Platinum-selling artist and award-winning songwriter Dante Bowe recently released his sophomore album Circles and candidly talked with The Christian Post about where the inspiration for his music came from.
The 13-song collection features Bowe’s most personal work to date, accompanied by his unique style and vocals.
"I've been through a lot. I've gone through a lot. I've experienced a lot. I think my story is so potent that when I'm put in a position to be creative or write, or sing, or anything like that, all of my journey comes forth,” he told CP in an interview that can be watched below. “All those past things made me who I am today, and I think a lot of times I just write about it. That's the realness I think that people feel.”
Bowe’s grandparents were ministers, and much of his Christian influence came from them. The platinum-selling songwriter who has written hits for Ciara, Tasha Cobbs and Maverick City Music said he began to follow Christ for himself while he was in his teens.
"Jesus has always been real to me. I think I've always had a relationship with Jesus and always felt His presence, even when I didn't recognize it. I always just assumed — this is Jesus, this is God,” he explained.
Bowe recalled having his first encounter with Jesus at age 16. It was that encounter that prompted him to serve God wholeheartedly.
"That encounter changed me or started the process at least of change,” he continued. “I started going to church on my own. and I started doing things for my own. It wasn't like my grandparents' faith or anything; it became my faith.”
The artist revealed that although he grew up in a Christian community in North Carolina, his “parents weren't really saved.”
“I lived in a house with my parents; they were drug dealers,” Bowe said. “They were good parents; they did everything they could for me and my brother. They sold drugs, they said, because they wanted us to have a better life.”
“So I was raised around that,” he explained, before sharing that he was also “abused in the church.”
“That caused a lot of confusion sexually, in my sexuality, [and] what I believe and what I don't believe in,” the “Promises” writer added. “That was a journey even up into my 20s. [It was] just always the Lord renewing my mind or renewing my heart.”
He said his testimony is deeper than him being a “country boy from North Carolina.” Everything he's been through, “the good and the bad times,” has made him who he is today.
His new album, Circles, pays homage to his faith and family.
"My family is everything to me. My mom and dad were very present parents. Every game, when I wanted to go to the studio, when I started going to church on my own, they were so supportive,” he said. “They would take me, drop me off. They wanted to see me win, truly. That was just such a blessing because I know everyone's not as fortunate to have that kind of support system. My grandparents were even more supportive, and my brother.”
"Everybody was a very key piece to making this album. They were prominent pieces just because they were the ones to carry me through, for the most part, my whole life, so I honor my family,” Bowe said.
His grandfather died in January 2020, and he wrote his hit single "Voice to God" in dedication to him.
"He was such a strong man, and he broke the mold for our family,” Bowe told CP. “[He] was the first man to ever acquire wealth.”
The singer pegged his album as a “very important project,” especially with what's going on in the world right now. Bowe maintained that family has become most important following a global pandemic.
The young artist shared why he decided to release encouraging songs such as his single, “Joyful,” despite the grief and heaviness felt by so many in this season.
"For me, it's about acknowledging the blessings. Sometimes it's easy to acknowledge defeat or the doubt, anxiety and fear and all that stuff. When I was making this record, I wanted to acknowledge the good things. It made me want to be grateful,” he noted.
Bowe continued, "Loss made me want to look at who I have left. Defeat made me want to look at victories and acknowledging the victories.
“'Joyful' came out of that place for sure, and a lot of other songs as well just came out of that place. I know this is what we see, but think about all of the things that God has done for us and all of the ways He's made and how many times that He brought us out. You get overwhelmed by it when you think about it,” he declared.
Bowe also offered advice for anyone struggling with depression.
What can help make one joyful, he said, is "when you refocus and you look at all the blessings that you just don't deserve and that God is just faithful to be everything — our provider, our source, even in the middle of 2020, He was our source. He was such a comfort,” he said.
Bowe, who has gone from being homeless to a platinum artist, encourages others not to throw in the towel despite their moments of hopelessness.
"Don't give up. Just don't give up on anything no matter where you are, even if you're homeless,” he encouraged. “Even people that have a lot want to give up right now. Money doesn't make you feel inspired or give you endurance. Ultimately, I would just say, don't give up no matter where you are, no matter what you have.”
"If God said it, He can perform it. It may not be in our timing, it may not feel like it's going to ever happen, but I just firmly believe that when you seek Him, and you seek peace and love and joy and long-suffering, and you focus on that, I feel like naturally, it's going to happen for you,” Bowe assured.
