June 23rd, 2010
05:25 PM ET
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."
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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.