Hillsong United in the USA

After recent stops in India, Singapore and Indonesia, Billboard Music Award winners Hillsong UNITED will bring their highly acclaimed EMPIRES tour to the United States, featuring special guests Rend Collective. In their first touring return to North America since 2013, EMPIRES tour will kick off February 11in Sunrise, Fla. and end with two dates in Honolulu, Hawaii. Due to sold-out shows, additional dates have already been added to the band’s U.S. trek.

The Australian-based Hillsong UNITED has a long history of sold-out shows in the United States, including notable venues such as the famed Hollywood Bowl (Los Angeles), Staples Center (Los Angeles), Red Rocks (Denver), ShoWare Center (Seattle), Gwinnett Center (Atlanta) and BankUnited Center (Miami). Hillsong UNITED holds the record for largest attendance ever in the Sears Centre Arena (Chicago, IL), outdrawing concerts there by such legendary performers as Billy Joel, Elton John and the Eagles. Since 2006, Hillsong UNITED has toured six continents and 42 nations.

“We haven’t really done our own thing in the USA since WelcomeZion 2013, so we are super excited to be bringing the EMPIRES tour to the states,” shares Joel Houston of Hillsong UNITED.  “We write songs to be sung with people – they are always for the people – so when we get to sing these songs with people on the road, it is the purpose of why we do what we do! We can’t wait to worship with people singing all the new EMPIRES songs as well as everyone’s favorites.”

“Say The Word,” the latest single from Hillsong UNITED’s EMPIRES is currently impacting radio. The track picked up 30 adds in only two weeks. EMPIRES strongly debuted in Spring 2015 at No. 1 on Billboard’s Christian Albums Chart and No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200. The album was met with appearances on The Today Show and Yahoo! along with critical acclaim from the likes of USA Today and The New York Times which remarked their talent as “a musical powerhouse.”

For more information on the EMPIRES tour, visit hillsong.com/united/#tours.

EMPIRES 2016 Tour
February 11 – BB&T Center – Sunrise, FL
February 12 – CFE Arena (University of Central Florida) – Orlando, FL
February 13/14 – USF Sun Dome – Tampa, FL
February 15 – Smoothie King Center – New Orleans, LA
February 16 – FedEx Forum – Memphis, TN
February 18 – Cedar Park Center – Austin, TX
February 19 – American Airlines Center – Dallas, TX
February 20 – United Supermarkets Arena (Texas Tech University) – Lubbock, TX
February 22 – Gila River Arena – Phoenix, AZ
February 23 – Citizens Business Bank Arena – Ontario, CA
February 26/27 – Neal Blaisdell Arena – Honolulu, HI

Jcksn Ave

Maroon 5’s PJ Morton is on a mission to influence the urban musical landscape with inspiring new music such as the velvet-smooth sounds of the captivating Urban Pop sister act Jcksn Ave. Their debut digital single “All These Dreams,” is now on iTunes.

Morton first spotted the group at one of his concerts. “I was performing and they were dancing and having a good time in the audience,” he recalls. “I noticed their energy and they looked cool! They introduced themselves after the show and the rest is history.” He liked their vibe and now they are making good vibrations on Morton Records. These five blood sisters (Madison, Jessica, Moriah, Kristian and Hannah) have been singing, writing, arranging and producing their own music since 2001. They hail from Memphis, TN where they first sang in church before graduating to high school shows and singing around The Bluff city. Now, Jcksn Ave’s goal is to just make great inspirational music that uplifts the spirit, entertains the mind and blurs cultural barriers.

Skillet has biggest digital single in Christian music history

Upon RIAA 2x platinum certification anda ccumulating over 2.6 million in sales and streams, multi-platinum rock band Skillet’s hit single “Monster” continues to live up to its name, now recognized as the biggest digital single in Christian music history. Even six years after its release, the song continues to dominate, touted by Billboard at the close of 2015 as both the No. 1 Christian, and No. 8 Rock streaming song of the year.  The band was also recognized as the No. 1 Christian and No. 9 Rock streaming artist of 2015 on Billboard’s year-end charts.

“2016 marks Skillet’s 20th anniversary, and the band has been with the Atlantic family for a dozen years now,” noted Atlantic Chairman & CEO Craig Kallman. “They have accomplished what few bands ever attain – true career longevity alongside constant creative growth. This fantastic achievement for ‘Monster’ is not only a milestone in Christian music, but a landmark in the history of rock. All of us at Atlantic are deeply proud to play our part in the amazing Skillet story.”

Also commenting on the significance of this accomplishment, Word Entertainment President and CEO Rod Riley remarked, “Skillet is firmly among an exclusive and elite group of game-changing artists spanning the course of Contemporary Christian music history. With the achievement represented by ‘Monster’ becoming the biggest digital single in the history of the genre, the band has only further cemented their position as trail-blazing leaders.”

After heavy domestic and international touring in both the Christian and general market, Skillet is currently recording their next studio project in LA with producer Brian Howes, who produced their 2003 hit project, Comatose,  as well as notable projects with Hinder, Simple Plan, Puddle of Mudd, Nickelback, Daughtry, Halestorm and Hedley.

Mystic Chapel

Mystic Chapel starts with a Prelude called “Journey’s End.” It’s an instrumental guitar song that’s a bit haunting; it feels like a person has been walking a long time through the woods and is finally finding refuge in a building during a rainstorm. Toward the end of the Prelude, a bell rings. What’s inside of this place?

“Come Let Us Worship” follows the Prelude, and it sounds as if you’ve walked into an Irish pub, with fellows singing about the Lord: “Lord have mercy…for thou art God, thou art holy…” It couldn’t be more different than the moody Prelude.

This is Mystic Chapel, an album by Michael Glen Bell and Duane W.H. Arnold, billing themselves and/or their music as “The Project.” Mystic Chapel is relatively quick, clocking in just over half an hour, but the musicians use their time well.

Might it sound odd for me to say their music reminds me of Phil Keaggy meets The Beach Boys? There’s a bit of the surf rock, old hippie sound to songs like “Joyous Light” and “From On High.” This is not today’s corporate American vanilla Coldplay-sounding megachurch music. Nope, this takes you back to a time when guys with guitars started singing in churches that had previously only used organs.

Interestingly, Bell and Arnold are trying to ask the question “What if we still believed?” Mystic Chapel is very religious lyrically, but still accessible to those with no faith or those who feel like they’re “done” with church. It’s a thinking man’s album in a world of vapid and bland albums. It also feels like you’re stepping back in time to a different era for the church, music and the world in general; Maybe you’re just stepping into a literal Mystic Chapel? That’s for you to decide.

If you like guitar music with pleasant harmonies and Anglican/Catholic-style lyrics sung to God, investigate The Project’s Mystic Chapel. –Mark Weber, Christian Music Makers