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Music

  • Interview with Michael W. Smith

    Posted on November 5, 2014 by Family Christian

    The other day, I had the honor of interviewing Michael W. Smith! Enjoy!

    Kristen Jeffery

    Social Media Coordinator at Family Christian

     

    FC: Hello Michael! How are you doing?

     

    MWS:  Doing great! Thank you!

     

    FC: Well, I know you just released your newest cd, The Spirit of Christmas, so it is only natural that we ask a Christmas question.  Can you share with us a favorite Christmas memory that you have?

     

    MWS: Just growing up in my house…all the kids…. I mean I don’t even know where to start.  We have our traditions. Christmas is a BIG thing at the Smith house.  Just huge!   We’d pull out the Christmas albums every September 1; everyone opens a present on Christmas Eve.   A great Christmas memory is probably when I got my first red, sparkling drum set when I was 7 years old.  You know, I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven!  I’ll never for forget that.

     

    FC: Speaking of gifts, do you have a favorite gift that you received for Christmas?  I know mine was the Barbie Ice cream shop

     

    MWS: Love that!

     

    FC: I did too! Was yours your drum set?

     

    MWS: Probably so.  It was a game changer for me.

     

    FC: I heard a quote from you that in your 31-year career, The Spirit of Christmas is the most unique album you’ve created.  Can you expound on that for us?

     

    MWS:  Well I think it’s unique because of all the people who are on it.  I’ve never actually had as many guest artists on an album in my life, other than the artists that were on the worship album that sang in my choir.  These are people that are stepping out.  I’m singing solos with them and people that are mostly not from my genre, you know Contemporary Christian music.  This is an A Level group of amazing people.  Carrie Underwood being one of them. Bono’s on the record.  I mean it’s just insane.  I’m just sort of pinching myself that we actually pulled it off.

     

    FC: I’m sure.  When I was looking at the list of artists performing with you, it’s going to reach such a huge audience!  You’re hitting all the different tastes that people could have for the different genres of music and different talent it’s just phenomenal!

     

    MWS:  Well I think so.  You know I think we have something really special going on.  Just take me out of the equation and I think it’s just an amazing record, just from what these people brought to the project.  It’s pretty off the charts.

     

     

     

    FC: That sounds amazing! I know I will be picking up a few copies for my family this year.  You’ve got a tour going on this year and some confirmed tour dates for 2015 as well.  Is there anything else you are working on right now?

     

    MWS:  No, I did an exclusive album for Cracker Barrel that I worked on and then Sovereign came out in May and then the Christmas record and it’s just like wow! 3 records in one year for me.  Pretty crazy!

     

    FC: Here at Family Christian we believe strongly in the power of prayer.  In fact, we have a team that gathers daily to lift others up in prayer.  So how can we be praying for you right now?

     

    MWS:  You know what, probably just it’s such a busy, busy time.  It’s pretty non-stop from now till the end of the year, till Christmas.  Just pray for my health, for protection as we travel everywhere. I think just some of those things.  Kristen, business can wear you out if you don’t watch it so please pray that I’ll get my rest and that we will all stay healthy on the road and my family as well.  Thank you very much!

     

    FC: Thank you Michael! Have a blessed Christmas season!

     


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, Kristen Jeffery and was tagged with Music, Christmas, Michael W. Smith, interviews, christmas music, Kristen Jeffery

  • Interview with We Are Leo

    Posted on October 13, 2014 by Family Christian

     

    By: Kristen Jeffery, Social Media Coordinator at Family Christian

    This week I had the opportunity to speak with David from We Are Leo.  Read the full interview below.

    FC: Hello! Thank you for your time today.  I hear you all are gearing up for a new tour.  Can you tell us about it?

     

    David from We Are Leo: Absolutely.  We are on for part of the Acquire the Fire tour that is starting in Spring.  We’ve done Acquire the Fire in the past, and it came to Lansing and I think there was about 7,000 people there.  I think the greatest thing about it to me is that I get to talk to all the fans after the show and just pray with them and talk to them and share our stories with them.

    FC: I have actually been enjoying your new single “You’re the Best Thing”, here in my office.  What does this song mean to you?

    David from We Are Leo: This is for my testimony.  I came out my teenage years sort of feeling really lost and  just fighting a lot of depression and loneliness.   And with my story of reaching out to Christ and Him coming and rescuing my life, that was such an epic change for me to be like God  loved me and to feel loved instead of rejected and at that point I realized this is what I have been looking for my whole life and for me singing this song “You’re the Best Thing” is coming back to that point and being thankful and remembering that God changed my life and despite the busyness or whatever else comes along in my day to day life I want to remember that He is always the best thing.

    FC: Your new album is called “Fightback Soundtrack” and it releases tomorrow (10/14).  What do you hope that people take away from your new album?

    David from We Are Leo: Yes. I think the overarching theme of this is bravery and not being afraid.  In the Bible it talks so much about not being anxious and Paul talks about not being anxious and I love that relationship and the idea of being strong and courageous.  Fightback Soundtrack,  the whole idea of it is ‘Yeah,  you need to be strong in the Lord and when things come against you and things happen you’re not defeated and you can overcome those things and keep your head up. ‘  And to be brave because God’s love can make us brave.  That’s what I hope people will take away.

    FC: What changes can your fans expect from “Hello” to “Fightback Soundtrack”?

