Scripture Memory Songs from Jennifer Shaw

According to a LifeWay Research study, only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week, and 18 percent of attenders say they never read the Bible. A Barna research study showed that 60% of Americans cannot name five of the ten commandments. Similar surveys have shown that scripture illiteracy is at an all-time high, and Jennifer Shaw hopes her new project will help alter the current trend.

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Shaw is releasing a children’s music project entitled Scripture Memory Songs for Kids and Families, which features 30 word-for-word scripture songs from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible.

The NIV version is the second most popular version according to American Bible Society, surpassed only by the King James. The recording project also includes nine bonus Christian theme songs suitable for Vacation Bible School curriculums or for other kids-themed events. Shaw says the project has been eight years in the making.

“My church was looking for some scripture memory songs that were for older kids,” says Shaw. “Specifically, we wanted word-for-word scripture songs that included the references and were from the NIV. We could not find many options, and the ones we did find were for very young children and didn’t appeal to our age group. We wanted them to be fun and upbeat and cool– something the whole family could listen to in the car. So I decided to begin writing music to fit some scriptures that I wanted my own kids to learn and each year, I would write more songs to go along with our Vacation Bible School events. It just grew from there.”

Scripture Memory Songs for Kids and Families is targeted to kids from kindergarten age up to sixth grade, though Shaw admits she hopes that adults will listen with their children.

“It is definitely challenging to write music for scriptures as there is typically no meter or rhyme,” says Shaw, “but it is a great way for kids – and adults – to memorize verses. This generation of kids needs the Word of God embedded in their hearts and minds– maybe more than any generation before them. I hope this project will be a fun way for kids to fall in love with the Bible.”

Shaw has garnered several accolades within the Christian music industry over the past few years, including a #3 song on the national Inspirational radio charts. The music video for her self-penned song, “Your Child,” won a Telly Award and debuted on Focus on the Family’s “I Am Pro-Life” Facebook page to over 500,000 followers. The song has been used by Joni and Friends, a worldwide organization which serves people with disabilities, founded by popular author and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada.

Shaw’s book, Life Not Typical: How Special Needs Parenting Changed my Faith and my Song, was chosen for the Resource Library of Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. The book chronicles Shaw’s journey when her son, Toby, was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) at an early age. SPD is closely aligned with autism in that every autistic child has some form of SPD. One study estimated that 1 in 20 children in the U.S. are affected by the disorder.

Shaw’s song “God Loved the World,” which she co-wrote with Lifeway’s Songwriter of the Year, Paul Marino, was the theme song for the annual Evangelical Covenant Church conference and was featured in a Lifeway Christmas musical. The song was also made into an Easter choral anthem and became a #1 best-seller for Lifeway Christian Resources.

With degrees in both piano and vocal performance, Shaw completed her graduate work in opera performance at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music. A former professor at Cedarville University, Shaw now travels full-time as a singer and speaker. For more information on Jennifer Shaw, visit www.JenniferShaw.com.

I Luh God by Erica Campbell

Erica Campbell, known as one half of Gospel singing duo Mary Mary, has stirred up quite a bit of attention with her new song, “I Luh God,” described as “Trap Gospel.” Trap music first originated in the Southern USA (aka “The Dirty South,” as many rappers like to call it) in the 1990s, with an 808 kick drum or heavy extended sub-bass lines, along with an overall aggressive beat/sound. In other words, it’s the last thing you’d expect a Gospel singer to be doing– especially a female one who makes her living catering to the church crowd with her other big solo song, “I Need Just A Little More Jesus,” a very traditional hand clappin’, foot stompin’ churchy tune.

Campbell is seen regularly on TV on the WE channel’s Mary Mary reality show. Having watched this show, I can tell you it’s almost a little too real. You get to see what her life is like, including the good, the bad and the ugly. Lately, Campbell has been trying to build ‘the Erica Campbell brand,’ as she and her husband, producer Warryn of My Block Records, will often say on camera. With a song like “I Luh God,” as part of a re-release of her solo debut, quite a few on the Internet are saying what many are thinking: Warryn wants to make money selling records– thus adding this unusual song for his wife, which will definitely introduce her to a different crowd, and, in theory, sell more records and build the Erica Campbell brand.

