Darlene Zschech puts her highest hope in Jesus

World-renowned worship leader, best-selling author and Hope Unlimited Church Sr. Pastor Darlene Zschech recently released In Jesus’ Name: A Legacy of Worship and Faith Jan. 10 from Integrity Music/Provident Distribution. The 14-song album is a celebration of Zschech’s ministry and features such well-known anthems as “Shout To The Lord,” “Worthy is the Lamb,” “The Potter’s Hand” and “In Jesus’ Name.”

Also included on the recording is Zschech’s song, “My Highest Hope,” which you’ll be hearing on the radio. Written during her recent battle with cancer, the song, and this album, is a declaration that despite what our circumstances are, we have hope and victory in Jesus’ name.

Pray to the Risen One

My highest Hope

I trust You with my life

Lord over every fear

Your love is holding me

“I KNOW that His love rests upon me like a warm, thick blanket that makes me feel SO comforted and safe no matter what is happening,” blogs Zschech. “As I put my HOPE in Him, His love will engulf me, and I will be stolen away to a place no one else can go, because it’s a place reserved for Him and me. There is a place in Christ designed just for you too. I KNOW that by His grace I can encourage others to seek first the Kingdom of God, with all they are, for evermore. Every day matters.”

What to know about the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir has a new live CD coming out called Pray. Here’s some Q&A with choir director Carol Cymbala, followed by 10 things you might not know about the choir…

Church choir worship is becoming less prevalent in many churches today.  What is the key to sustaining and maintaining a vibrant choir ministry?
I’ve been directing the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir for many years, and week after week, I look up at about three hundred people singing with all of their hearts to the Lord, and every time I am moved and the congregation is touched. I see them lift their hearts and their hands and their voices to God in worship and praise, and I see how their hearts are stirred by music.  I really believe that it’s very important that in the church today, if we are going to have a choir, that the people in the choir need to be committed members, who have a heart for God and a heart for ministry. I also believe that the choir directors need to focus on seeing lives changed through the power of the Gospel in song.  There’s just something really beautiful and powerful about seeing so many people lifting their voices to the Lord in praise in one accord.  I pray that there would be more choirs that would be raised up in the day that we are living in so that we can sing a song of praise and victory to our God because He is worthy of all our praise.

Why is corporate worship so important to a church service and how do you motive the congregation to participate?
Corporate worship not only lifts up God and glorifies Christ Jesus, but it invites the Holy Spirit to come into our lives.  Jesus said the Spirit would glorify Him.  When we truly worship, we open ourselves to the power of the spirit, which helps us open our hearts to hear from God. The praise teams should never perform praise and worship.  If we simply perform, our congregations become spectators instead of worshipers, and it is vital that we worship from our hearts in spirit and in truth.  Worship is contagious, and when we worship as a choir and praise team, the congregation, in turn, begins to lift their hearts and worship God. I also believe our song selections should be simple enough that young and old, the diverse body of Christ, can lift their hearts in praise and worship together as one.

What events are coming up for the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir this year?
We are very excited about premiering the new CD in February.  We are already planning a very special Easter production that we put on every year. We have many outreaches during the year, and one of our most anticipated outreaches is when we can bring in the homeless of our city and are able to minister to them. We have a lot on our schedule and we’re really excited to see what God is going do.

What keeps you motivated as a choir director to find new songs?
I love the old hymns.  I love so many songs that were written the past, but I’m so grateful to the Lord that he can give people new and fresh music that can minister to those that do not know Him, and those that know him can be blessed and renewed. Thankfully, God has used many of these songs to be an incredible blessing here in our congregation and around the world.

What excites you most about the new CD?
One thing that is so special to me about the Pray project is that it focuses on the Gospel. The bible says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” There is an eclectic mix of songs on this album– from contemporary Christian to praise and worship to gospel– but the one thing we’re really excited about is that on this project, there are songs reminiscent of the traditional Brooklyn Tabernacle choir sound. As I look at the condition of the world today, I see so many people who are hurting and looking for answers, and we know that Jesus Christ is the answer. Our prayer is that this new CD will point people to Him.