    David from We Are Leo: That’s an awesome question!  Way to go!   This record we made it on our own.  In November we decided it was decision time.  We felt like God was telling us to keep being persistent and that we have things to share and talents that He was calling us to use.  We put it up on Kickstarter and it came through on the last hour of the last day. 

    FC: Awesome! Making it even more of a God story right?

    David from We Are Leo: It is totally a God story!  Totally.  I really can’t even believe it really happened. I think on this album you will hear a more mature sound and get a feel for what we truly sound like.

    FC: We have a prayer team here at Family Christian and we meet daily to pray for others.  How can we specifically be praying for you?

    David from We Are Leo: Thank you.  Be praying for wisdom.  And be praying that these songs will be heard by those who need it the most.    

     


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Music, interviews, We Are Leo

  • Interview with Matthew West

    Posted on September 29, 2014 by Family Christian

    Recently Family Christian was able to interview artist Matthew West.  Please read the interview below and be looking for his release of "Believe" on October 14th.  His single "A Christmas to Believe in" is sure to speak to your heart this Christmas season.  We are thrilled that his album is going to be available exclusively at Family Christian stores!

    FC: Matthew, Hello! How are you?

     

    MW:  I am doing great.  Thanks to you, I've been in the Christmas spirit since July!

     

    FC: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.  You know we are so excited for your October 14th release of Believe.  Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your song “A Christmas to Believe in” ?

     

    MW:  When I was asked to write a song based on this broader theme of "believe," the first title idea that popped into my head for some reason was, "A Christmas To Believe In."  Something just felt classic and special about that.  Then, I began to unpack all of things that title could mean.  One of the things I wrote down on my lyrics sheet one day was a list of titles that substituted other words where the word "believe" would be.  I began to think of what, sadly, Christmas might actually feel like for so many hurting people.  For the person battling depression around the holidays, they might say it's  "A Christmas to SURVIVE."  For the unemployed father who's worried about providing for his family, he might be feeling like it's "A Christmas to try to AFFORD." For the family that's been torn apart and is dreading the one time of year that they all have to be under one roof it could be looked at as "A Christmas to ENDURE." And the list went on and on.  I guess this song is my wish for people, that they will be reminded this December how the word "believe" is powerful enough to erase all of those other words we might be using to describe this Christmas; that the One we believe in is strong enough to flood our hearts with hope this year and show us what a Christmas to Believe In is really like.

     

     

    FC:  What is your favorite Christmas memory from your childhood?

     

    MW:  My favorite Christmas memory is actually in the final lyrics of this song.  "It's grandpa's bible opened up, to Luke chapter two..."  Every Christmas morning my dad would stop us before opening all of the presents and we would read the story of the birth of Christ. There was something very centering about that moment before the chaos ensued; our hearts were brought back to the reason why each Christmas really is a Christmas to believe in.

     

    FC:  I hear that you are currently working on your next project and I’d love to hear about it.

     

    MW:  Yes, I'm very excited about it!  And I'm also a bit nervous.  But those are always two emotions that seem to precede every record I do, and those are two emotions that seem to always mean that something special is around the corner in my life and in my journey of faith.  With this new record, I'm a man on a mission encouraging people to become a storyTELLER, not just a storyKEEPER.  I have been encouraging folks over the past few years with my records that their life is a story that God is telling, but there is not power in simply keeping that story to ourselves, God wants to use our story to change the world.  So, I'm giving people a chance to tell me their story.  We've received thousands of stories at my website so far, and I'm spending two months hidden away in a cabin reading every one of them and writing the new songs!

     

    FC:  Thanks again for your time today Matthew.  All of us here at Family Christian are incredibly honored that you wrote “A Christmas to Believe in” for us to have in our stores and online.  We want to take the time to thank you again.  We truly appreciate it.  It does mean a lot to us.

     

    MW:  I was honored to write the song for this project, and I hope the heartbeat of the song's message will ring true for all who get the chance to hear it this Christmas.

     

    FC:  One last question: We believe strongly in the power of prayer and we would like to ask you how we can be praying for you.

     

    MW:  I would appreciate your prayers for my time spent in the cabin reading stories and writing these new songs.  I want my heart to be open to what God is showing me and I am praying that I continue to write songs that tell the greatest story ever told!

     

    FC: Thank you Matthew.  Take care and be blessed.

     


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Music, Matthew West, Christmas, interviews, christmas music

  • Finding Peace as a Christian Artist

    Posted on August 16, 2014 by Family Christian

    Chelsea Kops from Brian and Chelsea

    I remember it distinctly-- the song “One of Us” by Joan Osborne softly played on the radio in my mom's car. My interest peaked as I listened to the words “what if God was one of us?”

    My version of Jesus was a perfect man wearing iridescent clothing, floating in the sky and shaking his head at my life decisions. Yet, these lyrics described a different Jesus-- someone who understood my pain, who could relate to me, and maybe even talk to me.

    At that time, I rejected the idea of Christianity, avoiding Christian music at all costs. Oddly enough, the secular-- even controversial-- song, “One of Us” still lingered in the back of my mind, along with the idea of a loving Jesus. Music was especially close to my heart since I had just started writing songs. As the years rolled by, my music evolved with it.

    Then at age 19, I gave my life to Christ. I began listening to Christian music non-stop to fuel up and draw close to God. That was about the time I ran into a dilemma-- now that I was a Christian, was I supposed to write Christian music?

