Just to let you know... I will be taking an family vacation beginning tomorrow. I doubt there will be any new posts until the end of June. Sorry to disappoint, but we will be down at Branson, MO so the extended family can get together and relax for the first time in about two years.
We are not going to partake of a lot of touristy events, but one show that I plan on seeing is of my favorite family bluegrass band, the Petersens.
We talked about Crowder yesterday, and last week the 3x GRAMMY-nominated genre-defying artist delivered a glimpse of hope with a reminder of the promise of a more harmonious and unified place on his new album Milk & Honey.
The album features hip hop artist Hulvey and multiple collaborations with Maverick City Music, a diverse collective of powerhouse songwriters and worship leaders. The twelve tracks share a message of hope, promise and purpose in a way that revolutionizes worship music to reach audiences across all cultures. Sonically, the music is as powerful, spirited and transcendent as its theme with a dynamic blend of Southern, porch-jam style swamp music, gospel tradition, beat-heavy hip-hop and classic rock. While he recorded the album alone in his basement studio during the pandemic, Crowder was still able to collaborate with writers, producers and artists who shared the vision of unity and harmony and the hope in the Promises of God.
The latest video release from this album is "Higher Power"...
Also last week, We Are Messengers released the anthemic “Come What May.” The resilient track serves as the next radio single and offers the first taste of new music from the K-LOVE Award-winner’s forthcoming third studio album. .
Featuring We Are Messengers’ signature life-changing lyrics and arena-ready hooks, “Come What May” declares that the character of God is unchanging regardless of our circumstances. “In the past year, we’ve all collectively been forced to concede that, despite our illusions and devises, we do not get to control the world around us,” shares front man Darren Mulligan.
GRAMMY-nominated band Building 429 released their newest single “Not Finished Yet.” Continuing the band’s tradition of delivering big songs with big emotion, the new song is a stirring, hopeful pop anthem about how even when we stray far away, God is there, ready to draw us close to Him.
“At a certain point in life, we all get a moment to take a cold, hard, unflinching look in the mirror and take stock of who we really are,” shares frontman, Jason Roy. “On a good day, I know that I can see love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The next day, if I’m honest, I might see the exact opposite. The truth is that the COVID pandemic gave us all a LOT of time to look in the mirror and see the things that we wish we knew how to change. I realized that the beginning of freedom and hope was the moment I finally admitted I didn’t have it all together and I still needed Jesus to complete the work in me.”
Finally, last week Ellie Holcomb debuted a new song, “Color,” from her forthcoming album, Canyon, which releases on June 25.
This spot with Crowder on Good Morning America from last week has been all over social media so you may have seen it already. If so, I apologize...
Crowder is a 3x GRAMMY nominee who is topping the Billboard charts, but even a musician who feels on top of the world can feel the weight of poor mental health. When his busy schedule or stress of the entertainment industry gets to be too much, he has five tricks for boosting his mental health. He spoke with Good Morning America about these go-to techniques:
1. Send someone some donuts
2. Mail someone a handwritten letter
3. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while, or call your mom
4. Send the pair of sneakers you’ve been eyeing to someone who needs them more
5. Help out your neighbor with yard work, a carwash or anything
Crowder released his new ‘Milk & Honey’ album last Friday, June 11th. It’s a hopeful and celebratory collection of songs that show the promise of a better future for every person. The album features “Good God Almighty,” a song that’s sat in the No. 1 spot at radio for five straight weeks and has also landed No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart.
Back to the 80's again to talk about another legend of Christian music, Sandi Patty. As one of the most highly acclaimed performers of our time with five Grammy® awards, four Billboard Music Awards, three platinum records, five gold records, and eleven million units sold, Sandi Patty is simply known as The Voice.
Patty was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, into a family of musicians; her father was a minister of music, and her mother served as the church pianist. She first performed at the age of two when she sang "Jesus Loves Me" for her church.
Patty recorded her first album, For My Friends, in 1978. In 1979, she released her first professional record, Sandi's Song.
Patty's career expanded after she won her first two GMA Dove Awards in 1982 and began singing backup for Bill Gaither and the Bill Gaither Trio. She headlined her first national tour in 1984 and received her first Grammy in 1984 for her duet with Larnelle Harris, "More Than Wonderful".
Sandi reached national acclaim after her rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" was included during the ABC Statue of Liberty re-dedication broadcast on July 6, 1986. Virtually overnight she became one of the country’s best-loved performers.
Her version of the national anthem has become synonymous with patriotic celebration, including performances at “A Capitol Fourth” with the National Symphony, the Indianapolis 500, the Dedication of Camp David Chapel, and ABC’s Fourth of July Special. This exposure led to multiple mainstream television appearances including The Tonight Show, Christmas in Washington, Walt Disney's Fourth of July Extravaganza, and the 1998 Pepsi 400; the clip was frequently used on television sign-offs for the remainder of their existence.
In 1990, Patty's inspirational single release, "I'll Give You Peace", was released on one of her most popular records, entitled, "Another Time, Another Place", which peaked at #2 on the Christian billboard charts.
At the peak of her career, Patty's concerts were so heavily attended that she performed in often sold-out mainstream arenas and concert halls across the United States. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she averaged over 200 concerts a year and supported a staff of over 30 that managed her career. During this period of time Patty was noted, often critically, as the highest-paid singer in the Christian music industry averaging over $100,000 per appearance, largely due to massive touring and high-profile public appearances
Sandi is the most awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian music history, with 40 Dove Awards. She was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004 and as an Indiana Living Legend in 2007. She has released over 30 albums.
While her thirty-year career is heavily rooted in the gospel music industry, Sandi has had the opportunity in more recent years to extend her career outside the genre. Sandi has performed with symphonies across the country, including the New York Pops, Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, Dallas Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Houston Symphony, and Oklahoma City Philharmonic. She also headlined the title role in sold out performances of the musical “Hello, Dolly!” with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, co-starring Tony Award winner Gary Beach in January 2012.
In addition to her prolific musical career, Sandi is also an accomplished author. For the bestseller Broken on the Back Row, Sandi received the 2006 Silver Angel Award. As an author of seven books, her other titles include Life in the Blender, Falling Forward, Layers, and her forthcoming book, The Edge of the Divine. Her down-to-earth style and sturdy common sense have endeared her to Women of Faith® audiences, with whom she has traveled with since 2005. She’s an example to all of us of the freedom that comes from learning how to move on, learning from her mistakes and letting God use her in any circumstance.
“I am grateful for the many opportunities for God has given in my life and for how He has allowed me to spread my wings,” says Sandi. “Singing is my way to tell my story of hope, life, and love.”
In 2017, Patty announced her retirement from touring, citing age and a desire to spend time with grandchildren. Sandi and her husband, Don, have eight children. They currently reside in Oklahoma City, OK and you can catch up on any recent events on her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Sandi.Patty.Music.
Do you enjoy mini-concerts from the comfort of home? If so, sign up for the K-Love Concert series and get notified about LIVE weekly online concerts from some of your favorite Christian music artists, like Rhett Walker, CAIN, Crowder, and MORE!
All summer long on Tuesday's @ 2:00 PM CST and you can watch the replays at a later date if the time doesn't work for you.
Here is the concert from this past Tuesday featuring Rhett Walker with special guest, Cain.
I found this article on Crosswarlk.com that I thought was interesting...
The Bible is filled with promises that point to God having a plan and purpose for your life. Here is one that we love to quote and I am sure you will recognize.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." – Jeremiah 29:11
Let’s face it that is an exciting promise. However, what a promise like that does is leave people searching. So many hear the promise and then begin looking for the answer to the question what does God really want me to do with my life? They believe that God has a plan, which he does, but they are just not sure how to figure out what it is. While there is not a simple and easy answer to this question of what God wants you to do with your life, there is an answer. I want to give you four things to consider that will help you figure out what God really wants you to do with your life.
