Despite being in the music business his whole life, Joe Richard said he never anticipated that his songs will be broadcast by radio stations around the world. The Butler resident and Christian singer’s two singles, “The Spirit Within” and “Rise Up,” became the most-downloaded songs on Radio Music DJ on March 12 and 13.

The website offers Christian/gospel music to radio stations all over the world.Richard said the experience was surprising and crazy.

“There’s people on the other side of the world listening to my stuff, and maybe being touched by the spirit of the Lord through my music. That’s amazing,” he said.

Locally known as Joe Smith, his real name, Richard owns many businesses in Mansfield, including Second Hand Music, a music store on Olivesburg Road. He grew up in writing songs for generations and started to create his own music at age five.

Richard said he has played country music since he was a boy. He also went into Blues with The Jimi Vincent Band for 10 years as a drummer.
“The Spirit Within” is the Joe Richard’s first Christian song submitted. He wanted to write a song about Jesus immediately after becoming a Christian in 2001, which he said has forever changed his life.
“I was praying and I said, ‘Lord, I’d like to write about you, and I couldn’t get anything,’ ” he said of how he started with gospel music.“One day, I heard that still small voice say, ‘How do you write about somebody you don’t know about?’ ”

He started studying the Bible more thoroughly and paid much more attention to the preaching. Then the inspiration came one day when he was on the road. He sang the song right away to a voice recorder on his cell phone. On getting back home, he grabbed a guitar and finished “The Spirit Within,” his first Christian song.

Over the past 20 years, Richard has converted the Scriptures into original Christian country music. He has written almost 50 songs about Jesus. Many of them include his transition from the old and disappointing life to the new one with hope.

Richard said his music is his “song ministry.”

“A lot of people have to listen to a preacher to get the word of the Lord. My songs are all written about Scriptures in the Bible. So, it’s another way to hear the Bible without reading it,” he said.


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