    I tried over and over again to write a “Christian song”, but it usually felt unnatural and forced. My style of writing had always been metaphorical and illustrative, where the listener could derive their own interpretation and personally connect with the music.

    Every time I wrote a “Christian song”, I felt like I was robbing the song of its true story by spelling out how the reader should think and feel. I was living passionately for God, but I felt guilty every time I wrote a song that didn't explicitly say “God” or “Jesus” in it.

    Then God opened my mind.

    I took a break from songwriting and He showed me how limitless He really was. I began hearing him in songs that I once considered “secular”. I heard him in the quiet melodies of an acoustic guitar, in the gut-wrenchingly honest words of a broken-hearted songwriter, and even in the soaring harmony of a symphony.

    I realized that God is everywhere-- he's in every type of music, whether it's in the “Christian” genre or not.

    That revelation helped me reconcile my faith with my voice as an artist. I let God pour through my songwriting, without any fear or inhibitions getting in the way. As a result, I finally have peace as a Christian artist.

    For more about Brian and Chelsea, visit: brianandchelseamusic.com


    This post was posted in Music, Guest Bloggers and was tagged with Music, Christian Music, guest blogger, signing, song writing

  • Our latest and greatest

    Posted on June 24, 2014 by Family Christian

    Hope in Front of Me by Danny Gokey
    Duck Dynasty: Season 5 2-DVD set
    Sing Through the Bible DVD
    When Calls the Heart: The Dance DVD
    I’m Not High Maintenance Just Low Tolerance DVD

    This post was posted in Music, Movies, Kids and was tagged with Featured, Duck Dynasty, Buck Denver, Anita Renfroe, Danny Gokey

  • Go deluxe with these new tunes!

    Posted on June 19, 2014 by Family Christian

    Bonus tracks & more from top artists!
    If We’re Honest: Deluxe Edition by Francesca Battistelli
    Sovereign: Deluxe Edition by Michael W. Smith
    Passion: Take It All: Deluxe Edition by Passion Band
    WOW Worship 2014: Deluxe Edition by Various Artists
    WOW Hits 2014: Deluxe Edition by Various Artists
    Majestic: Deluxe Edition CD/DVD by Kari Jobe

    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Kari Jobe, Francesca Battistelli, Michael W. Smith, Passion Conferences, WOW

  • Paving the Way - Duncan Phillips, Newsboys

    Posted on June 11, 2014 by Dan Hubka

    With a worldwide gross of over $61 million, the movie, God’s Not Dead has taken the film industry by storm. The movie featured Newsboys singing their hit single, “God’s Not Dead.” As a result, the single has been certified GOLD by the RIAA, selling more than 140,000 tracks in the past 5 months.

    We sat down with Duncan Phillips, Newsboys drummer, for an inside look at the band, the music, and the film’s success.

    Dan: Duncan, talk to me about some of the influence that you're seeing from the movie, God's Not Dead and the amazing success that's been having.

    Duncan: About a year and a half ago, Pure Flix came to us ... maybe even longer than that now. They said, "Look, we love that song. We love the theme of the song. We're doing a movie right now. We'd like to bring the two together and make a movie called, God's Not Dead." We're like, "Yeah, fine. No problem." We get things thrown at us all the time, as you might expect.

    About a year and a half ago, we were in the middle of a tour somewhere in Texas and we've been kind of learning our lines… but not really. I thought there was going to be [only] a couple of red cameras. We get through the door of the tour bus, 7 a.m. is the call [time] which is early for us, and they have 50 people on deck. They've got their own catering. There's vehicles everywhere. There's cameras in the air. I'm like, "Oh my gosh guys… we're in trouble. We better go back and brush up on our lines!"

    It started out in about 800 theaters nationwide. I think it's up to about 2,000 theaters now, but the impact has been great and varied. I think one of the reasons why is [because] it's a subject that a lot of kids in high school or college can really relate to. It's a very liberal culture out there. It's very hedonistic. It's humanistic and 20 [or] 30 years ago, [they started] taking God out of school. Now, of course, they don't even acknowledge that there is a God. Well, we're smarter than that. We've got science, but science tells us that there is no God. [That] couldn't be further from the truth.

    It really is quite wicked when you look into it, but I think a lot of Christian kids [are] going to college and they're dealing with it on a daily basis. I think what [the movie has] done more than anything, is [that it has] really helped to empower kids who are in those situations to be able to come back with a legitimate answer and a response to the atheist agenda.

    There [are] a lot of intelligent people. I don't say they're necessarily smart, but there [are] a lot of very intelligent people that have decided to become atheists… maybe because of a past hurt or [they know] if they recognized that there is someone greater than themselves, then they [would] have to wrestle with that… The agenda is basically [that] we have evolved [and] we've come so far as human beings… that we [have become] our own god. That's a very fallible position, because then you're answerable to no one. Basically, you can do what you want to do. [There is] a spirit that goes along with it… a very anti-Christ spirit with the whole agenda. It's a very interesting time we live in, that's for sure.

    Dan: Yeah, it's interesting. I think part of the appeal of your song is the overt nature of the title, the song, and the movie, God's Not Dead. You're not tap dancing around anything. That leads me into the success of your current single that's out, the song, “We Believe.” Can you tell me a little bit about where that song came from and how it got to be where it is now?

