Mixing blues, gospel, and country, songwriter J. Dewveall has sought to use his talents to tackle important issues deeply rooted in our country and the world at large.
Originally from Houston Texas, Jonathon Dewveall has called Nashville home for the last 14 years. In that time, he’s focused his career on talking about the existential crises facing people every day. Originally in a duo with his wife Melanie, Dewveall’s career stretches back to 2008 with the release of their album, The Water. Even during this time his music was ripe with messages of social justice, faith, and mental health. The project went on to release a single and an EP before Dewveall decided to pursue a solo career.
Now under the moniker J. Dewveall, the singer-songwriter has released two more singles. The first, which dropped on February 18th, was the song “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)” which looks at the overabundance of sad music in people’s lives.
His newest single however, takes a hard look at one of America’s most pressing issues. Released on April 22nd of this year, “Slave Owner’s Gospel,” portrays a unique perspective on slavery and the lingering effects it has had on Black Americans to this day.
The track starts with bluesy ominous distorted guitars and pounding drums, marching us into the weight of the topic ahead. Dewveall sings from the perspective of a racist priest, telling the slaves they were brought to America to learn the lessons of Jesus Christ. “It was God’s great providence that brought your soul to me / So you could know the truth of Jesus Christ the risen king / And you’ll go to heaven when you’re done working for me.”
The lyrics are haunting, showing the true evils that can occur when people bend religion for personal gain. Along with the song, there’s an incredibly powerful animated music video that bolsters the song’s message tenfold. The video, directed and animated by Nathan Morrow, depicts the evolution of the original priests justifying slavery, to radio preachers justifying Jim Crow racism, to modern day systematic racism and police brutality.
The end of the song cuts to a different perspective, using the bible to uplift people dealing with the brutal racism they face every day; an inspiring way to send a message of redemption by using the same text as a tool rather than a weapon. Dewveall offers an incredibly important sentiment that grows stronger every year injustice continues to exist in our country.
It’s no easy feat to approach and execute a song of this nature , but J. Dewveall does a damn good job.
Dewveall also hosts monthly online Zoom conversations about difficult topics like racism, religion, politics, and more in a series he calls IN THE CORNER.