Thing is, “Mary Mary,” which is, essentially, Erica, Warryn and Erica’s sister Tina, has always been about having one foot in the black church world and the other in the mainstream, secular, drug-using, 40-ounce drinking, party at ‘da club’ world. The Mary Mary debut was “Shackles,” which was a Gospel song that did well in dance clubs. Like Kirk Franklin around the same time, Mary Mary took the Gospel to the world using beats/a style that the world could “get.” Did this cause churchy folks to give them the side eye? Oh yeah, you better believe it. And they’re STILL doing it– just read the comments on some of the YouTube videos for “I Luh God.”

Here are some:

“Grown woman talking bout I luh God, you talking to the creator, everlasting father, alpha and omega and you saying Luh, and rapping like you some ghetto uneducated rapper, this is not Gospel, its trash, garbage unholy ungodly music.”

“yess agree..#epicfail…just too grown for this messs….leave this for the teeny boppers..don’t try 2 do too much until your run out…changing your standards for foolishness…”

“My 16 year old just listened to this and she said it’s a HOT MESS….MRS ERICA IS TOO OLD FOR THIS MESS. SAVE IT For Home gatherings and having fun with your family. Smh.”

“Booooooooo!!!!! What is luh?? No, baby, no. If a person can dance off of your song in the club and feel no conviction then something is wrong. I bet somebody is going to be twerking off this song. Nope!!!”

“Half of the kids can’t even spell LOVE…don’t make it worse….they also can’t even speak proper English…trust me I used to teach but had to stop because kids are idiots.”

“Couldn’t even make it through the whole song. Trap music for God now…..smh. So whats the goal here to have twerk teams and happy hrs for Jesus?? Please stop with the religious coonery, shucking and jiving. And y’all wonder why no one takes christians serious anymore.”

Meanwhile, the song has its defenders:

“Every body on the comments trying to act like they been saved all they life. Nah all y’all done been in the club listening to worldly music. This song still worship God no matter how you look at it. Y’all so busy judging her because the song is a upbeat song YALL MISSING OUT ON THE MESSAGE. Stop being so quick to judge & actually listen to the message.”

“This song got me TOO hype! The younger generation especially can bump this in their car with a positive message! I hope I don’t ever see Christians trying to criticize this work of ministry. She is reaching audiences that haven’t been reached before through this song with a powerful message of GOD! If you’re mad about this song and you’re a follower of Christ please find something better to do with your time and go grow some edges or something. While she’s out there ministering what you doing?………..I’ll wait…”

“I LOVE this song, not all the time do I want to listen to slow corny/sappy gospel songs. They’re great for when you’re going through hard times but when your prayers have been answered and you’re feeling good, this is what i would want to listen to. People are looking too much into it. Its gospel with a hip hop beat, its not that serious. Younger people (my generation) will listen to this song because of the beat and listen to her message. I still got the message as I was dancing in my car. People wake up, you can express your LUH for God in anyway you choose.”

“Why is there so much outrage towards this song. Because she sung holy words over a trap beat? I never knew one’s beat selection tarnishes the purpose of a song. So when Kirk Franklin added a dose of Hip-Hop to his music it was fine because he had a choir singing on it? The point of this song is to pass a message. Erica is brilliant for making the first gospel song on a trap beat because that’s the direction music has moved to. When people hear this, they’re going to want to dance. They’re going to want to sing along. They’re going to memorize the lyrics and want more, meaning they’ll be more interested in the word of God. Lighten up, people.”

What do you think of “I Luh God?”

For me, the way she slurs her words, it sounds like she sayin’, “I luh God, you luh God, what’s wrong witchu?” However, she is saying, “I luh God, you duh luh God, what’s wrong witchu?” So she’s saying, “You don’t love God? What’s wrong with you?” I’m wondering if other people will miss the duh/don’t?

One thing’s for sure: “I Luh God” has got people talking, and to stand out in today’s music/media world, you gotta get ’em talkin’. –Mark Weber, ChristianMusicMakers.com and MarkWeberMusicBlog.com

The Bible in Pop Culture

When I saw the title, All You Want To Know About The Bible In Pop Culture, I was instantly intrigued being interested in both the Bible and pop culture. Of course I’d be looking for references to music groups in this new book from Kevin Harvey, and I did find some.

Chapter 1 started out talking about comic book superheroes, especially Superman. Chapter 2 covered movies like Bruce Almighty and Signs. Later chapters dealt with TV shows like Lost and Duck Dynasty.

In the old days, everyone knew the same movies and TV shows because there were only 3 or 4 major channels. Nowadays, there are so many films and shows that my guess is you haven’t seen all the aforementioned ones. I never watched Lost, so I wasn’t that interested in reading about it…

So, finally, Chapter 7 gets to music. The author talks about Egyptians, Israelites, Moses and references to singing in the Bible. Ho hum. There are some up-to-the-minute references to Imagine Dragons, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, but nothing too compelling to make me want to turn the page.