    Duncan: Well, we love the song, “We Believe.” Michael Tait always says that if Billy Graham was to sing a song, it probably would have been a song very much like “We Believe,” because it's very short. It's sharp. It's to the point… My feeling [is] that you can be direct in what you say, but you can say it in a way of love, and I think that's what [the song] “We Believe” does. It's not [pointing] the finger, saying “You are going to hell if you don't act like this.” It's saying “This is what we believe. We believe we found the answer, and this is the way.”

    At the rehearsal space, I'd well up every time, because when you hear those songs and lyrics go over the crowd, over microphones and over [the] PA, it's a very powerful, sobering moment. We're playing [“We Believe”] live in the set every night. It's just this incredibly poignant moment in the set [when] people stand up, raise their hands, and just sing to the heavens, “This is what I believe.” Even at interviews, I'll well up… talking about the song, simply because it goes so deep for me.

    Dan: You've also now set a challenge out for me to try to make you cry at some point in this interview.

    Duncan: That can happen. I'm definitely a crier for sure.

    Dan: Obviously, it's resonating with people. Sometimes these things are cyclical and I think we're in a season now of wanting to stand up and be accountable for our faith. I think that's the power of “God's Not Dead” and “We Believe.”

    You guys are in a really unique position right now… the movie has brought life back to the God's Not Dead record and then you have your current single on the radio. Has your band ever experienced anything like this before?

    Duncan: We've had moments like this, but I don't think there's ever been a moment in the band's history where we've had a prior record stomping all over the latest.

    Dan: (Laughs)

    Duncan: I was just talking to someone earlier today [about] their impressions. I'm a numbers guy. I love numbers. We just got off Winter Jam… and over a three-month period of time, we [were] playing for nearly 600,000 people, which is amazing. The biggest, most attended tour in the first quarter, four years in a row. But [the first] two or three weekends of the movie, 5.5 million people [saw the] movie. If you're talking about clout, or impressions, or the perfection of the branding, it can take a band five [or] 10 years to have that many impressions, but we put in a 12 [to] 16-hour day, one and a half years ago. It's almost like the inertia has caught up and the weight is pushing the notoriety and the perception of the band to greater heights than it's ever been before.

    We've had 26 number one hits. We've had a lot of number one hits over the years but [the God’s Not Dead single] has been the quickest advancing [song] in Newsboys history to date, because it's a creed. It's an anthem. It's something that when people sing it, it resonates deep within their soul and their spirit. That's the power of a wonderful song. That's the power of a great song. That's why we decided to take our hands off and allow [other] songwriters [to work on it]. Just because you're in a band doesn't mean you're a great songwriter.

    I know we want to own everything. We want to write our own songs, and that's great if you're an amazing songwriter, but we were average songwriters. We definitely had our moments writing a great song, but I think we came to the realization that we were better at being a band. We're better at getting out there [and] playing a live show. That's where Newsboys shine. There [are] people out there [whose] craft is to write songs. We realize that and recognize that.

    Dan: Can you tell me a little bit about that process that changed from writing songs to finding songs? Do you have somebody who brings songs to you? Are you guys actively looking yourself? What's that moment when you go yeah, that's a Newsboys song?

    Duncan: Well, I think it's everything. It's a process, man. I think for the Restart record, we looked at about 70 or 80 songs, a lot of them great songs. They just [were not] “Newsboys.” There's a definite theme [for] Newsboys. There's definitely a sound. We have grown that sound.

    Although we've dabbled in songs like “We Believe,” “It is You,” “He Reigns”… I think Newsboys really [does] shine as a pop band.  I grew up loving the music of the 80s and I think you just want to go back to your first love in music. I love pop music. I love the three and a half minute pop song. I think the Restart record [is] probably the best pop record Newsboys has ever made. I'm very, very proud of that record.

    Dan: You're one of the most entertaining drummers to watch. I think that you somehow bring the audience to you and we feel the music. Can you explain what happens?

    Duncan: I never thought, as a drummer, that I should be invisible. I always told [the band] “I'm in this band, so why not perform just as much as the lead singer?” I wanted people to feel that they could do it. I wanted people to go, “Man, that guy is having the best time of his life.”

    A part of it really has come out of this feeling of thank you, Jesus that I still can do this. Literally, it's a joy of the Lord when you get something taken away or nearly taken away that's precious to you, or something that you believe is God-given and he gives it back to you tenfold, the joy and the appreciation and the gratitude that comes out of that is unspeakable. You look at some video footage of five years ago [and] I probably wasn't quite as energetic because I was [thinking] “Well, maybe this is winding down.”

    Sometimes change is painful, but when you come out the other side you can look back and then you go, “Oh, now I get it.” I think the change with Michael was necessary. I think it was a Godsend. At the time, it didn't feel like it though.

    I think when [most people are] in the middle of something, they [ask] “Where [are you] God? You turned your back from me.” No, he hasn't. He's just building your backbone. He's just taking you somewhere. A lot of times we pray, “God, take me further, take me to the next level.” You know what? The next level is painful. It hurts.