Eddie James is one of Bowe’s favorite ministers, and the worshiper quoted one of his sayings, which is: “Glory follows order.”
"The Lord has you. He's more than able, start speaking those things, and I feel like glory follows,” he maintained.
Bowe’s collaborative worship album with Maverick City Music and Elevation Worship, Old Church Basement,made history recently, setting a new worldwide record for the most first-day streams for a Christian and gospel album on Apple Music. The album cover was also featured on a large billboard in Times Square in New York City.
Bowe said he never would have imagined being where he is today.
"I do look at my life and sometimes, I'm overwhelmed by it. I didn't want any of this. I really wanted to make music and make people feel how I felt when I heard certain artists that kind of helped me through seasons,” he said.
"Even though all the success is happening, I'm really grateful that God allowed me to be who I am and do what I do. It wasn't easy getting here, but it's still overwhelming looking at it. Oh, man, this is bigger than I thought but I am graced,” Bowe declared.
When speaking about the inspiration behind his worship music, Bowe said he draws from his life experience and his friends.
"I'm very close to my friends. I have the same friends that I've had for the last 10 years, and I'll draw from their stories a lot of times and what they're going through,” he said. “Sometimes, for the most part, to be honest, I just sit down and think about Him [God].
“When you look at nature, and when you look at your friends and your family, your church, even when you look at the world and darkness, and you think about how God is moving. I don't have to think about testimony stuff. I can just think about who He is,” Bowe added. "For the most part, I just think about His nature and I write about His nature.”
Of Old Church Basement, Bowe said that making that record “felt like building a rocket.”
“It felt like doing something that was going to change the world,” he said. “When you build a rocket and someone goes to space, it's like this whole thing in news stations, everyone's broadcasting it. Making this record felt that way.”
His collaboration with Chandler Moore, Naomi Reign, Chris Brown, Brandon Lake, Amanda Cook and others in Elevation and Maverick City Music came from a place of love.
“All of us, we love people so much,” Bowe said. “We love people more than anything. It's like God, then, there's people. When we start writing songs, we just think about God and people, and sometimes I'm scared when we write songs because it's so pure and we mean it for real.”
"I knew making this album it was going to break records and do something crazy because I'm like, there's no way it can't,” he insisted. “These songs are so real. When we say, 'My friend Josh bought a cheap guitar. He wasn't putting on a show, wasn't well-known, wasn't trying to be famous, but we sure touched Heaven from that old church basement.' Those are real stories!
"These are stories that I feel like Creation's been waiting on. It's not squeaky clean rainbow stuff. It's like, I'm sitting it in a hospital room and the doctor says, 'Sorry, there's nothing more we can do.' I'm gonna wait on you.”
When asked by CP how he's able to love people despite all he’s been through, Bowe concluded by saying that he looks at how much God has loved him.
"I was abused in the church. I was molested in church for years. I had to navigate that early, as a kid. That thing in your brain that's the decision-maker, I didn't even have that, at that age, it doesn't develop until later,” he said. “I was making those decisions at 10, whether I was going to be one of those guys that's like, 'Forget the church. I have nothing to do with that.' Or say, 'There's no way this is God.' For some reason, I knew that's not God and He's not like that, and that's evil. I could decipher and it was hard. That was a journey.”
"I'll say this, loving God is easier than people. But to me now, loving people is easy when you can acknowledge your own flaws,” Bowe added. “When you can acknowledge, ‘I get a little snappy sometimes, that person is snappy.' When you can acknowledge, like, 'Oh, I remember when I didn't know the Lord, ... you can have grace because I remember when I didn't have any regard for the church, any regard for Christianity. You just extend that grace. My Pastor Lyle Philips, he always says, ‘For him, that has been given, he gives much. We've been given way too much. The Lord has been so gracious.”
"Why not extend that to other people and be like, 'I've been so blessed by God, I've been so favored by Him and graced, even in seasons when I didn't deserve it. I'm going to give that to you,'” Bowe said, adding that he hopes people would be gentle with others.
"The route is loving yourself. I love that Jesus says, 'Love your neighbor like you love yourself,' indicating that you can’t even love your neighbor if you can't love yourself. A lot of people don't love their neighbor because they don't love themself.”
Bowe, who hopes the new album will motivate listeners, added: "I hope that they feel like running a marathon after they listen to music. I hope people feel like getting up, washing their face, putting on some clothes and actually going out and accomplishing something and not being mopey, not being sad, not being depressed. I hope it kills depression!”
Bowe’s album Circles is now available.