Warren's roots are in North Carolina, where his father was a preacher and his family served as the worship team at church. His father played the drums, his mother played piano and his two sisters would sing while one played the tambourine. Warren remembers wanting to play the drums at the age of six. ¡§I had to beg my dad to play drums because he played. Finally, he let me do it. That was the first thing, then guitar happened later.¡¨
Drums and guitar aren¡¦t the only instruments Warren has played. He has also tried trombone, baritone, piano, harmonica, mandolin, bass guitar, banjo and other string instruments. ¡§I¡¦ve dabbled in a lot of stuff, but guitar has been the only thing I keep coming back to. Any instrument I could get my hands on, I tried to play it. But guitar was the thing I stuck with the most¡Xthankfully.¡¨ Prompting chuckles, he lightheartedly added, ¡§I don¡¦t know how well harmonica would have worked out.¡¨
Warren quit college in his freshman year to go out on the road. (Although he prefers the phrase "took a different path.¡¨) Even with the exhausting touring schedule, Warren could not imagine doing anything but pursuing music. If he hadn¡¦t pursued performing, he admits, ¡§I¡¦d probably be sitting in a corner somewhere crying. I was miserable in college.¡¨ He goes on to clarify, ¡§I don¡¦t mean to say I was miserable in college¡XI was miserable doing something other than what my heart wanted me to do. I wanted to be out playing music because that¡¦s what my heart wanted to do. I couldn¡¦t settle for anything else.
¡§Being in college, going through the motions of that, I was dying. I thought, ¡¥What does this profit me? If I die in a car accident tomorrow, what have I accomplished? Oh, great, I got a great average or a great score on the last exam¡Kbut who have I told about Christ?¡¦ Some people could have stood in that same spot and ministered there and felt full, complete. But I couldn¡¦t. I would sit in my dorm room all day long and try to figure out a way to get the courage to just go out on the road. I finally did it. I just said, ¡¥You know what, I¡¦m just going to go. It¡¦s not going to be easy, but I¡¦m going to do it.¡¦ And that¡¦s what I did.¡¨
A car accident that nearly killed him when he was fifteen, along with another accident where a woman was actually killed, helped him grasp the fragility of earthly existence and the importance of eternity. This realization brought him into a personal relationship with Christ that surpassed what he had grown up knowing as ¡§church.¡¨ Out of this turning point came his passion for sharing his music with people. ¡§I wanted to figure out a way to share with people and, being a shy person, I didn¡¦t know how to do that. Music became the way for me to share my heart, my hope.¡¨
In the beginning, Warren traveled across the U.S. with just himself, his car and his guitar. I inquired about his favorite memories from that experience. ¡§I don¡¦t know, I think just the whole thing, together¡K¡¨ Warren¡¦s wife, Megan, caught his attention and triggered a grin. ¡§Oh, my wife¡¦s back there raising her hand. I met her through that time of traveling.
¡§I think the whole thing¡Xthe whole process. There were times when it was terrible, and there were times when it was the greatest thing in the world. I¡¦ve learned so much in the process just about being committed to something and not giving up. Even when it was tough, I kept going. I didn¡¦t have anyone helping me out. I learned that you just gotta do things in life. Don¡¦t wait for anybody, just do it.
¡§And I met my wife. I met my wife toward the end of it, so if I didn¡¦t pull from the experience just staying committed to something, I never would have met her because I would have given up years before. We¡¦re talking being on the road probably four years full-time before it lead me to Ohio. There was a lot of times I wanted to give up before that.¡¨
His travels have taken him as far as Mexico and Russia as well. ¡§The Mexico trip came out of this time of wanting to get away from the hectic schedule and the priorities I had made out of life that weren't all that important. I was traveling non-stop, just me and my guitar. The week before that I had driven eight hours to one concert then turned around and drove eight hours to another place. Then I turned around and drove thirteen hours to another place, got there, did that concert, then got up, got on a plane and flew somewhere else. I got up that morning and did a concert, rented a car, went to another concert, got on an airplane and flew to the other place and did another concert. Everyday I was somewhere else and having to drive all by myself and do all the transportation by myself made me really wiped out. Some friends of mine in Tennessee were going on this mission trip and I thought, ¡¥Man, I just want to get away from everything I¡¦m doing. I just want to get away and go somewhere else and get a perspective on life.¡¦ So I joined in on that.
¡§I think it was a God-ordained time for me to get away and see a whole other culture. It was one of the biggest times in my life where I really believed in God. Just seeing people on the street that I couldn¡¦t communicate with, who spoke a different language than me.
¡§There was one night when we were ministering on the street and this gang was watching us off to the side. We can¡¦t talk, we can¡¦t speak. I¡¦m standing there in my khakis and a polo and he¡¦s ripped with no shirt on, chains all around his neck. He comes up to me and stands in front of me and starts crying. At that moment I thought, ¡¥God is so much bigger than anything I ever could make him.¡¦¡¨
The trip to Russia came from different circumstances. ¡§There were some friends of mine in the church I¡¦m affiliated with doing a youth conference over there. A friend of mine from Germany was the one heading it up and he invited me to come do the music at it, so I went. That was a different kind of experience. I completely went to that to do music. Mexico, I went to kind of get away from music.¡¨
During his time as an independent artist, Warren opened for artists such as Crystal Lewis, Clear, Anointed, Russ Lee and Scott Krippayne. A promoter gave Scott Krippayne a copy of Warren¡¦s songs, which lead to Scott flying Warren to Nashville, which lead to a record deal. Being thrust into the CCM industry has presented challenges for Warren that he didn¡¦t have to face being an independent. ¡§You expose your soul when you write. You expose your heart, then CCM takes it and puts it on a chart. I don¡¦t do this so someone can rank me and tell me if I¡¦m selling enough records or if my song¡¦s a number one hit. I do this because there¡¦s a message in it and I want to share that with somebody.¡¨
But staying grounded despite his success is one thing that hasn¡¦t been a challenge. ¡§In my life, what little success I get grounds me. The more success I get, the more I have to have people around me to convince me that I¡¦m doing a good thing, because I start to think, 'This is really nothing. This is really worthless¡Xwhat I¡¦ve accomplished.' You could get a song in the top five and so what? There¡¦s someone who has a number one. And so what? Even the person who has a number one in the Christian genre¡Xthere¡¦s someone in the mainstream genre who got a number forty on the mainstream chart who stomped you¡Xwho¡¦s got so many more people hearing them with a number forty than you with a number one. You look at that person in the mainstream who has a number one and look at all the people they reached with that song and you think in ten years nobody will remember it. So the more success you get¡Xif you stop to look at it¡Xit magnifies how pointless it is.
¡§But you know, if one person comes up to my table and we shake hands and they say, ¡¥I really enjoyed your music,¡¦ and I just kind of sign their CD and go on to the next person and that person walks out of the room tonight and shares the hope that they found in Christ with someone else, that¡¦s success. I¡¦ll never know about it. That beats everything else up. That takes all the top five singles and all the record sales and all that mess and makes it pointless. It¡¦s worthless. The only success is that one person whose life was changed. Which, I¡¦ll never know about that. They¡¦ll send me an e-mail and I¡¦ll think, ¡¥Oh, they¡¦re trying to be nice.¡¦¡¨