Interview: MercyMe’s Bart Millard Dishes on His Upcoming Movie & DFW Concert


Greenville native, Bart Millard, has found himself thrust in the spotlight since his song “I Can Only Imagine” hit the charts in 1999. It did not take long after that for his band, MercyMe, to explode onto the Contemporary Christian Music scene. The song is considered to be one of the top Christian radio songs of all time. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Bart about his background, fame, and upcoming tour stop here in DFW.

In addition to the band’s two Grammy nominations this past year, the movie “I Can Only Imagine” is set to hit theatres in March. The movie starring Dennis Quaid, Trace Adkins, and others depicts Bart’s background and inspiration behind the famous single. He and the band may be enjoying fame now but it was struggles and heartache that got them to this point. Even he still finds it hard to believe how much has changed since he grew up in DFW.

"I would say it’s surreal. It’s a little odd (to have my life displayed in a movie). The person who had the original idea for the movie started pushing for it 8 years ago after hearing my story on stage. They presented me with the idea and I was like, “Yeah, sure. Whatever. It’s not going to happen.” When it started becoming a reality I was a little freaked out and had to take a deep breath. Do I want this to be told? How will it be told? But I love the way it turned out."

The movie begins with Bart’s childhood struggles that ultimately led to him writing I Can Only Imagine. He grew up suffering abuse at the hands of his father. It was not until his father was diagnosed with cancer that things began to change.

“After he was diagnosed with cancer, that’s when his life sort of turned around and he fell in love with Jesus. I saw this massive transformation. I went to church in high school but didn’t take the Gospel real serious until I saw this transformation. I mean if the Gospel can change that dude, it can change anybody. It changed my life forever.”

Although it has been years, the filming process still gave some relief to Bart. While he had lived through the events and dealt with them personally, it is a different story when reliving the trauma in preparation for it to be shown to the world.

“It’s been pretty therapeutic. You definitely want to unpack whatever issue you have before it shows up in the movie theatre. Luckily, it was kind of a long process so it has allowed me to work through some stuff and just get at a healthy place where I could handle all of it.”

While the journey was obviously painful, it definitely served a greater purpose. Bart wrote I Can Only Imagine while thinking of the change in his father. The song has gone on to inspire thousands of listeners and opened the door for his movie to do the same.

“The biggest message is just letting people know that as long as there is breath in your lungs the story is not over. You know when you write someone off when you look at them? I thought there was no way he could be changed and look at where we are now.  We have met many men, fathers and sons, that have told us that they are in that same situation. It has inspired me to keep praying and trying, not just assume that there is no chance.”

The movie is definitely a major milestone in Bart’s life but he is pretty excited about his upcoming tour as well. MercyMe will be playing at the Verizon Theatre later this month alongside Tenth Avenue North.

“It is one of our favorite places to play. It’s been a while since we have gotten to do a standalone concert rather than special events like the Rangers and State Fair. We are really excited about it. We have taken the guys (Tenth Avenue North) out since they got started years ago and they are good friends of ours. I love their music and the fact that we get to take them out.”

Bart may have moved to Tennessee a few years back but don’t think that he has left behind his Texas roots. Don't be fooled, there are some ulterior motives to his touring stop in DFW.

“I have to eat Tex-Mex. I moved to Nashville four years ago and they have no concept of what it is. So yeah, I am going to have to get some Tex-Mex as soon as possible.”

You can catch Bart and MercyMe in person at Verizon Theatre on February 24. Click here to order tickets or get more information. Moreover, make sure to see the upcoming film “I Can Only Imagine” scheduled to be released in theatres on March 16.