The Good, The Bad, The 2014

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As i write this, I can say with all confidence that i am leaving 2014 way better than i came into it, i undoubtedly experienced growth in almost all,  if not all areas of my life. Looking back at the year now, i can say that the year definitely had it uptimes and the down ones too, the happy moments and the sad ones too. There was The Good, The Bad and The 2014 .

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BEHIND THE SONG “Words” by Hawk Nelson


In many ways, Hawk Nelson’s sixth studio album, Made, reflects the journey the band has been on since Crazy Love released in 2011. Since then, the band has found a new label home with Fair Trade Services, longtime Hawk Nelson guitarist Jonathan Steingard transitioned into the role of frontman after Jason Dunn departed to begin his solo career, and the band of four is now a trio of him, Daniel Biro (bass), and Justin Benner (drums).

Biro, who founded the band 10 years ago, has grown with Hawk Nelson this last decade and believes all of the change has resulted in an honest and God-breathed product. “This time around,” says Biro, “we’re going through all of this emotional change, physical change, and God breathed some new songs that channeled all those feelings and doubts and emotions into these lyrics.”

As much change as Hawk Nelson has undergone in the last year, new lead singer Jonathan Steingard explains the DNA of the band is still the same. “We’re still that high energy band that a church or youth group would book if they want to have a fun youth night,” says Steingard. We want to take what we’ve been and not leave it behind, but grow it a little bit and hopefully be a lot more intentional about what we’re saying.”

I had the chance to interview Jon Steingard about their “Words,” the first hit single from Made.

Please describe the background behind the song “Words.”

It all started when our former singer, Jason, left the band about a year ago. We were on tour with MercyMe, and it was the last tour Jason did with us. We were trying to figure out what we were going to do as a band, and we were talking to some other singers and praying for direction.

Bart Millard from MercyMe pulled me into his dressing room one day and told me I needed to be the singer and why. He was really encouraging, and it was the first we had discussed the idea, so it was totally new for us. The total truth is that my mom had suggested it about a month earlier. I was like, “Mom, you think I could do anything.” Bart really took about an hour and sat me down and talked with me a while. That conversation changed the course of my entire life and our career as a band. Thinking about that was really powerful. What he did was speak into my life when it was really critical, and it changed everything.

We were thinking about that during the songwriting process. I wrote “Words” with Matt Hammitt from Sanctus Real and Seth Mosley, the producer on the album. The song is a product of a conversation I had with them, and it was a powerful moment. We were talking about how easy it is to forget how impacting we can be in the lives of the people around us just with our words. As the lyrics explain, “Words can build you up; words can break you down. / Start a fire in your heart or put it out.”

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

…Matthew 15:18: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”

James 3:9-10: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

What’s the main message of the song to you personally and for listeners?

We wanted the chorus to be a prayer that I want to live my life this way. I’ve seen the power that words have in my life, and I want to be sensitive to my words in dealing with other people. Also, sometimes as believers, whether in Christian music, or pastors, or anyone in ministry, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in those things and have our families take a back seat.

We need to remember on a daily basis those people who need us. That person for me is my wife. The people close to us are our first ministry. That goes for all of us. Those were all things we were thinking about when we wrote the song. That’s also why we asked Bart Millard to sing on the song with us, since he was the one who got the whole idea started.
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For me, the chorus is a prayer and asking God for help. In Christianity, we can get caught up in behavior modification and what we want to do better. In reality, God’s interested in the condition of our hearts and our lives will flow out of that.

Lyrics:
They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
(Speak over the fear)
God, Your voice is the only thing
We need to hear
(We need to hear)

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You
(Back to You)

Let the words I say
(Let the words I say)
Be the sound of Your grace
(Sound like Your grace)
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I wanna speak Your love
Not just another noise
Oh, I wanna be Your light
I wanna be Your voice

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You
(Back to You)

Let the words I say
(Let the words I say)
Be the sound of Your grace
(Sound like Your grace)
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You
(Back to You)

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts
Or put it out

I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

“Words” really reminds listeners of the power of words and the need to “tame our tongues” from James 3. The tongue is capable of use for both virtue and vice. The same mouth uses the tongue for these contradictory purposes. James echoes Jesus’ emphasis on the crucial importance of the use of words in daily life. However, James’s predominant emphasis in the passage is more negative: warning that judgment is real and that we all stumble, intending that we should humbly repent of our impure speech. He dwells then on the potential for evil rather than the potential for good with one’s tongue.

This song and the new album, Made, will truly minister to anyone struggling with self-image. The message throughout the album is to know that you don’t have to be perfect; God made you the way you are for a reason. You are beautiful, you have something to say and you are worth it. This is a great brand new collection of Scripture-based songs and declaration-style anthems designed to inspire listeners to fight the good fight of faith. “Words” articulates what it means to live a God-centered life in a turbulent world.

The takeaway is that this is not something we can do on our own, and we’re not going to always succeed in these areas and be encouraging all the time. This is a daily prayer asking God to come and change our hearts and change our lives in such a way that our behavior and the way we live flows from God living inside of us as believers.

