NewSong’s Jack Pumphrey rides Winter Jam wave

Chickasaw County native Jack Pumphrey, second from left, is the dummer for NewSong. The contemporary Christian music group and a host of other top talent will play at Winter Jam in Tupelo Thursday night. (Courtesy Photo)

Chickasaw County native Jack Pumphrey, second from left, is the dummer for NewSong. The contemporary Christian music group and a host of other top talent will play at Winter Jam in Tupelo Thursday night.
(Courtesy Photo)

HOUSTON – He grew up in Chickasaw County but his music and his message is aimed at an audience that has grown to become the largest concert tour in the world each winter.
NewSong drummer Jack Pumphrey was raised in Houston and he will take the stage at Winter Jam in Tupelo Thursday night along with Toby Mack, Red, Matthew West and Sidewalk Prophets.
“It is awesome to see what God has done with Winter Jam,” said Pumphrey. “It has grown to become something more than any of us ever dreamed.”
Winter Jam began 18 years ago as a way for NewSong to play at neutral venues with a simple donation at the door. It has now grown into the largest annual music tour in the first quarter of the year – in any music genre. It is also a major launching pad for new Christian music artists.
“I’ve gotten to know some of the biggest names and hottest bands on the planet,” said Pumphrey. “Touring and going on the road is a lot of work but I’ve grown to love Winter Jam because of the musicians I get to know and the fans I get to meet.”
Through Winter Jam, Pumphrey has developed relationships with the likes of Steven Curtis Chapman, Jeremy Camp, Newsboys, Anointed, MercyMe and Skillet.
But like him, Pumphrey said Christian artist work very hard to be down-to-earth kind of people, because it is part of their witness and rooted in their soul.
“They really are normal people just like me and you,” said Pumphrey, who comes home to Chickasaw County to hunt each Christmas. “We’ve got personal problems, family problems, career problems just like everyone else.”
And just like his fans, Pumphrey said he turns to music when life sends him a challenge.
NewSong has just released Swallow the Ocean, it’s 18th CD.
Pumphrey said the CD is beginning to pick up a little momentum and he hopes the Winter Jam tour will get it in front of people who need it most.
“The whole concept is how big God’s love is,” said Pumphrey. “Think about the ocean as ink and the sky as your canvas. If you tried to write or paint on that canvas you would run out of ink before you finished depicting God’s love.”
Pumphrey said NewSong produced Swallow the Ocean the old fashioned way.
“Now days I can just show up and lay down the beat and with technology the rest of the guys come in and lay down their tracks,” said Pumphrey. “We did Swallow the Ocean old-school. We all came in and looked each other in the eye as we put it together. It was a lot more personal and emotional to me. I truly think this CD has a different feel to it.”
And Pumphrey didn’t shy away from his real purpose with NewSong, his work with Winter Jam and the message of Swallow the Ocean.
“I was saved at a NewSong concert in 1992,” said Pumphrey. “My father had a tour-bus company in Atlanta and he got me a job working with them.”
Pumphrey said he initially has his eyes on the lights of Nashville. NewSong has helped him set his sights on a different light.
“God had a plan for my life and He has a plan for every life,” said Pumphrey. “Two years after I got saved NewSong asked me to join the band.”
And the former wide receiver at Houston High School, the guy who drove a go-cart on local streets as a young teenager, and the guy who has so many dear friends in Houston has watched his life unfold as a true blessing to others.
“My wife Dawn (Arrington-Pumphrey) is from Houston, I’ve got two grandmothers who live here,” said Pumphrey. “NewSong has carried me a lot of places but it all started in Houston and I consider it home.”
NewSong was founded in 1981 at Morningside Baptist Church in Valdosta, Ga. They have eight Gospel Music Association Dove Award nominations and have also been nominated for a Grammy Award.
Winter Jam opens at the Bancorp South Arena in Tupelo Thursday evening. Tickets are $10 at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.

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