    Birthing is painful and somehow as we look at that we think God can't be in [it]. I've never believed that. Whenever we've had problems, I've always tried to [ask], “Where is God in this whole thing?” When Peter left and Michael came on, as bleak as it looked, I knew down deep that this is a God moment and the best was yet to come. [It] was a little faith statement at that time because we hadn't recorded Born Again. We hadn't recorded God's Not Dead. We hadn't recorded Restart. We've been with [the band] for a couple of decades. [I was thinking], “I have a wife and a young family. I've got a mortgage to pay.” All the practical things that people forget sometimes. It's not just [my] career-- it's my livelihood. It's how I put food on the table. When it was looking like it was going to go belly up, my whole world on every level-- physically, financially, spiritually… was absolutely drained, and so was the band. We were spent, but I think sometimes that's where God needs us to be to really turn [it] around.

    It gives me great confidence, saying that I really believe the best is yet to come. It's more than a wish. [When I] look [at] what he's done over the last five years, [I think], “Oh my gosh, what can He do in the next five years? Where can He [take] this thing in the next five years?” The sky is the limit. I really believe that.

    Hopefully, that encourages every other person, every other band that's come up behind us, because they see Newsboys do it. That's one of my biggest hopes in the industry… to encourage all those bands, all those artists coming up behind us, that it can be done. You can have a long, fruitful career in Christian music.

    To purchase Duncan's latest record with his band, The Newsboys, click here.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Newsboys, Duncan Phillips

  • Blog Summary for May 2014

    Posted on June 2, 2014 by Family Christian

    Here are the most popular blog posts as read by you. Thank you for following us!

    Shane Harper on Living Out the Gospel

    Shane Harper established himself as an artist with a quadruple threat—singer, actor, dancer, and songwriter. He began working as a professional dancer in the entertainment industry when he was just 13, appearing as a principal dancer in High School Musical 2, and in Nickelodeon's show, "Dance on Sunset".

    Shane transitioned easily into acting, and is recurring on the hit Disney Channel show, "Good Luck Charlie", for all 4 seasons. He guest starred on "Wizards of Waverly Place", and "So Random". He also guest starred in a 4 episode arc for the scripted MTV series, "Awkward."

    As an actor in film, Shane worked with Rob Reiner, in a supporting role for the movie, FLIPPED. He also had a small featured role in the Bollywood film, MY NAME IS KHAN.

    Shane has a principal role in the feature film, GOD'S NOT DEAD and recently, I sat down with him to talk about faith, Hollywood, books music and coffee.

    Read the full interview here.

    Michael W. Smith - Behind the New Album

    “Sometimes you’ve just got to shake things up,” Michael W. Smith says with a smile. After selling more than 15 million albums, scoring 28 No. 1 hits, earning three GRAMMYs and more than 40 Dove Awards, no one would blame the Christian music icon if he decided to coast just a little bit, but that’s just not in his nature.

    On Sovereign, Michael’s first worship album since 2008 and his first project since signing with Capitol Christian Music Group in 2013, he deliberately steps into a new creative chapter to craft a vibrant collection of vertically focused songs with a fresh sense of musical innovation.

    Read the full interview here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Nick took some time out of his busy schedule to do a little Q&A with us. Read them here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.

    Read the full interview here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Jon White and Cole Walowac have parlayed a long-term friendship and shared passion for music into one of the hottest careers in the industry. Despite their young age, the duo’s
    history is a lengthy one. “We were in the nursery in the same church,” Jon says. “We moved away to Massachusetts for a few years, Cole and I met back up in the same middle school and we started playing in the youth group band. Cole would play drums and I would sing and that’s how we started making music.”

    Read the full q&a here.

    All or Nothing with Mike from MIKESCHAIR

    The band may have been formed in a dorm room with a group of college friends, but it has since become a music ministry that has touched peoples hearts and minds all over the globe.

    Here is Mike Grayson, the lead singer of Mikeschair, speaking about how he got involved with music, his songwriting process, and explaining some of the tracks from the latest album, All or Nothing.

    Read the full interview here.

    Matt Maher. On Being Christian.

    Matt Maher's newest album, All The People Said Amen," fuses the popularity of his vibrant live show with several new studio cuts, offering fans an assortment of writing and performance styles.

    “This project,” offers Maher, “is a real collage of who I am musically. You’ll hear intimate worship songs, anthemic praise tunes often sung and shouted aloud together in unison, and celebratory songs that inspire the whole church.”

    I chatted with Matt on cold winter day.  What follows is a conversation on who Matt is, what he hopes to accomplish and how he just wants to sing about Jesus.

    Read the full interview here.

    Francesca Battistelli - A Girl. A Voice. A Mission.

    "The more you walk in relationship with the Lord, the more you learn to trust him. I'm learning not to focus so much on the issues I think are so big right now—our bus has broken down, or someone said something that frustrated me. I'm learning to slowly let things roll off my back, to say, 'Hey, God knew about this before it happened and He's got a way out or a plan better than mine.' I've learned to stop freaking out and just trust that God knows what he's doing. He's not going to leave me in a bad place because He never has before."

    Such it is with Francesca Battistelli. Honest. Simple. Beautiful. Intentional.

    We have all been exposed to her music. Starting with "I'm Letting Go," or "Free to Be Me." "This is the Stuff" or "Strangely Dim." It doesn't matter. For every time that "Franny" opens her mouth to sing, she is opening her heart.

    There is a vulnerable side to this young lady. And if you didn't know it already, you will be able to hear it by reading the interview below. Franny came to our corporate Christmas party to bring encouragement and holiday greetings. After I sat down with her, I was reminded again about her passion.

