321 Improv will bring tears to your eyes, a pain to your side, and make your face ache from laughter. Experience an evening of unique, interactive comedy as 321 Improv instantly turns audience suggestions into hilarious scenes. An evening with 321 Improv is unlike anything you've been part of before and no two shows will ever be the same.
“We’re just worship leaders from Jacksonville, Florida, who love to sing together, who are married, and who enjoy proclaiming all God is doing in our lives,” sums up Lindsey. “If we’re going to write about His presence, we have to go there. You can’t take people where you haven’t been.”
And the five songs, plus one bonus track on Austin & Lindsey Adamec, reveals that this couple has definitely spent time in His presence.
With their fusion of rock, rap and funk, Audio Adrenaline emerged as one of the most popular CCM acts of the 1990s. Formed in 1986 on the campus of Kentucky Christian College, the band originally featured lead vocalist Mark Stuart, guitarist Barry Blair, bassist Will McGinnis, keyboardist Bob Herdman, and drummer Brian Hayes. Initially named A-180, they recorded an independent single, "My God," which caught the attention of Forefront Records president Dan Brock, and soon after the label issued Audio Adrenaline's self-titled debut LP. Don't Censor Me followed in 1993, scoring hits with the singles "Big House" and "Can't Take God Away." Live Bootleg was released in 1995, and Bloom in 1996; the latter debuted in the Top 60 on the Billboard pop charts. In 1997, Audio Adrenaline -- now consisting of Stuart, McGinnis, Herdman, and drummer Ben Cissell -- resurfaced with Some Kind of Zombie; Underdog followed two years later. A greatest-hits collection, Hit Parade, celebrated almost ten years in the music industry, and served as a good introduction to the band. Lift came out the following year. In 2003, Audio Adrenaline delivered their seventh full-length album, Worldwide, which earned the group a 2004 Grammy Award for Best Rock Gospel Album. The following year, they duplicated their Grammy success with the album Until My Heart Caves In. In 2006, citing lead singer Stuart's vocal cord injuries, Audio Adrenaline announced they were breaking up. A career-spanning compilation album, Adios: Greatest Hits, followed that same year and the group embarked on a farewell tour in 2007. Two years later, they played a reunion show during Australia's Easterfest. In 2013, Audio Adrenaline re-formed with a new lineup featuring former dc Talk vocalist Kevin Max, and released the album Kings & Queens. Yet more lineup changes followed for the group's tenth studio album, 2015's Sound of the Saints, which found Stellar Kart frontman Adam Agee taking over lead vocal duties.
Acclaimed Dove Award-nominated modern rockers Abandon return with their first new recording in three years—Love Prevails—releasing tomorrow on iTunes. Produced by Dove-nominated Geoff Duncan, Love Prevails features 10 songs written or co-written by the band.
Highlighted by the album’s debut single, “It Was Love,” co-penned with Phillip LaRue and Allen Salmon, Love Prevails also features “Better,” “While We’re Living” and “Warrior.” In addition, the collection includes the new worship anthem, “Forever,” co-written by the band and Phil Wickham.
“Through Love Prevails, we want to remind anyone listening that they are truly loved,” said Justin Engler, Abandon lead vocalist. “Not the ‘love’ we see portrayed in today’s mainstream media and entertainment, but the unconditional love of our heavenly Father. A Love that would send His Son to die for them, and a Love that is unfailing. We want the album to ultimately encourage and challenge people to live out the Love of Christ.”
Comprised of Justin Engler, Stevan Vela and Ben Vela, San Antonio-based Abandon has been heralded by fans and critics alike. Led by their breakthrough multi-format hit “Hero” and follow-up radio successes “Feel It In Your Heart” and “Providence,” the ensemble’s credits include two acclaimed ForeFront recordings; music heard on ESPN and The Food Network; a Dove Award nomination; and performances on Acquire The Fire, as well as touring slots alongside many of Christian music’s leading artists.
Abandon continues to tour with The Emerge Experience, a program taking them into high schools across the country. “We go into schools and have kids come up to us and tell us that they were going to commit suicide that day—the letters were written, the decision made,” said the band’s Stevan Vela. “We’re given a chance to let people know they have a purpose, that God hasn’t given up on them, that He loves them and will work all things for good. That’s a message we can share from experience.”
The only true alchemy in this world occurs when trials turn to gold, the debris and heartbreak of life transformed and polished into shining beauty by a loving, unseen hand. We try to catch a glimpse of this remarkable change in action, yet human eyes fail us. However, once these storms of life pass, we see the afterglow through signs as sure as Noah’s ancient rainbow. A loved one overcomes. Morning breaks after an impossibly long night. Grace thunders through spiritual drought with a mighty downpour of living water. All of this, and more, affirms the fact that yes, life is beautiful.
Such alchemy transforms The Afters’ fourth studio album, Life Is Beautiful, though the title came innocently enough to vocalist-guitarist Josh Havens. He’s been carrying it in his head ever since the release of the Oscar-winning 1997 film of the same name. But by the time the music came to fruition, Havens said he was wrestling with an ordeal that tested him like no other—and this from a guy who, along with his wife and kids, survived a near-fatal car wreck several years prior.