The end of the book contains trivia questions, crossword puzzles, mazes, and other games.

Who is this book aimed at? I **think** it’s written with teenagers in mind? Or is it for twentysomethings or soccer moms? Honestly, I am not sure. All You Want To Know About The Bible In Pop Culture isn’t first on my list of go-to books about Christian music versus “mainstream, secular, popular music,” but I guess it’ll find its audience. –Mark Weber, ChristianMusicMakers.com

 

Fellowship Creative releases Alive In Us EP

Fellowship Creative exists to point people to Jesus, and the heart behind that mission has been captured on their newly released live EP, Alive In Us, which released March 31. Listeners are already responding to the project with enthusiasm as the EP rapidly climbed the iTunes Christian & Gospel Chart, peaking at No. 1.

Alive In Us is a collaborative effort of artists who have emerged from Fellowship Church, a church driven by creativity that utilizes the arts to engage people with the Gospel.

“We’re striving for every ounce of songwriting and artistic expression to point people to who Jesus is and who we are to him,” said lead worshiper Derric Bonnot. “The whole EP is a journey of the neverending truths of God’s love and promises.”

Alive In Us was recorded earlier this year at C3 2015– a creative church conference where pastors and leaders from around the world came together to worship, connect and learn from one another. Fellowship Creative artists are in the process of writing and recording new songs for a full-length album, set to release this September. –ChristianMusicMakers.com

Plumb preps to Exhale

Multi-genre recording artist, songwriter, and author PLUMB is finalizing her seventh studio album, titled EXHALE, for release May 4, 2015. EXHALE follows the tour-de-force success of her previous album NEED YOU NOW, an intense collection that coincided with the artist’s personal struggle in her marriage up through her family’s restoration. This story ultimately lead to the artist writing her memoir, titled ‘Need You Now: A Story of Hope’. EXHALE is the resulting collection of songs filled with worship and thanksgiving.

The concept of EXHALE was born from a Sunday sermon at PLUMB’s home church in Nashville, TN. Much of Plumb’s message in her 2014 memoir was focused on hope, with her firsthand testimony being, “Hope is oxygen and we all need to breathe.” In this particular sermon, her pastor, Pete Wilson of Crosspoint Church, reinforced the concept that Christians do not exist for themselves but rather to come into church to breathe in grace, hope and truth so that they can then go out and “exhale” into their surrounding community.

Fireflight’s Wendy Drennen writes about her trip to Jamaica

After building a fiercely devoted following across four albums pushed through the major label system, including The Healing Of Harms, Unbreakable, For Those Who Wait (which cracked Billboard’s Top 100) and the No. 1 Christian Rock album, Now, which surfaced in Spring 2012, Fireflight is currently getting ready to share its 5th full-length album celebrating the 15th year of the band. Its first new album in over three years, INNOVA is a masterful step forward utilizing the innovative tools available to established bands in 2015, while building on a storied history that includes a Grammy nomination, major festivals and nearly 400,000 albums sold. INNOVA will be releasing independently through The Fuel Music on May 5, 2015, and has already sparked the band’s 8th No. 1 hit, “Resuscitate.” Refined during a season of pain, uncertainty and frustration, the upcoming album stretches the limits of its art, reinventing itself while continuing to connect with its fans on a personal level.

Bass player Wendy Drennen wanted to share about her recent trip to Jamaica with readers of ChristianMusicMakers.com; here’s her story…

Over the past few years, Glenn and I have felt God preparing us for the trip that we had the opportunity to take last month. From watching a documentary about downsizing and another one about living on $1/day in Guatemala, to reading Rich Sterns book, The Whole In Our Gospel, to deciding to adopt internationally, God had definitely been ripening our hearts for the 10-day trip to Jamaica that he dropped into our laps a month before our departure date.

Through some of our close friends, who have spent the last 10+ years pouring into a small town in Jamaica, my husband and I were able to travel to Jamaica with our four-year-old son for a 10-day trip. In those 10 short days, we were able to get to know the lovely people of Pepper, St Elizabeth and help our friends prepare a building to open a mini-mart that will be a business opportunity for some young men they’ve come to love there, as well as an opportunity to help the community grow with provisions closer to home.

