Matthew West is sharing a heartbreaking story in his new song and video, “Wonderful Life.” Written by West, the song documents the story of a fan-turned-friend named Ron Janca, who recently passed away after a brave battle ALS.
“I think there’s power in a story, and there’s power in our stories,” West tells Everything Nash. “And I think there’s a special thing that happens when we realize that we’re not alone with our stories. We’re all living different lives and different stories with our lives, but we all have some common threads, and we’re together in that. And so, this song was inspired by a guy named Ron who reached out to me. He was a long-time fan of my music, and during 2020, he reached out to my nonprofit organization [popwe] just to give me a message.”
While it might seem logical that Janca needed a word of encouragement from West, instead it was Janca offering the encouragement to the award-winning singer.
“The message was that he had been fighting ALS for three years,” West recalls. “The doctors said there was really nothing more they could do, so hospice care had been called in. He just let me know that every morning, he asked his nurses to play one song to start his day, and it was my song. It was a song called ‘Strong Enough.’ I was really moved by that. And so I thought, ‘Well, I’d like to meet him,’ but in 2020, the only way you could meet somebody was on Zoom. And so we set up a Zoom call and I prepared for it. I had my guitar ready, and I was gonna sing his favorite song, just hoping to encourage him in some small way.”
It didn’t take long for West to realize that Janca was unlike anyone he had ever met before — or likely would ever meet again.
“When I got on the Zoom call, I could just tell there was something different about him,” West shares. “Here he was in hospice care, and yet he seemed to have peace on the call. He spent the entire time encouraging me. I was just so moved by that. We sang together, and I talked with him, and it just wound up being a really special interaction. Little did Ron know that at that point, I was actually really struggling in my own life. I was just really discouraged. We all know what 2020 was like for us. Most people were hurting in some way in 2020, and I was no different. My tour bus was parked. I was trying to keep my family’s spirits high. I was trying to take care of all my employees and everything, and so, I was pretty discouraged. And here a guy like Ron is on a Zoom call encouraging me.
“I just couldn’t shake the thought that he was spending some of his last words, some of his last minutes on earth, with me, a complete stranger,” he adds. “He was seeing beyond his own need to help encourage me. That really moved me. I’ll never forget it.”
Only a few weeks after West spoke with Janca, West got the news from Janca’s family that he had passed away. His brief interaction with Janca, especially under the circumstances, is what ultimately inspired “Wonderful Life.”
“That’s really what made me sit down and start writing the song,” West reveals. “Just knowing that the reason why there was so much peace in Ron’s eyes, and the reason why he could talk to me and have a smile on his face was because he knew he was going somewhere. And when I got that phone call, I knew that he had arrived where he knew he was going. I sat down and I wrote that song, and I wanted the family to be the first ones to hear it. They actually just heard it a few weeks ago. We had another Zoom call with his wife and his two adult daughters, and, they sat and cried. it was a really special moment. They said the song kind of summed up who he was, and it was a really sweet time. They got to share with me some of their favorite memories of their dad and of their husband.”
Footage and photos of Janca appear in the “Wonderful Life” video. Find the song, and all of West’s music, by visiting, as well as pre-order his forthcoming book, The Good Who Stays, by visiting MatthewWest.com.