Formed while founding members Chad Graham and Alan Powell were both living in Los Angeles, California, Christian pop band Anthem Lights began as a solo project for Graham in 2007. After working on songs for Graham's debut, the pair decided to expand the project into a four-piece pop group, recruiting vocalists Kyle Kupecky and Caleb Grimm into the group. Working under the name Yellow Cavalier, the four singers released their self-titled debut EP in 2009 before they changed the group's name to Anthem Lights the following year. The quartet later signed on with Reunion Records, and with the new name in place and the backing of a label, Anthem Lights released a pair of eponymous albums, an EP and their full-length debut, in 2011. One year later, The Acoustic Sessions EP followed.
Anthem Lights' second album, You Have My Heart, appeared in early 2014. It was led by the single "Hide Your Love Away," their most popular song yet on the Christian charts. By the end of the year, third album Escape had appeared, with a pair of singles ("Just Fall," "Run Away") performing well on the charts. The group also began releasing mini albums of their favorite songs by other artists, under the banner Covers; most were recent songs by pop artists such as One Direction, Taylor Swift, and OneRepublic, but the group also charted their influences with covers of Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way" and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."
Among The Thirsty is a contemporary Christian rock band that is breaking barriers in the music industry. Originally from the Tampa Bay Florida area, the group first came together back in 2004 and was formed by two high school friends. Band members Ryan Daniel, Scottie Henderson, Brock Douglas, and Gregory Smith all have the same purpose in mind: to present the Gospel to the world. "We have songs for the church as well as the for the hurting, seeking and lost, our desire is to eradicate the line between Christian and secular music" says Ryan Daniel.
Beautiful Offerings follows the biggest album of the band’s career, Love Come To Life, which yielded the rare feat of four back-to-back #1 singles – “Love Come To Life,” “Redeemed,” “The Only Name (Yours Will Be)” and “Overwhelmed.” “Redeemed” became an anthem of unprecedented impact. Big Daddy Weave members Mike Weaver (lead vocals, guitar), Jay Weaver (bass, vocals), Jeremy Redmon (guitar, vocals), Joe Shirk (saxophone, keys, vocals) and Brian Beihl (drums) never would have predicted that a vulnerable song written for the lead singer himself, initially deemed by Mike too personal to even turn in for Love Come To Life, would become the group’s best-selling track in their 16-plus year history.
“I thought if I could somehow achieve something for God, that’s what He was going to use,” Mike admits, “but when we shared about brokenness, God used that more than He ever used any of the little successes that we had been given along the way.”
Brock has released four full-length DVDs: “Close-Up and Personal” (2002) and “Hidden Agenda” (2005), each produced by Jupiter Project, the Dove Award-winning creators of Third Day’s “The Offerings Experience” and Michael W. Smith’s “Worship.”"Standing Room Only" (2006) features big stunts, such as "the bullet catch," as well as pro skateboarder Tim Byrne, X-Games gold medalist freestyle motocross rider Kevin Johnson, and other artists. His latest DVD "Alive On Stage" is the most unique and fun project to date and is also available to watch on Hulu. The videos are designed to be practical evangelism tools, because they always feature a Gospel presentation.
Chris August has struck a balance in a beautiful tension. The soulful singer-songwriter who cites influences from Stevie Wonder to Boyz II Men accepts the call to speak the truth and pour every ounce of his being into his music, without taking himself too seriously. This equilibrium is evident on the award-winning artist’s new record, The Upside of Down.
Carrollton’s second album, Sunlight and Shadows, set to release September 18, is a hopeful testimony about that life in which beautiful, mountaintop days of sunshine mix with days in the shadows. Band members Jordan Bailey (bass), Michael Loy (drums), Jeremy Menard (lead guitar) and Justin Mosteller (lead vocals and guitar) bring listeners on the journey with them through powerful, faith-filled lyrics and driving beats. “The message of what we’re doing is that we believe God is with us in the good and the bad, and often in the mundane in-between” Justin says. “We’re trying to share that with people. We just want to put our hearts out there and see hope rise up.”
Consumed by Fire, made up of Caleb, Josh and Jordan Ward are a musically inventive Southern pop/rock band that combines their church roots with an eclectic array of influences distilled into a sound that is uniquely their own. Growing up, when they weren’t leading worship at their parent’s church, the three brothers were singing songs from Creedence, Bob Seger or The Eagles with their large musical family. It wasn’t long before the brothers found calling and their own musical voice and shortly after, Consumed By Fire was born.
On March 25, 2016 the band released their national debut, "Giving Over" to critical acclaim. The album features the radio hits "Lean On Me" and "He Waits For Me."
If there's one word to aptly describe both Group 1 Crew's artistic ingenuity and personal growth since we last heard from the five-time Dove Award-winning troupe, it's certainly Fearless as the title to their fourth studio CD so boldly proclaims. Besides pushing the musical envelope towards an endlessly infectious stream of hip-hop, rap, pop, rock and inspirational confections, it's impossible not to notice the exponential personal growth for co-vocalists Manwell Reyes and Blanca Reyes Callahan.
