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Legendary Vocalist John Schlitt’s Latest Album a ‘Declaration of Movement’

Chris Carpenter


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Best known for his ten years as the lead vocalist for legendary Christian rock group Petra, GMA (Gospel Music Association) Hall of Famer John Schlitt has been called “the best rock singer in Christian Music history”. 

Known for his wide and diverse vocal range, the multiple Grammy and Dove Award winner has released his first solo album in seven years called Go.  Comprised of 11 songs, the project focuses on compelling lyrics, rough and tumble rock and roll arrangements, and Schlitt’s full-throttle approach to the music.

Interestingly, even though Go is a 2020 release, it was celebrated late last year as one of Classic Christian Rock Magazine’s Top 10 albums of 2019 in its pre-release form.

I recently spoke to Schlitt about his 35 years in contemporary Christian music, whether he ever plans to slow down, and why he calls this latest album a ‘declaration of movement’.

For someone who's never heard a John Schlitt record or a Petra album, how would you describe your music to someone?

Well, I'd say it's energetic. It’s definitely rock and roll. My music has always been based around rock, which is a very exciting music form in my eyes. But rock also covers mellow material. It’s just aggressive. It's an aggressive music. Even with slow songs, I'd say it's probably a little more aggressive than then pop or adult contemporary. With that music style the whole focus is to bring across a message that changes lives. It's always been that way, especially with Petra and with me also. I never wanted to try to be a Petra, part two. I tried to do what I'm supposed to do but in a different way. So, whenever I do a solo record, it doesn't sound exactly like Petra. I don't need to be Petra. Petra was Petra when Petra was supposed to be, and it's still being used because of that. I have a duty to carry out what God is putting on my heart.

Has your music evolved over the years into something that is different from what you originally intended?  Especially your solo work because you don’t have as many voices speaking into the final product?

Intentionally no, but probably yes. As time goes on, the style of music is different, and you want to be as relevant as possible. But I will tell you one thing that's never changed and that is my music is to be used to bring across the message that changes lives. Does that mean that every sentence in my songs say, Jesus? No. But in fact, I believe in evangelism of music. I believe that music can be that. And sometimes you’ve got to be careful not to shut the door before anyone gets a chance to hear what you're saying. If I have developed or changed at all, it's probably that I'm a little less obvious.

I need people to understand that I want to get the message out, but I don't want to scare the people I want to get the message to. That’s a very difficult situation. Everybody says that being a Christian artist is easy. That's easy. No. Being a true Christian artist to compete with the secular side of things as far as skill and quality of music is almost twice as hard because you have so many responsibilities with it. Have I developed? I hope so. I hope I'm getting more educated towards being able to bring across the message that doesn't chase people away before they get a chance to hear it.

You have called your new record, Go, a ‘declaration of movement’.  Why do you say that?

I feel that Jesus never sat on his laurels. He had a very important responsibility and He knew He only had so much time. He used those three years in an amazing way. He changed the world in three years. I think especially here in this country, we have a tendency to go to church as a refuge and praise God for it. But I don't think we're supposed to think in terms of refuge. I think in terms of anything else, the Bible and church is like a bootcamp to get us ready to go find out what God has in store for us as far as preaching the Gospel and fulfilling the Great Commission. So, my whole point is absolutely to go to church, absolutely read the Word, but there is a responsibility as we educate ourselves. It’s time to open the doors and go find out what God has for us. Go. Let's go forward and start being excited about what God has in store for us.

Would you say that this is the overarching theme of the new album?

Oh, absolutely. Just look at all the different songs. I want you to know that using three different producers was absolutely a God thing. It was like having three different camps or points of view, which is exactly what I wanted. When all was said and done all the songs came together. Granted there was one common denominator and that was me. They would say, ‘Well, what's so-and-so doing?’ I would respond, “Hey, don’t worry about it. Let's just do what we do.” And as we were writing the songs, I absolutely let my producers and co-writers sort of guide the direction of what they were feeling. It was just exciting to see how God directed it. And when all the songs were done, I sat down and I started putting together the set of songs that are on the album.

It's a set. It's always a set. I'm a front man, I have been all my life. One of my responsibilities is to make sure that the show has a momentum that's exciting and never boring or tiring. You put the slow songs where they need to be, the fast songs where they need to be, and you have what I call the ‘roller coaster of vibe’. That's very exciting. With this album, as I was putting the songs together, I'm saying to myself, “This is perfect.’ The themes go together well, and it flows well. To me it was God. It was God. Thank you. Thank you Lord for putting this thing together.

The Internet is a dangerous place. I was on your Wikipedia page last week and I discovered that you just turned 70.

That's a scary number.

Are you planning to slow down anytime soon or is it full throttle for the years ahead?

Oh, full throttle. It's got to be that way for me. As long as God gives me a voice. And so far He has, praise God. As long as I'm healthy, there is no such thing as retirement. So, let's go for it. Let's see where it takes us. You never work a day in the life if you are doing what you love and let's face it, I love what I do. I even love being on the road. I'm sort of a road warrior but I also love being at home. I love recording. I love writing which is something that's sort of new to me because my responsibility as I always thought for years and years was to be that front man who always delivered night after night.

Being in my seventies is no big deal to me. I confess though, every time a zero comes in my life. it's scary. After 70, along comes 80. At that point, I'm hoping that I can say the same thing. Let's go! But that's all in God's hands. We'll see where it takes us.

After people have listened to Go, what would you like to see audiences get out of the listening experience?  What is your greatest hope for the record?

Motivation. I want people to realize with all the doom and gloom that is around us at all times, that people just need to forget it. This is just one new stage for God's plan for the next amazing thing. I want this record to be a motivator. I want it to be exciting. This record is just a reminder that we have a responsibility as Christians. For non-Christians, I hope people love the music, love the words and will ask what it all means. I just know the Holy Spirit’s going to use it!  God put this album in my heart and I just know the music will work in amazing ways.

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About The Author


Chris Carpenter is the program director for, the official website of the Christian Broadcasting Network. He also serves as executive producer for myCBN Weekend, an Internet exclusive webcast show seen on In addition to his regular duties, Chris writes extensively for the website. Over the years, he has interviewed many notable entertainers, athletes, and politicians including Oscar winners Matthew McConaughy and Reese Witherspoon, evangelist Franklin Graham, author Max Lucado, Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy and former presidential hopefuls Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Mike