1. Start with What You Already Know
Some people in their pursuit of getting to the thing God wants them to do in their life (let’s call this the hidden thing) overlook the things God has already told them to do (let’s called this the revealed thing). There are things that God has instructed us to do in his word that you should focus on doing first. These are not hidden but are revealed clearly for you in the Bible. Focusing on these first allows you to lay the right foundation. This will help you move into the specific thing God wants you to do. Here are some things that I can say without a shadow of a doubt God wants you to do and you can start right now.
Share the gospel – "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." - Matthew 28:19
Live holy – "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'” - 1 Peter 1:15-16
Pray – "Pray without ceasing" –-1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV)
Shine Light – "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:14-16
Love your enemies – "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." – Matthew 5:43-44
I could add more but I will stop because I think you get the point. I know these aren’t the “exciting” things that people think about when they think of doing what God wants them to do, but they are essential. You will never get to the things God wants you to do if you neglect these necessary activities in your life. Think about it in this fashion. If you aren’t doing what you know God wants you to do why would he give you more to do. The Bible reminds us that when we are faithful in little things, he will make us ruler over many things. In other words, be faithful in doing what you know God has told you in his word to do. Don’t expect God to show you the next (hidden) step until you start taking the ones he has already revealed to you.
2. Follow Your Gifts
"In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well." – Romans 12:6 (NLT)
In every single person that has ever been born God has placed certain gifts and abilities. This includes you. Romans reminds us that everyone can do something well. The reason this is important is that your gift, the thing you do well, is tied into what God really wants you to do in your life. God put the gift in you so that you would use it to accomplish his purpose and plan for your life. When you follow your gift it becomes a clue that can help you discover what this plan is for your life.
3. Follow the Opportunities
It is quite possible that your gift can tie into the opportunities that are presented to you. Let me give you an example to help you understand. Let’s assume you have the ability to play the guitar really well. Your desire is to play for the church. One Sunday the announcement is made they are looking for guitar players and obviously, your ears perk up because they are speaking your language. But then they finish the message, we are looking for guitar players to play for the three-year-olds in the children’s ministry. Your heart sinks because you want to play for the church but you really want to play in the main worship, not with the little kids. Yet it is possible that this opportunity is the open-door God is giving you to use your gift and lead you into what he wants you to do. So often we miss what God really wants us to do because it doesn’t line up with or come packaged in the way we want it to come.
I have been teaching in church since I was 17 years old. When I left the church I had grown up in to go to another church, I wanted to teach again. I wanted to teach the same age group I had taught before but they said we want you to teach the 7-9-year-old class. At first, I was disappointed because that is not what I wanted but because I wanted to teach I did it anyway. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. Not only did I learn how to connect with an audience which I something I still must do to this day, but I also met a lifelong friend who I taught with and we have been friends for over 30 years. None of this would have happened if I overlooked the opportunity. Follow the opportunities even if they don’t look exactly like you want. This could be the thing God uses to reveal to you and prepare you for what he really wants you to do with your life.
4. Pay Attention to Your Burdens
What are the things that really move you or concern you? In the book of Nehemiah, he was the cupbearer to the king. He got news the wall of Jerusalem was destroyed, and this devastated him. It became such a burden to him that it affected him emotionally. This led him to want to do something about it which is what God really wanted him to do anyway. My question to you is what is it that really burdens you or affects you to the point that you feel like you want to do something about it? This could be an indicator of something that God really wants you to do with your life. I must warn you to proceed with caution and don’t confuse your outrage with a burden. Outrage may want you to seek revenge. A burden drives you to seek change for the better. A burden should be so strong in you that it drives you to pray and seek God over it. This is what it did for Nehemiah.
"When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven." – Nehemiah 1:4
If you are burdened this will be your response; if you are outraged this won’t be and chances are it’s just an emotional response and not what God really wants you to do with your life. Remember God wants to use you as an agent of change and burdens push you to affect change.
I believe these four things will be a good place to start on your journey to discovering what God wants you to do. One last thing. Don’t think of this as a destination think of it as a journey. Remain faithful to God and he has a way of ordering your steps leading you into the things he wants you to do.
GRAMMY Award-winning and multi-RIAA Platinum-selling group Casting Crowns released their first brand new song, “Scars in Heaven.” Casting Crowns debuted the song live for the KLOVE Fan Awards. “Scars in Heaven” is the debut song from the forthcoming new studio album, which will release in November. This will be Casting Crowns’ ninth studio album.
GRAMMY Award-nominated rock band NEEDTOBREATHE have released “What I’m Here For”, the opening track off their forthcoming studio album Into The Mystery.
“What I’m Here For” follows the recent release of Into The Mystery’s current single “I Wanna Remember” featuring seven-time GRAMMY Award winner Carrie Underwood that we featured a while back.
Internationally renowned singer/songwriter and worship music icon, Don Moen (one of our Flashback Friday artists), has released a new song, “Return To Me.”
The song was written as Don was studying the Bible. Moen says: “God really has our attention these days as we’ve been going through this pandemic. “Return To Me” was written as I was reading from 2 Chronicles 7:14. The verse says that God will heal our land if we turn from our wicked ways. That’s what we need today – we need God to come and heal our land. If we return to Him, He will return to us. That’s my prayer today – for you, for me, and for all of us.” The lyrics of the song call upon the people of God to return to Him, humble themselves and refocus their hearts and priorities on God.
Mac Powell, former frontman of the four-time GRAMMY Award-winning band Third Day, has released his new song, “River of Life.” This song is from his forthcoming solo album. This upbeat anthem is the perfect song as summer begins and has that unmistakable Mac Powell sound.
“It’s interesting that within the medical community the bloodstream is called the ‘River of Life,'” shares Mac Powell. “We as believers know that our TRUE life comes from the grace and mercy of Jesus – poured out from his sacrifice on the cross. In John chapter 4, Jesus shares with the woman at the well – Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Let us all partake in this River of Life that is given by our Savior!”
As a recap... for KING & COUNTRY and Zach Williams scored double wins during the broadcast of the fan-fueled K-LOVE Fan Awards. Taped live and in person in front of a capacity crowd at Nashville’s iconic Grand Ole Opry House, Artist of the Year and Group of the Year went to for KING & COUNTRY, as Zach Williams was named Male Artist of the Year and received the Song of the Year award for his duet with Dolly Parton, “There Was Jesus.” Other winners included Michael W. Smith’s first K-LOVE Fan Award nomination and win for Worship Song of the Year (“Waymaker”) and newcomers CAIN for Breakout Single of the Year (“Rise Up”). The eighth annual show was the largest event at the Gaylord Opryland Resort post-COVID.
Centering around the awards’ mission to also recognize mission-driven people and projects outside of the music community, “The Chosen” was named the Film Impact Winner; Scott Drew, Head Coach of Baylor’s National Championship Men’s Basketball team, was honored with the Sports Impact Award; Skillet lead vocalist John Cooper was given the Book Impact Award for his debut book, Awake and Alive to Truth.
Matthew West hosted the night for a record 6th time, which featured unique collaborative performances, including his own with country superstar Carly Pearce, Danny Gokey with Latin stars Evan Craft and Redimi2, Kari Jobe with Cody Carnes and Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Tauren Wells with Gary LeVox, and Zach Williams with CAIN. Additionally, Andrew Ripp, Casting Crowns, Cory Asbury, Crowder, Dante Bowe, Elevation Worship, MercyMe, Michael W. Smith and We The Kingdom rounded out the vast array of performers.
