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Although the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular is a celebration of God’s message for fans of faith, it’s also a high-energy rock concert featuring some of the best Christian acts in the business.

Not only that, but area fans will have a chance to hear performers from a variety of genres including rock, pop, rap, contemporary Christian and gospel.

The 2019 Winter Jam Tour Spectacular returns to Wells Fargo Arena on Friday with a blockbuster lineup featuring headliners Newsboys, Grammy-nominated former “American Idol” finalist Danny Gokey; Grammy-winning recording artist and "Overcomer" hitmaker Mandisa; Northern Ireland's "Count Every Blessing" worshippers Rend Collective; Skillet drummer and female solo rocker Ledger; Grammy-nominated tour creators and hosts NewSong; and Dove Award-nominated Gotee recording artist Hollyn.

In addition, the Pre-Jam Party is slated to feature hip-hop recording artist Ty Brasel; rockers Manic Drive; singer/songwriter Dan Bremnes; and special guest Adam Agee, the former Stellar Kart and Audio Adrenaline frontman. The show also includes a Gospel presentation from Dare2Share speakers Greg Stier or Zane Black.

What began in 1995 for a $3 donation entrance fee created by Georgia contemporary Christian band NewSong, has turned into one of the largest-ranking annual music tours today.

Over the years, the show’s entrance fee has risen to a $15 donation at the door. But with 10 acts at more than a four-hour show, Winter Jam still gives its fans a bang for their buck. If for some reason a fan can’t afford the full price, the venue will accept any amount of contribution.

One of the more energetic pop-rock acts on the bill this year is Skillet drummer Jen Ledger’s solo band Ledger, making its Winter Jam debut. It’s also her first solo tour without her Skillet mates, who would usually be included on the tour.

USA Today Network had a chance to speak to Ledger on the opening day of Winter Jam 2019 about the courage it took to step out behind the drum kit and become the frontperson of her own band, the musical direction she took for her debut self-titled EP and the excitement of returning to Des Moines.

USA Today Network: What made you decide to do this solo project?

Jen Ledger: It was about six years ago, I was playing with Skillet and touring the world at that point. And I was feeling really moved by the fact that music just breaks all boundaries. We met so many people who would tell us that basically when they heard a Skillet song and it saved their life or they were struggling with addiction and they heard a Skillet song and it helped them break free. I felt incredibly moved that God can use music to touch anyone. Not only that, but I would hear from girls that started playing the drums because of me or they changed their hair color. It just humbled me how much I have a platform to be a role model and an influence for the younger generation. So, I shared that with the Coopers (John and Kory of Skillet) and they took me under their wing and helped me learn how to craft songs. They’re the ones who really got me here and it’s really exciting to be on Winter Jam.

UTN: Skillet fans have been asking to hear more of your lead vocals. What’s it feel like to be the frontwoman of your own band instead of being behind the drum kit?

Ledger: I’m not going to lie, there’s a massive difference between (playing drums) and then actually being the front person of the band. When we launched this solo project Ledger, I went on tour with Skillet and I was opening the night with Ledger and then I’d close the night with Skillet. That first night, my knees were knocking. I never felt more aware of my own limbs, like what do I do with my arms and legs? I wasn’t quite expecting it because I’m the frontperson in charge of making the crowd comfortable and pandering the transitions between songs and making banter. These songs are very much so from my journey from the depth of my heart; my highs and my lows. And standing in front of a crowd of people and singing songs that mean so much to you, it made me feel vulnerable.

UTN: How excited are you to tour with your own band?

Ledger: It’s honestly so surreal. Winter Jam has such a dear place in my heart already because when I was 18 years old and I’d just gotten into the band Skillet and the first tour we did was Winter Jam 2008. I went from 200 people at church on Sunday — and even that made me nervous — to 16,000 people in a sold-out arena. It was also the season that God completely transformed my life. My whole goal in life was to be a hairdresser, and he just had such a different plan for me. So, Winter Jam is so entwined with God sharing with me that he can do anything with. And to see it full circle now. I thought I could never be a drummer in a band and I never thought I could write my own music and then at another level I never thought I’d be able to perform with my own band and my own music. But here I am 11 years later.”

UTN: What’s the message with your first single and video “Not Dead Yet”?

Ledger: "Not Dead Yet” is a song that’s incredibly dear to me. I wrote it because I was struggling with panic attacks and anxiety. I felt like I was fighting with fear in a way I’d never experienced before. About a year or so when I was on stage with Skillet, panic struck into my heart. And it made me feel so defeated and so discouraged. So basically, I wanted to not only write a song about it, but the video is representative of what it’s like to face fear. I put myself in the ring with a professional UFC fighter who’s much bigger and stronger than me. I wanted it to look like it was impossible, like I was never going to beat this thing. And that’s how you come through when you’re faced with things in your life. The video is basically me getting knocked down in the ring. So, no matter what I’m facing, I’m going to face it standing knowing who my god is and be bold and I’m not dead yet and I’m going to keep rising to my feet no matter how many times I have to face these battles.

UTN: What do you like the most about playing here or the Midwest in general?

Ledger: I live in the Midwest. I live in Kenosha, Wisconsin. So, I love everything about it. I think the Midwest serves breakfast better than anyone. And I’m talking eggs and French toast and sausage and a big double coffee, and it’s all under $10 dollars. I live for that stuff. So, I love being in the Midwest and I always find that the Des Moines crowd is just a really fun crowd. I love playing for rowdy people and with Skillet, obviously we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band, we want people to have a good time. And now with Ledger, I’m looking forward to it and I remember them being a fun crowd on Winter Jam last year, so I’m looking forward to that crowd particularly.

If you go

What: Winter Jam 2019

When: Friday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m.

Where: Wells Fargo Arena, 730 3rd St., Des Moines

Ticket info: $15 at the door

Ledger’s Top 5 reasons to see Winter Jam 2019

1. Low ticket prices: “Obviously, you’ll never get in (to a tour concert) with a ticket that low and you’re never going to see that many acts for that amount of money. It’s based on a donation at the door. And if you don’t have any, they’ll let you on through anyway.

2. All musical genres: “You’re going to see rock, rap, pop, gospel. Anything you would want to see, you’re going to see on this show. There’s something for everybody.”

3. Uplifting charities: “Winter Jam is a part of many charities and they’re really changing the world, and they give you the opportunity to be a part of it."

4. Artists bonding: “It’s nice to see all these different artists bonding. We all get to make friends with each other and it’s not often that someone from a rock band gets to be friends with someone from a worship band because we’re not often playing at the same venue or the same shows."

5. Big arenas: “Bands are able to do things here that they’re not able to do at theaters or clubs. We’re able to bring out production that we’ve never used before. With me, I have a few secret awesome gags that I’m going to surprise the crowd with."

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