At the age of 20, Josef Barr thought his music career might be over.
Barr had been touring around the country for the past few years making his way up the East Coast through New York City, into the middle of the country and as far west as Colorado.
He was living his dream as a Christian performing artist and was preparing to go on another tour when he was struck by a freak medical emergency. Both of his lungs collapsed the day before he was set to leave for the tour’s first performance in New York City.
“The doctors told me it was spontaneous. It was a 70 percent collapse in the fatality range and they fixed me up. I was in the hospital for about a week. They couldn’t actually pinpoint how it had collapsed,” he said.
After undergoing surgery that included stapling holes that had formed in his lungs, Barr was unsure what his future as a musician would look like.
Long ago Barr had made up his mind to become a touring musician and taught himself how to play numerous instruments along the way picking up bass, piano, drums and acoustic and electric guitar.
“Since I was 14, music has been pretty much my entire life investment and right after my surgery the doctors weren’t sure if I could sing again at all and they really couldn’t give me any answers,” he said. “Honestly, about two months after the surgery I was having trouble just sitting in my room singing low to a tune on my guitar. That scared me a little bit.”
Now, little by little he has regained his strength.
“I could sing one song maybe each week and that would take all of it out of me and now we are looking at December and I am back to full health. I can sing a full set and everything is working great,” he said.
Barr is originally from Covington where he was home schooled before completing coursework for a bachelor’s degree in seminary with a minor in music through Master’s Commission Bible College in Lafayette.
Although his goal was to continue crisscrossing the country and performing for churches and youth groups, the health scare changed his trajectory.
“I believe there were life lessons I learned through that and I really believe it is part of the testimony of where God is calling me in life and where he is taking me,” he said. “I would have never slowed down. I wouldn’t be serving the church I am at right now. Life would be a little bit different, it is true.”
After a few months of recovery, Barr is now serving as worship pastor at Life Fellowship Church in Des Allemands and has moved to the community.
After taking time to regain his strength, he said he finally feels normal and is back to performing in the church as well. Meanwhile, he has also been working on an album of indy Christian music he hopes to release within the next year.
“This album I am going to record is actually breaking ground for me, stepping out and doing something new. I’ve never really done a full studio production CD so this would be my first time,” he said.
Despite his desire to be out on the road, Barr said he loves the St. Charles Parish community he is now living and worshiping in, and that although having a medical emergency was an odd way to land here, he is grateful for the experience.
“I stand by Jesus Christ and I believe that he is a healer and I believe there is just a testimony to just the calling he had on my life at that point,” he said.
Barr is also giving voice and music lessons during his time in St. Charles Parish. He can be reached at (504) 669-3268.