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Phil Joel - Strangely Normal

  • Updated Feb 01, 2002
Phil Joel - <i>Strangely Normal</i>

The Music Channel at has been privileged to present the debut solo project from Phil Joel, of course, of Newsboys' fame. Check out our collection of exclusive devotionals written by Phil, as well as news items surrounding this release by CLICKING HERE.

Most albums take a matter of months to complete, at most a year or two. But for Phil Joel - best known as a member of the formidable pop band, {{Newsboys}} - Watching Over You has been 27 years in the making. The ideas and emotions contained in it are retrospective of Phil's life up to the present. The result is a solo album in the truest sense of the word because it's a story only Phil could tell.

Click to hear a clip from "God Is Watching Over You"

Produced by his bandmate Peter Furler for inpop, ==Watching Over You== is a testament to one grown-up kid's journey to self-discovery, toward understanding that the steps of a good man are, indeed, ordered by the Lord.

Adopted at birth, Phil grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and was brought up in a Christian home. Although he made a commitment to Christ at the early age of eight, he still struggled with his identity. At the age of 13, he came to an amazingly mature decision: "I decided for myself that it was okay that I didn't exactly fit, and I determined that I would become the person I was meant to be, regardless." As providence would have it, around that same time, Phil discovered an integral part of his missing piece. "When I picked up a guitar," he says, "it felt like a third arm, it was just such a natural extension of me. And for the first time ever, I realized that there were things out there that would fit me."

Click to hear a clip from "Strangely Normal"

Like teens the world over, Phil struggled with image in his teenage years, but he found strength in God's promises, in the companionship of Christian friends and in music. When given the ultimatum, "Do your homework or get a job," He chose the latter and left school to become a hairdresser. At the same time, He spent every spare moment in his "off-time" as lead singer and guitarist in his band Drinkwater. Five years later, after being offered a position with Newsboys, Phil found himself in Nashville - his long lost home away from home. Knee deep in the music business, Phil met Heather, the girl of his dreams, in Kansas and married her a year later. All these experiences sharpened and matured him, but the questions he's always wrestled with, about himself and his place in life persisted.

Click to hear a clip from "Author Of Life"

The past two years, however, have been a revelation. Having learned more about his biological parents - his birth father is a London musician; his mother, a wigmaker from Perth, Australia - Phil had the opportunity to meet his birth mother. The reality, as you can only imagine, could never have matched the high expectation. But some major pieces of his life-puzzle came together during their visit. "For the first time in my entire 27 years," he says, "I realized that I had not become the person I am because of nature or nurture. While those things have their place, I realized that I had become who I am because of the commitment I made to Christ when I was eight and the continuing commitments I have made to God, to myself and to others in my life up to now." It's easy to forget, he says "that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Not that I'm trying to say that I'm a good man, but my commitment to Christ has always been central.

Or to put it in the words of American essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Such a revolutionary lesson is worth repeating.

For the rest of PHIL's story and more audio clips - click here