The evening’s presenters represent the diversity of the award catergories, with appearances by New York Time’s best-selling author and podcaster Annie F. Downs, UK Pastor Charlotte Gambill, We Are Messenger’s Darren Mulligan, multi-platinum artist Michael W. Smith, industry veteran and award-winning singer Natalie Grant, AccessMore Podcast host and former ABC News correspondent Paula Faris, Jonathan Roumi and Dallas Jenkins from the breakout TV series “The Chosen,” and songstress Riley Clemmons.
It was a great show and I recommend watching it.
Full List of 2021 K-LOVE Fan Awards WINNERS:
Male Artist of the YearZach Williams Female Artist of the YearLauren Daigle Group of the Yearfor KING & COUNTRY Breakout SingleCAIN “Rise Up” Worship Song of the YearMichael W. Smith “Waymaker” Song of the YearZach Williams & Dolly Parton “There Was Jesus” Artist of the Yearfor KING & COUNTRY Film & Television ImpactThe Chosen Book ImpactJohn Cooper “Awake & Alive To Truth” Sports ImpactScott Drew, Head Coach Baylor Mens Basketball
Today we time travel back to the 70's for a native Minnesotan, Dallas Holm. Holm is a singer-songwriter of Christian music, whose musical ministry has spanned almost four decades. He was inspired by Elvis Presley and the Byrds when he was growing up and, while in high school, was a member of a rock band. After Holm came to faith in 1965 at the age of 16, he desired to combine his music with his newfound faith. He started writing his own Christian songs around this time performing them in jails, churches and in street ministry. During the late 60s, Holm was a member of a Christian group called the Tri-Tones who made an album entitled I Saw the Light. He expanded his use of music while he was a youth pastor in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Holm's music eventually caught the attention of David Wilkerson, author of The Cross and the Switchblade, and became a part of Wilkerson's traveling crusades.
As a solo artist, his early albums contained worship songs done in a MOR (middle of the road) rock style. During his time with Wilkerson, Holm became the front man for a group named Praise. Aside from Holm, other members of Dallas Holm & Praise consisted of Randy Adams (bass - replaced by Rick Crawford in 1980), Ric Norris (drums), Tim Johnson (keyboards), and LaDonna Gatlin Johnson (vocals). This group released the album Dallas Holm & Praise. . .Live which sold more than 600,000 copies and was the first Christian album to be certified gold. This album contains the song "Rise Again" which was one of the biggest radio hits in the history of Christian music. The song has the distinction of garnering a GMA Dove Award in 1978 for Song of the Year. Holm was awarded Songwriter of the Year along with Male Vocalist of the Year in 1978 with the group itself winning Mixed Group of the Year.
He released a lot of great songs in the 70's and 80's all pointing to Christ and the Cross. Holm’s songs focus on His life, His death and resurrection and His desire for intimate relationship with us. Songs like "I Saw the Lord", "Here We Are" and "Before Your Throne" remind us that it’s all about Jesus, including "Against The Wind" which won him a Grammy for Best Gospel Performance in 1987.
Dallas has earned his influence in today’s Christian music throughout more than 45 years of writing, singing and ministry in some 4,000 concerts in every state in the USA as well as many countries abroad. Artists such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Twila Paris and Greg Long of Avalon all make reference to Holm’s significant impact on their lives and ministries. Holm can be seen on several of the Bill Gaither Homecoming videos. On one video Gaither introduces Dallas by saying, “This is one of the nicest guys in our entire industry.” This broad appeal and respect by peers has undoubtedly been one of the reasons for Holm’s amazing longevity and relevance.
Over the course of Holm's tenure in gospel music he has performed many styles of music including adult contemporary, country, blues, reggae and pop/rock. He has released 34 albums counting solo, with Praise or other artists. He has received a total of 5 Dove Awards as of 2020. Holm has also been inducted into the Texas Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2007 and the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012.
Dallas reminds us, “In Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell said, ‘When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.’ I say, ‘When I write, sing and play these songs, I feel His pleasure.'” Holm remains active as the director of Praise Ministries.
Jesus Culture artist and Nashville-based worship leader Chris McClarney released new music with his single titled “Speak to the Mountains.”
I won’t be shaken, I won’t be moved, My God is faithful, His promise is true. So I speak to the mountains, ‘Oh it’s time to move, My God is bigger, better, stronger, greater than you.’
Powerhouse vocalist and songwriter and “The Voice” season 9 winner Jordan Smith has released a new song, “Battles.”
Jordan Smith has a voice that needs no introduction and with faith that needs no explanation. From the moment the Kentucky native was first introduced to America through “The Voice,” it was evident that his faith was part of his DNA. And now his beliefs take center stage as he has stepped into the next natural chapter of his career with new songs.
It was earlier this year that Smith released his label debut “Great You Are,” a song that is the pinnacle of everything Smith has ever wanted to do. “Connecting people to God just feels natural, and it feels free, and it feels easy,” he admits. “I want people to experience the Holy Spirit. I want them to be uplifted, and I want them to feel God’s love and His acceptance through my music, even if they don’t know what that is, even if they don’t understand that’s what they’re experiencing. My lifelong dream is to be able to make music for the church and to just experience heaven with people.”
In the wake of a faith-testing year of loss and grief, Arkansas-based acoustic/pop duo After Grace emerges with a long-awaited new single, “Unseen.” A poignant anthem embracing God’s unwavering promises despite painful circumstances.
“The past year has been hard for us all, but we’ve had to adjust and try to keep going,” Clark shares. “For us, it’s been very tough to do that after losing Dad. Nothing is the same and it never will be again. We don’t understand why things happened the way they did, and we probably never will. The only thing we know to do is to trust God, and that hasn’t been easy.”
“It is easy, however, to find yourself questioning everything around you during the difficult moments life throws at you,” he admits. “I have questioned my faith. I have questioned God. I have questioned everything about life in general. But the thing that keeps me coming back is the memory of my dad. He always taught me to find my strength in the Word of God and to trust Him no matter what I’m going through. I may not always see it, but I can believe it. I may not always feel it, but I can trust it. I am choosing to believe in the ‘unseen.’”
GRAMMY-nominated worship artists Cody Carnes and Brandon Lake partner in the release of “Too Good To Not Believe.”
The song was inspired by “healing we have seen and healing we still want to see,” says Carnes. “We’ve seen cancer disappear, We’ve seen broken bodies healed, Don’t you tell me He can’t do it.”
GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Jeremy Camp is back with new music! Camp surprised fans last week with the release of “When You Speak,” the first track to be released from his new record.
“There is so much to say about this past year. I wrote this song in the middle of all the uncertainty happening. I was feeling overwhelmed, confused and not at peace. I felt the battle in my mind constantly,” Camp shared on social media when speaking about the heart behind his new song. “I kept saying to myself, I can’t wait to get through this and God spoke to my heart and said Jeremy, I want this to get through to you. It made me stop and really want to learn what He was teaching me, and to be still before my God.”
Ellie Holcomb released a new song, “Mine,” from her forthcoming album, Canyon, which releases on June 25th. Along with this poignant song about a parent’s love and the reflection of God’s love for His children, a personal music video debuts today featuring Holcomb’s three children and husband. This is also the first song that her husband, Drew Holcomb (of Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors) has recorded for one of her albums.
RIAA PLATINUM-selling artist Crowder shared the latest song off his forthcoming Milk & Honey album, “The Anchor.” Written by Crowder, “The Anchor” is an emotional plea for humans to hold on to their anchor when consumed by darkness. With a powerful gritty texture in his voice accompanied by a dramatic piano, the song’s dark and cinematic tone builds to a climatic moment in the last chorus, urging all to come home.