It was very evident upon our arrival at how much the small town of Pepper respected and loved our friends. Children would arrive outside of the apartment where we stayed as soon as school let out. We enjoyed teaching them games, playing with sidewalk chalk (either on the trees or the veranda of the apartment we stayed at because there weren’t any sidewalks and the roads were in very bad shape), drawing, having a glow party with glow sticks we took with us, teaching them some guitar basics, and giving some of the girls manicures and pedicures.

There are several young men that our friends have guided and mentored since they were in elementary school. These guys, young boys when our friends first met them, now help provide for their moms and younger siblings by working odd jobs when they can find them. Since the town of Pepper is such a small community, there are not many job opportunities to be found without taking a taxi to the closest town about 30-40 minutes away, and even those towns don’t have much to offer in the way of job opportunities. Our friends, having a heart for helping these young men better themselves and be able to provide for their families, purchased a “mini-mart” for them to learn to run. While we were there, we helped them to ready the building to be stocked. They are hoping to open the mini-mart on May 1, 2015. This will not only provide job opportunities for the young guys we got to know while we were there, but will also provide a store close to home for the families of Pepper to purchase their basic food needs.

While we got to know these young men and some other families in the town of Pepper, it was humbling to see how much community, love, and care for each other they have that we seem to have lost in our communities at home. In our busyness to work, pay our bills and reach for the “all American dream,” it seems we’ve forgotten the real values of life and no longer make an effort to help meet the needs of those less fortunate than us and truly model the love of Christ. Because our culture has us so discontent with what we have and always looking out for ourselves, no matter how much we have and are blessed with, we continually think we don’t have enough or need to strive for more. I read recently that a person in the bottom 5% of the American income distribution is still richer than 68% of the world’s inhabitants. So if your family doesn’t have a second car, a nice vacation every year, or even a mortgage, you are still richer than two-thirds of the people in the world!

Returning home and getting back into my daily routine, I want to strive to be less consumed with my own needs, and open my eyes to the needs of those around me, not only those closest to me, but in my community as well as the world. I believe that if instead of being consumed with our next big vacation, job opportunity or next house we want to buy, we modeled the love of Christ and the New Testament church by having more compassion to help those less fortunate, everyone would be better off and there would be more Christ followers in the world.

Say hello to WorshipMob

What happens when there’s no agenda, no ego, no limits and no expectations? When a disparate bunch of burned-out singers and musicians whose souls are sucked bone-dry by week-in, week-out service simply show up for no other reason but to see what God has up His sleeve?

Sure, there’s talent in the room, and plenty of it. But there’s something so healing about laying down the individual to become part of a mob.

WorshipMob began in Colorado Springs, CO, in 2011 for the sole purpose of ministering to worship leaders, empowering them to minister to each other and experience worship together beyond church walls. To simply allow space for God to move, for these musicians to respond and to, eventually, share the result for free with people all over the world.

“Originally, the idea was to capture as close to a live worship experience as possible,” explains Sean Mulholland, a worship musician who started WorshipMob in his home studio. “I was quite jaded at the time, and the worship experience I was part of every week didn’t seem real to me. It felt like a musical performance with a few, select people. I wanted to know what it would feel like to get a bunch of people like me, mostly singers and musicians of a similar caliber, and go for something more free, to see where the Holy Spirit might lead.”

Within a year, word started getting out, and it was standing room only in this little “hospital for worship leaders.” But the numbers belied the most significant growth. “A year in, it started developing in a way we could not have imagined,” Garrett Chynoweth, who serves as a lead pastor for WorshipMob, says. “It began to explode… in expression, heart and spirit…we didn’t try to impose a particular style or sound on it, instead allowing people to find their own voice.”

What developed was a new kind of mob culture; a unique community wherein the greater expression is less about individual contribution and more about serving the whole. Less about what you bring to the table; more about what God brings to the table.

“Our culture is enthralled by talent, but we lose focus in that,” Garrett continues. “In WorshipMob, every gift we have is put on the altar, everything is surrendered for the glory of God’s Name, and soaked in God’s presence and in agape love, consistently, week after week. And in that atmosphere, people are transformed, released from their struggles for validation to find their true, complete identity. Empowered, fully righteous and free in the finished work of Christ.”

This is the emphasis found in the WorshipMob live worship videos—independent and made available online for free to everyone—which have already touched lives around the world with over 9 million views and 54,000 Youtube channel subscribers to date.

WorshipMob’s CARRY THE FIRE—its first project in partnership with Integrity Music—captures not only the core concept behind this unique servant/musician community but also the impact, the contagious joy and regeneration discovered in its wake.

