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June 23rd, 2010
05:25 PM ET

Former Live frontman feels reborn with new solo album

Former Live frontman Ed Kowalczyk, shown here singing with the band in 2006, releases a solo album on July 6

Ed Kowalczyk has had quite the spiritual journey in his life. Baptized as a Catholic, he went to Mass and received the sacraments as he grew up in Pennsylvania. But when he reached his late teens, the burgeoning musician needed to explore other paths of faith that included Zen Buddhism.

"I went through a whole seeker's life," Kowalczyk said recently by phone from his home in California.

Now 39, he's come full circle, and calls himself a Christian again. The past few years have also been a period of transition for him as a musician. After being in the band Live since middle school, he is now a solo act with new backing group and a new album.

When asked what he took with him from more than 20 years with Live, he said, "Incredible experiences from the very beginning of breaking into new areas, in what I felt were new moments in music and performance and community with people."

Kowalczyk, who wrote most of the songs for his former band, said the breakup of Live, which sold more than 20 million albums, came at a time when he had hit a wall.

"It wasn't what I'd call writer's block, it was more a block of purpose," he said. The block came as Live was on hiatus.  Kowalczyk said when his inspiration returned, he also felt the desire to make the move to a solo career.

But there was still a painful breakup with the band, and harsh words on guitarist Chad Taylor's blog, indicating there was no chance the band could ever get back together.

In interviews neither party will address the other and each has moved on musically - Kowalczyk going solo and the other members of Live joining with two members of Candlebox to form The Gracious Few.

"I was just so thrilled to be inspired again, that that was all I could really focus on," Kowalczyk said when asked if it was difficult to work on a solo project as Live was dissolving.

The new album, "Alive," is scheduled to be released July 6 with the debut single "Grace."

Kowalczyk said it sets the tone for him as a solo artist and gives fans of Live, and potential new fans, a good look at the path he is headed down as a revived Christian and reborn artist.

One of the songs is "Drink (Everlasting Love)," a collaboration with his good friend Chris Daughtry. They shared dinner after a Daughtry concert in Ventura, California, and when the former American Idol contestant heard the song he chipped in some suggestions and the two bounced ideas off each other on that song and others.

"We grabbed some six strings and played each other our new ideas," Kowalczyk said. "It was very impromptu but it ended up being on the record."

Many of the songs sound like Live, which had two No. 1 albums including 1994's 8x platinum Throwing Copper, but a few represented a change for him. One of his favorite songs on the new CD is "The Great Beyond."  He wasn't sure about the tune at first but as they worked on it at a studio in Austin, Texas, he grew more attached to it.

"It's a new groove for me, a new way of expressing myself," he said. "We've had a lot of fun playing it live."

Kowalczyk said he'll be touring both the United States and Europe this year with possible trips to Australia and South Africa.

He says fans will see a "rekindled Ed."

They'll also see an Ed who feels at peace as a Christian.

"I definitely feel the presence and continue to feel the presence of a higher power that I’m connected to in faith," he said. "That's God."

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Buddhism • Christianity • Culture & Science • Music

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. tc

    People are so quick to judge with having only minor information. Its amazing to me how people have judged Ed without knowing him personally. Were all a combination of good and bad..Christians as well. The Holy spirit causes us to grow more and more as we walk with Christ (called Sanctification) . And we all start out at different places when we come to Christ. I believe Ed has made a true conversion. I think he simply wants to remain true to who he is, and doesn't want to all of a sudden start speaking "Christian-eeze".He strikes me as someone
    who needs to express himself authentically, and in all honesty that's going to cause more people to come to Christ than if he tried to fit into mainstream Christianity. Just let him be who he is, and let God fullfill his plan in Ed's life. And just because he was honestly searching through different religions, doesn't mean he lacks depth. He just needed to find the answers for himself which any true artist does.

