MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Friday, October 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. In the late 1990s, a group of students started making music together on a college campus in South Alabama.
And like many other brand new contemporary Christian bands, the members struggled with what to call themselves.
WORLD Radio’s Myrna Brown has the story behind the name, “Big Daddy Weave.”
MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: In 1998, singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Mike Weaver studied music at a small, private college in Alabama.
WEAVER: And a great sax player, Joe Shirk was in my music theory class and I showed him some songs and said I really would like for us to play music together.
They added a drummer and a bass player and began jamming on the campus of the University of Mobile.
WEAVER: Somebody wandered by 15 minutes into that first jam session and they were like, you need to come and open up for this group across campus.
The new band had its first gig, but no name.
WEAVER: And then they asked us the question that has haunted us ever since: What do you call your group? And at that point, we could have said anything. They were just looking for a name for the flyer. But we were trying to be cute about it and we said, hey we’re Big Daddy Weave.
“Big Daddy” was Mike Weaver’s nickname, a tool he used to make people laugh and make fun of himself.
WEAVER: But I also would use it as kind of a shield because of my weight and because of my size and actually because of a huge amount of insecurity in my life. Never feeling good enough because of the way that I looked.
As the band began releasing albums and touring under the name Big Daddy Weave, Weaver was often embarrassed and frustrated by the motivation behind the name—his ample girth. In 2009, he decided to go public with his private struggle with weight.
WEAVER: I had a friend in 2008 who did this weight loss challenge and he lost 80 pounds in 2008. And I said, well, if you did that, I’m gonna up you by 10 pounds. And so we’re going to lose 90 pounds in 2009.
With help from doctors and trainers, Weaver says he had one goal: to look different.
WEAVER: Got all the way to the end of the year and had got on the scale and at the end of 2009, had lost 84 pounds, which was amazing. That’s like losing a middle schooler off your body.
But for Weaver, missing the park by six pounds still wasn’t good enough. And in his mind, neither was he.
WEAVER: I could not see any of the good and I just hated myself.
He began spiraling backwards.
WEAVER: I put all the weight back on plus exactly six pounds more. I was punishing myself for missing the goal by six pounds. It was crazy. And then there was this day when I was sitting in my garage.
Consumed with self-loathing, Weaver retreated to the very space dedicated to his physical transformation.
WEAVER: And Jesus intervened and just said, Michael, you need to let me tell you what I think about you for once. And he says, I like the way you smile. And Myrna, at that moment, I could see it. When I looked at pictures of me, I like the way that I smiled, too.
SONG: [REDEEMED introduction]
After that revelation, another reminder that changed Weaver from the inside out.
SONG: [REDEEMED I am redeemed. You set me free]
WEAVER: That day in the garage that little melody began to form in my mind. I am redeemed. And it kind of just lived there for a little while.
Weaver finally put those powerful words to paper. He asked a friend to help him finish the song, that was never intended to become part of a playlist.
WEAVER: A month later he called me and was like, did you ever show anybody Redeemed? I was like no, I just really felt like that was for me. And he goes, man we’ve been playing it. God’s been using here at our church.
In 2012, the Nashville-based musician added “Redeemed” to Big Daddy Weave’s “Love Come to Life” Album. In 2013 it was named Song of the Year.
WEAVER: We got up to give this acceptance speech and then man the enemy was just hitting me with how stupid I must have sounded and looked that entire time. I hated myself worse than I can remember even before.
Then Weaver says he felt the Lord leading him to face his insecurity head on.
WEAVER: And I was like, God you know I’d rather do anything else in the world than watching that acceptance speech. And I watched the acceptance speech and there was nothing wrong with it. And then I got mad at myself and started hating myself for hating myself over the last week (laughter). And then the Lord just spoke so clearly and He said, you need to realize what took you a week, used to take you three months.
Today while Weaver pays more attention to diet and exercise, he is no longer hiding under the shadow of a nickname or measuring his worth by numbers on a scale.
WEAVER: I’m not defined by the way that I look. I’ve been up in my weight and down in my weight and up in my weight and all of those things. But the truth is though, the constant in that story is God’s love for me.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Myrna Brown.