10 things you might not know about the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

  • They do not use and have never used sheet music to teach songs to the Choir.  It is all by ear.
  • Director Carol Cymbala doesn’t read music, yet has been blessed to win six Grammy Awards and multiple Dove Awards.
  • The Choir’s first album was recorded in seven hours from start to finish in 1981. No overdubs, stacking or effects.
  • When the Choir did their first concert at Carnegie Hall, Carol played the piano for the entire concert.  She was the first musician for the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
  • Carol is married to the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, Jim Cymbala.
  • The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir started with nine people, all of whom were untrained vocally.
  • The Choir has recorded over 200 songs.
  • The Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers, which is the primary traveling group for the Choir, is made up of many of the Choir’s soloists and strongest vocalists.
  • The Choir has sung in almost every major venue and theater in New York City including Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden and many more.
  •  The Choir sang at the 2013 Presidential Inauguration.

David Crowder scores #1 song with Come As You Are

GRAMMY®-nominee and folktronica artist Crowder is celebrating his first career No. 1 single for “Come As You Are.” The song, the second single from his album Neon Steeple, is slowly moving towards one of the most successful and influential of Crowder’s career as a solo artist and with the David Crowder*Band. “Come As You Are” sits in the top spot on the Christian AC Indicator chart this week and holds a Top 10 spot on the National Christian Audience chart, reaching a listenership of over 7 million people.

Big Daddy Weave visits Cambodia with World Vision

On January 11th, Big Daddy Weave embarked on a trip to Cambodia with World Vision, where they saw first-hand the work that World Vision is doing and the services they are providing. A long-time partner with World Vision, having endorsed child sponsorships at numerous shows throughout their career, Big Daddy Weave has played a key role in fulfilling World Vision’s mission.

“Over the years, Big Daddy Weave has connected over 13,000 caring fans with children in need through their sponsorship,” says Lee Broadwell, World Vision Artist Representative. “We were honored to take them to Cambodia last week to experience our transformational development programs and meet the precious children, families and communities we serve in the name of Christ.”

During their visit, which was largely documented on film for future efforts to aid victims of human trafficking, the band learned more about Cambodia’s history, the horrific realities of genocide and visited with young women, formerly enslaved in human trafficking, who are now being treated for their trauma and are on their way to re-establishing healthy lives with the help of World Vision. “Our trip to Cambodia was one of the most terrifying, really heart-wrenching field experiences of my entire life,” says Mike Weaver of Big Daddy Weave. “I’m not sure I really know how to put into words the things that we’ve seen and the depth of what we felt there. All I know is that I left having fallen in love with the people of Cambodia.”

In February, Big Daddy Weave launches the second leg of their tour, which also includes Jason Gray, Citizen Way and Lauren Daigle, during which time they will also be working on a new studio album—their first since 2012.

Bethel Music presents We Will Not Be Shaken

Bethel Music, the worship ministry of Redding, CA-based Bethel Church, releases internationally with Provident Music Distribution its critically acclaimed We Will Not Be Shaken CD/DVD Jan. 27. The recording will also be available through digital retailers beginning Jan. 26. Prior to the release of the highly anticipated project, Bethel Music streams for the first time ever the entire new album through an exclusive ‘First Play’ on iTunes Radio: iTunesRadio.com/BethelMusic. Those that pre-order the album now through Sunday will receive two instant downloads, including the title track, which hit No. 1 on the Christian & Gospel iTunes Top Songs chart, and “Ever Be,” which continues to hold the No. 1 position on the iTunes Top Music Videos all genre chart.

In addition to the iTunes Radio stream that began earlier this week and runs through Tuesday, RELEVANT begins streaming the full album on its “The Drop” today and through Sunday. Last Friday, Bethel Music also premiered on its Facebook page for free the complete We Will Not Be Shaken film to over 25,000 Facebook fans from around the world. Recorded during an evening of worship on a mountaintop overlooking Shasta Lake north of Redding, the live album and DVD present 11 new songs led by the Bethel Music Artist Collective, including Brian Johnson, Jenn Johnson, Hunter Thompson, Amanda Cook and Matt Stinton, as well as debut artists Kalley Heiligenthal, Hannah McClure, Paul McClure, Jonathan David Helser and Melissa Helser.