On May 15, 2015, just before midnight, everything changed for Jonny Diaz. When he and his wife, Libby, welcomed their daughter, Charlie Grace, into the world, the singer/songwriter officially added “Dad” to his long list of accomplishments. In many ways, it was the beginning of a new chapter for Diaz and a period of change that’s proved far more exhausting and more rewarding than he could have ever imagined. In fact, the birth of his first child came in a long succession of events leading up to the release of his latest EP, aptly titled Everything Is Changing (Centricity Music).
Jason Gray has emerged as a songwriter of extraordinary depth, with a noteworthy ability to convey deep theological truths in engaging three-and-a-half minute songs. The Minnesota native is steadily drawing legions of fans who recognize his ability to connect with listeners on an emotional level, offering not escape or distraction, but healing and hope. His 2012 release, “A Way To See In The Dark”, was named Album of the Year by critics and garnered three top-five radio singles, including Nothing is Wasted, which hit #1 for nine weeks.
A lifetime is a long time to do anything. Yet, the four members of the JJ Weeks Band are certain they’ll spend the rest of their days making God known through their music. On their seventh full-length project—and first for Centricity Music—the JJ Weeks Band musically commits to telling the world about Jesus for as long as they can breathe.
Comprised of lead singer/songwriter JJ Weeks, bassist David Hart, drummer Jon Poole and guitarist Cody Preston, the Macon, Ga., based band may be new to the Centricity roster, but they are far from a new act. The group originated when Weeks—then a worship leader at his hometown church—needed a band for a local worship night. Hitting the road, the group began amassing a loyal fanbase throughout the southeast. To date, they’ve opened for everyone from MercyMe and Casting Crowns to labelmates Unspoken. In addition, their music has been featured on the official soundtracks for high-profile films God’s Not Dead and Four Blood Moons. With the debut of their first national release in 2013, the group earned a Top 10 single with “Let Them See You,” a song that remained on Billboard’s National Christian Audience Chart for 29 weeks.
Crazy is a relative word, one to spin around and play with—the way a certain well-known rap artist flips rhymes about having faith even in this fallen world. Some say belief in God is crazy. Others might suggest not putting down spiritual roots in these crazy times is a sure sign of losing one’s mind. On his surprising new release Mental, hip-hop innovator KJ-52 finds the common ground with uncommon style, reaching out to seekers and skeptics alike.
“It’s two fold: people who want to adhere to a biblical worldview are looked at as crazy, out of touch, intolerant. But what we’re trying to say is that there’s hope to hold onto when the world feels like it is going nuts,” he explains. “You can look around and see that every day—school shootings, bullying, adults self medicating and trying so many things in search of an answer.
”Mental fields a struggling society’s growing question head on and in short order. An LP introducing nine taut songs with immediately memorable hooks; it gets real, has fun, and goes deep from beat to beat, marking a step forward in an already exemplary urban music career.
KJ-52, born Jonah Sorrentino, broke through at a time when rap and religion rarely mixed. With his own mix of sharp wit and lyrical intelligence, he steadily led the genre into the mainstream, making the scene via guest spots on pop records (Newsboys, TobyMac Jeremy Camp)
He’s even in the Guinness Book of World Records for his freestyle skills. That’s crazy, right? Not really.
While Mental pays mind to KJ’s past success, he gives more thought to what’s next. Opening anthem “Gameface” storms the court with jock jam adrenaline and appearances from KB and Soul Glow Activatur in a crowd rousing, bass bumping call to faith in action: I’m chasing at my God. I’ll run this race—that’s the bottom line. I’m feeling like a beast, someone let me out.
“I love sports and that speech coaches give about going into battle and getting your game face on,” he says.
“That’s such a picture of this world today. People fight just to get out of bed, fight traffic, fight temptation, fight the enemy. If you don’t get your game face on in this life then you’re going to get run over.”
The title cut featuring Tedashii (Reach Records) and Producer Soul Glow Activatur ( aka Solomon Olds ) runs full speed into that chaos—they say we crazy but we don’t care—, its a cutting edge musical track.
“It feels like this world has gone mental, like up is down and right is wrong,” says KJ. “My hope is that through Mental people will understand that there is calm in the midst of the chaos. More than anything, we need to renew our minds, set them on that Higher Power.
”The first radio single “Tonight” treats listeners to an untapped side of KJ-52 as he sings (rather than raps) about fresh starts over a club groove, dabbling in electronic dance music. Currently Tonight is featured as the theme music for ESPN's MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL SEASON .
“One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” KJ says. “It’s been cool with Mental and especially ‘Tonight’ to try something unexpected and get some people’s attention who may not have heard me before.
Mental takes its deepest plunge into the human psyche on “Misfit Toys,” featuring fellow Floridian rap duo Social Club has an atmospheric trip toward hope that shouts out to the skate kids, emos, straight kids, weirdoes, gay kids, losers, broke down zeroes. . .don’t you forget you are loved.