People typically remember songs longer than they remember sermons. I love when an artist can bring the truth of the Bible into their song and we can have it be part of our lives. We think that we can fix situations in our lives, and God reminds us that we can’t fix things on our own without Him. I love to sing this song at the top of my lungs and cry out, “I don’t wanna say a word / Unless it points the world back to You.” Amen to that!

The Bigger Issue In The Christian Hip-Hop Debate: The Content of Christian Art

For almost 10 years I’ve been deeply involved, as an artist/producer/designer, in an amazing movement of Christians who have been making Hip-Hop and Rap music. Due to recent success many within the movement have feared that some are shrinking back from the original mission. But I see a bigger issue at hand. Those who have been instrumental in shaping the foundation of Christians who create/produce rap music, have not been helpful from the beginning of the movement in laying a proper whole life theology of art for those in it. Out of our zeal we have only given merit and value to things that are evangelistic or seeking to communicate Christian doctrine. Only then have we labeled it to be “Christian” when in reality Christianity is “not just involved with ‘salvation’ but with the total man in the total world,” as Francis Schaeffer would say. In writing this I seek to help fellow Christian’s think biblically, balanced and clearly about this issue.

God is a creator-God, so as image bearers of God, we create. From the beginning of time we see that not all of God’s creations were “religious” in nature. Genesis 2:9 tells us, “And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” God made trees not just for utilitarian purposes but also for the purpose of pleasure and joy. God did not feel the need to justify his creation by making it into the shape of a cross. Trees have the function of providing food and also providing beauty. The first poem we read in Scripture is found in Genesis 2:23, when the first man, Adam says to Eve, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Adam shared this prior to the fall, when sin had not entered into the world, and it’s content is God-honoring just as is without even speaking about God. Song of Solomon, is romantic poetry and sexual in nature written to express love within a covenant relationship. Although many will see this book as an allegory it still reads the way it reads. “Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle” (7:3). This poem is very Christian even without explicitly pointing to redemptive history and the Messiah. In our present framework this would not be considered a Christian art, but in reality this is very Christian. If a Christian were to make an entire album in the same vein as the Song of Solomon, we should be able to enjoy and glorify God with our wives for it.

An issue I have seen is the equating of rap to a pastor’s preaching ministry or a Christians task of evangelizing. I recently spoke to Sho Baraka on the issue and he shared, “The problem is that we have created a theological truth from cultural and systematic preferences. So now hip hop is an office in the church and not a job or art. We first must start here before we can move forward. Its something weve all been guilty of implying in one way or another.” Seeing rap as the office of preaching and evangelism is inconsistent and creates unfortunate problems when a Christian desires to make music that’s less revealing.

In a recent video made by Flame, in which he speaks on the issue at hand, he uses Acts 17 to make an application for the content of Christian rap. He encourages Christian rappers to keep preaching the gospel in their music and not to change up the message. The issue we find with this is that Acts 17 is not a passage we can use to build an approach on what the proper content of a Christian’s music should be. Paul was preaching a sermon not making a rap album. What Acts 17 does show us is Paul’s awareness of present culture and his familiarity with Greek philosophers. Doing so he is able to engage his audience and preach of the redemptive work of Christ in a conversational or proclamatory manner. So it should push us to be aware and understand the thoughts in the public forum. Again, this does not establish a theology on the content of ones art or subject matter of Christian art.

In his book Art and The Bible Francis Schaeffer shares, “A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. An art work can be a doxology in itself…The Christian message begins with the existence of God forever, and then with creation. It does not begin with salvation. We must be thankful for salvation, but the Christian message is more than that. Man has a value because he is made in the image of God.” One thing we do not want to do in this conversation is pass personal preferences and methods as Biblical demands. There is a wide spectrum as to how a Christian is to approach the arts. My desire in this is to provide a balanced and what I see to be a more Biblical perspective of a Christian’s approach to the arts that does not lay a law or burden on fellow brothers because their music is not evangelistic. Art can still be Christian and it not be evangelistic.

When we only recognize art as being distinctly Christian when it is preaching the gospel a Christian who is not looking for selfish-gain and desires to make music that is less explicit is seen as shrinking back from their faith. A Christian who desires to make an entire album about nature and it’s beauty is not being unfaithful to the Gospel of Christ. They need no justification to create art. They are free to create art about everything that belongs to their God, everything.

In saying all of this, I am not saying that Gospel intentionality in your music is not valuable or the old way of approaching rap. What I am saying is that not only music that explicitly shares the gospel is Christian. For those who’s desire to do music to teach Biblical doctrine and share how man is to be saved, continue to do so! The goal is mutual appreciation for distinct approaches and philosophies. We need Christians rapping about special revelation and general revelation. Songs about the misfortunes of life, or about the genocides in Africa, or of human emotions can all be helpful in pricking the conscious of the listener and making them ask greater questions. Also, simply the enjoyment of humanity at large. Creating honest work, truthful work, beautiful work is not anti-Gospel but springs from the Gospel message of Christ reconciling the world back to himself through his life, death, and resurrection.

To close, the scriptures do not lay a demand on what art you are to make but they do on the content of your life and heart, which is an even greater demand. So anything done for selfish gain or sinful motive, whether that is speaking ill of someone in order to get a promotion, or changing your music solely for the acceptance of people and accolades that is not living out of a new regenerated heart. Ultimately, the Christian’s life is tethered by love (Luke 10:27, Galatians 5:14) , one cannot sin against God, neighbor or conscious. A Christian should also be plugged into a local body of believers and seeking to make disciples as Christ has commanded but has freedom under the leading of the Holy Spirit and God’s word to create as they may see fit. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).”

Andy Mineo ‘Heroes For Sale’ Production Credits

Reach Records’ recording artist Andy Mineo has revealed the production credits for his upcoming debut album ‘Heroes For Sale,’ which is set to release on April 16, 2013.

Pre-order on iTunes

Tracklist:
1. Superhuman – Produced by Joseph Prielozny and Dirty Rice
2. Ex Nihilo ft. Christon Gray – Produced by J.R. for So Hot Productions
3. AYO! – Produced by J.R. for So Hot Productions
4. You Will – Produced by Gawvi
5. The Saints ft. KB, Trip LeeProduced by GROC for Beat Mekanickz
6. Caught Dreaming ft. for KING & COUNTRY – Produced by Jeremey S. H. Griffith, Andy Mineo and J.R. for So Hot Productions
7. Bitter – Produced by Alex Medina and D-Flow (The Brassman)
8. Shallow ft. SwoopeProduced by 808 & Elite (Additional Production by Joseph Prielozny and Andy Mineo)
9. Wild Things – Produced by Tyshane, ThaInnaCircle & Joseph Prielozny
10. Take Me Alive – Produced by Tyshane
11. Uno Uno Seis ft. LecraeProduced by Alex Medina (Additional Production by Andy Mineo)
12. Cocky – Produced by Skrip
13. Curious – Produced by TheBridge and Heat Academy
14. Still Bleeding ft. Co Campbell – Produced by Andy Mineo and Chris Morgan (Additional Production by Joseph Prielozny)
15. Tug Of War ft. Krizz Kaliko – Produced by Heat Academy
16. Death Has Died – Produced by J.R. for So Hot Productions

MULTI-PLATINUM ARTIST – SANDI PATTY – TO HEADLINE AT CARNEGIE HALL ON APRIL 11TH WITH THE MANHATTAN POP ORCHESTRA AND MORE!

Known as “The Voice” it’s no wonder, Sandi Patty is one of the most highly-acclaimed performers winning five Grammy Awards, four Billboard Music Awards and having sold eleven million units including three Platinum records and five Gold records. Patty’s career has taken her all over the world, and soon will take her to Carnegie Hall once again. Performing in a show titled, “Honoring Israel,” Sandi Patty has teamed up with Dino Kartsonakis and long-time friend, Larnelle Harris to co-headline the show together. These wonderful singers will be backed by the Denver Mile High Orchestra and The Manhattan Pop Orchestra conducted by David Clydesdale. The talent doesn’t end there either. The Philadelphia Boys Choir will be making the trip to NYC, along with Robert Stearns and Cheryl Karsonakis, to join the rest of these amazing musicians. Hosted by Dino Kartsonakis, the night will share powerful music in honor of the beautiful country, Israel. The performance will take place on April 11th at 8:00PM in the Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall.

Delving into the Broadway world a few years ago, Patty has been blessed to perform live with some of the best orchestral symphonies in the nation including the Boston Pops, Indianapolis Symphony, Oklahoma City Philharmonic and many more. Sandi Patty is excited to be sharing the stage with two more orchestras. Typically known as a Christian artist, Patty wanted to share her love for Broadway classics as well. In late 2011, she released an album titled Broadway Stories which has given Patty the chance to share some of her favorite versions of classic Broadway songs and perform with renowned symphonies around the country.

About Sandi Patty:
Sandi Patty has won 40 Dove Awards, five Grammy Awards, four Billboard Music Awards and became a Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee in 2004. Her albums have sold more than 11 million units, garnering her three platinum and five gold recordings. As the most-awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian music history, her voice is still the gold standard by which all who follow are measured. Patty will be releasing a new album later this year and will be hosting a “Sandi Patty & Friends” cruise in early 2014.

For more information and to stay up to date with Sandi Patty, please visit:

Sandi Patty:
sandipatty.com
facebook.com/Sandi.Patty.Music
twitter.com/SandiPattyP
youtube.com/user/sandipattymusic

MATTHEW WEST CONTINUES TO INSPIRE LISTENERS WITH HEARTFELT RADIO SINGLE, “HELLO MY NAME IS,” AND TBN CONCERT SPECIAL TO AIR MARCH 29

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Four-time GRAMMY® nominee and New York Times-acclaimed recording artist Matthew West’s current radio hit, “Hello My Name Is,” is inspiring people across the country and world to step out of the darkness and into the light of recovery.  The second single from the GRAMMY®-nominated album Into The Light, “Hello My Name Is,” is quickly gaining ground at radio, with it claiming the No. 20 spot on the National Audience Chart, No. 24 at Christian AC Monitored, No. 20 at AC Indicator and No. 23 at Hot AC this week. In addition, the single garnered over 3.6 million audience impressions this week. “Hello My Name Is” is currently positioned at No. 5 on the iTunes® Christian & Gospel Songs chart.  “Hello, My Name Is” is based on the testimony from a young man named Jordan, who related to West through a letter how he was raised in a Christian home and had a promising college athletic career until his life was sidetracked by drug abuse. Jordan explained that he had sunk so low that he had resigned himself to living the rest of his life as a drug addict, until his parents forced him into a Teen Challenge drug treatment and discipleship program, where his life was transformed. As one of the 10,000-plus letters submitted after West invited people to send him their stories, Jordan’s story, like those of the other men and women featured on the album, is one of redemption and a new beginning.  In addition to the success of “Hello My Name Is,” JCTV–Trinity Broadcasting Network’s exclusive channel for teens and young adults-has announced the premiere of Matthew West: Into The Light, an inspiring music special featuring one of contemporary Christian music’s most exciting and popular singers and songwriters. The hour-long special, which airs tomorrow, March 29 at 9/10 p.m. EST (7 p.m. PST), will feature music from Into The Light, along with powerful first-hand testimonies from some of the men and women whose stories of God’s mercy and redemption inspired the music.  After receiving over 10,000 personal stories from all over the globe for his heralded 2010 album, The Story of Your Life, the acclaimed singer-songwriter, who has been forever impacted by the outpouring of stories, felt as though there was even more for others to say during this season of his music. The current studio album, Into The Light, features 12 tracks inspired by 10,000 new letters submitted after West invited people to, once again, send him their stories.  Recently nominated for a GRAMMY® for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for Into The Light, West was also nominated in the category of Best Contemporary Christian Music Song for his songwriting contributions to the Casting Crowns hit, “Jesus, Friend of Sinners.” A four-time GRAMMY® nominee, multiple ASCAP “Song of the Year” winner, Primetime Emmy® Award nominee and Billboard Music Award nominee, West has had four No. 1 radio hits including 2012’s GRAMMY®-nominated tune, “Strong Enough.” Into The Light was released in September to across-the-board praise and stellar reviews, heralding West’s artistic depth and abilities as a master songsmith.  West is currently nearing the conclusion of his pre-headlining stint on the renowned Winter Jam Tour Spectacular, joining fellow GRAMMY® nominee TobyMac, rock phenomenon Red, “Hold Me” songstress Jamie Grace and others. For more information on the Winter Jam Tour, which wraps on March 30 in San Antonio, Tex., visit: http://www.jamtour.com/.  About Matthew West Lauded by The New York Times as “a vivid and compelling songwriter with impressive approaches to the familiar,” four-time GRAMMY® nominee Matthew West’s discography includes acclaimed releases: Happy (2003), History (2005) and Something to Say (2008). His 2010 studio album, The Story of Your Life, was inspired by 10,000 stories from every state in the U.S. and 20 countries. The album released on October 5, 2010, and garnered attention from CNN Online, Fox News, Billboard, Country Weekly, American Songwriter and more. The Story of Your Life gave West the largest street week debut of his career selling over 10,000 units the first week landing at No. 3 on Christian Soundscan, and No. 41 on the Billboard Top 200. In conjunction with Harvest House Publishers, West teamed up with bestselling author Angela Thomas for The Story of Your Life book. The Heart of Christmas marked West’s first full-length Christmas project which also boasts the Top 10 mainstream AC radio hit “The Heart of Christmas.” A multiple ASCAP “Song of the Year” winner, West has had four No. 1 radio hits including his latest GRAMMY®-nominated tune, “Strong Enough.” His songwriting credits include cuts by Rascal Flatts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Diamond Rio and more. Recently nominated for a Primetime Emmy® Award for Original Music & Lyrics for “The Heart of Christmas” from the film of the same name, West’s fifth studio album, Into The Light, was released on September 25, 2012, and was nominated for Best Contemporary Christian Album for the 55th Annual GRAMMY® Awards.  [Get Connected with Matthew West] Website // http://www.matthewwest.com Facebook // http://www.facebook.com/matthewwest Twitter // http://www.twitter.com/matthew_west

Why Christians Should Have Lecrae’s Back

Guess which rapper is unashamed to call himself a Christian, talks to God in his music, raps to change lives and his greatest critics are in his own demographic.

“That would be me,” laughed Lecrae.

The Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist suits this depiction perfectly. However, Rapzilla had another artist in mind to whom this description applies just as well: Machine Gun Kelly (MGK).

“I am a Christian,” the Bad Boy recording artist said before his Mar. 8th concert in Silver Springs, MD. “I’m a really God-fearing man. I make music about God. It’s just scary, that’s all, ‘cause my talks with God are a little more intense.”

Lecrae, familiar with MGK, had heard no evidence of faith in his music. The Reach Records rapper admitted he was shocked to hear the Cleveland-born rapper had claimed Christianity.

Lecrae is so unashamed of the gospel that he’s labeled as gospel while MGK admits he would never be mistaken for a “Christian rapper.” Despite that difference, their life stories are stunningly similar.

Both MGK and Lecrae were raised in broken homes: Lecrae never met his father; when MGK was nine, his mother cheated on his father and abandoned them.

His depressed father failed to be the anchor MGK needed throughout a childhood plagued by bullying, homelessness and throat polyps, which nearly took away the one last thing he had—hip hop.

Both he and Lecrae turned to drugs, alcohol and women to numb their pain. Since then, they’ve both turned their own and—more importantly to them—others’ lives around.

“Because of [MGK], I’m gonna walk someday, because of his message,” said a disabled fan from his wheelchair in September of 2011. “’Cause I know he came from nothing, and I’m coming from nothing too.” That December, the fan walked across the stage into the artist’s arms.

Both MGK and Lecrae are heroes: their music changes lives.

Tragically, while Lecrae’s divinely-inspired music possesses the potential for eternal impact, as a spiritually confused artist, MGK is only capable of touching his fans’ earthly journey.

MGK is a wild boy, dividing his time between smoking weed and having sex. Richard Baker, the artist’s real name, knows there’s more to life, and his listeners can hear it in his lyrics.

“Save me Lord, save me Lord, what the (expletive) is this curse you gave me, Lord?” says MGK in the first verse of the track “Halo.” “Everybody think I finally made it Lord, but all I am is now is a slave, my God.”

He explained to Rapzilla that his song “Save Me” is a cry to God for help. Crying out to God, or at least praying to Him, isn’t a rare occurrence for MGK.


MGK (Machine Gun Kelly)

“We pray before every show,” he said. “We leave a lot of decisions up to Him.”

MGK claims he’s supportive of Christian hip hop. As a self-proclaimed Christian, he wasn’t aware of any reason for him not to “agree” with it, although he admitted that he hadn’t heard of a Christian rapper besides Lecrae.

“I’m a very God-fearing person,” said MGK. “God just knows my lights are a little bit darker maybe than the average Christian rapper.”

Lecrae got saved after a friend invited him to a Bible study. A friend like that has either not shown up in MGK’s life or has yet to make a visible impact. MGK is one of countless artists who are open to Christianity and could be one influence away from surrendering their life to Jesus.

“That’s exactly why I’m [in the mainstream],” said Lecrae. “The only reason why I’m there is to have influence and opportunity to share Christ with the people in that world—that’s it. And hopefully I can be that for the MGKs of the industry.”

The Christian hip-hop scene still doesn’t know what to make of the radical shift Lecrae has made in his music since his album “Rebel” to his more recent “Church Clothes,” rapping less about the gospel and more about relatable happenings from a Christian worldview. As a result, he’s been accused of selling out for money and fame.

Essentially, all he’s done is left the pulpit to be a missionary.

The importance of Christians in the mainstream can’t be understated because artists like Lecrae—and Sho Baraka, J.R., No Malice, Mali Music, Dee-1, S1 and others—are able to build relationships with rappers like MGK, Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T. and Tech N9ne who are open to Christianity. Those believers could ultimately be the one positive influence whom God uses to turn the religious willingness of those admittedly confused artists into relational willingness.

If MGK surrenders his life completely to Christ, hundreds of thousands of his fans outside of Lecrae’s target audience would be listening to a Christ-led artist, perhaps for a first time.

Don’t assume that Lecrae possesses a ploy to convert as many people as possible. This means much more than a spiritual roster.

“Everybody that I have relationships within the industry—I respect them and I never want them to feel like projects,” he said. “I never want them to feel like I’m leveraging their name or I’m only hanging out with them because they’re my project and, ‘I’m gonna get you saved buddy.’ I really do want them to know I genuinely care about them.”


Kendrick Lamar & Lecrae

Kendrick Lamar is one of Lecrae’s closest friends in the mainstream. Staying true to form, Lecrae refused to shed light on any spiritual growth that Lamar has had since they formed a relationship.

“The Lord does what the Lord does,” Lecrae said. “I wouldn’t dare trace anything back to me in terms of my conversations and dealings with [Lamar]. I’m just available and if the Lord sees fit to use me, praise God.”

Critics in the church will question the need for Lecrae to enter the mainstream. They’ll ask, can’t he build common ground with artists in the industry while still making pre-“Church Clothes” music?

Lecrae met Lamar, Don Cannon and Lupe Fiasco before “Church Clothes.” He knows it would be difficult to continue to build common ground with mainstream artists while still being labeled as a Christian artist.

“You do Christian hip hop? That means your music is for Christians. That’s what people think. I’m out here with them all the time—that’s what they think,” said Lecrae, explaining why he’s been so adamant about avoiding the “Christian rapper” label. “As a missionary, I don’t want any hindrance.”