Intimate, spontaneous, at times ambient, at times exuberant, but at all times collaborative, WorshipMob’s CARRY THE FIRE expresses the joy, freedom and empowerment of life infused by the Spirit of God. From the opening verses of “Satisfy” (Come lay down your burdens, And I’ll become your peace) to the benediction of “Love Break Down These Walls,” it’s not about our effort, but about response to what God has done and is doing,” Garrett explains. “The fire of God’s presence is in people’s hands because Christ lives inside. It’s a natural outflow, not a forced thing or expectation. It’s in your hands because you’re a child of the king who has given you all authority and power to face the enemy.”

“Arrested By Grace (You Call Me Worthy),” a driving modern anthem of irrevocable acceptance in Christ, sets the tone for the album. “If there’s one song that captures the core of our message,” says Garrett, who co-wrote the songs with his wife Elaina and Nico Perez, “the chorus and the bridge of this song say it all.”

Adopted by perfection, you rejected my rejection,

Made whole by resurrection, I’m yours…

“Love Outran Me” stands out as a hallmark on the album. “It’s the song of my life, and if you knew the story of my life, you’d know there are no theories in my faith,” says Garrett. The grandson of a polygamist cult leader who was eventually imprisoned, Garrett spent his formative years without his father—who was murdered by cult members—in witness protection, then orphaned by his mother who committed suicide. “God became my Abba at a young age. I was afraid for my life for four years, with no one to comfort me but the Holy Spirit… this is my journey. My ministry now, and the message of ‘Love Outran Me,’ especially for people hearing the gospel for the first time, is this: ‘You are deeply loved and not judged.’”

You reached through my darkness, to pull me in

You stood in my place and became my sin

To these dead bones, You say, arise, arise

When I couldn’t do it, You crossed the distance

Your love pushed harder than my resistance

I was a slave, You said, be free

“Light Up the World (Rain Down On Me),” written by WorshipMob’s Seth Enos, serves as both a call to worship and a powerful reminder that God’s redemption is ongoing.

Spirit fall down, rain Your glory /Come have Your way / Come have Your way Father hear us, crying for You to / Come have Your way, come have Your way

The song is the first “concept” video shot by WorshipMob, whose members gathered to create a tribute to victims of Colorado’s Black Forest Fire that destroyed over 500 homes and 14,000 acres in June of 2013. “We knew people who’d lost some property in the fire,” Sean explains, “so about 40 people showed up to shoot the video in the ruins of the fire, to capture this whole concept of redeeming loss in the world. To present a picture that the heart of God is to light up the world.” The riveting result, much of which is filmed as rain soaks the charred landscape, captures the spirit of this collective.

Ultimately, WorshipMob represents something we all come to terms with at some point in our lives: the answer to the question ‘Who am I?’

“We’re all trying to work out who we are and how we’re supposed to serve God,” Sean says. “My whole life, I wanted to make a career of music, which is often destructive to our souls. It wasn’t until I turned 40 that I gave up and began learning surrender over and over again; new ways of trusting God, who has a better and more creative plan than ours, who protects his children from getting in over our heads… Anything that happens is the fruit of that surrender.

“What I’ve learned from starting WorshipMob is that most of us are missing who God already created us to be, missing the internal peace,” he continues. “Our hearts are to encourage people to seek this intimacy with Father, to seek their true identity in Him. Only in him do we find our true value; only in him is peace and contentment, whatever our circumstances.”

Written by Melissa Riddle Chalos

Jesus music: brought to you by Allstate Insurance Company

It is interesting to see that Gospel music has corporate sponsors…for instance, there’s the Allstate Gospel Superfest television extravaganza being filmed on Saturday, March 21. The show will be at Chicago’s House of Hope Arena with “a star-studded array of performers, hosts and presenters that resemble a made in Hollywood presentation,” according to the press release. Hosted by Vivica A. Fox and others, look for performances by Kelly Price (who was a total jerk in the show R&B Divas: LA so I don’t like her, at all), Dorinda Clark-Cole, J. Moss, and Vanessa Bell Armstrong, among others.

The show is title-sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company of Northbrook, IL.  Allstate has been title sponsor of The Gospel Superfest for seven consecutive years.

“We are absolutely thrilled to work with the Allstate Insurance Company. It is a privilege and honor to have the faith and confidence of a prestigious corporation like Allstate,” says show founder and executive producer Bobby Cartwright, Jr.

