Christian artist Rhett Walker “can’t count the broken roads he’s traveled down,” but through hard work and support, the Aiken County native has just stepped closer to the top.
It was just on Dec. 5 when Rhett Walker and his band members – the Rhett Walker Band – got the good news: Their single, “When Mercy Found Me,” from their debut album “Come to the River” has been nominated for a Grammy for the Best Contemporary Christian Music Song.
“It was definitely not in the plan,” Walker said. “The album just came out in July.”
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news. I’m blown away! I’m here at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for the (Grammy Awards Nominations Concert Live) with my wife and our six-week-old daughter, and I could not be more overwhelmed. I’m just a kid from the South that writes songs about life. To be recognized in this way just blows my mind. It is such an honor.”
“When Mercy Found Me” is personal for Walker and has reached out to fans as a song “people can put themselves in,” he said.
Walker recalls one story in particular. One night, a man came up to Walker and told the band of a darker time in his life. The man was driving, on his way to commit suicide, and like a sign, “When Mercy Found Me” came on the radio. The song struck a chord with the fallen man, and he drove to the hospital. After he left the hospital, the man got his life together, worked out his marital issues and became a Christian.
Walker’s own life has not been one of doubtless moments and peaceful days.
He was expelled from Silver Bluff High School, according to media reports.
He later attended a Christian school, where he met and fell in love with a girl named April, who, before his senior year, became pregnant. He got into fights, dealt with drugs and had a couple run-ins with the Richmond County police.
When April became pregnant, Walker decided to stop and reexamine his life. He knew he had to shape up.
He married April, put his life into God’s hands, graduated and went on to have his first two of his three children, Rileigh and Jett.
Walker started his career at Heights Church in Beech Island.
One summer day, he was called out from behind the drums of the praise band, where he played for a long time, to sing Todd Agnew’s “Grace Like Rain” in front of the congregation.
“I always knew I wanted to do music, but I couldn’t sing as a kid. I was just terrible at it,” he wrote on his website. After he was asked to sing, “I never went back to drums. The more I sang, the more things started opening up.”
Moving out of Beech Island was an eventual step for Walker and his family with April.
From there, Provident Label Group signed the Rhett Walker Band to Essential Records. The band includes Kenny Davis on the drums and Joe Kane on the guitar.
“Come to the River” came out in July, and the band celebrated with an album release party at the USC Aiken Convocation Center.
“The response (in Aiken) is great,” Walker told the Aiken Standard in June. “We get to play a lot of places across the nation, but it’s something special to play for the people who supported you early on, bought your ugly T-shirts and the first EP.”
While Walker and his band will be performing in a concert in Alabama on Grammy Award night Feb. 10, they will be keeping an ear out for whether they receive the award or not.
“All (the other nominees) are fantastic songs,” Walker said. “We are happy to be nominated and wish the best for everybody.”
The nominees in the same category as the band are Casting Crown’s “Jesus, Friend Of Sinners”, Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)”, Passion & Chris Tomlin’s “White Flag” and Israel & New Breed “Your Presence is Heaven.”