The road to success is simple for Christian music pioneer John Michael Talbot. "I just pray and if God asks me, I make music."
With 55 spiritual albums to his name, Talbot is recognized as Catholic music's most popular artist, but his work extends far beyond just music.
"I'm always doing something," says Talbot, who published his 26th book in 2016. Talbot enjoys writing, but says music is his "primary calling."
"Most often, my books are longer descriptions of the inspirations behind my songs."
After dropping out of school at 15, Talbot began playing guitar with folk-rock band Mason Proffit. Talbot says the band taught him about the meaning of music and community.
"Some of the band members argued intensely, yet the show always went on." Talbot says the same thing is true in monastic communities and ministry teams. "Sometimes people with radically different personalities must learn how to get along with each other and do the greater work for Christ and the church."
Talbot's most recent album was written when he felt the time for words was over. "The Inner Room" is a result of Talbot's deep prayer and silence in the hermitage.
"People in our culture tend to talk at, or past each other, but very little communication occurs. Only prayer can really change our culture. Beginning not with others, but with ourselves."
After Mason Proffit, Talbot embarked on a spiritual journey that led him into the Christian music scene. Talbot became a Roman Catholic in 1978 and founded the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, an "integrated monastic community" of celibate brothers and sisters, in 1980. He started his own music label in 1992.
Talbot's songs were the first written by a Catholic artist to cross boundaries and gain acceptance by Protestant listeners.
Over the years, Talbot has been honored with multiple awards recognizing his many humanitarian efforts. Talbot says he was "touched" when he received the prestigious Mother Teresa award in 2005, but hasn't kept many of the awards. "I'm appreciative that I'm appreciated," Talbot says.
After a fire at Little Portion Hermitage in 2008, Talbot took his music to parishes around the country to raise money to rebuild his monastery.
Talbot says he is humbled by listeners who refer to his music as "the soundtrack of their spiritual journey." "Music takes us back to very special times in our lives, I think that's especially true with spiritual music. I'm always a bit stunned at how God works through such meager and simple efforts on my part."
Talbot hopes his listeners will take the time to really listen to music and to each other. "Nowadays we are bombarded with information and sound, but there is little real communication and soul-touching in art."
Talbot says his traveling "prayer experience" will be an evening of music and ministry. He will play music from the beginning of his music career up to the most current recordings, "with some stories and meditations sprinkled in."
John Michael Talbot will perform his 2017 concert tour "A Lifetime of Music & Ministry," at 7 p.m. on June 4 at St. Michael Catholic Church, 2223 Indian Hills. Tickets are $30 for general admission and $50 for a VIP experience. For additional information, visit johnmichaeltalbot.com.