    Read the full interview here.

    Kari Jobe - Pioneering New Roads in Worship

    Dictionary.com gives the definition of pioneer in the following ways
    1. a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others.
    2. one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress.
    3. one of a group of foot soldiers detailed to make roads.

    For more than 15 years, well-respected worship leader Kari Jobe has been using her gifts to lead people into the presence of God. When she began leading worship at age 13, she never imagined she would be nominated for a GRAMMY®, win a Dove Award or be praised by the New York Times. She only knew she had a heart for broken people and a deep desire to lead them to the cross.

    Pioneer? This may be the word that describes who Kari is and what she hopes to do as an artist.

    I sat down with Kari and asked about her background. Where she came from, how she found Jesus and where is she going. Read the full interview here.

    The Life, Legacy and Music of Bill Gaither

    The pages of history have been written by ordinary people who had something extraordinary to say with their lives. Bill Gaither is just such an individual… an Indiana-born kid with an insatiable love for music who grew to become an industry leader who would change the course of gospel music history through the songs he has written and through his influence as a mentor for other artists.An avid fan of gospel quartets throughout his childhood, Bill founded his first group, The Bill Gaither Trio, in 1956, while he was a college student. He began teaching English in 1959 because his musical aspirations couldn’t support him full-time… yet. In 1962, Bill did one of the best things he has ever done. He married Gloria Sickal, who became the best writing partner Bill could have found anywhere. The couple spent the first five years of their married life juggling full-time teaching jobs, writing, singing, recording and publishing until music became their full-time career in 1967.

    Read the full interview here.


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Interviews, John van der Veen, Dan Hubka and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, Kari Jobe, Francesca Battistelli, Nick Vujicic, Michael W. Smith, Capital Kings, Bill Gaither, Matt Maher, Shane Harper, MIKESCHAIR

  • Below Paradise - an interview with Tedashii

    Posted on June 2, 2014 by John van der Veen

    John van der Veen

    Reach Records artist Tedashii has been a busy man since we heard from him last. Following the 2011 release of Blacklight, which debuted at No. 2 on the iTunes hip-hop chart, he’s had a heavy touring schedule that included his own concert series, The Unashamed Tour and The Rock and Worship Roadshow with MercyMe and Jeremy Camp, where he had the distinction of being the only hip-hop act. Then there was that guest spot on Lecrae’s Grammy-winning album Gravity, and Tedashii’s own hit track “Dum Dum” was featured on the popular TV show So You Think You Can Dance. And did we mention he’s also the host of his own weekly radio show, Serium, heard on NGEN Radio?

    Despite his demanding schedule, Tedashii planned to return to the studio shortly after he came off the road in March of 2013. But before he could lay down a single track, tragedy struck. Tedashii’s one-year-old son passed away suddenly, and the world stopped. There was no recording, no touring, just months of family time, counseling, and trying to find a new normal. While the healing continued, eventually, he knew he needed to get back to work. That interaction with people – both from the stage and before and after shows – is what Tedashii loves to do. So by June 2013 he began to ease back into performing, which he found to be therapeutic.

    I sat down with Tedashii for a one on one chat. What follows is a that conversation. A conversation about loss. About life. About living Below Paradise.

    John:               I'm wondering Tedashii if you could just bring us a little bit back in time and maybe talk a little bit about how you came to know Jesus as your savior and how that relationship more or less started with you.

    Tedashii:       I would be glad to do that. I graduated high school and got to go to this really small school, somebody might have heard of it, it’s called Baylor University. I got to go to Baylor, and when I got there I had a plan. My plan was to be the most popular and the most well-known student that school had ever seen from a party scene and from an academic scene. I was ready to hit the world by storm. Man, I had a lot of dreams, ambition, and aspirations.

    In the second month of my first semester this guy walked up to me on campus, never met him before, had seen him around but never met him, and it’s hot, and so on I'm ready to get into some AC, the wind isn't blowing it all, it’s really dry, it’s in Central Texas, so there's a lot of hills and I'm just tired. I just want to go in and not be bothered.

    This guy walks up and he says, “Hey, I heard the way that you interacted with your buddies, and I heard some of the jokes you guys told, and just how you carried yourself, I think that the Bible would call this sin.” He then proceeded to share the gospel with me. Told me I needed the Savior, the only savior was Jesus and I needed to be saved. I didn't know him from at all. I got super offended, pushed him, literally put my hands on him and showed him away from me and walked off upset, because here was this guy judging me.

    But for most of my life everybody told me I was a good guy, I was a good kid. Here was this one guy saying the opposite of everybody else, so of course I easily dismissed him. But in the days to follow I got injured, I lost my scholarship, and I was on my way home. My world was crumbling, it was crashing down.

    Literally as I'm hanging up the phone with my high school girlfriend, because she was breaking up with me, this guy walks by and sees me and he says, “Man, you look like you need to talk to somebody.” I was so frustrated that it was him, but I did, I needed to talk to somebody. He just started sharing the gospel with me again. This time I heard him, I understood it, and on that campus, in the middle of all that heat I just got on my knees and cried out for Jesus man.

    John:               So it was the same guy?

    Tedashii:       Same guy, same exact guy. We are friends to this day. He was the best man at my wedding and, man, he’s just a dear, dear brother in the Lord man.