The We Will Not Be Shaken album (produced by Bobby Strand and Chris Greely) and film (directed by Nathan Grubbs and Luke Manwaring) chronicle the sound and breath-taking visuals from a multi-camera shoot that includes aerial views from a drone aircraft’s camera flying overhead at this unique gathering.

Meant to be a catalyst for other worship communities to take hold of what it means to “not be shaken,” We Will Not Be Shaken’s title track was birthed in a spontaneous moment of worship on a Sunday morning service at Bethel. The song hails a message of promise amidst adversity and the victory believers have in Jesus, while the recording powerfully captures the track’s energy and declaration, inviting listeners to join in praise.

We Will Not Be Shaken has been named one of HearItFirst.com’s most anticipated albums of 2015 while LouderThanTheMusic.com names Bethel Music “Artist of the Month.” CCM Magazine adds that there “is quite a bit of buzz surrounding the anticipated release from Bethel Music…and it’s all warranted. This is an album that simply soars above the rest… Every track holds a different aspect of beauty…flawless.”  NewReleaseTuesday.com continues, saying the new album features “anointed lyrics that are both emotionally stirring and grounded in truth alongside musical atmospheres that quiet the soul while simultaneously clearing space for God to speak.” Christian Review Magazine says in its 5-star review that the album is an “out-and-out worship release on which each track contains lyrics that praise and glorify God, and point toward His faithfulness, love and grace.”

Christian Wrestling presents Wrestling With Satan

If you listen to the Christian Wrestling promo video, you’ll hear TobyMac’s song, “Slam,” in the background. Wrestling With Satan is a DVD which follows the Christian Wrestling Federation as they travel across the U.S. with “an arsenal of hope, faith and professional wrestling action.” From humble beginnings deep in the heart of Texas, you can follow this band of “evangelical warriors” as they pack up their ring and preach the message of Jesus Christ to hundreds of wrestling fans in small towns across the nation, “savings souls with both head-smashing and Bible thumping.” This is their incredible story of “determination helping others grapple with Satan.”

Chris August sings about The Maker

“I love the maker and the maker loves me,” is the stand-out lyric from Chris August’s song, “The Maker.” It’s the first single from August’s third studio album, due on April 7. The video for “The Maker” was shot at Olympic National Park in Washington State.

Sweet Honey In The Rock sings Give Love

Internationally revered a cappella ensemble SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK have announced the release of a special tribute video featuring their song, “Give Love,” to honor the birthday and annual national holiday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which will be celebrated on Monday, January 19, 2015. Sweet Honey, who celebrated their 40th Anniversary in 2014, have used their art form and voices to defend civil rights, social justice, equality and freedom for all throughout their sterling career. The video was inspired by one of King’s most notable quotes, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the King holiday and the fifteenth year the holiday has been nationally recognized by all the States.

In a message encrypted in the video, Sweet Honey states, “In these current times of political unrest, social injustice and senseless violence throughout the world, we felt impelled to offer something special to honor his incredible life. His many poignant messages have touched and inspired us as artists, none which are more timely than his staunch beliefs in the power of love and non-violent civil protest. We dedicate our song and video, ‘Give Love,’ to his legacy and our belief in love of self, family, children, country, culture, history, truth, freedom, justice, equality, nature and most importantly, love of God and all things spiritual.”

Sweet Honey members featured on the recording included Louise Robinson, Carol Maillard, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil and former member Ysaye Barnwell.

For more information go to: www.sweethoneyintherock.org

Ross Young writes Guardian Angel song

Ross Young is a Canadian songwriter who wrote a song called “Guardian Angel.” If you’d like to hear it, click here.

After four years, DeWayne Woods is back

Gospel music maker DeWayne Woods is back in the spotlight with his first album in four years. It’s called Life Lessons and it’s due in stores on February 3rd.