It best defines KJ-52’s reach as a performer today as he makes relevant cultural and spiritual references that resonate with young people around the country. “I was that kid. I felt like an outcast until God showed me a way and put me in training, so to speak—taught me another way of thinking. So often taking a stand for truth and love in the world can make people say we’ve gonemental; but it’s when we choose to go against the grain that we begin to make a real difference.”
An added dynamic bonus to KJ’s Mental is the inclusion of “Fight Music” (a radical new version of his recent hit “They Like Me” with hip-hop’s Lecrae) plus the second-half edition of “Gameface,” making this hot collection that much hotter.In his own words, KJ-52’s job is to melt people’s faces with the gospel. How he does that for a uniquely expanding audience points to a rare talent indeed. Mental presents sound ideas from a guy whose faith has given him a sound mind that’s clearly focused on better days ahead.
“Our world is broken. It’s gone mental,” he concludes. “But there’s still hope for us all. We can get our minds healthy, help each other out as friends, and seek God for the next steps in life.”
After thriving through the seamless transition between a cutting edge newcomer at the tip of the 2000's to one of today’s most respected and ambitious rap/hip-hop heroes, KJ-52 continues pushing the musical and lyrical envelope. This is his 9th release, and will be with the Paradigm Collective/Central South and Gotee Records. .
The irony of choosing a vocational path as an artist and songwriter is that you’re probably a highly perceptive, empathetic, and sensitive, creative personality— yet you wake one day to find yourself laboring in a music industry where thick skin is required because rejection is the rule and nothing is certain. Very few artists ever arrive. Most walk a high-wire balancing act for the length of their careers. The decision to pursue art-making is often, in itself, a step of faith. And that step of faith has to be worked out in small, daily increments, stewarding one’s artistic gifts, while weathering the constant ups and downs of an industry that offers anything but security. At first blush one might think such tension would kill any real art-making. But for some artists—including singer/songwriter Lindsay McCaul—it’s actually the ongoing tension of existing in that vulnerable space that makes their expressions more human, powerful and relatable.
Moriah Peter’s sophomore release is a powerful collection of anthemic and melodic pop songs that challenge us to boldly live out our faith as Christians. At 21 she delivers a cutting edge, energetic sound that confidently carries a message that resonates with both the young and young at heart.
Those familiar with her debut release, “I Choose Jesus,” will recognize her distinctive vocals and be delighted by her musical evolution. Co-producers Seth Mosley (Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline) and Joel Smallbone (For King & Country) closely collaborated with Moriah in creating a musical experience that is an artful blend of theatrical string lines, dynamic percussion, and pulsating synth sounds all seamed together by unforgettable Pop melodies.
Mark Schultz' personal approach to music has yielded a slew of hits including “He’s My Son” and “Letters From War,” a poignant account of faith in the midst of strife, which recently served as the centerpiece of the Army’s “Be Safe-Make it Home” campaign. As one of Christian music’s most distinctive voices, singer/songwriter Mark has a considerable catalog of tracks that can’t help but tug on his listeners’ hearts.
Big Daddy Weave quickly established themselves as one of Christian music's favorite new artists of the year, helping them to garner the esteemed New Artist of the Year Dove nomination. It is through these experiences, and many others, that the band has refined their sound, their performance and their calling.
Produced by Jeremy Redmon (guitarist) and Mike Weaver (lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter) of the band, Big Daddy Weave's sophomore release Fields of Grace is "a little closer to capturing what you would hear when we play live. It's a little edgier maybe, but we like it a whole lot," states Mike Weaver.
With such success, it would have been easy to bask in the glow of the spotlight. "But it really wasn't about us," says Eddie Carswell. "It was pretty amazing to see how God orchestrated it all, and it took us completely by surprise.
Billy Goodman explains the group's faith attitude, "The commitment that we made was, 'God, we'll do this as long as Your hand is on it, as long as we see You working.'" He went on to say "God is faithful even when things look impossible."
Besides having a touring ministry they have also started their Jam event tours where many top name Christian Artists come together for evening concerts at a price that is affordable.
"I think what keeps us going is not necessarily the fun we have with the music, but it's that time at the end of the evening when we see people respond," Goodwin explains. "It's like a shot of adrenaline. It's amazing to see God use what little bit we're doing to reach people. That's really our motivation."
"We still love what we're doing and it's always incredible to hear how God has used our music to touch someone's life," Carswell concludes. "God's the one orchestrating this whole thing, and he's blessed us more and more as the years have gone by. It's a remarkable thing to see how it all works out, and we'll just keep riding the waves to see what God wants to do next."
Playing to arenas packed with screaming fans, seeing your first EP make an impressive chart debut and getting to perform on national television seems like the stuff dreams are made of. For the Oswald brothers, who play under the moniker OBB, these professional feats have already become reality—and all before their 22nd birthdays. The trio’s infectious songs, infused with Hope amidst a backdrop of colorful pop, are connecting with young fans desiring to sing along to something that matters.
