In spending time with guitar virtuoso and worship rocker guitar Paul Colman this year I have come to appreciate his honesty and the fact that he can be in your face with his opinions and yet never offend you. It has also become apparent that there are three passions in this man’s life, serving God, loving his family and music.
His good buddy fellow Aussie Reuben Morgan (Rocketown Records / Hillsongs) describes Colman as, “the most authentic person that I know.”
Colman whose family moved to The Land Down Under when he was seven years old possesses that great Australian charm that instantly makes you feel as though you are one of his mates.
Paul Cameron, Executive Director and General Manager of Christian Family Radio commented after attending a Paul Colman concert, “He kept the audience on his every word and was playful as a kid in a sandbox. His musical ability was just as fantastic.”
He uses humor to make his points such as when he was sharing with me how much he loves his wife Rebecca and his two daughters, “I say to Rebecca if you ever leave me can I go too.” Make no mistake about it even though he is a gifted musician, songwriter and vocalist his music career will always be secondary to the love he has for his family. As Colman says, “My testimony comes from my marriage. It comes from the fidelity. It comes from the commitment.”
It was his desire to spend more time with his family and to exercise more creative freedom that led Colman to disband the Paul Colman Trio in 2004. The group whose members also included bassist Grant Norsworthy and drummer Phil Gaudion parted ways amiably after a brief but chart stopping career.
Colman says, “I don’t think anything yet has replaced the onstage vibe that the trio had because we just had chemistry. It was great.” Colman however is quick to point out the benefits of being a solo performer far outweighs being in the band.
“It’s brutal being married to a touring musician. It’s a brutal life”, he says. He talks about the obligation you have to other band members when you are a part of a group and how it would have denied him an opportunity he enjoyed earlier this year. Although a concert had been scheduled for the same day as his daughter Katherine’s 3rd birthday he told his management team to cancel the concert so he could fly home to spend time with his daughter, wife Rebecca and their one year old Elizabeth.
He speaks about his decision to cancel that concert and fly home, “I flew off this tour just to have half a day more, six more hours with my family. Some people think that is ridiculous but when they can come to the airport, throw their arms around you or you go to the park (with them), put them to bed with a bed time story and then can be there when they wake up — you just can’t get that back. Now I can afford to do that.” Colman says as a band you have an obligation to the other band members because if you cancel a date they take the hit financially. Now the only one whose pocket book is affected is his own.
Paul Colman is a deeply sensitive man whose face mirrors sadness when he recounts the lives of nine different individuals he has known that have committed suicide. His angst over the twenty or so friends that have gone through divorce led him to pen the song As Long As You Come Home from the album Let It Go. The song was birthed out of sadness that a close friend’s marriage was crumbling.
It also became apparent to Colman as it does with a lot of artists that he wanted the creative freedom that comes with being a solo artist. “I can change the set if I want without telling anybody else because my passion in life is not music. My passion is communicating with people in the spirit of Jesus. That’s my passion, whether they are believers or not. My passion is communicating and connecting with people in the spirit of Jesus of Nazareth. That’s my passion. My passion is not doing that in one way.”
Creating the song Gloria (All God’s Children) which was a monster hit both in North America and Australia was a result of this new found freedom to pull in other writers to co-write the song. In total four people contributed to the success of Gloria including fellow Aussies Reuben Morgan a prolific songwriter in his own right and Newsboys’ frontman Peter Furler.
Creating the song came from Colman’s desire to put his own stamp on worship. He said he was finding more frequently towards the end of his concerts he had a desire to lead his fans in corporate worship but he was playing other people’s music.
He is also nonchalant when you remind him the song was a huge success, “I guess it was”, says the man who has five number one hits to his credit. He believes Gloria is a song God placed in his heart and it just happened to coincide with the fashionable trend in Christian radio. “Someone decided this is the flavor of the day and this is what people will listen to.” He also wants you to know, “Gloria is successful because it is a hit song but I couldn’t make it a hit song on my own.”
It is Paul Colman’s humility, generosity and in your face honesty that has endeared him to so many people. Jan O. of Green Bay’s legendary Cup O’ Joy commented on a recent Colman appearance and why he has been invited back this September, “He sang his heart out, gave his all and held nothing back. Then he spoke with every person who wanted to meet him.”
I asked him if he had to pick one important thing that he and his wife Rebecca could teach their two daughters and he replied, “If you love each other, your children will be secure. The only way we can love each other is by loving God first. My feeling is if I do that my children will know that they are loved.”
Copyright © 2005 Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved. This material may not be redistributed without prior written permission from Joe Montague.
Joe Montague is an internationally published freelance journalist / photographer.