Christian singer Matthew West was born in the suburbs of Chicago to a preacher father who would occasionally let Matthew and his brothers call in sick to school so they all could catch the first pitch at Wrigley. West originally wanted to join the Cubs, but junior-high and high-school music teachers took more notice of the boy's talents than athletic coaches did. Losing a karaoke contest at Chuck E. Cheese gave him his first taste of rejection but West persisted, keeping up with his music courses and writing his own songs during his college years. A couple weeks after college graduation he signed a songwriting deal at Word Music, the Christian music division of the Warner Music Group. He would have preferred to sing his own music, but there were two big benefits from the deal: writing for others made him more versatile and Word Music was located in the musically fertile town of Nashville.