Few songwriters cultivate more fertile creative soil when crafting a new album than Phillips, Craig, and Dean. Juggling dual vocations as both pastors and recording artists for more than two decades, Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig, and Dan Dean have created an impressive body of work inspired by what God is doing in their lives and their respective churches. That legacy of faith-fueled music continues on the trio’s fourteenth album, Above It All.
“The songs are usually things that come out of our hearts as pastors,” Phillips shares. “All three of us serve fulltime as lead pastors, and sometimes the people sitting in the pews form what God’s trying to say to you.”
“I think the songs on this album are some of the best we’ve ever written,” Craig adds. “It seems like we all really hit this grace place, with inspiration really pouring through us, and I praise God for that.”
Transparency, passion and integrity have long been the foundation for Phillips, Craig, and Dean’s music and ministry. For more than two decades, the trio has churned out some of Christian music’s most enduring hits, including “Revelation Song,” which recently earned RIAA Gold Single status, signifying downloads of more than 500,000. This is only the seventh time in the history of Christian music that a single has reached gold status. The song spent 17 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Christian AC chart and also topped the National Christian Audience chart, AC Indicator chart and Soft AC charts.
The groundbreaking success of “Revelation Song” is only one of many impressive accomplishments in the group’s storied career. Phillips, Craig, and Dean has scored twenty-three No. 1 singles, won three GMA Dove Awards and sold nearly three million units. The group continues to tour while always being present Sunday through Wednesday to pastor their home churches, with Phillips based in Austin, TX; Craig in St. Louis, MO and DeAlways pushing themselves to bring a fresh sound to fans, the trio is fully committed to serving up lyrics that encourage and inspire. The lead single, “Jesus, Only Jesus” does just that. “People’s lives are complicated on so many levels,” says Phillips. “There are so many challenges. If it was in my own human power to help them I couldn’t do it, but the great news is this: we can point them to Jesus. Through the help of the Holy Spirit, He can breathe hope into their situation. Our hope is not in our strength, but it’s Jesus, only Jesus.’”
Another highlight on the album is the buoyant “If Not for Grace,” penned by Dean, his son Devin and songwriter Jennie Lee Riddle, who wrote “Revelation Song.” “This is a real neat moment for me,” Dean says with a smile. “I met with Jennie and said, ‘Do you mind if I bring my son in? He’s 27 and he’s our worship pastor. He’s been doing some writing and has an album that he’s recorded.’ And she said, ‘Bring him on!’ So my son came in and we wrote ‘If Not For Grace,’ which was an idea I toyed around with for a year or so. Grace is a theme that we’ve covered a lot on our albums. It turned out to be a really fun song, and it was a great experience for me to see my son’s talents. He’s a very wonderfully gifted kid with a great attitude, loves God and just to work with him on this song was a lot of fun for me.”
Another song with special significance to Dean is, “Voices from the Other Side,” which Phillips wrote after Dean’s father, Bill, died. “I got the demo and just remembered thinking, ‘Wow,’” Dean says. “It was very moving because of losing my dad, and in the lyrics of that song I could see my dad’s face. One of the lines says, they say there’s a cloud of witnesses cheering everybody on. I could just see my dad’s face smiling and laughing. I can still see it right now. No doubt he’s doing that. He’s cheering his boys on.”
The album title, Above It All, comes from the soaring anthem “High Above it All.” “We fell in love with the message of the song,” Craig says. “No matter what circumstances we are walking through, there is a God who is unsurprised by what we’re facing. Everything around us is topsy-turvy. You look on the news and there’s ISIS, economic issues, domestic abuse, marriages in trouble and so many things are happening. You can start feeling like, ‘Man, this is really headed the wrong direction,’ and in many ways it is, but this song encourages believers to look up as Isaiah did. That’s really the principle here. The Lord is high above it all. It’s a great message that we need to be reminded of.”
“Let it be Known” is a vibrant declaration that is a rallying cry for believers. “That song was written by Tim Hughes who wrote, ‘Here I am to Worship,’” Craig says. “When wwrite, we tend to write ballads, I guess because as pastors we deal with a lot of heavy things, but we also love great worship songs. We’re always looking for a couple of up tempo things that maybe we wouldn’t write, but we would sing. We heard this and I remember thinking, ‘That’s just fun. It’s singable and hope filled. It shares the message of the Gospel; ‘Let it Be Known that Our God Saves.’ It was really a privilege that we got to cover that one on this project.”
After more than two decades of music ministry, Phillips, Craig, and Dean remain as passionate as ever about sharing the Gospel through music. They’ve seen the impact a great song can have on a congregation, while serving as pastors in their home churches, and as they’ve traveled and performed all over the world. Hearing how their songs have touched people is a precious gift each member of Phillips, Craig, and Dean treasures and it motivates them to continue pulling double duty as both pastors and musicians. “The call to pastor is a calling that God puts on your heart. We’ve raised up three really great, strong churches where, not only the lost were saved, but discipleship happens and communities form,” says Craig. “On the music side, the music is just in us. It’s what we’ve always loved since we were just kids. To have a national and an international stage is beyond our wildest dreams. That part of it is still so empowering.
