a recording studio, and that little project that I recorded got me my first record deal,” he says.
Stevenson’s hit song “Eye of the Storm” was inspired by his experiences as a paramedic. It opened up to national airplay and recently topped Billboard’s Christian Adult Contemporary chart.
“I wanted to speak about things that touch every single human being,” he says. “I know through firsthand experience that what touches every one of us is the storms of life. The fact that we all go through human trials and defeats and victories, that’s what makes us all people.”
Stevenson currently opens for the Newsboys on tour. He is also a performing artist for the upcoming Jesus Freak Cruise, which takes place on July 11-15 of 2017. This trip brings together some of the hottest bands in the Christian rock industry for a five-day cruise that travels to the Bahamas. Some of the artists include DC Talk, Newsboys, TobyMac and more. More information on the cruise is available online on the Jesus Freak Cruise website.
Catch him live in Orlando on Sept. 9-10 at Rock the Universe, Universal Studio’s annual Christian music festival.