Queen of Christian music to release third hymns album

Amy Grant, the Queen of Christian music, has been popular since the 1980s and had many hits, including a duet with Peter Cetera (“Next Time I Fall”) and, more recently, two albums of hymns. Well, just like the movies, there’s going to be another album of hymns since the first two sold well. Teaming up with her hubby Vince Gill, they’re bringing ya Be Still And Know…Hymns & Faith this April 14th. The April release will include two newly-recorded songs produced by Gill: “Power In The Blood” and “Be Still And Know.”

And the Queen of Christian music will pair up with the King of Christian music, Michael W. Smith, this May, for concerts celebrating the new album.

Be Still And Know…Hymns & Faith
1. Power In The Blood
2. Be Still And Know
3. Jesus Take All of Me (Just As I Am)
4. Rock Of Ages (Featuring Vince Gill)
5. Carry You
6. This Is My Father’s World
7. El Shaddai
8. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
9. It Is Well With My Soul/The River’s Gonna Keep On Rolling
10. My Jesus, I Love Thee
11. Deep As It Is Wide (Featuring Sheryl Crow and Eric Paslay)
12. What A Friend We Have In Jesus/Old Rugged Cross/How Great Thou Art
13. ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus
14. Softly And Tenderly
15. Holy, Holy, Holy

NEEDTOBREATHE to release Live From The Woods

NEEDTOBREATHE is a Christian rock band which plays both Christian festivals and “mainstream secular” ones. They’re going to release their first live album, Live From The Woods, April 14th.

Recorded in Nashville (which is where all the Christian rock bands record), the album will include “Washed By The Water,” “Something Beautiful” “Keep Your Eyes Open,” and “Multiplied.” It’ll be a two-CD set.

As mentioned earlier, NEEDTOBREATHE is straddling the line between preaching to the choir and preaching to the unwashed masses. That said, they’ll have a new single out called “Brother,” featuring Gavin DeGraw, which they hope will make a splash on the Hot AC radio stations that soccer moms listen to. The video for that song will be on Vh1.com– they play music videos?!

Look for the band on tour starting April 23rd. They’ll be on the road this summer with Ben Rector, Switchfoot and others.

The return of Tree63

Following a seven-year hiatus, internationally-renowned South African Christian rock band Tree63 is doing a Kickstarter campaign for its fans to participate in the recording and promotion of its seventh full-length album slated for release this summer. Following the enthusiastic reception the band received at a series of reunion events last year in South Africa, John Ellis (vocals and guitar), Darryl Swart (drums) and Daniel Ornellas (bass) reformed the trio and are working on new music.

While Tree63 has been on hiatus, John moved back to South Africa from the U.S. and released a solo album. Daniel has been living in Nashville touring and producing and Darryl started a recording studio in Canada.

“We’ve stayed in touch over the years and stayed friends,” says John. “Even though we’ve all ventured into other musical projects since, there hasn’t been anything like the special experience of playing as Tree63.”

“So when we got back together to play a few dates in South Africa in April 2014, we talked about making new music,” adds Daniel. “John has songs he’s written since, so we decided to come to Nashville and record this new album.”

Formed in 1996, the three-piece band first came to international attention with the release of their second album, 63 (Survivor Records), in 1999, followed by the 2001 self-titled release on U.S.-based InPop Records that sparked the radio hits “Treasure” and “Look What You’ve Done.” Picking up a Dove Award that year for “Rock Album of the Year,” the band went on to record four more critically acclaimed albums, release numerous radio singles, including the No. 1 hit and Billboard’s most played Christian Song Of The Year in 2004, “Blessed Be Your Name,” from 2004’s The Answer To The Question.

Tree63 toured with Jeremy Camp, Delirious?, Rebecca St. James, Festival Con Dios and others. They also made numerous appearances with the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, headlined Canada’s multi-denominational Christian youth conference (YC) events and more.

“The music industry has changed in a lot of ways since our last album, and we now have the opportunity to independently release our own record,” says Darryl in anticipation of the new album. “However, without a record label behind us, we also don’t have the money they would usually give us to make a record… But, we don’t want to cut corners; we want to make something we and our fans can be proud of and enjoy!”

Matt Maher’s fifth studio album is called Saints and Sinners

Since his 2008 major label debut, Catholic recording artist, songwriter and worship leader Matt Maher has become a staple in the artistic and songwriting community. A five-time GRAMMY® nominee, he has garnered multiple radio successes writing and recording songs like “Lord, I Need You,” “Hold Us Together,” “Christ Is Risen,” “All The People Said Amen” and “Your Grace Is Enough.” Maher has penned songs recorded by Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Third Day, Matt Redman, Hillsong, Passion and Meredith Andrews, among others.

