(RNS) — When former Christian rocker Trey Pearson came out as gay in 2016, he decided being fully himself was worth risking his 15-year music career with the band Everyday Sunday. Six years later, Pearson says his latest solo album, “Somebody You Knew,” is some of his best and most authentic music to date.
Released on Friday (July 1), Pearson’s eight-song album has already gained traction in the alternative music scene — this weekend, it was No. 21 on the iTunes Alternative chart. A rerelease of his song “Hey Jesus,” about the painful process of coming out, is also included on the album and features queer Christian artist Semler. The duo’s new version was promoted on Spotify’s New Music Friday Christian playlist.
“To get to subversively be in that space feels so redeeming and so beautiful,” Pearson told Religion News Service.
Pearson was just out of his freshman year of college when he signed on with a Christian record label. Everyday Sunday would go on to have an album on the Billboard 200, as well as the most-played Christian rock song of 2007. Pearson married a woman and had two children. But, after nearly eight years of marriage, he shared in a public letter that he and his wife would transition from marriage to friendship and co-parenting. Today, at 41, he is in a happy relationship with his boyfriend of over two years.
His first full album since 2017, “Somebody You Knew” is a rebirth of sorts for Pearson. It captures both the heartache of losing a community that promised unconditional love and the transcendent joy of real belonging. RNS spoke with Pearson about his departure from the contemporary Christian music world, reconnecting with his mother after she was injured in a tragic car accident that killed his father, and the stories behind his newest songs.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What was the inspiration for the new album?
When I came out in 2016, I’d gone my whole life trying to be something I couldn’t. There was this huge part of my life I just kept trying to push down. When I finally accepted myself, something came to the surface and burst out. These last handful of years I was finally experiencing life in a new, authentic way. I’ve been writing about those experiences with a lot of joy and hope, but also heartache. I’ve lost a lot of people in my life. As I was putting the album together, I realized it has this journey from heartbreak to hope.
Some songs sound like they could be about both a human relationship, and about a relationship with God or the church. Is that intentional?
“Can’t Go Back” is about my relationship with evangelical church people, people who told me they still loved me, but then the phone stopped ringing. They didn’t want to be in my life anymore. They didn’t actually love me in a way that was real and active.