Shake Heaven (7-28028-23155-7,
$16.99, Victory World Music/Lucid Artist),
the new album-DVD package by Montell Jordan, R&B singer turned
worship pastor, is being re-released in December 2011. Felicia
Abraham spoke with Jordan about the project and his ministry.
Tell us about Shake
It’s going to be re-released very
differently on Dec. 11 this year. It has new artwork, songs were
added, and it’s going to include a live DVD on the project as well.
It’s going to be good. On the DVD, we have the live features from
Israel Houghton, Ricardo Sanchez, Rachael Lampa and Martha Munizzi,
to name a few. We did a concert last year on 11/11/11 and it was
amazing. We captured that and that’s the DVD that’s in the
package now with the live album.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 November 2012 10:45 AM EST
Third Day has sold 7 million albums and
is sure to sell a few more with the GRAMMY- and Dove Award-winning
band's new Essential Records project, Miracle (0-83061-09462-1,
Provident Distribution), releasing Nov. 6, 2012. Tai Anderson (bass,
background vocals) answered the majority of the following questions
about the band and new project.
Miracle is 12th
studio record for Third Day. To what do you owe your longevity as a
We get asked all the time how we've
stayed together so long, and I believe there is more than one reason.
Over the past 20 years as a band, we have seen the impact of our
music on countless individuals and we've heard numerous testimonies
from fans whose lives seemed to be turned around for the better after
hearing a song or attending a concert. As a matter of fact, "I
Need a Miracle" was inspired by one such story. It
certainly has not been difficult to find our purpose as a band with
so many encouraging words from fans.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 November 2012 10:46 AM EST
Brandon Heath, the five-time
GRAMMY nominee, Emmy winner and two-time Gospel Music Association Male Vocalist
of the Year—offers his fourth full-length album, Blue Mountain (6-02341-01712-1, Reunion
Records/Provident Distribution), releasing Oct. 9, 2012. Read his
comments on the new project here:
In a few words, how would you describe the music
on Blue Mountain?
It’s about storytelling. Most of the characters on the
record are fictional people who live on Blue
Mountain. In terms of the music, I wanted to bring Appalachia to Pop so
you’ll hear pop backbeats surrounded by Dobro and steel guitars. The vocals
take on the characters they portray, with dialect and accents very much intact.
Last Updated on Thursday, 30 August 2012 03:26 PM EDT
From his new label home,
FairTrade Services, Platinum-selling artist Mark Schultz sees a Sept. 4 release
of his first studio project in three years, All
Things Possible (7-36211-60449-1). Produced by Pete Kipley
(MercyMe, Phil Wickham) and Seth Mosley (Newsboys), the album is available from
You and your wife, Kate,
spent some time in Italy preparing music for All Things Possible. Why
Kate is an Italian citizen, but had never met any of her
relatives in Sicily or Italy, so we thought that it would be a great
opportunity to do that, as well as get to spend some time together as a
couple—she had just finished medical residency, and we hadn't seen much of each
other. We joked that we have been married for seven years and are still
newlyweds. Taking time off from touring let us both experience life together as
well as get filled up creatively.
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 July 2012 05:03 PM EDT
The members of Tenth Avenue North talked with Christian Retailing about the band's third studio project, The Struggle (6-02341-01632-2, $9.99), releasing Aug. 21, 2012, from Reunion Records and Provident Label Group. Band members are: Mike Donehey (lead vocals, acoustic guitar); Jason Jamison (drums); Jeff Owen (background vocals, electric guitar); Brendon Shirley (keys) and Ruben Juarez (bass).
The Struggle is your third studio project. How is it distinct from the music you created earlier as a band?
Mike Donehey: We have new members now. [With] a lot of the songs we did in the past, we did songs first and then tried to build the music around it. This time a lot of them we did the music first. ... We feel like an artist with more colors at his disposal, and I think people find that to be true, that there's more sonic soundscape and more texture and more colors in the music itself in this record than before.
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 08:03 AM EDT
Southern rock group Rhett Walker Band debuts on
Essential Records (Provident Distribution) in July 2012 with Come to the River. The band is led
by the son of a preacher who has outgrown his teen rebellion and come into his
own as a family man who sings of the grace that saved him.
This is your debut in the Christian market, so our
readers will want to get acquainted with you. Would you share some of your
story with us?
I’m just a sinner singing about grace. I’m
blessed with a beautiful wife and two children, with one on the way, who have
walked this journey with me every step of the way. The three main things that
make up who I am are faith, family and country. These are the three most
important things in my life, things that echo throughout this entire album.