Best-known for “Let Go” (2006) and “Living on the Top” (2010), Woods pulls out all of the stops on this collection that stretches him beyond his musical comfort zone.

“I can honestly say this is the kind of creative project I’ve always wanted to record where there is enough on it to cater to everyone, but not lose my core,” Woods says of his third faith-inspired album. “It’s always great to think about building your audience as you grow in your career, and I definitely feel this is the record to do so.”

The current Top 20 radio single, “Friend of Mine,” is an upbeat tribal rhythm boasting cameos by Anthony Hamilton and erstwhile Blackstreet crooner Dave Hollister. Noted producer/ songwriters such as P.J. Morton (Ruben Studdard, Robert Glasper), Gerald & Tammi Haddon (Tamar Braxton, Erica Campbell), Estee Bullock (Hezekiah Walker) and Cedric Shannon Rives (Le’Andria Johnson) deliver brilliant songs reflecting Woods’ current state of mind. He also dusts off Donald Lawrence’s 2002 chestnut “Can I Lay In Your Arms.” Mint Condition’s Larry Waddell and Stokley Williams wrote and produced the smooth Quiet Storm-styled ballad “They Said.”

“Over the last few years I’ve experienced extreme ups and downs with life, depression, disappointment with my career and even the feeling of being left behind,” says Woods who has worked on projects with artists ranging from Celine Dion to Atlantic Starr. He recorded two albums with the latter in the late `90s. “When I started receiving music, I always made sure the songs I chose spoke to some part of my life. As the record started to build and my manager and I worked with the writers about certain things I wanted to express, I realized it became a teaching record full of lessons that I’ve learned over the years. I’ve gone through these experiences not just for me, but to help someone who may be experiencing the same things.”

Beverly Crawford to sing at Stellar Awards

Gospel music maker Beverly Crawford is slated to perform at this year’s Stellar Awards, which tape on March 28 in Las Vegas. Last summer she scored a top 10 hit with “Sweeping Through The City.” Crawford and her husband/manager Todd Crawford currently co-pastor The Gainesville Family Worship Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Kingdom Bound Music Festival 2015

Kingdom Bound Music Festival 2015 will be held at Darien Lake Theme Park near Buffalo, NY, this July 22-25th. Ride roller coasters. Hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Make new friends. Sing. Laugh. Renew your faith. Camp overnight with bonfires. Spend time with friends and family. Rock out. Worship the Lord. Enjoy life. For details, visit www.kingdombound.org.

J.J. Hairston to direct music at City of Praise

Gospel music maker J.J. Hairston, known for his work with Youthful Praise, is now the Director of Music at City of Praise in Maryland.

“J.J. Hairston is a tremendous blessing to the kingdom of God and we are elated to have him and his wife Trina as part of the City of Praise Family,” said the church’s Bishop and Pastor Peebles. “While many people are familiar with his tremendous musical gift, we appreciate his kind heart and loving spirit. J.J. and Trina Hairston are dynamic examples of God’s Love and are perfect fits for the tremendous assignment given to the City of Praise Family Ministries to ‘save families, one soul at a time.’ We rejoice and look forward to building God’s Kingdom together.”

For over a dozen years, Hairston’s group Youthful Praise has been one of the most popular contemporary gospel choirs in the USA. Their hit songs “After This,” “Lord of All,” “Resting on His Promise” and “Incredible God, Incredible Praise” have served as the soundtrack to the lives of scores of Millennial-age churchgoers. The group has appeared on national TV programs such as “Good Morning America,” BET’s “Celebration of Gospel,” “Conan O’Brien,” BET’s “Lift Every Voice,” “Lady Gaga & The Muppets Holliday Spectacular” and BET’s “Sunday Best.” The ensemble’s 7th CD, I See Victory, recently peaked at #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Gospel Albums sales chart.

Super Bowl Gospel Celebration

The 16th Annual NFL-sanctioned Super Bowl Gospel Celebration will kick-off Super Bowl XLIX weekend on February 1, 2015 at Gammage Hall on the campus of Arizona State University in Phoenix, AZ. Who’ll perform? Natalie Grant, Israel Houghton, Donnie McClurkin, Fred Hammond, and Mali Music.