    February 10, 2013 at 7:27 am |
  2. Mysterycomposer

    I have to defend Ed as well as his band mates. What happened in Ed's life has been a miracle. There is confusion about who actually wrote the songs, since non of them actually composed the original tunes or lyrics. The original composer, however, gave them the right to perform it. The miracle is the fact the the composer was not only a song-composer, but also gifted with prophetic vision and not even from the USA, but from a different continent. This foot-shouldier for the Lord spent a period from 1986 to 1989 to compose the songs. His most fruitful period was the first 6 months of 1989. The song composer wanted to stay unanymous, so Ed basically took ownership. Ed received a buldging envelope full of tape recordings and lyric sheets for the various albums to come in his post box in John Street in York PA in 1989. The problem is, I don't know if Chad, Chad and Pat knows about Ed's receival of the envelope. This thing that happened is very interesting,since the song composer knew Ed's future well and wrote songs for him. Ed is correct by saying that the songs were mostly prayers, like the song heaven which was accurately written to give Ed joy and in the process to honour God for His almightypower. There is one important point that people don't know and that is is that the hand-writing on the Throwing Copper album is not Ed's or any of the band member's, but the original song composer's writing. Even if all of them know about the mysterious songs and prophetic messages, how can they make it public. They will rather break up or run away from it. So far nobody really knows what the song composer have done for them and they are scared to admit to it.

    September 13, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  3. Jennifer

    As a former fan of Live, this guy is turning into a washed up joke. He can't cut it on his own, so now he's going down the path of "christian rock"? PLEASE...what will it be next Ed?? Amish? Morman? Try and pick something and stick with it. Your silly actions make your incredible work on Mental Jewlery, Throwing Copper, and TDTH look like a joke. So unbelievably let down by a once incredible artist...it just figures!

    June 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  4. MRL

    I get a little queasy at the line, "I definitely feel the presence and continue to feel the presence of a higher power that I’m connected to in faith," he said. "That's God." That's a little new-agey for me.
    Not gonna judge...just watch for fruit and growth. I hope he's really given his heart to Jesus.
    Amen, Daniel B. It doesn't matter what he, or anyone else, has done. There's only one sin that can't be forgiven – blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

    July 30, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  5. Daniel B

    To all those people responding negatively I would just like to remind you of Jesus' telling of the Prodigal Son parable. I suggest you all reread it and praise God that He is the Creator of all and his Grace is ever abounding.

    July 25, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  6. Carlos G

    Although i dont judge anyone, (only Jesus will do that) i agree with captainovious on the money thing. As a fully converted Christian or "disciple" of Christ, we are called to detatch from this world. His actions speak louder than words and there is no denial of it on his website. That being said, i do believe he has had SOME kind of true conversion especially being a baptized Catholic. May God bless him and continue to use him for the Kingdom.

    July 16, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
  7. Captainobvious

    Kowalczyk is a thief. He swindled his old band members and life long friends out of money. This much is obvious. I don't see how a so called religious man could live with himself after committing such acts of deceit and betrayal.

    July 8, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • dj

      The money thing is only one side of the story, Ed was the writer for all of Live's career, nobody but Ed and the other band members really know what happenened and it seems no one is really talking except to make accusations but without anything to back them up.

      January 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  8. richard dickman

    This guy is a jerk, live was a great "band" when all 4 members had creative input. When this fella took over the writing it was pretty much all over.

    June 24, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
  9. Joey

    This guy hops from religion to religion like a Kangaroo. He is doing this because he can smell the Dollar signs and steady gigs singing for Pat Robertson on the 700 Club.

    June 24, 2010 at 12:28 am |
    • dj

      have you never experimented in anything, so it took him a few years to get it right, just be thankful he did!

      January 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  10. Keli

    To Realtiy – WHY DO YOU CARE? It's His choice...not yours. Don't listen to his music..don't buy his albums..whatever. But your comments are really unnecessary. They accomplish NOTHING!!! It was HIS journey..It was HIS decision. Get over yourself!

    June 23, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
    • Reality

      He is a fellow brother and one should not allow a brother to walk the wayward walk!!!

      June 23, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
    • Mary D

      Keli,

      I agree.

      June 24, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
    • Lrm

      Reality- what would make you think this is the "wayward walk?" In *reality* that's just your opinion. Would you same the same if he'd come to believe another religion?

      June 25, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  11. Ty

    I've always been a fan of Live and look forward to hearing more music from such a talented artist. I'll have to check out The Gracious Few as well. Ed's search for a spiritual connection can really be felt through songs such as "Where Fishes Go." Keep making music!

    June 23, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  12. Reality

    Ed will not be so rekindled once he looks below the myths and embellishment of his rebirth.

    June 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.