See, I’ve lived a lot of life in some very short years. I’ve realized
nothing is as amazing as God's love and mercy, and that’s what I wanted to
write about. Life songs. Songs written about not only the stress and pains of
life that we face every day, but songs written about His mercy that we don’t
deserve, yet He so freely gives, and it is what I respect and honor. Come to the River is me. It's made up of songs that tell
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 May 2012 04:44 PM EDT
Known for her Amish-themed fiction, best-selling author Wanda E. Brunstetter is helping children understand the simple life and morals of the Amish in her children's fiction. As the first of her "Double Trouble" series from Barbour Publishing, What a Pair! releases in June 2012.
Do you enjoy writing for children more
than adults or vice-versa, or simply like both audiences?
I enjoy them both, as each is
uniquely different, and they both give me a chance to express myself
in various ways.
Who buys your children’s books?
What’s the demographic?
Parents and grandparents buy my
children’s books for boys and girls ages 8-12 (some even younger,
depending on their reading level). Based on the fan mail I’ve
received, I’d say that the young readers are from all over the
United States. I’ve even received some mail from children in
Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:50 PM EDT
Lara Landon’s sophomore project, Overcome, released on her own
Wise Sam label. Co-produced by the artist in cooperation with Mitch Dane, Steve
Wilson and Brian Hitt, the album is available from New Day Christian Distributors
(phone: 800-251-3633; fax: 800-361-2533).
Who is Lara Landon as an artist?
music that I write is just an extension of who I am in everyday life. Just like
all believers, I have some really hard times and some great moments, and music
for me is an expression of that. I try to make music that I would like to hear,
music that is really honest and stylistically close to what I grew up
loving—folk, musical theater, pop, classical.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 11:04 AM EST
Award-winning Canadian band
Newworldson was the first group signed to Inpop Records’ founder
Dale Bray’s new label, Platinum Pop. Lead vocalist Joel Parisien
discusses the new album, Rebel Transmission, releasing April
17 and distributed by New Day Christian Distribution.
How would you describe the music on
Uplifting pop music with an obvious
nod to ’60s soul and old school rock ’n’ roll.
Last Updated on Monday, 05 March 2012 12:23 PM EST
of the music business for three decades, Don Moen, singer-songwriter and former
Integrity Music executive, releases his next album, Uncharted Territory
(EMI CMG Distribution), March 27, 2012, under a different label, in:ciite Media.
Why did you title this album Uncharted
In December 2007 I felt compelled to pursue a new
direction in my ministry, which led to my resignation as an executive from
Integrity Music after serving there for over 20 years. Essentially, I left everything that was
secure and familiar to me—job, friends, church, doctors, schools, and moved to
a new city where nothing was familiar.
I struggled with fearful thoughts and loneliness, wondering if I had
made a mistake putting my family at risk to pursue this new direction. Uncharted
Territory was birthed as a result of my honest searching to find God in all
the chaos. I realized that many people
find themselves in uncharted territory every day due to circumstances that are
beyond their control, like the loss of a job, divorce, sickness or the death of
a loved one, and I was determined to find a way to “sing the Lord’s song in a
foreign land” (Ps. 137), offering sincere and honest worship, even through the
toughest times. This album is probably the most vulnerable project I’ve
recorded, and yet each song reinforces the truth that “God is faithful.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 11:04 AM EST
Since GRAMMY-nominated and Dove Award-winning artist Jaci Velasquez recorded 2008’s Love Out Loud on
her own Apostrophe Records label, she began co-hosting radio’s “Your Family
Friendly Morning Show” with Doug Griffin and has moved to Inpop Records (EMI
CMG Distribution) for new album Diamond. She and husband Nic Gonzales,
of the band Salvador, have two sons. She is also currently appearing in two
films, The Encounter and Jerusalem Countdown.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 11:04 AM EST
Denver Bierman, leader of
Denver & The Mile High Orchestra, talks with Christian Retailing
about the horn band's August 2011 release from GFK Records,
Groovy. Listen in as Managing Editor Christine Johnson talks with
Bierman about songs such as "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" and "Sunday
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 October 2011 03:47 PM EDT
With this month's release of Captivated (Maranatha! Music/EMI CMG Distribution), Dove Award-winning Nicole C. Mullen's first studio album since 2008's A Dream to Believe In, she finds her music taking a different direction than she expected.
How did you end up going in that new direction?
I was writing my normal type of an album, which is normally in the style of funkabilly. and before I knew it, instead of the funkabilly style, I had a whole bunch of worship songs, and I looked at them and I thought, "OK, Lord, what are you saying to me?" For many years people have said, "Why don't you do a worship album?" I've never been one to want to jump on a trend or bandwagon and I never felt like it was the right time until now.
Do you have a favorite tune or two?