“This song has been resonating deeply with me, and I am thrilled to finally get to share it with you,” says Crowder. “I hope as you listen you are reminded that even in times of hopelessness, there is an ANCHOR.”
Tenth Avenue North leader Mike Donehey released his first Christian radio single as a solo artist last week. “All Together” asks what the Church might look like if it embraced even more radical vulnerability and acceptance.
“There is something sacred that happens when addicts get together in a recovery circle. They know they will be met with 100% acceptance, therefore can be totally vulnerable,” Mike shares. “’All Together’ encourages people not only to take that first step towards vulnerability but also to participate in radical acceptance of those who do.”
We discussed "Songs From A Mug" a while back. I'm not going to discuss this programing further, but just wanted to share a post last week from one of our favorite CCM groups, MercyMe. This is a lot of fun. Enjoy...
Back to the 80's again this week for an early CCM icon, Carmen. Carmelo Domenic Licciardello , known by his stage name Carman, was an American contemporary Christian music singer, songwriter, television host, life coach, and evangelist. An Italian American, Carman was born in Trenton, New Jersey. As a child he performed in his mother's band; as a teen, he found some success performing at casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
While attending an Andraé Crouch concert, he became a born again Christian, and embraced evangelical Christianity. In 1980, he made a custom album titled God's Not Finished with Me. The following year, he was invited by Bill Gaither to tour with The Bill Gaither Trio.
Carmen was an artist that you’re very familiar with or not at all. He had a fine singing voice but was far more interested in a sort of rhyming, spoken word, preach-rap that was all its own. It was hugely, deliriously popular among a certain demographic of Christianity.
After relocating to Tulsa, Oklahoma, he released a moderately successful eponymous debut album (later issued as Some-o-Dat) in 1982—which contained mostly novelty songs. Then, with the release of the album Sunday's on the Way in 1983, a string of contemporary Christian music chart successes started, beginning with the title song. As he continued his music career, he established the nonprofit organization Carman Ministries. With the 1985 release of The Champion came his first number-one song, of the same name.
Carmen will be remembered for at least one thing, it is absolutely his music videos. They are wild. Sometimes they feature Carman as a MC Hammer-type dance machine. Sometimes they feature him as a pompadoured rockabilly showman. Sometimes he was a stern-faced spokesman for the Moral Majority or a back alley tough guy or a proletariat champion. Most often, he was a stormy revolutionary bringing God’s violent judgment to a world on the fast track to hell. His first number one album on Christian charts, Revival in the Land, followed in 1989. He won a Dove award for Best Video in 1991 tor the video of the title song.
Between 1987 and 1989, he was named Charisma magazine's readers' choice for favorite male vocalist. In 1990 and 1992, Billboard named him the Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year.
In 1995 he released R.I.O.T. Righteous Invasion of the Truth. The title track won a Dove Award for Rap/Hip Hop Song of the Year. This video finds Carman and his working class comrades enslaved in some sort of smoke-making factory. Carman escapes, explodes everyone else’s shackles, and then it’s time for a class conscious dance R.I.O.T.
In 1995, he translated some of his songs into and released his first Spanish-language album, Lo Mejor. Heart of a Champion, a 30-song retrospective was released in 2000.
He was nominated for four Grammys and sold over 10 million records. It is believed he holds the world record for the largest single Christian concert in history. In the first, he was the main act in August 1993 in Johannesburg, South Africa, with more than 50,000 in attendance. The following year he performed a free concert at Texas Stadium October 22, 1994, with 71,132 attendees, and 80,000 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Beyond his music career, he participated in various television productions and interview duties as a host for both the Trinity Broadcasting Network in general and its flagship program Praise the Lord. In 2001, he starred in the film Carman: The Champion.
For decades, Carman’s legacy has been secondhand for a certain type of early 90s youth group culture that perfectly encapsulated a whole era of American Christianity. That era continues to shape ours today, for better or worse. Carman was drafted into the culture war like a lot of Christians of that time were, but he didn’t think of it in strictly cultural terms. To Carman, Christianity was a cosmic opera, with all Christians playing a part in an apocalyptic war between good and evil. He was hardly the only person to think this way but he found a lot of success by depicting it as literally as the budget would allow. There’s no denying the impact he left behind was singular. He didn’t even break the mold. There was no mold to break.
Carman died on February 16 of this year, 2021, after a series of complications resulting from surgery to repair a hiatal hernia, 28 days after his 65th birthday.
Next Monday we celebrate Memorial Day, which originated after the Civil War, commemorating the sacrifices of those who have fought and died in the American armed forces. Interpreters have long noted the aura of sacredness that surrounds the holiday’s traditional observances, and many have called Memorial Day central to America’s “civil religion.”
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was instituted to honor Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. After World War I, the purpose of the day was expanded to include all men and women who died in U.S. military service. Today, Memorial Day is often thought of as the unofficial start of summer–a long weekend with a car race, playoff basketball, and brats and burgers on the grill.
It is always tricky to know how the Christians should or shouldn’t celebrate patriotic holidays. Certainly, some churches blend church and state in such a way that the kingdom of God morphs into a doctrinally-thin, spiritually nebulous civil religion. But even with this dangers, there are a number of good reasons why Christians should give thanks for Memorial Day.
1. Being a soldier is not a sub-Christian activity. In Luke 3, John the Baptist warns the people to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. The crowds respond favorably to his message and ask him, “What then shall we do?” John tells the rich man to share his tunics, the tax collectors to collect only what belongs to them, and the soldiers to stop their extortion. If ever there was a time to tell the soldiers that true repentance meant resigning from the army, surely this was the time. And yet, John does not tell them that they must give up soldier-work to bear fruit, only that they need to be honest soldiers. The Centurion is even held up by Jesus as the best example of faith he’s seen in Israel (Luke 7:9). Military service, when executed with integrity and in the Spirit of God, is a suitable vocation for the people of God.
2. The life of a soldier can demonstrate the highest Christian virtues. While it’s true that our movies sometimes go too far in glamorizing war, this is only the case because there have been many heroics acts in the history of war suitable for our admiration. Soldiers in battle are called on to show courage, daring, service, shrewdness, endurance, hard work, faith, and obedience. These virtues fall into the “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just” category that deserve our praise (Philippians 4:8).
3. Military service is one of the most common metaphors in the New Testament to describe the Christian life. We are to fight the good fight, put on the armor of God, and serve as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. When we remember the sacrifice, single-minded dedication, and discipline involved in the life of a soldier, we are calling to mind what we are supposed to be like as Christians in service to Christ.
4. Love of country can be a good thing. As Christians we have dual citizenship. Our first and ultimate allegiance must always be to Christ whose heavenly dwelling is our eternal home. But we are also citizens of an earthly country. We will stand before God not as individuals wiped clean of all earthly nationality, but as people with distinct languages, cultural affinities, and homelands. It is not wrong to love our distinct language, culture, or nationality. Whenever I’m at a ball game I still get choked up during the singing of the National Anthem. I think this is good. Love for God does not mean we love nothing else on earth, but rather that we learn to love the things on earth in the right way and with the right proportions and priorities. Love of country is a good thing, and it is right to honor those who defend the principles that make our country good.
5. I believe the facts of history will demonstrate that on the whole, the United States military has been a force for good in the world. Obviously, as a military power, we have blundered at times, both individually and corporately. But on the whole, the men and women of our armed services have fought and are fighting for causes that promote freedom, defend the rights of human beings, and reject tyranny. War is still hell and a tragic result of the fall. Praise God for his promise to one day end all human conflict. But in a world where people are evil by nature and leaders are not always reasonable and countries do not always have good intentions, war is sometimes the way to peace-at least the best peace we can hope for between peoples and nations this side of heaven.