It’s so incredible when churches sing our songs, when people write us and tell us that they were going through a particular thing in their life, they heard one of our songs and it changed them. It’s just something you don’t get over and it keeps it fresh.”an in Carrollton, TX.
In recording Above It All, Phillips, Craig, and Dean worked with longtime friend and producer, Nathan Nockels, on the first single, “Jesus, Only Jesus,” and also engaged Seth Mosley, marking their first time collaborating with the acclaimed young producer. Equally comfortable in the studio, on stage or in the pulpit, Phillips, Craig and Dean are masterful communicators committed to sharing the good news of the Gospel
Each extraordinary artists in their own right, Nirva Ready—a Chicago native and daughter of Haitian immigrants—is familiar to fans around the world as a singer and dancer in TobyMac’s Diverse City Band. Joining the group shortly after her graduation from Nashville’s historic Fisk University, where she was a member of the renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers, Nirva has traveled with the iconic GRAMMY®-winning artist for more than a decade, and it’s an honor she doesn’t take lightly.
“It means a lot to be a part of such a huge team that influences so many through the art of music for the Kingdom of God,” she says. “I've learned so much musically as well as spiritually, and I'm humbled to share the stage with one of the most popular Christian artists in the field. It far exceeds anything I could have dreamed.”
Traveling a similar path, Seth Ready’s resume also boasts a who’s who of top Christian and gospel artists. Growing up in central Florida, the self-described “gospel music fanatic” spent hours alone in his room singing, emulating influences like Andrae Crouch, The Winans, and Fred Hammond. Such dedication to his passion afforded Seth a series of opportunities in college that ultimately landed him at the doorstep of one of urban gospel’s most groundbreaking talents, Kirk Franklin. Following a tenure with the multi-platinum artist’s Hopeville Tour, Seth has also been a background vocalist for such names as Chris Tomlin, Donnie McClurkin, and CeCe Winans, to name a few.
While Seth & Nirva began their journeys in different musical circles, it wasn’t long before their paths began to cross. “Nirva doesn’t remember the first two times we met, so I obviously made a big impression,” Seth says with a laugh. “I first met Seth in San Diego at a Billy Graham Crusade,” Nirva recounts. “We were each singing background for artists that evening—me for TobyMac and Seth for Kirk Franklin—and a mutual friend introduced us.”
Never Alone, Seth & Nirva’s faith-empowering debut full-length album set for release on Integrity Music. Produced by Bryan Fowler (TobyMac, Aaron Shust) and featuring songwriting collaborations with Michael Farren (“Let It Rain”), Mia Fields (“Savior King”), Jacob Sooter, Israel Houghton, TobyMac, Victor Oquendo and BJ Putnam,Never Alone picks up where their 2014 EP I Need You left off.
Sonically, Never Alone explores the veteran background vocalists’ unique styles, with even more diversity than before. From the solid R&B groove of “Pour It Out” to the modern pop anthem of “Unconditional,” to the ballads and calls to worship on the album, Seth & Nirva carve out a distinctive blend all their own. “Our sound—much like us as a couple and as individuals—doesn’t fit any traditional genre category very well,” says Seth.“It’s a bit more diverse stylistically than a lot of artists and difficult to categorize, but this is who we are.”
In these, as in all the songs on Never Alone, Seth & Nirva drive home the eternal truth that God is present, on the move and that as believers, we are part of God’s story as He is part of ours. What theologian Dallas Willard calls ‘playing to an Audience of One,’ where He becomes our safe place, a refuge from lesser things, a place wherein our reverence for Him and dependence on Him becomes wisdom by which He empowers us to become all we are created to be.
“We want to be part of helping our brothers and sisters recover their courage,” Seth adds, “develop their character, grow in their understanding of the biblical worldview and connect with God on a daily basis through study and worship.”
“We want to use the gifts and tools God has given us—in the context of singing and making music—to serve and encourage the Church, as well as to take part in the renewal He is bringing about that will enable us to stand firm and impact our spheres of influence with the Gospel in a day when culture is set against us.”
It can be an easy path to seek comfort in the familiar and stay in the world of possibilities instead of striving for actualization.
For SHINEBRIGHT (formerly Shine Bright Baby), comprised of Emily Irene and husband Nathan, just the possibilities are no longer enough. With the launch of their sophomore album Only You, they are definitely not settling.
“I want to spend my life dreaming big God-sized, God-given dreams, not my own,” says Emily. “And instead of holding onto those dreams so tightly like secrets, to start speaking life into them. It's easy to be scared of rejection and failure, but imagine what God may do in our committing to those dreams out loud, investing in them through prayer, and leaning on God and His promises.”
Never ones for empty words, Emily and Nathan have put their convictions into action. Since the release of their 2013 debut album Dreamers, they have gone from four band members to two and changed the band’s name from Shine Bright Baby to simply SHINEBRIGHT.