    John:               That's pretty incredible man. Just that whole idea of confronting someone in their sin and presenting them with the gospel, I think the world might be a better place if we all ended up doing a little more of that.

    Tedashii:       Yes, very much so.

    John:               At what point, I mean, obviously you have a talent, obviously you are the artist, I am not. Your talent is that you do hip hop and you do it incredibly well.

    Tedashii:       Thank you man.

    John:               Absolutely. My question is was hip hop part of who you were before you were a Christian? Did it come later in life? I mean how did you end up moving into that realm?

    Tedashii:       Hip hop was definitely later in life. I grew up in a home. My mom was … I don’t think my mom was a believer at the time, but she was really religious. We grew up in the Bible Belt and so church is what you did. We were not allowed to do certain things because the preacher called it sin, so one of those things was hip hop. Hip hop wasn’t in my home. I couldn't watch videos. When everybody else saw videos, I didn’t know what they were talking about. I couldn’t listen to the radio station. Well, hip hop stations. We could listen to her music all day long, but couldn’t listen to my music.

    But my mom was a very musical person. She sang in the choir. She would sing around the city at different events. Then she also played a lot of soul and blues music, every now and again some jazz, but the weird one is country. She’d always play country too. I just got influenced by music and a lot of it at an early age. When I got to an age that I could … Well, I was about to say when I got to an age I could listen to hip hop, really when I got to an age that I could sneak hip hop in and not get caught, I listened to it all the time.

    But really the guy that led me to Christ and Baylor was the same guy who first encouraged me to write a rap song. He said, “Man, you're always listening to hip hop. You like to seat and freestyle and make up rhymes. Why don’t you write a song down?” I tried it. He talked me into doing it at a talent show and it was horrible. I got fourth-place on five people and it was really embarrassing then so I vowed never to do that again.

    But years later, really, really later I met Lecrae and I met Trip Lee and some other guys and these guys encouraged me to try it again. They thought I was good at it, they thought there was a gift there, some talent, and lo and behold they were right. The Lord was opening that door and he's continued to open it.

    John:               That is for sure, and the world has certainly been a better place ever since.

    Tedashii:       Praise the Lord.

    John:               Your new record, Below Paradise, is now available. Why don’t you talk a little bit about it. What’s the catalyst behind it?

    Tedashii:       Below Paradise is a very personal album, very, very near and dear to my heart. I've had three previous albums and I tell people I put my heart on my albums. But this one in particular I put my soul on it. I gave literally everything I had. The catalyst behind it was me trying to communicate what my life was like in 2013 leading up to 2014, just everything that I went through from the loss of my son, to my journey as a guy trying to reconcile what it feels like to live in a harsh world with a loving God, and wanting to be able to communicate that to people who have also maybe gone through something similar, but also to people who may not.

    There are a lot of people when I talk to them, they say, “Man, I can’t imagine.” Then their very next statement is, “I don't know what I would do.” My encouragement to them is I know what you would do. If you love God like you say you love God, you would wrestle to continue to love Him and by His grace He would keep you. I feel like that's my story. The Lord has allowed me room to wrestle within His grace up but He's kept me.

    John:               Tedashii, I mean, just hearing obviously the trials that God put you through and how that has shaped your life, not just this record, but obviously your life, if God puts me through something, that's stored here, in my heart. But you have chosen to go one step further. You’ve chosen to literally open your heart and to allow people to see it.

    As you've already referenced, you said your previous records have always been a personal statement about who Tedashii is, what you stand for, and everything like that. But this one, I mean you are being very vulnerable in this fact that you are literally showing the world your heart. There's a sense of brokenness and also a sense of restoration. How do you …? What is it like to be that personal with such a wide audience? What's the goal there and what's that like?

    Tedashii:       Good question. The goal for me was to be able to trust God enough that my open honesty and vulnerability would in some way encourage people who may have gone through this or are feeling pain and suffering in some way, my goal is to bring awareness. I think a lot of people fight to live in this bubble where everything seems to be good and works out good and there's always a happy ending. In reality there's just a harsh world all around us.

    I don't necessarily want awareness for their lives personally. That's good. That's one thing. But be aware of the world around you so much so that you start to ask the question, how I need to engage it. After this moment, that's what I asked myself. I went on this journey to write this album as a part of my responsibility on how I am going to engage a harsh world.

    Now there's good in this world. I mean I'm not at all blind to that. God is a good God himself. There are good things. He gives good gifts to His children. But within this world there's a harshness and some of it is unanswered. I don't think I’m trying to provide an answer as much as I am begging people to walk with me in awareness so that we can push back the darkness.

    John:               That is the goal, right? That's what we're all called to do.

    Tedashii:       Yeah.

    John:               I think that's more or less Kingdom living.

    Tedashii:       Yeah, amen.

    John:               Going back to the record Tedashii you have guest artists that show up on the record with you. You want to name some of those?

    Tedashii:       I do man, I'm excited. I've been a fan of this young lady by the name of Britt Nicole.

    John:               Awesome.

    Tedashii:       She has a phenomenal voice. I wanted to do something, when I first spoke with her and asked her if she’d be willing to be on the album she said, “Of course.” I was super excited. My plan was to do a song similar to the songs she normally does. But I had this random idea to put her on a song opposite of everything anyone would expect from her, and let her shine in that way. I put her on this song called Dark Days, Darker Nights which chronicles my pain, initially after feeling this loss and this weight of it. She did an amazing job. I'm so appreciative of her.