On March 17, Maher will release his fifth studio album, Saints & Sinners. Inspired by leaders of faith who left profound marks on Christianity, Saints And Sinners boasts a collection of cuts highlighting influencers such as Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa.

Co-produced by Maher and longtime friend and collaborator Paul Moak (Third Day, Mat Kearney), Maher also brought together a host of songwriters including Thad Cockrell (Leagues), Jon Foreman (Switchfoot), Bo and Bear Rinehart (NEEDTOBREATHE), and Jason Ingram.

Darlene Zschech on worship and mission

Taken from her bi-monthly column in Worship Leader magazine, Darlene Zschech is a regular contributor to Worship Leader magazine and will be a general session speaker at National Worship Leader Conference in Kansas City, KS June 23-25. 

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I’ve been really praying about this topic: worship and mission. These two words are like fire in my belly; they daily give me my purpose and reason. They are not entirely separate from each other; they are almost like a bride and groom—hard to have a wedding with just one of them. Yet mission will always be trumped by worship for worship abides forever. As we continue to create God’s throne room here among us, building his glorious throne of praise and going deeper in our understanding and experience, we will realize the passion God has for the lost and broken, that everyone needs to hear, see, and know the goodness of the gospel.

Revelation
I continually find myself in John 4, seeing and hearing the scene where “true worship” is discussed by Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Seeing once more that when Christ’s Lordship is established, living waters are our promise, our inheritance, our radical need, and God’s even more radical provision.

As we continue to reveal Jesus in every area of our lives, I see God’s throne being established among us in our churches, in our communities, in our families, in our new experiences and in our traditions. For wherever He is enthroned, there you’ll find hearts that are open and thirsty for the one thing none of us can acquire elsewhere, only from relationship with Jesus: Living Water.

How can truthful and authentic worship be anything but missional? In genuine worship we are constantly declaring God’s goodness, always announcing and declaring that he is with us, always being filled with joy in his presence, always announcing freedom, always dependent on the Holy Spirit to fill us, change us, lead us, and turn our sorrows into joy, our mourning into dancing.

More Than a Song
To worship with our life means that it is not just in the singing of songs that we find our hearts emblazoned with mission, but it is the result of a worshipful life where mission finds its expression in the going, the sending, and the daily expression of our faith in the ordinary. As Christ followers, all that we are should be somehow resulting in bringing the love and light of Christ to our world. Is this mission? Yes. Is this worship? Yes.

Limitless Connection
I’ll never forget sitting in the South African dirt with a beautiful four-year-old boy in an orphanage in Johannesburg. It seemed nothing could reach his lonely little heart, no toys or games, not even the crazy young musicians traveling along with us could find a way to connect with him. His eyes were glazed over; I cannot bear to think about what he had endured at such a young age. So in the dirt, into his gorgeous, perfectly formed little ears, I started to sing, “Jesus loves me.” It only took moments for his stunning tear-filled eyes to look up, and it was like our hearts connected right there and then. Building Jesus a throne in the middle of the dirt. As we drew near, he drew near to us (Jas 4:8). That’s the promise. There is no other name like the name of Jesus to heal our wounds, calm our fears, walk with us through suffering, and to even hold an aching four-year-old heart tenderly in his hands. This little boy’s heart was opened to the love of Jesus, and he experienced what it was like to draw from a well that could never be taken from him, and certainly never run dry.

I may not have been leading lots of worship through music over the last 12 months, but the mission of my life, as a worshiper, has not changed one bit. As I’ve sat in doctors’ waiting rooms and laid in bed for many months, that call to take Jesus to every sacred place burns in me just like leading people to his glorious courts through praise does. Living our lives poured out … in response to his great love for us…

That the world may know!

Love you dearly, Darlene 

Lonnie Hunter to release “Forever I Will” and #GETITDONE

Stellar Award winning recording artist, choir conductor and syndicated radio show host Lonnie Hunter has signed with Tyscot Music & Entertainment, the oldest minority-owned and operated Gospel music label in the USA. Tyscot will release Hunter’s new radio single, “Forever I Will,” in March, from his forthcoming #GETITDONE album.

