Cade Thompson has done a lot of growing up over the last three years. While most people his age would be just entering their final year of college, the 21-year-old South Dakota native has already spent three years honing his craft as a contemporary Christian recording artist. His hard work has certainly paid off as he signed a recording deal shortly after arriving in Nashville, and has already released the hit singles “Every Step of the Way” and the current “Arms of Jesus”.
Industry executives are quick to point to Cade’s admirable ability to transform his thoughts and faith into powerful melodies and lyrics as a key to his success.
With the world slowly emerging from its COVID-induced fog, Cade is gearing up for the release of his latest feature length-album early next year with an energetic and soulful tour to follow shortly thereafter.
I recently sat down with Cade to discuss what God has shown him during his rather unorthodox introduction to becoming a professional musician, his approach to crafting music, and whether he sees himself as the voice of his generation in contemporary Christian music.
You’re now 21 years old. You came to Nashville right after graduating high school so you’ve got a few years in the industry at this point. What have these last three years taught you about yourself in regard to chasing this dream called music?
That is a great question. And it’s one I actually think about quite often. I graduated high school and then moved down to Franklin, Tennessee three years ago. I didn’t have a record deal at that point in time. I was just choosing to step out in faith and a couple months later, ended up signing a deal. I’ve learned a lot the past few years. Crazy enough, six months after I signed the record deal, this thing called COVID-19, hit the world. And I figured, that’s the best time to launch out your music career, right? (laughs)
And so, my first single “Provider”, hit the radio in February 2020. And I’ve got to tell you, it was so special to see the message of that song touch people in the middle of a very crazy time. There were moments where people were struggling with finances and wondering, can God provide? Will He still provide? And the answer is yes. He always provides and He still provides. I saw that happen and my second single “Every Step of the Way”, I wrote before I was even signed and moved to town. I just declared that I’m going to choose to trust God, even in the unknown. And once again, I saw the message of that song play out in my life. And I’m so thankful to be doing what I’m doing at this point in time, because it’s so special to be raised on Christian music and to be able to step onto the stages and the environments that I’ve been in and be an impact for the Kingdom. It’s special.
What has God shown you or taught you during this time frame?
The biggest thing that I’ve learned over the past few years is that my identity is not in what I can do for God. My identity is not in being a Christian singer. My identity is not in the following that I may have. My identity is as a son, as a child of God. And I remember very vividly going back home to South Dakota where my family’s from in the middle of COVID and going to my old childhood bedroom. I kept having those moments of, God, is this ever going to be something I’m going to be able to do again? Can, can this still happen? Can this career still happen? And I was reminded in that moment that my identity is not what I can do for God, but who I am here.
Do you feel like coming to Nashville just prior to COVID has affected your momentum in any way as an artist trying to get your music and message of hope off the ground?
I think there’s definitely been moments where I’ve had those questions of what if I was launching out the career at a different time, but honestly I know, and I trust the plan of God. I believe that it’s the best time for the music that I’m making because I’ve seen a lot of these messages touch people in a way that are meant for this very time period that we’re living in. That’s why I’m writing the songs that I’m writing and why it’s such a blessing to be doing what I’m doing.
You’ve got a new single out called “Arms of Jesus”. If you don’t mind, let’s take the song apart and put it together again. How did the song come about, what was the inspiration for recording it, and most importantly, what is its message?
I wrote this song on a zoom call just like this with my buddy, AJ Peris. There’s a piano behind me that I wrote this song on with them. It’s funny how this song started because I already had a title. I think it was called “Running into the Arms” or something like that. And AJ had a very similar title. So, we met in the middle. That doesn’t happen a lot of times in songwriting when you have a very similar idea or similar concept when you walk into a room. And so, I kind of knew that it was meant to be, to write this song called “Arms of Jesus”.
As I’ve been traveling and touring the past few years, I’ve been able to hear a lot of different stories from a lot of different people. And during that time, we’ve had a choice, right? To fall into the ways of the world, to fall into those things that look like (they will be good). Maybe they’re going to satisfy, but they never do. Or, we can choose to fall into the arms of Jesus, and I know in the arms of Jesus, we can find hope, we can find joy. We can find that peace and healing once again. That’s the message of this song. That’s why I wrote it, to be a reminder for people to fall. If you’re going to fall, you might as well fall into His arms.
Which type of these songs do you appreciate more? The ones that just kind of flow out of you or the ones where you really had to work and struggle to get it out?
Every song is a blessing. The fact that I get to write songs to lead people back to Jesus is the biggest joy ever. I would say the songs that you really have to dive deep into and really have to share a vulnerable spot in your heart takes you to a special place. The song has to feel right and touch me first. If a song doesn’t touch me first, then I don’t want to put it out in the world. That’s kind of my standard for putting out music.
“Arms of Jesus” is the first single off of what will be your forthcoming album coming early next year. What can you tell me about the new album?
I can say that I have a lot of new music coming out this fall leading up to this next project. And I am really excited. I put out my first record last year in September called Bigger Story. I’m really proud of it. And earlier this year, January through March, I just took a lot of time to really dive into what I wanted to say on this next project. What did I want this next project to feel like, to sound like? I’m so proud of these songs that I’ve been writing, because I feel like it’s just the next level of my artistry and where God has taken me.
I remember talking to singer/songwriter Bebo Norman many years ago and he said that his albums were basically a microcosm of his life from the previous year or two years prior. Do you see the truth in that for you, that an album is a snapshot of your life over the last 12 to 24 months?
You know, it’s funny. I totally agree with that. But I would also say, it’s almost like speaking life over what I’m about to walk through in the next season. A lot of the songs that I wrote on my last record, I didn’t know that I needed those messages personally until a year ago when I started walking through certain scenarios. And so, I would say it goes both ways. That’s the most beautiful thing about songwriting because a lot of times I’m writing these messages to sing over myself.
Obviously you’re driven by the Holy Spirit when you write these songs and maybe at the time you have no idea why you are writing a song. And then, maybe three years down the road, boom, there’s some situation or a person comes into your life that was touched by that song. I’m sure that makes it all worth it. Have you had those situations happen for you?
Oh absolutely. I can remember a very specific story. There’s a man named Ryan that heard my song on the radio and he had just gone through having multiple strokes. The doctor said he couldn’t walk and he might not be able to talk anymore. Thankfully, he had chosen my song “Every Step of the Way” as his recovery song. It was a miracle. I was actually able to go see him last year. I performed at a conference in his hometown. I saw how God has healed him and saved him. And so, it’s those moments for me that keep me going, keep me pressing forward.
Final question for you and it’s a big one. I probably will make you nervous by asking it, but do you see yourself as a voice for your generation in the world of contemporary Christian music?
That is a very big question. That is my prayer. My prayer is that I can step into that space of being a voice of hope for this next generation of Christian music. I’ve looked up to people like tobyMac, Matthew West, and Phil Wickham ever since I was a young kid. And to see those people, how they have been able to touch people throughout the course of changing culture is so beautiful. That’s my goal. I want to be able to use the power of the Gospel and the power of music together.
Watch a Music Video of Cade Thompson’s Latest Single “Arms of Jesus”: