Trey Pearson found success at a young age, signing a contract with Christian label Flicker Records, based in Tennessee, after just one year of college.
His band, Everyday Sunday, would go on to record six albums and play thousands of concerts throughout the world.
He also got married and started a family, fathering a son and a daughter.
From the outside looking in, his life looked picture perfect. Yet there was something Pearson was keeping inside, unable to express.
In 2015, his life changed. As he told the congregation of Missiongathering Church in Charlotte, N.C. while in town to perform at Charlotte Pride, “a lot in my life came crashing down.
“I ended up coming to this place where I realized I needed to get help,” he said. “And through a lot of heartache, I ended up coming out to myself and to my family.”
Later, in the summer of last year, he decided to come out publicly, a brave move for anyone in the public eye, and in particular for someone in the Christian music world. Some speculated that it might mean the end of his career, and even he acknowledged that it might make things more difficult in that respect.
In September of 2016, those concerns were realized when his band was removed from the lineup of Christian music festival Joshua Fest when a number of staff members threatened to quit if Everyday Sunday was allowed to perform.
Pearson still found his way to the stage, however, when the band Five Iron Frenzy invited him to sing with them.
He has launched a solo career, once again showing that he is not going let anyone stop him from continuing to do what he loves and recently announced he is releasing a solo album, due out later this year. His first single, “Silver Horizon,” was released Feb. 10, and can be heard here.
Pearson spoke to qnotes via email about music, life and his recent foray into the political world.
Since your coming out, how have the Christian and Christian music community responded overall? Was the Joshua Fest cancellation the first notable setback?
I think it’s hard to say. A lot of people have been overwhelmingly supportive. There have been some really nasty people. But a lot of people just don’t talk, or they gossip and talk in circles where their beliefs are affirmed.
My point is, in the evangelical world where churches won’t affirm the obvious fact that it’s insane to be against someone being gay, it’s easier not to talk about it than look foolish trying to defend it. I’ve been there.
These churches want to tell gay people they are welcome there, but they’re looked at like second class citizens, as if there’s something wrong with them. They can’t be leaders in the church, they can’t get married, and silently people think somehow being their healthiest, truest self, that God looks down on them…and so do they. It’s difficult, and I do have compassion, because I have been there. I know what causes people to think so backwards, it’s extremely sad, and it’s destroying so many lives. It needs to change.
Joshua Fest was fine. I didn’t think they would invite me in the first place, and I was so excited when they asked if I would come. I think it just shows the complication and the weird things those silent people will do to try and keep you from speaking up.
How have reactions been since you were able to play with Five Iron Frenzy at the Joshua Fest after your band was dropped, and what did that mean to you?
Really positive, from so many people. Again, I think the people that may be upset about it are silent for the most part. It meant a ton, and I really do think it’s changing fast with younger people. Fifty years from now, young people will look at gay marriage like we look at black and white people drinking from different water fountains. They’re going to wonder what was wrong with us.
How has coming out affected your overall mental well-being? One imagines you feel freer and happier now.
Oh my goodness, it may be the most significantly healthy thing I have done in my life, where I have seen the drastic effects in my own well being, and my own health. To not only feel so free from this burden I’ve been carrying since I was a boy, but to be able to unpack so many things from my life, it has been the most therapeutic thing that I didn’t realize I would ever be able to feel.
That’s why it’s so important to change the way evangelical Christians handle this. I see what damage that thinking has done to my life, and I see the magnitude of what it has done to countless people. I feel a huge sense of urgency to helping be a part of the change because of how it has affected me.
You have said that you do not see a conflict between being in a loving, committed gay relationship and being a Christian. Are you currently single, dating?
I’m single. I’ve been on dates. Nothing more serious.
How did you end up getting involved working with a Clinton PAC? Have you always been political? What can you tell us about the work you did there and how you are feeling post-election?
I was working with For Our Future, which is a Super PAC.
They had seen my interview with CNN, and some of my thoughts on Donald Trump, and how that lines up with the politics of Jesus. Some of them knew my story, and they asked if I would be willing to help do what I could to campaign.
I’m sad that the majority of the country was turned down for who they voted for as president, in an electoral college that is out of date, and has obviously helped make it harder for minorities to have their votes count. But there’s still enough people that voted for Trump, that I think it’s important to try to figure out what made people willing to vote for a man that most of them don’t even like. Maybe those answers are good ones, and maybe they aren’t. Either way, I think it’s important.
Do you plan on doing more work along these lines in the future? What did it teach you?
Yeah, I definitely would be open to it. I really enjoyed it, and enjoyed talking to other Americans, all around the country, about our policies, and what matters to us as a whole community. I think one of the biggest things I learned was how little so many people, who vote, know about policies, and how they work.
Since you released your single from your upcoming album, can we expect to be able to sample some other cuts from the album?
The album is tentatively due in May. There will be another single or two before that though.
When did you start and end work on it, and who else is involved?
I have written almost all of it over the past year. The album is still being worked on. It is being mostly produced by “Oh, Hush!”, although we have other producers working with us as well.
What made you want to release a solo album, and what is the current state of Everyday Sunday?
It is just time for a fresh start. I’ve been doing Everyday Sunday since I was 16 years old. It is a season in my life of new beginnings, so this seemed like a good time to have a fresh slate for my music, with no pre-conceived notions on what it should be…Everyday Sunday is finished. I am just focused on my solo stuff now.
What can fans expect? Will it be very different from your work with Everyday Sunday, or similar?
I think this is a more well-rounded fusion of things that have influenced me throughout my life. It is definitely me knowing exactly what I want to do, and who I want to be right now, which is what matters the most to me.
Based on your Facebook post about the new album, it sounds as if you will be exploring themes related to your experience coming out and all that followed; is that accurate?
Yeah. Lyrically, I’ve had a lot to write about. It’s been a year of unpacking and processing a lot of things in my life. I feel like there has been a lot to explore, emotionally.
Listen to the new single below.