Those Americans who suffered and died in war ought to be remembered. The grave difficulties endured by of those who faced armed conflict and lost their lives should be recognized. The soldiers’ best intentions in allowing themselves to be put in harm’s way –regardless of the actual reasons for war- deserve to be honored. So thank God for a day to remember God’s common grace to America and his special grace in enlisting us, poor weak soldiers that we are, in service to Christ our Captain and conquering King.
We often talk about the CCM artists that we listen to on the radio, but seldom talk about the people who write the songs.
One such writer is Ben Glover, an acclaimed songwriter and producer, has just achieved his 40th No. 1 career single. Hitting this career accolade with Crowder’s “Good God Almighty.”
This is Glover’s second No. 1 with Crowder, including “Come As You Are,” which was nominated for Song of the Year in the 2015 Dove Awards and Grammy Awards.
“We couldn’t be more proud of our long relationship with Ben and getting to celebrate this incredible and unprecedented milestone with him,” says Brad O’Donnell, Co-President, Capitol CMG. “Ben has always had an ability to draw out an artist’s unique voice and help them write their best songs. And now with ‘Good God Almighty,’ he’s done it again.”
Ben Glover was born and raised in Loveland, Colorado, moving to Nashville in 2000 to pursue music. Just a mere 20+ years later, he is now a GRAMMY Award®-winning songwriter and a GMA Dove Award® winner, along with multiple nominations for both awards shows. He is also an NSAI Awards recipient and has been named ASCAP’s Christian Songwriter of the Year an astounding five times since 2010.
Co-writing MercyMe’s No. 1 “Even If,” additional chart-topping hits from Glover include songs recorded by other award-winning artists Mandisa, Chris Tomlin, and for King & Country. With more than 400 songs penned to his name, other artists who have recorded his songs are The Backstreet Boys, Amy Grant & James Taylor, Joy Williams, NF, Thompson Square, Trace Adkins, Marc Broussard, Clay Walker, to name a few. Glover also wrote “Hard To Love” for country artist Lee Brice, which began a creative relationship between the two, eventually leading Glover to produce Lee’s latest album, Hey World.
Glover did win Grammys for Mandisa's song, "Overcomer" for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song and Best Contemporary Christian Music Album in 2013.
“I came to Nashville over twenty years ago, had a five-minute artist career, and got dropped a couple of times early on,” Glover shares. “If you’d have told me then that I would someday be celebrating 40 No. 1 songs, I’d have thought you were either crazy or had some magic elixir that would allow me to live 500 years so I’d have enough time to do it. I’m just grateful I’ve had so many opportunities through the years to get to this place. I couldn’t have accomplished this sort of thing without the artists, producers, and writers willing to work with me and the champions who went to bat for me to convince all those people it would be worth it.”
Glover has had over 400 songs recorded in multiple genres of music by artists such as Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, David Crowder, Trace Adkins, Gloriana, Thompson Square, The Backstreet Boys, Amy Grant & James Taylor, Chad Brownlee, Marc Broussard, Clay Walker, Joy Williams, Brandon Heath, Josh Wilson, The Afters, Colton Dixon, Newsboys, Kari Jobe and many others. Pretty impressive resume for the past 20 years.
A church service can be a spiritual oasis for many people. Taking part in worship, surrounded by fellow brothers and sisters in the faith, orients our lives toward God. Worship reminds us who we are as people created in God’s own image; we experience the assurance of Christ’s unyielding love, and constant presence. In turn, this spiritual oasis helps us navigate the complexity of our lives and the struggles we sometimes encounter. Maybe this is something you have experienced. Of course, in any church service, the time will always come wherein we need to exit the sanctuary and step back into the world. We go back to our homes with the leaky faucets and over-due bills; we go back to our work with the awaiting deadlines and tasks. As we exit the doors of the church it can be easy to feel that this spiritual oasis is now behind us.
This is why the benediction is so important. Have you ever stopped and listened to the benediction? Have you ever thought deeply about what it says about you, and your life? Often, we don’t. For many churches, the benediction is the final act of worship. The priest or pastor stands before the gathering, with hand extended over the congregation, and closes the service. It can be easy to see the benediction in this way, as nothing more than the appropriate way to end a religious service. The prayer is said, the service closes, and we are on our way. What if there is a bit more to the benediction? What if the benediction is not simply a fancy prayer, but a profound act of empowerment and sending? What if the benediction actually declares a reality for your lives, a reality bestowed upon you in that moment? If so, it might just be something we need to pay attention to.
What Is a Benediction?
A benediction is a blessing. This is the simplest definition, and it is the one thing we need to remember. The word is taken from the Latin meaning “blessed.” For example, the Song of Zechariah (found in Luke 1:68-72) is often referred to as “The Benedictus.” This is because the Latin rendering of these verses opens with the phrase; “Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel” (Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel). In a benediction, one offers a prayer of blessing. Either one blesses “The Lord, the God of Israel”, or one extends a blessing upon an individual or a community.
Benedictions are commonly rooted in Scripture, and there are many different examples of this. The most popular is the blessing of Aaron found in Numbers 6:22-26. This benediction reads: “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” God specifically instructs Aaron, as the priest of Israel during the time of the Exodus, to bless the people in this form. Many pastors and priests still use this form today. Another popular benediction is simply referred to as “The Blessing.” The words are “The blessing of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, be upon you this day, and forevermore.” Often a sign of the cross is made over the person or congregation being blessed. This blessing is a call for God’s triune presence to surround the individual or the congregation.
Still, understanding that benediction means blessing only gets us so far. This begs the question, “What is a blessing?” A blessing is an authoritative pronouncement of God’s presence, favor, and activity. It is a statement made, not a request asked. This means that when you sit in church, and the time of the benediction comes, take a moment to sit and receive these words. The benediction is a powerful moment where you are invited to realize the truth of God’s presence and activity.
The purpose of a benediction is to declare a reality. It speaks a spiritual fact about your life. In the words of the Aaronic Benediction – the reality being declared is the active and loving presence of God. God smiles upon you, God turns his face toward you so that nothing in your life is outside God’s care or concern. The benediction is a statement that describes the spiritual atmosphere encapsulating your life. Upon hearing the words of the benediction, no one should doubt God’s intimate and loving care. It is a reality we are invited to experience that very moment.
Who Can Give a Benediction?
As Christian people, we are called to bless others. After all, Jesus commands us all to “bless those who curse you.” (Luke 6:28). Yet, too often today, the words “God bless you” roll off our tongues without a moment of thought or prayerful consideration. We tie the words to automatic responses for sneezes or hiccups. Thus, the idea of blessing another person seems quaint and ordinary.
A benediction is anything but ordinary. The availability for any believer to give a benediction does not lessen its importance. As Christian people, we must recognize how powerful this action is. Imagine how impactful it can be to hear another person declare God’s presence and activity upon their life. Imagine hearing this if you are at a point in life where you doubt whether God cares for you at all. When we say to someone “The Lord bless you and keep you, and make his face to shine upon you”, we are declaring, in that moment and amid all life’s ups and downs, God’s loving light is directed upon their life. When we see the benediction this way, how can we not recognize the awesome privilege tied to such a proclamation?
Blessing others is never about ourselves. A benediction is never rooted in a person’s own power. When Aaron is instructed to bless the Israelites, the authority and power to do so rest, not in his own person, but in his role as priest over Israel. He speaks not as “Aaron,” but as the representative between God and the people. When we bless others, we bear the truth of God’s Word for them.