    Another guy, another person in the album is this guy named David Crowder. I know some people know who he is. David Crowder, he’s just a cool dude who every time I saw him he was down to earth and willing to engage and interact. To me, I describe him as a worship leader with stadium, with a stadium sound.

    There are some guys, they lead worship. It's better for that sitting to be a smaller close-knit sitting, but he has the ability to engage this stadium size crowd and still draw them in to want to call out to Christ. I wanted him on a track.

    John:               I have a question regarding Crowder. When you guys were basically, I'm not sure if you actually recorded the vocals on the same day or not, but did he require you to wear a trucker hat when you were working on the song that he was involved in?

    Tedashii:       No, I wanted that brother to wear a flat bill. I was like, “You need to switch it up bro, switch it up. Let's change it. Let’s some do something totally different.” Of course he didn’t. He was like, “I’m good man. I’m good.”

    John:               It is what it is.

    Tedashii:       But he did, he had a trucker hat on, his glasses, and I want to say he had on a flannel shirt and it was hot. But I don’t get it, I don't know why he had that on. It’s kind of hot outside. But he came in there and he did his job. It was amazing. He killed it. I'm appreciative of that. He’s on a song called … Wow, I just forgot the song talking about it. That's hilarious. Angels and Demons, he's on a song called Angels and Demons. Then of course the label mates on the album, I got a single out now with Lecrae and Trip Lee called Nothing I Can’t Do. So yeah, I'm excited about it man.

    John:               That's great. Obviously I read up a little bit about you Tedashii in preparing for this conversation. Don't be alarmed by what I'm going to ask you. But I know that you are not as a fan of hip hop, but there so there's a few other forms of music that you truly enjoy doing. In fact maybe sometimes on a Sunday morning someone may find you … where?

    Tedashii:       At church.

    John:               I thought I was reading somewhere that may be on occasion you've helped in a worship setting where you’re a vocalist, but maybe I'm wrong.

    Tedashii:       You had me nervous because I was like, “What secret info has he found out. What he knows? What’s happening?” No, that’s good. I have on occasion joined in with the worship team and sang the back background vocals. I'm not necessarily just background, I tend to be further, further back because I carry a tune very lowly, and so not all the time does a baritone get the solo, so I'm okay with that.

    Then sometimes I’ll through in a verse. We go to the church called The Village Church were a guy named Matt Chandler is the pastor. Our campus is super diverse and has a lot of different cultures. We try to implement a lot of different styles of worship. Actually, I try to serve when I can man. But I'm a secret closet fan of a lot worship guys like, man, I don’t know if have heard of Shane and Shane before, but I am a super fan of Shane and Shane. I think those dudes are amazing. They say they don't, but I’m like, “Not only do you have perfect pitch. You have perfect harmony. It’s like every time, live or on the album.” Anyway, but I worship bro, I am a fan.

    John:               I totally agree. I think there are songs … Record is one of my favorites.

    Tedashii:       Yes, yes.

    John:               Let’s see. So besides music, I'm sorry if I was making you a little nervous there.

    Tedashii:       I was a little nervous. I was like, “What is he about to say,” because everybody teases because I'm a fan of country music. I like country music.

    John:               Well, I mean you are from Texas so it's not that big of a deal.

    Tedashii:       Here we go, good.

    John:               So anything beyond music? Is there any other passion that you really enjoy doing?

    Tedashii:       Well I do a weekly radio show called Serium. It’s a word I made up. It’s s-e-r-i-u-m, but Serium is a weekly hip hop show that airs every Saturday night at eight pm Central on NGEN radio, the letter N, the letter G, the letter E, the letter N, ngenradio.com. Anyone who lives in the Houston area can listen to it. There's call letters for you to find that you can get on FM station. Check it out. It's a sister company of KSBJ. Man, it's been amazing to do that. l love doing radio, I love playing around vocally with what I can do and then bring in people, all these different types of songs that are amazing within what we're doing right now as far as hip hop goes.

    I love doing theater. I consider myself a thespian to a certain extent. I love doing that. At the end of the day I see myself as a communicator. So any way that I can, any medium, any art form that I can use to communicate the truths of the Lord and scripture and my passion, then I'm going to do it. I don’t know, I may do a spoken word piece one day, or I may turnaround and try to write a short story. I don't know, it just depends, but anything artistically that I can use I'll try to do it.

    John:               Tedashii thank you very much for taking the time to chat with me today. I really appreciate it.

    Tedashii:       Thank you man.

    Heaven has become more real, and there’s a new urgency to get there. It’s an important message he feels compelled to share. This newfound purpose doesn't make the pain worth it or lessen the ache of loss, but it's a calling he’s embracing. As he moves forward in his life and with this new album, he’s more determined than ever to prove himself faithful while he’s still here, Below Paradise.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, David Crowder, Tedashii, Britt Nicole, MercyMe, Jeremy Camp

  • David Crowder is back with Neon Steeple

    Posted on May 28, 2014 by Family Christian

    Neon Steeple by Crowder
    No Plan B by Carman
    Worship by Guy Penrod
    A Cappella by The Martins
    Only $5: 20th Century Masters Millennium Collections!

    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, David Crowder, DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline, Petra, Twila Paris, Avalon, The Martins, Guy Penrod, Carman

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