DARLENE ZSCHECH’S REVEALING JESUS ECHOES AROUND THE GLOBE AS THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH PREPARES FOR EASTER

Revealing Jesus Gathers Top Retail Spots Internationally,
Receives More Than 48 Million Twitter Impressions

Revealing Jesus CD/DVD/Book Continues To Garner Acclaim,
Sparks CBN “The 700 Club” Coverage Tomorrow, TBN “Praise The Lord” Coverage April 5

TBN To Premiere Entire Revealing Jesus Live Recording April 12

As world-renowned worship leader, best-selling author and Hope Unlimited Church Sr. Pastor Darlene Zschech prepares for Easter celebrations this weekend, Christians across continents are joining in the call to worship presented through her Revealing Jesus live CD/DVD and 365-day devotional hardcover gift book from RGM-NEW BREED Music / Integrity Music and Bethany House Publishers, respectively. Released last week amidst international acclaim, her long-awaited new recording took top retail sales spots around the world, including peaking at No. 1 in Australia and No. 3 in the U.S. on iTunes’® Christian & Gospel Charts, No. 5 on the Singapore iTunes Pop Albums Chart and No. 4 on the Official Christian & Gospel Albums Chart in the UK.

Sharing the overall story of the album, several song stories and her definition of worship in more than 15 videos featured at http://www.youtube.com/integritymusic, Zschech says, “This whole concept has come out of a simple longing for more of Jesus to be revealed in my life; more of Him in every area of my life, starting with my heart…I’ve been asking God about the authority we have in Jesus name, and how the finished work of Christ really does affect every single moment of our lives…To declare this finished work, to speak out His word and not just accept some of the situations we find ourselves in, but push the enemy right back with the Word of God as we face any trial in life. From my heart of hearts to yours today, I truly pray these songs become fuel for your journey.”

Produced by five-time GRAMMY Award-winner Israel Houghton and featuring special guest appearances and song co-writes with Michael W. Smith, Kari Jobe and Houghton, the Revealing Jesus CD/DVD release, as well as the book release, was celebrated in an exclusive “social fusion” tweet, chat and interview event on Get Real Live March 19. The event featuring Zschech, along with special guests, Houghton, Smith and Jobe, as well as Paul Baloche who wrote “Your Name” featured on the album, sparked millions of Twitter impressions. In fact, since mid-February, more than 48,129,000 Revealing Jesus Twitter impressions have been generated.

In addition to social media, Zschech has received widespread critical acclaim with numerous covers, features and reviews from radio, newspapers and television outlets internationally. With an upcoming feature in Worship Leader Magazine, Dr. Chuck Fromm, founder and publisher of Worship Leader Magazine / Song Discovery says, “Among today’s hymnwriters and music creators, Darlene Zschech is a pioneer, mentor and vital contributor with worldwide impact. Revealing Jesus is a wonderful representation of her experience and her heart for ministry in action. Her passionate love for Christ and her concern for those she leads in worship pervade this album as it does everything she puts her hand, voice and life to. Her service to God and the Church is exemplified by the depth of her teaching and the height of her praise, not only in the songs she sings and the books and columns she writes, but in the life she lives.”

Echoing Dr. Fromm, the critics continue their acclaim with Praise.com / CBNmusic.com saying that “Darlene Zschech’s Revealing Jesus offers get-out-of-the-pew worship songs that evoke declarative praise to the one true God.” Christian Today declares that “the former pastor at Hillsong Church has produced an amazing album full of the conviction she has come to be known and loved for.” NewReleaseTuesday.com adds, “Darlene delivers unabashed, unhindered praise to the King of Kings in profound, relevant fashion.” Worship leader Kim Gentes says, “I thought I had already heard some great albums this year, but this one is simply on another level in both musical production and a complete worship experience. This album easily gets my nod as ‘Editor’s Choice Album’ and is currently my top candidate for this year’s best album.”

Continuing to receive coverage, on Maundy Thursday (March 28) The 700 Club plans to feature the video of the Zschech, Houghton and Jobe-penned song “Victor’s Crown” from Revealing Jesus, which released as an Easter resource and has already received over 154,000 YouTube views. The next day (Good Friday), Praise.com plans to launch an exclusive “14-day devotional with Darlene Zschech” that includes one new devotional each day from the Revealing Jesus book. With an additional exclusive 15-day devotional series for mobile applications currently being featured through YouVersion.com, Zschech devotionals, as well as four videos, chord charts and more, are also available on the microsite, Revealing-Jesus.com. Then on April 5, TBN’s “Praise The Lord” will feature “Best For Me” and “In Jesus’ Name” from the Revealing Jesus DVD followed by the April 12 premiere on TBN of the entire Revealing Jesus event recorded live Sept. 28 and 29, 2012 at the Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL.

In addition to the 12 new Revealing Jesus CD/DVD worship anthems, bonus tracks in custom versions of the album will include fresh takes on such internationally acclaimed songs as “Shout to the Lord,” “Hosanna” and “Worthy is the Lamb,” as well as the Houghton-penned “Jesus at the Center.” The custom versions include a “deluxe” CD/DVD combination, an ebook with songs, and an iTunes LP® that includes video plus bonus resources, song devotional videos and more.