This is also true when we think of the formal benedictions in a church service. When the pastor or priest speaks the benediction, they are not speaking out of their own voice. That is, the blessing is not rooted in the authority of “Reverend So-and-So.” Rather, what is being heard is the blessing of God spoken from the Church, the Body of Christ worldwide and universal, spanning all time and space. Scripturally, this flows from Christ’s response to Peter when he says; “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). The point here is that the power of “the keys” rests not in the individual but in the corporate Body of Christ. The priest or pastor, speaking a benediction, stands in the flow of apostolic authority and ministry, and it is only from that place that a benediction is spoken.
This is important because there may be times where we become so riddled with our own discouragements that we doubt God’s blessings on our lives. In these instances, we need to hear an encouraging word, not simply from a brother or sister in the faith, but from the Church itself. This does not suggest that the blessing made by a believer is of lesser quality than the blessing offered by a priest or pastor – again, it’s not about us! Yet we must acknowledge that, in these cases, receiving the pronouncement of our blessedness from someone who represents the entire apostolic witness of the church, can be incredibly healing.
Why Should You Pay Attention to the Benediction?
The benediction, then, encourages us in our Christian life. The end of a church service is not simply the time to return into the dynamics of worldly life, it is also a point of sending. Having received the benediction, we are now sent out into the world with the divine mandate to bear witness to the resurrection. Each time a church service ends, we are commissioned for ministry and mission. Thus, the words of the benediction remind us that we never live our Christian lives in our own power. The Holy Spirit empowers us to bear witness to the love and grace of Jesus.
At times, this can be a daunting task, particularly if we are feeling spiritually discouraged. After all, there are times when we come to church feeling rushed and harried. Either the traffic was bad, the children were fussy, or the morning routine was interrupted. We burst through the doors feeling unprepared to worship. At other times we might come to church feeling desperately alone like we have hit a wall in our spiritual lives and don’t know where to uncover the love of Jesus.
Again, in these times, listen to the benediction. The benediction addresses us. The pronouncement is made; “You are not alone,” “Jesus goes with you,” and “God the Father smiles upon you.” This is the atmosphere in which you live, and move, and have your being. Such blessings are not simply nice things the church says, these are realities declared about our lives. What is more, these truths go with us as we exit the church every Sunday morning.
We would do well to pay attention to the benediction. No matter who we are, or what we are going through, we are called to receive these words as bold declarations about our lives. The benediction speaks the truth over us. In that very moment as the words ring in our ears, spiritually we receive the enriching presence of God, and the assurance of his power working for us. Of that, we can be assured.
“The Lord bless you and keep you.”
Recall again the words of Jesus in the parable of the sheep and the goats: “Come, you who are blessed by my father, inherit the kingdom.”
The blessing that God speaks to us in the Benediction prepares us for that final summons. Throughout the Divine Service, God is forming us in his likeness as he establishes in us a deeper and more lasting faith toward him and a persistent and steadfast love for one another.
“The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.”
In their reports of Jesus' Transfiguration, the evangelists tell us that Jesus shone more brightly than the sun, prompting Peter to say, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”
In heaven we will have the same response because it will be good — very good — to be in the presence of the Light of the world.
For the moment, we see only dimly, but then we will see face to face. Still, it is good to be here even now, in this heaven on earth that we call worship, for already here God showers us with his grace.
“The Lord lift up his countenance on you and give you peace.”
We Christians are truly blessed in that God does not hide his face from us. In all other religions there is ultimately doubt as to their gods' attitudes toward them.
How can it be otherwise, given that their gods are the creation of their own imaginations? But ours is the creator of heaven and earth.
To be sure, he is a stern judge who holds the sinner accountable. But in the person of his only Son, we see our Father's true nature, his fatherly heart of love. That is the countenance that he lifts up toward us in his holy Word and Sacraments as he reveals his mercy and grace.
Where the Lord blesses and makes his face shine and lifts up his gracious countenance on us, there is peace. Not the peace of this world, but peace between God and his faithful people.
We know that peace because even now, in Word and Sacraments, we have Jesus and all his benefits. And in heaven we will rest in his eternal peace.
Last Thursday, GRAMMY Award-nominated rock band NEEDTOBREATHE released their latest music with “I Wanna Remember” featuring Carrie Underwood. “I Wanna Remember” is from NEEDTOBREATHE’s upcoming album, Into The Mystery.
About Into The Mystery, the band shared, “Probably more than any other record of ours, it was a product of what was going on in the world and our environment. We didn’t second guess ourselves much or look over our shoulders. Even the spirit of the record was a result of the moment. You can hear everybody’s personality and imprint. It felt like we got this opportunity to make a record like a family.”
Also last week, Danny Gokey released “Stand In Faith.”
Jesus Culture’s Bryan & Katie Torwalt released a new single, “Miracle In The Works.”
This song is about faith and the faithfulness of God. We all have moments when it feels almost impossible to have faith. There’s something about remembering and sharing testimonies that helps us recognize and have faith for how God is working – both in the present and how He’ll be with us no matter what happens in the future. “Some might say it’s hopeless, they must’ve never met my God.”
Jeremy and Adrienne Camp’s daughter, singer/songwriter Bella Camp released a new song on Friday, “Carry You Through.”
“She wrote the whole song by herself and to hear the cry of her heart to Jesus is the greatest joy imaginable as a parent! Love you sweet Bella, I’m so incredibly proud of you and am definitely your biggest fan,” Jeremy Camp posted to social media.
Another trip in our musical time machine this week going back to the early 80's to take a look at a group formed in 1980 in Tacoma, Washington - Silverwind.
The music of Silverwind was a breath of fresh air in the early 80s. Musical comparisons were made to the European secular group Abba. Silverwind was also compared to another famous trio known as the 2nd Chapter of Acts, but that comparison didn't work as well. The 2nd Chapter was in a league of their own with a unique sound and a unique ministry. But playing the comparison game also sold Silverwind short. They deserved to be evaluated and appreciated for what they brought to the table.
Started by Georgian Banov a professionally trained musician who began playing violin as a child prodigy in Bulgaria. In the 1960s, he was the founder of the first officially recognized rock band from that communist country before escaping to the United States in 1973. Initially demoralized by the San Francisco drug culture, Banov eventually met other like-minded believers and became heavily involved with ministries known as Candle and Agape Force. In 1980, in Tacoma, Washington, Banov formed Silverwind with two other members of Candle - Betsy Hernandez and Patty Gramling.
The group brought a fresh, Euro-pop sound to CCM that was well-received. "Taking the Narrow Street" and "Never Had a Reason" were standout tracks from the group's self-titled debut in 1981. "Never Had a Reason" was the only song to chart from that record, peaking at #8 on CCM airplay charts in 1982.
Their sophomore release, A Song in the Night kicked off with the title track - a song that seemed to draw somewhat on the trio's experiences with Candle. It was a charming tune that could appeal to children and adults alike, and it received a lot of extra attention due to a music video treatment (a new art form at the time). The video for A Song in the Night (complete with ocean waves, playground equipment, a clown, a monkey, colorful flags, balloons and streamers) was played again and again on national outlets like TBN's Real Videos and the PTL Network's Sound Effects. Not at all your typical rock music video, but memorable nonetheless.
Much of Silverwind's lyrical output was a little ahead of its time, being centered primarily on praise, worship and devotion to God. They were worship before worship was cool. Before worship was commercial might be a better way to say it.
This lineup of Silverwind released one more record - 1985's By His Spirit. That one featured a hit song entitled "Heaven is Being With You." Then the group retired. Inexplicably, the group Silverwind recorded again in 1986 with three completely new singers and a different sound.
