It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
-E.E. Cummings, 20th century American poet
It sounds easy enough, but make no mistake: being your best, most real self takes more bravery than just anyone can muster. Maybe that’s why so few people become their authentic selves. The courage to let go of others’ expectations, to stop believing what society says about you is almost impossible…apart from supernatural intervention.
Introducing 21-year-old Nate Huss, a Phoenix, Arizona-native and the youngest of eight adopted children in a ‘united nations family.’ A young man of incredible talent who has surpassed all expectation—even his own—to discover who he really is: a child of God, accepted and unconditionally loved.
Here With Me, Nate’s Slanted Records’ debut, reflects his personal journey to self-discovery, a maturity and self-assurance well beyond his age and a confidence firmly rooted in the knowledge that God’s hand is on his shoulder.
Growing up in a most unconventional family, with brothers and sisters of every race and personality imaginable, Nate’s parents taught by example the importance of standing together but thinking for your self. “I was three weeks old when my parents brought me home, and from the beginning, it wasn’t hard to tell that I was adopted,” Nate says. “When you have a Korean sister, a black brother, a Mexican brother and two white brothers, you just know.”
Back then, he says, adoption wasn’t a cool, celebrity thing. “We were not paraded around like trophies. Our parents were normal, hardworking people, and we were their children. We didn’t share any blood characteristics; we were complete strangers with 100unconditional love for each other. We challenged each other to think and to grow and be better people. My parents were always very open with us, and we were always encouraged to ask questions and search for the truth. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s.”
It was as a student at Northern Arizona University in 2004 that Nate began to develop his singer/songwriter chops, playing just about anywhere on and off campus that would have him—dorm lobbies, coffee shops, churches, student union. “I didn’t have any illusions,” he says of his early efforts. “I was always told, ‘Don’t put your heart in the music business because good singers are a dime a dozen,’ so I never looked at it as anything but a passionate hobby, something to do on the side. I just loved music, so I was going to play anywhere they’d let me.”
Nate’s brother Dan encouraged him to put his money where his passion was and enter the American Christian Music Showcase competition near Los Angeles. He gathered up the courage and entered, but didn’t place. Still, on the way out, one of the judges, Aaron Rice, encouraged Nate to work on his music and enter the 2005 Gospel Music Association’s Music in the Rockies vocal competition three months later. Advice he took to heart.
“I didn’t have high expectations. I just wanted to hear what professionals had to say so I would know how to improve. When I won, no one was more shocked than I was. I was just floored.”
When the shock subsided, the reality set in. God had opened the door for Nate’s ‘little hobby with a lot of passion’ to become a full-on music career. Within a matter of months Nate was headed to Nashville, where he now resides, to get the ball rolling. Come May 1st, listeners ‘round the country will get to hear what makes Nate Huss uniquely, individually worth noting.
Produced by Jamie Moore (Aeisha Woods, TobyMac, Falling Up, Nicole C. Mullen), Here With Me charts a brave pop-rock course somewhere between the emotive music of Jeremy Camp and the innovative sounds of the David Crowder Band, both of whom Nate considers influential. Still, he says, “Your first album is your first and sometimes last impression, so I wanted it to be a reflection of my own life and musical style, first and foremost. I’ve played a lot of acoustic sets because that’s what you do when you’re a singer with a guitar, but I’ve always been more of a rock-head.”
But the songwriting process that grew into the album wasn’t an easy road for this rock-head. Separated from his close-knit family, living in a basement apartment in a town he knew nothing about, Nate struggled to find his own voice.
“When I came to Nashville,” he says, “I felt like I had a lot to prove, and in a lot of ways, I set out to do just that. So I started stripping away who I was to try to be who I thought people wanted me to be.”
But his writing partner and friend—and former competition judge—Aaron Rice set him straight. “One day we were sitting in the writing room in the studio and Aaron said, ‘You need to stop worrying. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have what it takes, so just be yourself. Write who you are. Write you.’” Nate says.
And write he did, on every song but two on Here with Me.
The first single “You Still Know my Name” is a powerful reflection on Nate’s personal story of rescue and redemption through adoption. “Being adopted into a family of eight children, going to a private school, playing sports, living in a big city, it’s easy to feel like you’re another number, a blah on the sidewalk,” Nate says. “For me, realizing that God knew exactly who I was going to be before I was created absolutely floors me. To think that God had this whole plan laid out for me, as lame as I can be, as someone who messes up on a daily basis, is mind-blowing. He really does love me, regardless.”
That sense of confidence in God’s purpose and plan echoes throughout every song on Here With Me, from the energetic opener, “Spotlight” to the closing pseudo-hidden track, “Your Own,” a song thanking his birth-mother for the gift of life.
“We’re so conditioned, wanting to be what everyone expects us to be—as Christians, as friends, as a brother—we’re always trying to please someone,” Nate says in explanation of the album’s core. “There comes a point when we have to realize that if we are living our lives to the fullest for God and we are allowing him to live through us, we are perfectly fine…just as we are. No matter what we go through, no matter how hard life gets, He knows our names. And He’s always here with us, guiding us. From the first song to the last, that’s the truth we’ve tried to hit on this record. That’s the truth I lean on every day.”
In all these songs, there’s a natural transparency that is rare in one so young. But for Nate, the music and the story are inextricable. “I don’t want to be another artist who writes songs but nobody knows who I am,” he says emphatically. “I really want people to know where I came from, what my story is and how God brought me to this place in my life. That connection is very important to me.”