Music has a unique ability to touch lives and transform hearts. Over the course of 17 years in ministry, Selah has seen that power over and over again. For Todd Smith, Allan Hall and Amy Perry, it’s both humbling and exciting to be part of a force that inspires, entertains and encourages. That’s what Selah’s music has always done and what the trio does yet again on You Amaze Us.
Well before the album’s release, the title track made history by becoming the only song to debut at #1 on the Christian Soft AC chart since Billboard began archiving the weekly charts in 2006. “You Amaze Us” also marks Selah’s eighth #1 single, joining the ranks of such group signatures as “You Raise Me Up,” “Wonderful, Merciful Savior” and “Press On,” among others. With seven Gospel Music Association Dove Awards to their credit, including five Inspirational Album of the Year trophies, their career sales have surpassed four million album and single units combined—more than proving the perennial relevancy of Selah’s soul-stirring songs.
Todd Agnew didn’t ask for fame. All he wanted to do was make a new CD for the student camps and conferences that filled up his schedule. In fact, when Todd first went to the offices of storied Ardent Records in Memphis, CCM music legend Dana Key was relieved to discover that Todd wasn’t interested in a record deal—that is, until Dana heard Todd’s music. Dana Key then had to convince Agnew that his music needed a larger stage so that it could have a much larger impact.
With some hesitation, Todd trusted Dana’s counsel. Ardent Records released his CD, which yielded the #1 singles “Grace Like Rain” and “This Fragile Breath.” Since then, the song “Grace Like Rain” has been purchased more than a million times and continues to be one of CCLI’s Top 250 most sung worship songs in America. Five additional albums over the next ten years produced such fan favorites as “My Jesus,” “Our Great God (with Rebecca St. James),” “In the Middle of Me,” and “Your Great Name.”
Along the way, the bare-footed young firebrand who lived out of his backpack matured into a thoughtful, theologically-committed communicator who is known as much for his practical biblical teaching as he is for his deeply compelling music.
These days, between his vital roles as husband, father, and student at Dallas Theological Seminary, Todd tours as a solo artist. His most recent CD, How to Be Loved, chronicles how God is using this new season of life to teach Todd more about the grace he’s been singing about all these years. “I came in wanting to do stuff for my new family--to take care of them,” Agnew recalls, “and my wife was asking me if I could receive from them, be loved by them. I really had to say, ‘I have no idea what you’re taking about.’ Then I finally translated that, and realized, ‘Oh, God, I see what You’re doing! I have to learn to receive that same love from You.’”
Concert audiences quickly learn that there is much more to Todd that what they’ve heard on the radio. They may be familiar with “Grace Like Rain” but not know Todd as a Bible teacher. They may know him as an artist singing “In The Middle of Me” and not know him as a worship leader. They may be acquainted with the deep honesty and theology of “My Jesus” and not know him as a joyous storyteller. Todd’s concert weaves these many threads into the compelling tapestry that is an honest telling of his life and music. In doing so, he creates a safe environment for his audience to take an honest look at themselves so that—together--artist and audience might have an authentic encounter with the One who designed their tapestries.
Whether leading worship, speaking and teaching, or performing his music, Todd’s singular goal is to help people connect with their heavenly Father in an authentic and life-transforming way.
Todd Smith is a founding member of the multi platinum music group Selah, with 4 1/2 million albums and singles sold, 11 #1 records, 3 #1 Billboard albums, and 13 Dove Awards. He spent 8 years growing up in Congo, Africa as the son of missionaries. He is married to author/speaker Angie Smith. They live with their 4 girls in Nashville, TN.
Todd's latest solo album, "There's A Light" releases August 26, 2016.
When you ask the guys in Unspoken what it is that their audiences most connect with, they’ll bring it down to a single word. But it’s not a word born of the smooth, soul-edged pop sound they’ve built of skilled musicianship, adventurous production and complex vocal harmonies. It’s also not something directly rooted in the international influences of the band (guitarist Mike Gomez hails from Dominican Republic and drummer Ariel Munoz from Puerto Rico). It isn’t even a quality anchored in the success of their first Centricity Music album which sold more than 100,000 copies, spawning four top ten singles and a number one as well. And it’s not a byproduct of their recent success as a headlining act, or their pick for a slot (alongside David Crowder and Steven Curtis Chapman) on the 2016 K-Love Christmas Tour.
The strong bond that seems to turn Unspoken listeners into fans as it turns out, isn’t about the music alone. Instead it’s about their willingness to take the stage together night after night and to put their hearts and lives on display with a raw and engaging honesty; an honesty expressed in conversation and song. In a word, the band says, the connection they have with their audience is about transparency.
“People just relate better to somebody who has been broken and redeemed,” Mike Gomez notes, “than to someone who pretends to have it all together. What we say from the stage and what we say in our songs, they’re not stories from somebody we heard about. Our songs are written out of places we’ve been and places we are.”