Today Georgian Banov and his wife Winnie call themselves "joy apostles" and travel extensively conducting revival services and Christian conferences under the name Global Celebration. Betsy Hernandez and her husband Frank (who played bass for Silverwind) have a ministry called His and Hernandez Music. Based out of Boise, Idaho, they continue to write and produce music that is focused on helping children worship and assisting children's ministries. Patty Gramling (now Patricia Forney) is still involved in ministry as well. She directs a Victims of Sexual Violence ministry with a group called Heaven's Family.
Banov, Hernandez and Gramling have basically spent their lives in various Christian ministry endeavors...but with fond memories of their 5 short years together as Silverwind.
Today we have some new music from artists that you may not be familiar with. Maybe some of these will make your playlist...
Flourish Music announced the release of their second single, “Crown Him.” This new release follows the recent release of their debut single, “For My Good,” and precedes their next single, “Majestic,” releasing on June 18.
Flourish Music is a collective of like-minded worship leaders and songwriters who are equipping the local church with meaningful and creative Gospel-centered songs. The unique artists making up Flourish Music gather collectively to write and produce music that is meant to be sung by the local church, and also stands out in the modern worship music genre.
Last week, Cade Thompson released new music with “Source of Life.” “Praying for you as you hear this anthem that you would be filled with hope and strength,” Thompson shares on social media.
Country music artist and highly “sought-after songwriter” Adam Sanders is releasing “Bible Versus” today, ahead of the official release of his debut, full-length album What If I’m Right, due out on May 21st.
“I always knew this song was special. I wrote it with a couple of my best friends when I was going through a tough time, and whenever I played it live for fans, it really resonated with them. It just shows me how some of the best songs can come from some of the hardest times in life,” said Sanders.
Also last week, Housefires released their newest single titled “Love Like This” featuring Kirby Kaple.
The biggest weekend in Christian music is back – live and in person, May 28-30 in Nashville, anchored by the K-LOVE Fan Awards. On Friday, May 28, a kick-off concert will commence the fan-focused weekend, the first in Nashville since March 2020, followed by a songwriter’s showcase, worship service and more – all at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Nashville’s iconic Grand Ole Opry House will once again welcome the star-studded fan awards show on May 30, with Matthew West hosting.
If you, like me, are not able to go to Nashville, plan on watching the show on TBN on June 4 (8pm and 10pm eastern). For all updates on the 2021 K-LOVE Fan Awards and weekend events, stay tuned to www.klovefanawards.com, and for information on the broadcast, please visit TBN.org.
Nominees for the K-LOVE Fan Awards were announced last week, with newcomers Maverick City Music leading with four, including Group of the Year, Artist of the Year, Breakout Single of the Year and Worship Song of the Year. for KING & COUNTRY, TobyMac and Zach Williams followed with three nominations each. Fans nationwide are now able to begin voting for their favorites – a full list of nominees is following:
2021 K-LOVE Fan Awards / Final Nominees:
Male Artist of the Year Crowder Danny Gokey Matthew West Tauren Wells TobyMac Zach Williams
Female Artist of the Year Kari Jobe Lauren Daigle Leanna Crawford Mandisa Natalie Grant Riley Clemmons
Group of the Year Casting Crowns Elevation Worship for KING & COUNTRY Maverick City Music MercyMe We The Kingdom
Breakout Single Andrew Ripp “Jericho” CAIN “Rise Up” Evvie McKinney “Look No Further” Maverick City Music “Man Of Your Word” We The Kingdom “Child of Love” (feat. Bear Rinehart of NEEDTOBREATHE)
Worship Song of the Year Chris Tomlin feat. Lady A “Who You Are To Me” Cory Asbury “The Father’s House” Maverick City Music “Man of Your Word” Michael W. Smith “Waymaker” Phil Wickham “Battle Belongs” Tauren Wells feat. Jenn Johnson “Famous For (I Believe)”
Song of the Year Crowder “Good God Almighty” Elevation Worship & Brandon Lake “Graves Into Gardens” for KING & COUNTRY, Tori Kelly & Kirk Franklin “Together” Kari Jobe “The Blessing” (feat. Cody Carnes) TobyMac “Help Is On The Way (Maybe Midnight)” Zach Williams & Dolly Parton “There Was Jesus”
Artist of the Year Elevation Worship for KING & COUNTRY Lauren Daigle Maverick City Music TobyMac Zach Williams
Film & Television Impact A Week Away Church People The Chosen I Am Patrick I Still Believe
Book Impact Annie F.Downs “That Sounds Fun” Bob Goff “Dream Big” John L. Cooper “Awake & Alive To Truth” Lecrae “I Am Restored”
Last week, celebrated worship artist Phil Wickham debuted brand new music with “It’s Always Been You.” In the days leading up to the song’s release, Wickham called the new song “one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written/recorded,” adding “it just hits me different.”
Also last week, two-time GRAMMY Award and multi-GMA Dove Award winner Zach Williams dropped a new song, “The Struggle.”
“My new song ‘The Struggle’ is about personal stories of redemption in my life,” Williams shares. “This recording is new, but it was actually the first song I ever wrote after becoming a Christian.”
“With his head still full of whiskey, His eyes now full of tears
He dusted off a Bible that he hadn’t read in years.”
“Even if you haven’t struggled with addiction, you probably know someone who has,” he continues. “So many of us have moments where we feel worn down and don’t know where to turn. I pray ‘The Struggle’ can help you feel the hope of Jesus at the end of the tunnel. If you find yourself wondering, ‘Father, can You take away these tears,’ ‘The Struggle’ is my testimony that He can—and has—for me… and can for you too.”
Ryan Stevenson released his latest music with a new single titled “Mosaic.” The track was written by Stevenson and Bryan Fowler.
“Sometimes, because of our mistakes and mess ups in life, we feel like we’re damaged goods, and have no value to God,” Stevenson shares about the heart behind his new song. “This last year the Lord really woke me up, and began to show me that he doesn’t use us in spite of our failures, he actually uses those things too! What looked damaged & dirty gets cleaned up, fused together with His love; and becomes a beautiful work of art as his light shines through us.”
Back to the 80's again this week to take a look at Harvest, a Christian band founded in Lindale, Texas by Jerry Williams in 1977. The vision of Harvest was to see 100 million people come to know Jesus Christ personally through the band's music ministry.
Jerry Williams had come from a nightclub entertainment background and music had been a major part of his life. In an interview, Williams stated that "[he] realized there had to be more to life than sports cars and dating beauty queens . . . I became a Christian." Williams spent some time playing the guitar on Texas streets before becoming a pastor in Bloomington, Indiana. Along with Jerry Williams, the original members of Harvest were Ed Kerr and Paul Wilbur - both music students. Wilbur had met Williams at a church where Williams was the youth pastor, and Williams had been influential in Wilbur's decision to become a Christian. Ed Kerr was a mutual friend of both Williams and Wilbur. Kerr had met Williams at a rally at Indiana University in Bloomington, and made a decision to become a Christian afterwards. The three men collaborated on the first two albums created by Harvest: Harvest and Morning Sun.
According to Jerry Williams in 1988, Harvest's sound is "light middle-of-the-road to light contemporary rock." He described it as hard to classify because it was a real mixture of styles. The group sound incorporated a little bit of rock, some country, and really good harmonies. Williams likened the group's harmonization to the Gatlin Brothers, who he had grown up listening to. Williams also said that "Every time people have tried to figure out who we sound like, we sound like Harvest. There's really no one else who sounds like us." But, when pressed to liken the band's sound to another's style, Williams would say the band's style was similar to that of Christian performer Wayne Watson (who we featured last Friday).
