It's no wonder that singer, composer and keyboardist, Tim Juillet, lives in a town called Surprise. His life has taken a few surprising turns on his way to releasing his recent debut album, "Give Me Words."
"I asked God to give me words that would change hearts," Juillet explains his album title to ChristianMusic.com. "I prayed that people would come to Christ through the messages God gave me in these songs."
Though raised his whole life in the church by very spiritual parents and committing himself to Christ before he was a teen, Juillet only recently turned his musical talents to Gospel.
"I was raised in a Catholic church until the age of 11. My parents started watching Jimmy Swaggart and they started to realize the importance of a personal relationship with Christ," Juillet says. "Our family left the Catholic church in 1983, and wound up finding Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa. I am so blessed to have two parents who love the Lord."
Tim was very involved in music in high school. "The normal music and theater productions, choir, etc. I enjoyed playing bass guitar in jazz band, singing the National Anthem at our basketball games..."
Majoring in music and vocal performance at Chapman University in Orange County, California, Juillet trained to become an opera singer and performed for several groups in L.A. Unhappy with that career, he took time off from singing. Then when his wife Nichole got sick with cancer, he returned to his spiritual roots for comfort and guidance.
"My song, ‘Better Days' is a prayer I wrote for my wife, Nichole, as she was recovering from a cancer surgery in 2006," Juillet reveals. "She has a long history of battling different skin cancers. She is now an 18-year cancer survivor!"
Juillet began to study songwriting with Patrick Andrew, a popular Christian artist formerly with the group PFR. "I was classically trained in college, so I didn't see the need to write," he explains. "Opera singers rarely sing new compositions. It is all about singing Mozart, Puccini, etc. I am so amazed at the passion I now feel for songwriting. I'm surprised it took me so long to realize it."
As a tough mentor, Andrew demanded a lot from Juillet. Though he had penned several songs, Andrew thought only "Better Days" was worthy to record. They had a set recording date, with Andrew as the producer, so Juillet had only two months to write the rest of a whole album's worth of songs.
"I asked God to send down his most gifted angels to help guide me as I wrote my songs," Juillet says. "I would wake up in the morning, and I would hear the melodies as if angels were there singing loudly. It was like a huge angelic choir many mornings waking me up."
Along with the angels, producer Andrew guided the passionate Juillet in both his writing and his singing, encouraging him to shed the operatic voice for a more accessible range. He also lost something else.
"I was at such a high weight, I couldn't walk for 20 yards without being completely out of breath. In early 2006, I began writing songs," he explains," and that's when God began to renew me. After agreeing to record this project, the pounds began to drop. I lost about 100 pounds over the course of one year."
- Julie Carr and Nate Lee for ChristianMusic.com