A Chicago native, Hunter began his career as a runway and print model but music was his first love. He was a soloist for the U.S. Air Force Jazz Band and a celebrated gospel choir conductor. He was well known for his work with the Voices of St. Mark Choir where he produced three albums for Malaco Records that resulted in the radio hits “Even Me” (The Drip Drop Song),” “Let’s Dance” and “There’s Power In His Name.” He began his radio career with Chicago’s #1 gospel radio station WGCI where he dominated the morning drive ratings for three years. Since 2007, Hunter has been a radio personality with Radio One where he currently hosts the nationally syndicated afternoon drive program “The Lonnie Hunter Show.” He also serves as Pastor of Worship at Bethany Baptist Church, a 26,000-member church in Lindenwold, NJ, where Bishop David G. Evans is the Pastor.

Inpop Records Update

Inpop Records, a Nashville-based entertainment company, is coming off an immensely successful 2014 and is preparing for a monumental lineup for 2015. To kick off the year, Inpop is celebrating the release of Just Kids (Inpop/Aware) on Feb. 24, the highly anticipated album from critically acclaimed singer/songwriter MAT KEARNEY.

Additionally, Inpop is announcing two new additions to their roster: Pop/hip-hop artist V.ROSE and Southern/Pop act CONSUMED BY FIRE. Both of these new artist’s music will be prominently featured in the upcoming film “Four Blood Moons,” as well as the soundtrack which Inpop will distribute this summer.

FOUR BLOOD MOONS (Goose Creek Productions/Inpop) is a theatrical one-night event exploring a rare lunar phenomenon that over the centuries has accompanied both tragedy and triumph for the Jewish people. From Pastor John Hagee’s New York Times best-selling book of the same name, “Four Blood Moons” is in theaters March 23 and the DVD releases June 23.

“2014 was a great one for us,” says Mark Lusk, President of Inpop. “We are really proud of the success of “God’s Not Dead” and the artists involved. We are expanding Inpop in ways we never have before. We are broadening our reach and making our focus on not just delivering great music, but developing brands that will make an impact for years to come.”

Last year, Inpop was awarded three RIAA Gold Certification Awards. The first was for the Shane Harper single “Hold You Up,” which also claimed the #1 spot at Christian radio for multiple weeks. The two other awards were for NEWSBOYS for their “God’s Not Dead (Like A Lion)” single and the God’s Not Dead album. In addition, Inpop released “Let Them See You” from the JJ Weeks Band, which finished 2014 as one of the most-played tracks at Christian Radio.

Inpop is an independent entertainment company based in Nashville, Tenn., that was founded in 1999. They are committed to the unique visions of our artists and are passionate about using music and film to inspire popular culture. Key artist releases include Mat Kearney, V.Rose, Newsboys, The God’s Not Dead Motion Picture Soundtrack, Consumed By Fire, and the Four Blood Moons Soundtrack.

For more information on Inpop and its roster of artists, please go to http://www.inpop.com.

Church Triumphant from David Glenn

Your church will probably be singing “Church Triumphant” from David Glenn. It sounds exactly like the type of worship song you hear in every evangelical, non-denominational megachurch in the USA.

“I’m always writing with a congregation in mind and ‘Church Triumphant’ was no different,” says Glenn, who often draws comparisons to contemporaries like Chris Tomlin and Passion. “During one of my writing sessions with Jason Cox, I told him that we needed to write a song for the church to sing about who we are corporately, as a body – the Body of Christ. ‘Church Triumphant’ is a powerful, driving reminder of who we are and why we are here.”

Worship leaders will be excited to know that “Church Triumphant” is available at CCLI, and the charts, lead sheets and click track loops are available on PraiseCharts.com. Worship resource videos will be releasing soon, including a bass and drum tutorial.

Glenn’s first national album, “Relentless,” was released in 2013 by Glenn’s own Evident Music label. Originally released only to digital outlets, early buzz and a Top 25 debut on the iTunes Christian and Gospel Albums Chart led to a national distribution deal with Nashville-based Elevate Entertainment, who quickly placed the album in stores nationwide.

Worship Leader Magazine selected his song “You Reign” for their popular Song DISCovery series, and Glenn has been featured on numerous television programs including LESEA Broadcasting’s “The Harvest Show,” Cornerstone Television Network’s “Real Life,” Christian Television Network’s “The Good Life,” nationally syndicated talk show “Babbie’s House,” “Atlanta Live” and more. Glenn has toured with Newsong and shared the stage with Hawk Nelson, Earl Bynum and others.

Glenn is currently in the studio working on a new album, due later this year.

For more information, visit David Glenn online at www.davidglenn.com.

News about Christian and Gospel music from Mark Weber

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