With the release of Follow Through, Unspoken’s second full-length project for Centricity Music, the band seems to have found a place of new freedom to push the boundaries of their trademark sound, mixing in horns and electronic elements in fresh ways without altering the core of their musical identity. Tag-team produced by Seth Mosely (2014 SESAC Christian Songwriter of the Year), Tedd T. (For King & Country, Mute Math) and Chris Stevens (Toby Mac, Michael W. Smith), Follow Through evidences a forward leap of artistic evolution from the last record, blending hip hop, soul, pop and folk influences to tell the story of the season of life the band members have found themselves in over the last couple of years.
“These new songs came out of a different place from the last record,” Chad explains. “In the past there was so much uncertainty and struggle in our lives that was reflected in our songwriting. Now we’re writing songs that are really gratitude-driven. This new record is joyful and uplifting as opposed to being born out of the grind and the struggle. We’re just grateful for where we are now, for where God has brought us on this journey.”
“There’s a lot more praise and thanksgiving on this record,” Jon Lowry, the band’s bass player, agrees. “When we wrote the last record we were all literally living below the poverty line. We’d been doing that for years. We were leaving our families every weekend to play music and working odd jobs when we were home to try to make ends meet. Life was such an immediate struggle. But with the success of our last record, for the first time we were able to just focus on the music without having to worry about the electricity being turned off. That change in our lives as a band is an answer to prayers we’ve been praying for the last decade. We’re all in awe of what God has done, and that gratitude is present all over the record.”
The project’s first single, “Higher”, is one of the most direct expressions of that joyful gratitude. A soulful celebration that the band collaboratively wrote around an inspiring horn riff, “Higher” ends up being a very unconventional praise song.
“Through all of our ups and downs one thing has never changed,” Chad says. “God is worthy of our praise and we’re constantly going to use our talents and our platform to lift Him higher. We were a little surprised when ‘Higher’ got picked as a radio single, but we’re glad it did. Sometimes the thing you think makes something too different for pop radio—in this case the Chicago-style horn section—actually turns out to be the thing that sets it apart just enough to make people sit up and take notice.”
While much of Follow Through contains that celebrative edge, it still draws from the grittier roots of personal experience. The straight-up-pop cut “The Cure” was inspired by Chad’s firsthand knowledge of what it means to be broken and seeking a remedy. “We live in a messed up world,” he says. “I came out of the drug culture. From what I can tell it’s even worse now than it was when I was in it. We’re all looking for some kind of answers, some kind of fulfillment. That’s been the state of humanity for thousands of years. But the good news is, there’s something to fill that hunger. There’s something to heal that pain. There is a cure and it’s Jesus.”
A third standout song (and a band favorite) on the new project tells Chad’s story of personal redemption more directly. “Life In The Death Of Me” is an autobiographical, soulful, hooky, hip-hop-influenced cut that showcases the skilled musical versatilities of Unspoken.
“‘Life In The Death of Me’ tells the hard story of where Chad was,” Mike explains, “and how once he was raised out of those baptismal waters he found life in the death of everything else that he let go. That hit me so straight because I believe that is the gospel. We lose our lives to follow Christ, but in him we find real life.”
A band favorite—especially when they’re playing it live—is the down-and-dirty, forward-leaning slow-groove track, “Good To Me.” “This song was an absolute blast to create,” Jon says. “We wrote and recorded a lot of it in the back lounge of our bus while we were touring. I love the groove between the bass and the drums and I actually got to use all the music theory I studied back in college to figure out where I wanted to go with the bridge progression. For the musician in me, it’s probably the most satisfying song on the record.”
After a dozen years of hardscrabble touring, music and ministry, the members of Unspoken find themselves in this new season taking stock of where they are in light of where they’ve been and where they’d like to one day be. The title track itself, “Follow Through”, was written as a prayerful plea for the grace, strength and leading to continue the journey, and to one day get from here to there.
“We often talk about how it’s easier to start something than to finish it,” Mike says. “I think we’re all at a place of saying, ‘Lord we want to follow through with our side of the deal. We know we’re covered by grace so it’s not about earning our salvation or God’s love. It’s about how we want to be faithful to you and continue our calling. We don’t want to start something and leave it halfway.’”
“We’re happy to be in this new place in our careers,” Jon adds, “but when you finally receive something you’ve been longing for, it never quite fulfills in the way you think it will. Ultimately our satisfaction and fulfillment can only be found in surrender to Christ and we see that now more clearly than ever. Follow Through as an album and a song title expresses the desire of our hearts to make good on the commitments we’ve made to God, to our families, and to everyone else. It’s about learning to live in contentment and faithfulness in whatever situation God places us in.”
“I had felt burned out for a while,” Chad admits, “like I didn’t have anything left to give. The whole process of the last few years had just worn me down. I feel like this record is kind of a resurrection. And with the title track being “Follow Through”, the theme of finishing as strong as we did in the beginning, has emerged. We’ve found our second wind and now we’re feeling just as much passion and purpose as we did a decade ago before any of us had families, when it was just a bunch of guys traveling cross-country in a beat up Cadillac, serving people, not worrying about the money or bills or anything; just making music and doing ministry. I think this new album represents a fresh beginning for us spiritually and musically.”