Later in 1981, personal problems forced Williams to disband the original Harvest group - which at one time had numbered five. The group was reformed as a duo of Williams and Kerr. Williams and Kerr were together for the production of many records, including It's Alright Now, Send Us to the World,Voices, Only the Overcomers, Give Them Back, Holy Fire and Carry On.
In 1982 the magazine CCM took notice of the duo in its article, "A Bountiful Harvest." The writer praised the group's vocal harmonies and was especially fond of the song "Because I Am" (found on the album It's Alright Now).
One of my favorite Harvest songs was "The Army of the Lord" off the Send Us To The World album in 1984...
In 1988, it was the Discovery Broadcasting Network that took note of the band. The network recorded a live video of Harvest in concert. On the cover of the video, the network stated that Harvest averages "over 100 concerts a year."
By 1991, Ed Kerr left the group and Harvest became a five-player band led by Williams. With various members, Williams' band produced Let's Fight (For a Generation), Mighty River, and 41 Will Come. In 1992 the band went on an "Olympic and European Tour." They performed in Spain at the Barcelona Summer Olympics and at the Sevilla World Expo. Their tour also took them into Germany as part of Operation Mobilisation's "Love Europe" crusade. Harvest finished its tour with a performance in Holland.
I thought I would feature some bands that are currently popular. I will start with one of my current favorites, We The Kingdom.
We The Kingdom released their debut studio album in 2020, but the band’s story really began nearly five decades ago. The group’s patriarch, Ed Cash, and his brother, Scott—11 years his junior—grew up in a home filled with music. It seeped into the brothers’ blood, and by the time they were both teenagers, they were playing in bands and harboring dreams of that elusive rock star life.
In his teens, Ed strayed from his Christian upbringing and chose a life of alcohol and drugs. “One of my best friends in high school died from a heroin overdose, and I remember getting that news, and it absolutely overwhelmed me because I knew that could’ve easily been me,” he remembers. “I thank God that for whatever reason He spared me, He rescued me.”
Recommitting his life to Jesus, Ed got clean when he was 19 and began pursuing a career as a recording artist. When he and his wife had their first child, however, he decided touring wasn’t for him. “I knew that for me to go out on the road would be so dangerous,” he admits, “so I put that dream aside.”
Opting for a profession that would allow him to be home, Ed began writing and producing music for other artists. In fact, he’s helmed some of the biggest records in Christian music by artists like Chris Tomlin, NEEDTOBREATHE and Crowder, among others. (He even co-wrote “How Great Is Our God” with Tomlin.) With young kids at home, he was happy to not be the guy out front. In fact, he was certain that ship had sailed.
Meanwhile, Scott was close to signing a record deal as a solo artist. “I think at that particular time in my life there was zero chance that I had the spiritual maturity to try to do a career as an artist and also be a husband and father,” he candidly shares. He opted to get off the road, and instead, spent a decade leading worship at Young Life camps and churches. The father of five daughters also occasionally collaborated with his brother on songwriting and production duties.
As Ed’s kids grew, they too caught the artist bug. So much so that Franni and Martin had their hearts set on careers in music. At the same time, family friend Andrew Bergthold was several states over in Kansas City honing his musical chops in local bands. Then he started producing music for other artists. Most recently, he worked on for KING & COUNTRY's GRAMMY-winning album, Burn the Ships.
Although they were each pursuing music, it never occurred to them to collaborate until Scott needed a backing band for a Young Life gig. He asked his family and Bergthold to join him. And so at a Young Life camp in Georgia, We The Kingdom was inadvertently born.
The collective began writing songs together, and immediately sparks flew. They initially thought they might be writing songs for other artists to steward. “Dancing On The Waves,” a tender ballad about God meeting us in our shame and fear, was the first track they finished.
“When we wrote that song, it was like, ‘Oh, we don’t want to share it. We want to sing it,’” Franni recalls. “It felt like it was our story to tell.”
From there, We The Kingdom was off to the races. They returned home to Nashville and got to work building a new band from the ground up. At nearly 50, Ed was finally realizing the dream he had laid down 30 years earlier. And the biggest surprise of all? The chance to be in a band with his brother and kids.
“When God started to birth this thing, I did not see it coming,” Ed says, tears welling up in his eyes. “Not at all.”
Franni says being in a band with her family and a friend that feels like family naturally lends itself to vulnerability in songwriting; and We The Kingdom’s songwriting is nothing if not vulnerable. “I think we’re able to have such successful family relationships because we put Jesus first,” she admits of their dynamic. “We all really love God and want to make His name known, and we just happen to be family. And because we have tried to put God first and experienced and encountered His love in our lives, it gives us the grace to be able to love each other.”
Maybe it’s their loving familial connection or their rare concoction of creative synergy that creates a goose-bump-inducing spirit that’s felt when they combine their gifts, but whatever it is, the bond between the five band members both in the studio and on the stage is simply magic.
We The Kingdom’s sound is hard to peg. It’s a seamless collision of diverse sonic tastes spanning five decades of music. Yet, from Ed and Scott’s seasoned experience to Andrew’s experimental sensibilities to Franni and Martin’s youthful energy, We The Kingdom works simply because all of its members bring something distinct to the table, culminating in a multi-colored spectrum of sound.
“I love what Franni and Martin bring to this. I crave their perspective,” Ed says of his kids and bandmates. “Martin’s very true and pure and wants to do something that is authentically unique, and I love that about him. Franni has a free spirit that is just so open and wide. I love that she doesn’t want to follow the rules. Scott, his guitar playing kills me. It is so passion-filled. When he starts to play, it lights me up. And Andrew, to me, is a really balancing, anchoring part of this band because he comes at this thing from a whole different musical perspective. I think the tension in all of that creates something really beautiful.”
This beautiful tension is most vividly on display when the collective takes the stage. While We The Kingdom has already played iconic venues like Red Rocks and Ryman Auditorium and toured with respected artists like Chris Tomlin and Zach Williams in their relatively short time as a band, their plans for what has become a buzzed-about live show came to a screeching halt when the pandemic shut down concerts last spring.
The band, however, forged ahead releasing their debut studio album, Holy Water, in August of 2020. The title-cut quickly became a smash at radio, rocketing to the top of the charts. “God So Loved” followed, marking We The Kingdom’s second consecutive No. 1 hit—a rare feat for a new Christian act. Their latest single, “Child of Love,” appears to be on a similar trajectory.
“Obviously their music is setting the world on fire, and what a privilege it is to count these guys as great friends,” Tomlin remarks of the band’s unprecedented success. “Ed Cash has produced most of my music for many, many years now; and we’ve written a lot of songs together. I just love seeing what’s going on with We The Kingdom and their music.”
Evidence of their meteoric rise, We The Kingdom was named “New Artist of the Year” at last year’s Dove Awards. Two GRAMMY nominations ensued. All of this while the band was sidelined from touring. Until they’re able to interact with fans face-to-face again, the music serves as a bridge. Plus, they’ve been able to connect with listeners virtually, one social comment at a time.
“The stories mean more than any industry award, honestly,” Martin offers. “To know that the music is connecting with people more than ourselves is the greatest honor.”
Even if We The Kingdom couldn’t physically deliver them to places far and wide, this past year, their songs were still carried around the world.
“Between radio and YouTube, I feel like those two vehicles were really what God used to launch our band, so we’re massively grateful for both,” Ed shares. “I think that definitely impacted our reach, especially during a time when we couldn’t tour.”
That’s all about to change. They’ve been dipping their toes back into the live arena on select Winter Jam dates. And on May 13, 2021, We The Kingdom will launch an 18-city tour adhering to COVID protocol in each state. It will be their first time to headline a tour, and they promise it will be a memorable night for fans.