The companion Revealing Jesus book was poured out from the pages of Zschech’s personal journals. Honest, raw, and beautifully written, the devotional contains meditations and Scriptures revealing the heart of Jesus. These devotions are designed to inspire and encourage the reader’s journey, especially when times are hard, tenderly calling readers to sit at the feet of the Lord, learn from His wisdom, embrace His love and experience His peace.

Taking her music and message to conferences across the U.S. this year, Zschech will be featured during the Joyce Meyer Conference in Portland, OR (May 24 – June 1), at the Wave Conference in Virginia Beach, VA (July 31 – Aug. 4) and at the Imagine Women’s Conference in Los Angeles, CA (Nov. 1 -2). A major market tour with Zschech and Houghton is also being planned for late April and is slated to hit venues in San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas and Houston.

About Darlene Zschech:
A worship leader, pastor, singer, songwriter, speaker and author, who has led millions of Christians in worship, Zschech has written and performed over eighty songs, including such global anthems as “Shout To The Lord,” a song that is sung by an estimated 30 million churchgoers every week and has been covered by at least twenty other artists. She has also penned bestselling books, such as Extravagant Worship, The Kiss of Heaven and The Art of Mentoring, which combined have been translated into 19 languages. As a teenager, she sang jingles for McDonalds, Special K, KFC and Diet Coke, and in the year 2000, she received the Gospel Music Association International Award for her impact on the Global Church. While serving as a worship leader and pastor for Sydney’s Hillsong Church, Darlene wrote for, performed on and helped produce 16 Gold- and one Platinum-selling Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) live Hillsong albums.

Today, Darlene and her husband, Mark, are senior pastors of Hope Unlimited Church on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia, and together founded HOPE: Global (www.hope-global.org) and work with Compassion International, serving the world’s poorest of the poor. The couple has three daughters, Chloe, Zoe and Amy, a granddaughter, Ava Pearl, and a grandson, Roman Emmanuel Mark. Learn more about Darlene Zschech and Revealing Jesus at www.darlenezschech.com.

About RGM-NEW BREED Music:
RGM-NEW BREED Music was formed by merging Israel Houghton’s NEW BREED and Galley Molina’s RGM (Reverence Gospel Media) to create this new multimedia and music company. In addition to Zschech’s Revealing Jesus and Houghton’s Jesus At The Center, RGM-NEW BREED is getting ready to launch I’m in Love with a Church Girl, a feature film written and produced by Molina and set to release in 2013. Houghton executive-produced the film, produced the soundtrack and provided additional scoring, marking his first foray into the faith-based feature films genre. See http://www.rgmusa.com for more information.

About Bethany House Publishers:
Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, has been publishing high-quality books for over 50 years. One of the largest publishers of Christian books, Baker Publishing Group is composed of six divisions: Bethany House, Revell, Baker Books, Baker Academic, Chosen Books and Brazos Press. Baker Publishing Group is also the exclusive publisher of GOD’S WORD® Translation. Bethany House offices are located in Bloomington, MN, and Baker Publishing Group is headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, please visit www.bakerpublishinggroup.com.

About Integrity Music:
Integrity Music is a division of David C Cook, a nonprofit global resource provider serving the Church with life-transforming materials. Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Integrity Music’s resources are distributed in more than 160 countries and sold worldwide. Additional information can be found at www.integritymusic.com.

 

GRAMMY NOMINEES SKILLET ANNOUNCE JUNE 25 RELEASE FOR NEW ALBUM RISE

 
Two-time GRAMMY®-nominated rock band SKILLET have announced a June 25 release for their highly anticipated new album RISE (Atlantic/Word). The album’s lead singles “Sick Of It” (Mainstream Active Rock/Christian rock) and “American Noise” (Christian CHR) will go to radio on April 8 and 9, while “Sick of It” and “American Noise” will be available at iTunes® on April 9 and 16 respectively.

RISE follows the band’s 2009 blockbuster, Awake, which was recently certified platinum for sales in excess of one million copies in the U.S. It’s worth noting that Skillet was the only active rock band to achieve platinum certification in 2012, and were one of only three rock bands (the other two being Mumford & Sons and the Black Keys) to strike platinum in 2012.

The band maintains momentum with RISE, a gripping coming-of-age narrative that stands as their first concept album-though lead singer/bassist John Cooper says it wasn’t premeditated. The album tells the story of a typical American teen coming into adulthood and trying to figure out who he is in a world riddled with problems both within and outside his control.

“The narrative idea happened after we had 10 or 11 of the songs chosen,” he says. “As we recorded them, we started to realize that there was something going on-that the album was really telling a story. Realizing that, I knew we needed to make it as powerful as we could, and say that even though all of those things are happening, there is hope and there is love and there is a God that will be there for you; if you reach out to Him, He will reach back out to you. That message is in all of our records and most of our songs. It certainly is the message of this record.”

The result is a wildly ambitious work as heady as it is visceral. Sonically, the disc sees the band expanding their musical palette, integrating natural, acoustic instruments like accordion, mandolin, dulcimer, harp, tympani and bells to their trademark slashing electric guitars, strings, churning synths and pummeling drums.