New Beyond Me song from TobyMac

Five-time GRAMMY® winner TobyMac is giving his fans a treat for the start of the New Year – a new studio single and two new remixes. Available now, TobyMac’s “Beyond Me” is the first new single from his forthcoming studio album. In addition to “Beyond Me,” TobyMac also released two new remixed versions of the single – Phenomenon Remix by Soul Glow Activatur and Moodswing Remix. The tracks are available now at all download and streaming music services.

Share your thoughts on Andrae Crouch

Andraé Crouch died today, January 8, 2015, at 4:30pm PST at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles. The Gospel music pioneer earned 7 Grammy Awards, 6 GMA Dove Awards, an Academy Award nomination for “The Color Purple,” induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His songs have been recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley to Paul Simon, and he worked as a producer and arranger with many of music’s top artists, including Michael Jackson, Madonna, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, and Elton John. He was 72. Use the “leave a reply” option to share your thoughts on his passing and your memories of the music he helped create…

African Children’s Choir celebrates 30 years

The African Children’s Choir takes little African kids on tour around the world to sing for audiences. Along the way, kids learn about God’s word, get an education they otherwise wouldn’t have, and are guided to become leaders and change makers in Africa. It’s a marvelous organization that’s been active for 30 years now!


2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 55,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 20 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Liz Black to host Gospel 360

One of the New York City area’s most popular Gospel music radio personalities, Liz Black, has been tapped by Superadio Networks LLC to host the nationally-syndicated entertainment news update “Gospel 360.”

The ninety-second daily faith-based entertainment news update began running on forty gospel and urban radio stations throughout the country on December 30th.

“Joining Gospel 360 gives me an opportunity to bring listeners up close and personal with their favorite artists,” says Black. “It’s an honor to have been asked to join the team and I am excited about the possibilities.”

Eric Faison, VP of Affiliate Sales/Marketing for Superadio Networks in New York City, is equally enthusiastic. “Superadio is excited to have Liz Black as the voice of what we think will be the ‘must have’ daily short form feature for Gospel radio in 2015…Gospel 360. Liz is the best Gospel radio talent in America and now every station can have her as a part of their line up.”

Black began her radio career as an announcer on New York Tri-State area Christian radio stations such as WWDJ, WMCA and WFDU in the late 1990s. She moved to New York’s #1 24-hour gospel station WLIB 1190 AM in 2007 where, in addition to hosting her own show, she frequently sits-in for Bishop Hezekiah Walker’s “Afternoon Praise” weekday radio program. In 2010 she joined the legendary R&B radio powerhouse WBLS 107.5 FM where she hosts “Sunday Praise.” Black is also the nighttime host on WMCA 570 AM, a Christian Talk station. She still finds time to host “Midday Café” on K107 FM Jamz in Toronto, Canada as well as producing and hosting a syndicated weekend program on The Rejoice Musical Soulfood Network.

CCM Classic partners with Salem Music Network

CCM Classic is proud to announce a new partnership with Salem Music Network, doubling the national reach of their flagship program, CCM Classic Radio. The show now airs on over 200 stations nationwide.

On Salem Music Network’s 90 stations, CCM Classic Radio will air each weekend immediately following the popular and long running CCM Radio Magazine. Check local listings for air times.

CCM Classic Radio, which highlights Contemporary Christian Music from the 70’s through the new millennium, launched in February 2013. The hour-long show has featured interviews with Christian music pioneers such as The Archers, Dallas Holm and Don Francisco, as well as many current hit makers like Jaci Velasquez, Plumb and Mark Schultz.

“The greats of contemporary Christian music deserve a platform in today’s musical landscape,” says co-founder Michael Lederer. “Today, traditional radio only allows for a very small segment of current music to be played and that has a very short shelf life. Music that endures the test of time deserves to and needs to remain on the airwaves.”

News about Christian and Gospel music from Mark Weber


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