In the fall of 2003, The Perrys introduced a 17-year-old Joseph Habedank to 20,000 Southern Gospel fans at the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Ohio native walked onto the stage as the group’s newest baritone and wowed the crowd with a voice that nobody in the audience expected to come from a teenager. He would go on to have a successful ten-year run with the group, performing in venues such as the Brooklyn Tabernacle, Charles Stanley’s First Baptist Atlanta, The Grand Ole Opry, and the historic Ryman Auditorium.
It kind of raised the accountability for me as a recovering prescription drug addict. So certainly the worst thing that ever happened to me, God made the best thing that ever happened to me. He has an amazing way of doing that, and I’m really grateful.
During that time, he was awarded Young Artist of the Year in 2009 by the fans of Gospel Music and Songwriter of the Year at the Absolutely Gospel Music Awards in 2011. He eventually transitioned to become the Perrys’ Lead Singer.
But his time with the group drew to a close after he became addicted to prescription pain medicine. “I got hooked on it,” he said after developing an ulcer on his throat, and he struggled with the addiction off and on for around five years. You can hear his unique and powerful testimony as he told it to Lauren Green of FoxNews.com’s Spirited Debate HERE.
On November 15, 2018, Joseph celebrated 2,000 days free from prescription pain medicine. We caught up with him that evening at The Joneses Sing Praise 2018 concert at Ohio Christian University.
“I certainly give the Lord all the glory and praise for that, what He’s done in my life, and what He continues to do through our ministry because now we get to help other people,” he said. Those in his audience may not admit they’re struggling, but they have people in their family who are. “I’m able to share my story and encourage them that what God did for me, he can do for them and their family members, and I’m just so privileged and honored that God would allow me to share my testimony.”
Telling his story has helped him on his path to overcome this huge challenge in his life. “It was pretty evident early on in my solo ministry that this was going to be a big part of what I do, and I was ok with that,” he said. “It kind of raised the accountability for me as a recovering prescription drug addict. So certainly the worst thing that ever happened to me, God made the best thing that ever happened to me. He has an amazing way of doing that, and I’m really grateful.”
Following a time of healing and restoration, he burst back onto the Southern Gospel scene as a solo artist. On the heels of his critically-acclaimed debut solo release, Welcome Home, he was awarded Singing News Magazine’s New Soloist of the Year in 2014. Welcome Home featured two Top 5 singles (“Never No Never” and “Beauty of the Blood”), as well as two Top 10 singles (“Big Enough” and “Welcome Home”).
Today at age 33 (the age of Jesus, he notes) the Daywind recording artist has been named Favorite Southern Gospel Soloist by the fans of Singing News for the past two straight years. He has also received a Grammy nomination, which he didn’t win, “but it was neat to go,” he said, noting that a “starving artist named Reba McEntire beat me.” He has also been nominated for a Dove Award five times, winning in 2017 with Best Southern Gospel Album of the Year for Resurrection.
I can still remember it pretty vividly—the explanations and illustrations that he made that night to introduce me to Jesus—it was the best day of my life.
“God took what was broken in my life and fixed it and used it,” he said. “Only God could do that.”
Today he lives with his wife Lindsay just outside of Nashville, but he is still an Ohio State fan and lists Skyline Chili as his favorite food. Born in Painesville on the north edge of the state, he grew up in Xenia. He was only four years old when his “papaw,” a preacher, led him to Christ in the neighboring town of Beavercreek.
“I can still remember it pretty vividly—the explanations and illustrations that he made that night to introduce me to Jesus—it was the best day of my life,” he said. “I’ve spent the rest of my life singing about Him, writing about Him, and it’s the greatest privilege I’ve ever had to be a Christian and be able to sing about Jesus.”
When Joseph is on the road, Lindsay travels with him full time as his road manager and sound engineer, and she runs his office when they are home. She has also sung with him on his last three projects, including his latest, Hymns with Friends: Duets for Quiet Reflection, which he said is the first duets album done in the Southern Gospel genre since Vestal Goodman did it in the 1990s. Others featured on the project include Bill Gaither, Connie Hopper, The Erwins, Wes Hampton, Charlotte Ritchie, Brooklyn Collingsworth Blair, Jim Brady, Scotty Inman, and Libbi Perry Stuffle.
And he is now working on a new original material album which has yet to be named. “I’ve probably written 50 songs for this album, and I’m recording ten of them,” he said. “These new songs are the greatest songs I’ve ever been able to be a part of, and I’m excited to share them with people.”
That says a lot for the co-writer of “If You Knew Him,” which turned ten years old in October 2018. The song, which he wrote with Greater Vision’s Rodney Griffin, was nominated for Southern Gospel Song of the Year at the GMA Dove Awards and won the Singing News Fan Award for Song of the Year. “It’s pretty amazing what God has done with that song,” he said. “A song can change everything. It can change your life, your ministry, your career—that song changed a lot of things for me in a good way.”
His works have also been recorded by such artists as Reba McEntire, The Booth Brothers, Brian Free & Assurance, Karen Peck & New River, The Hoppers, Ivan Parker, Jeff & Sheri Easter, and many more.