Skillet (Cooper, guitarist/keyboardist Korey Cooper, drummer/vocalist Jen Ledger and guitarist Seth Morrison) recorded the album in Los Angeles, where they re-teamed with producer Howard Benson (Three Days Grace, All American Rejects, My Chemical Romance), who helmed Awake.

Awake debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart and No. 1 on the magazine’s Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums Chart. In addition, the record hit No. 1 on the iTunes® Top Album Chart, garnered 3 Billboard Music Awards and spawned four hit singles including the No. 1 Active Rock smash and gold-certified “Awake & Alive,” the gold-certified “Hero,” “It’s Not Me It’s You” and the platinum-certified “Monster.” “Monster” lived up to its name, selling more than a million copies and hitting Top 5 at Active Rock radio (the first in a string of multiple Top 5 active rock hits), while its companion video has generated over 47 million YouTube views. The hook-happy “Hero” was featured in season-long spots for NBC’s NFL Sunday Night Football and served as the official theme song for WWE’s Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View. The band toured endlessly in support, playing to sold-out crowds across the country, which earned them a spot on Pollstar’s Concert Pulse Chart of the Top 50 Tours for fall of 2010. Awake followed the band’s 2006’s gold-selling album, Comatose.

Over the course of the past few years, Skillet has sold more than two million units in the U.S. alone, racked up more than 150 million YouTube views and amassed a diehard following (dubbed Panheads) whose members number in the millions, including over 3.8 million on Facebook alone.

In related news, John Cooper has partnered with Zachary Kelm’s Q Management Group and music business attorney Todd Rubenstein to form Hear It Loud, an imprint the three began to develop and recruit new talent. The imprint’s first signing, WE AS HUMAN, is the first band on the roster and will release their debut album this summer via Hear It Loud / Atlantic / Word.

[Get Connected with Skillet] website// www.skillet.com
facebook//www.facebook.com/skillet
twitter// @skilletmusic

Tedashii’s One Year Old Son Passes

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It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Tedashii‘s one year old son passing this month. Reach Records posted a blog about the tragic news, urging prayer support and financial support for the rapper and his family. Please read on and consider praying and giving if you can

This month Tedashii’s family suffered a terrible tragedy. His one year old boy passed away. Please join us as we encourage and bless our brother Tedashii and his family at this time. Read the blog (below) from His Voice Global to find out how you can help.

 

Tedashii’s family has suffered a terrible tragedy this month. His one year old boy passed away. As we grieve with him and his family we also want to bless them. As you know, Tedashii’s job takes him from city to city where he performs and blesses thousands of people with his art. In this time, we want to offer him the opportunity to stay home with his family, grieve, begin to heal, seek the Lord, be comforted and to comfort. The perception is that if one is a traveling musician, they have more money than they know what to do with. The fact is, that is just not true. We want to bless him with the gift of not having to worry about being on the road to make ends meet. Our goal: To provide for our brother and his family for 6 months. This means raising enough money to cover all of the family’s expenses. Join us in caring for our dear friends. Click here to donate now, designate “Tedashii” in the memo. ….READ MORE.

Greater Allen Cathedral’s ‘The Worship Experience’ Debuts at #2

And the sales are in! Check out what the TOP 5 Gospel Artists sold and see where their albums charted on Billboard’s Top Gospel Album chart below…

 

Tamela Mann – “Best Days”

Chart position: #1

Weekly Sales: 7,060 /Total US Sales: 193,165

Greater Allen Cathedral – “Rev. Floyd Flake Presents The Worship Experience”

Chart position: #2

First week sales: 4,951

Various Artists – “WOW Gospel 2013″

Chart position: #3

Weekly Sales: 4,289/Total US Sales: 62,060

Tasha Cobbs – “Grace”

Chart position: #4

Weekly Sales: 3,447 /Total US Sales: 27,473

Israel & New Breed – “Jesus At The Center”

Chart position: #5

Weekly Sales: 2,178 /Total US Sales: 89,525

Isaac Carree Announces New Album Title & Release Date

With Carree’s “Clean This House” currently eyeing the top 10 on the Billboard’s gospel songs chart, the singer has gifted his fans with the title and release date of its housing album.

Today, the 39 year old revealed that the project will arrive on June 25th 2013 and is titled…

Reset

As earlier reported, producer Lil’ Ronnie is at the helm of production– who has helmed chart smashes for the likes of R. Kelly, Ciara, and Britney Spears just to name a few. And its been confirmed that we can expect guest appearances from Le’Andria Johnson, Kierra Sheard, James Fortune, and more.

Needless to say, as long time appreciators of Mr. Carree’s talent, we’re all sorts of amped for the album. Are you?

New Music Premiere: Deitrick Haddon – ‘Have Your Way’

 

Fans of ‘Well Done’ singer Deitrick Haddon rejoiced today when the singer revealed that new music is being serviced to Gospel radio.

Haddon’s 12th album, “R.E.D. (Restoring Everything Damaged)” scheduled for a summer release – the follow-up to 2011′s “Church On The Moon” – fans and supporters were treated to a listen of its first offering today.