Jars of Clay may not have been the most famous group to perform at this summer’s Live 8 event in Philadelphia, but its members had a leg up on the other celebrities present: They actually knew what they were talking about when it came to Africa.
In fact, Jars of Clay may have been the only artists in attendance—aside from U2’s Bono—who run their own humanitarian organization. They were also the only band that makes its home on a contemporary Christian record label. And, unlikely as it may seem, these two distinctions are interrelated. According to lead singer Dan Haseltine, the Grammy Award-winning band’s commitment to social justice has always fueled both its music and its ministry—and vice versa. Now their synergy of faith and action has led to the creation of an agency called Blood:Water Mission, which works in Africa for relief of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
This is not what you might expect from a band with Jars of Clay’s pedigree. For more than a decade, Jars has been the most popular group in Christian music. Though not quite elder statesmen—the band’s four members are, after all, in their 30s—they are certainly among the industry’s leading men. But although its roots are in Nashville, the band has never been content to stay put. Throughout its career, Jars has quietly, determinedly upset the status quo of the evangelical subculture, challenging its inhabitants to think—and, subsequently, act—differently.