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Self-described 'storyteller' Matthew West brings inspirational tour to Dickinson

Courtesy Photo Matthew West, one of the top Christian musicians in the country, brings his "Into the Light" tour to Dickinson on Oct. 10 at the Trinity High School Auditorium.

Into The Light Tour

Who: Matthew West, Sidewalk Prophets, Jason Castro

Where: Trinity High School Auditorium

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10

Tickets: $20 general admission, $25 preferred advance, $28 day of show and $35 for the artist's circle. Tickets for the upcoming concert are available at Faith Expressions Christian Store in Dickinson or


More information: 605-342-6822.

Anyone who listens to Christian music on the radio will recognize Matthew West's hit singles, though his face may not be as familiar to fans.

West has launched the "Into the Light" tour that will take him into Dickinson.

"It's a special way to connect with people who've connected with my music" he said.

"I'm a storyteller at heart and am inspired by the true stories of everyday people. It's through their stories that our concerts become a one-of-a-kind experience -- that's why we're on tour," he said from his home in Nashville, Tenn.

West is touring with Christian artists Sidewalk Prophets and Jason Castro.

Their concert is at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 10 at Trinity High School Auditorium. The doors open at 6 p.m. The concert is sponsored by KSLT Power 107.1 as an outreach into the community, production director Joe Savery said.

"The Matthew West 'Into the Light' tour is a little more unique," Savery said "He's bringing stories of his fans who have been through struggles and trials. It's an opportunity to hear stories we can relate to and what God can do in our lives."

Savery said fans can expect a great concert and an opportunity to hear three artists for the price of one ticket.

West describes his music as the vehicle to bring a message of hope to a troubled time.

"The concert is an experience where people can get away from life for a moment," he said. "It's a unique approach to escape from the world and find hope in a struggling world -- the shows are all about hope."

West believes there is strength in numbers and that's why he teamed up with Sidewalk Prophets and Jason Castro.

"We are heading out on the road, touring 23 cities across the country," West said. "Our goal is to create an experience people will remember."

The 36-year-old West grew up in his father's church.

"Music was always a big part of our church," he said. "The first songs I wrote, dad gave me his sermon notes. I'd take his message and sit down to the piano and write a song that I'd give myself by Sunday morning."

He said their relationship has come full circle.

"Now dad travels full time with the band," he said. "He's in the background to talk to people."

With each performance, West invites people to tell their story.

"We believe concerts can be a turning point -- to lift somebody up," he said.

To date, West has received more than 25,000 stories from people all over the country. He recently wrote a song inspired by a soldier from Afghanistan.

"We also shine light on stories through video," he said. "It's almost like a movie, but not with celebrities. These are the everyday junk of life -- people battling addiction, survivors of cancer, stories of people overcoming disabilities."

One of his latest hits is "Hello, My Name Is."

The song was inspired by a young man's struggle with drug addiction.

The song begins, "Hello, my name is regret -- I'm pretty sure we have met." It goes on to say, "These are the voices, these are the lies and I have believed them for the very last time. Hello, my name is child of the one true King. I've been saved, I've been changed, I've have been set free."

"I can't wait to play it on stage," West said. "I have a feeling the crowd will sing it louder than me."

"Hello" was No. 1 for 17 consecutive weeks on the National Christian Audience chart but recently dropped out of the top spot.

Another hit song, "Forgiveness," tells the story of a woman named Renee and her journey to forgive a drunk driver, Eric, for causing the death of her daughter, Megan, in 2001. Not only did Renee forgive Eric, she petitioned the court to release him early, serving 11 instead of 22 years in prison. He plans to join her in speaking engagements, warning young people about the dangers of drinking and driving while sharing about the power of forgiveness.

The song also was a springboard for a book that West has written titled "Forgiveness: Overcoming the Impossible."

The book's message is that God has no limits to forgiveness toward others or ourselves. Renee's story is included with 50 stories about forgiveness through divorce, betrayal, abandonment, death or addiction.

The stories are designed to bring peace and healing to the ones needing and the ones giving forgiveness. It ties into the promise of God's faithfulness and healing, he said.

When West enrolled in college, he said it was the first time he wasn't known as the preacher's kid.

"I realized life is really hard and we aren't meant to do it by ourselves -- we have a higher power," West said. "God is the one who made me and has a plan for my life. He's the ultimate storyteller."

West's goal is to share his music for many years to come. He's looking for a million people to tell their stories -- stories that can become future songs or books.

"I want my message to be positive," he said. "I want it to be my legacy -- songs that families can listen to, songs that teenage kids listen to."

West's CD and DVD, "Into the Light: Life Stories and Live Songs" was released Aug. 13. He said the new DVD will allow people to take the music home with them, to share with friends.

Because West and his wife homeschool their children, he takes them on the road whenever possible.

"We're like the Partridge family and they'll be in North Dakota for the first time," he said.