I wrote all of them except for one. I guess it depends on what time of life I'm going through. I think each of them speak to me differently on different days and in different situations. "Kingdom Come" (a duet with Michael O'Brien, formerly with NewSong) is one of my favorites, and it speaks about that in the midst of the chaos that's going on today, in the midst of our current events that every time you turn on the news something else is going on in our world, we need the help of the Lord. The cry that Christ even taught us and that our hearts just seem to naturally want to pray these days is to let His kingdom come, let the kingdom of God be revealed in power and in might and in the sight of all.
Who were some of the guests on the album?
This is probably the first time that I had so many guests on an album. … We have Chris August on "I Need You," we have Michael O'Brien on "Kingdom Come," we have Papa San on "My Shepherd," and we have The Katinas on "Lead Me."
What's next for Nicole C. Mullen?
There are always things to do. We have Baby Girls Club … then we have another mentorship group of teens that we work with as well, girls and guys, called Team NCN. … I have three children and a husband, and my parents live next door and my in-laws across the street. We're all planning on going to Zimbabwe in May to do concerts there. … We have been traveling a lot and we will continue to do that inside of the States and outside as well, and so our lives are full and Christ is living up to what He promised, that He gives life and that more abundantly and so I can witness to that. Every day with Christ is an adventure, and so that's the adventure that I live. Whatever the day holds, I'm not always sure because He holds the day and I have to wait until He reveals it. Looking back and just seeing what He has done, I can say it's good and it's God.
Best known for the breakout hit "Glory Defined," 2005 Dove Award New Artist of the Year Building 429 has been playing 200 live shows a year. Now a part of the Essential Records/Provident Label Group family, the band sees Listen To The Sound release this month. Christian Retailing asked lead singer-songwriter Jason Roy (pictured second from left) about life on the road and the new album.
You have been really busy touring, haven't you?
Some people think we are crazy for how many shows we play each year, but to be honest, we've really never known anything different. When we started years ago, we had a desire to connect with people on a personal level through the music we wrote, so we booked shows and toured like crazy. Social media has made it easier for fans to connect with us, but we as a band struggle with that because it doesn't feel as honest, so we still long for concerts and face-to-face interaction.
Jason Ingram, Rusty Varenkamp and Rob Hawkins produced this album. What was it like working with them?
Working with Jason and Rusty was a really cool experience for sure. Funny thing is that Jason was the guy who found me and the band back in 2003. He took me to his publisher where I would later sign my first publishing deal. Another unknown fact is that Jason was part of our first management team (Talon Management) and was heavily involved in the writing process of our first record. Sitting in the studio with him was like meeting an old friend for a cup of coffee and a hang. It was seamless and it was a blast.
This record was also half produced by Rob Hawkins, another amazing producer in his own right. It was a nice marriage of his super-hip new-school styling and my Southern rock history. He pushed us into a new vibe and what we like to call a more "West Coast" flavor that ended up permeating the record. In fact he co-wrote and produced our first single, "Listen to the Sound," and it's obvious to anyone who has followed us that he ushered in a new era of Building 429 with that one.
How many of these songs did band members write?
Every song on the record was written by the band except for the song "War Zone," which blew us away because it was an obvious tie-in to the record's theme, which was, "where we belong."
Any word for Christian retailers?
I'm excited for retailers to hear our new music, and for audiences to be truly encouraged by these songs. Life is tough, and we all struggle, but hope is rising.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 June 2011 03:39 PM EDT
Shawn McDonald sees the release of his fourth album and first recording in three years, Closer (Sparrow
Records/EMI CMG Distribution), this month. With songs written by
McDonald, Brandon Heath, Joy Williams and others, the album features
themes of hope and redemption.
How would you describe your music?
I am a songwriter by nature. I also love
all sorts of music. Every record I have written has been different. This
current record I would call “intellectual pop.”
How is this album different than your others?
I try to remain fresh and innovative and
at the same time retain a deep sense of my faith. I really try hard to
not make the same record over, and it is a hard line to walk because you
gain fans on one sound you gave them, and the goal is to not lose them
on the next one. I have found that if I don’t continue growing as an
artist or even in my faith, my heart sort of dies, and I start to do it
for the wrong reasons. I am extremely excited about this record. It is a
bit more on the pop side of things, but it was where my heart was at
when I wrote it.
What are some of the album’s themes?
This record for me is a redemption
record. It is about the ups and downs of faith that I wrote going
through an intensely broken season of my life. It is really aimed at
getting closer to God and learning to lean on Him in hard times rather
What’s a favorite song or two of yours on the new album?
My personal favorites on this record are “Don’t Give Up” and “Closer.”
What would you like to say to Christian retailers selling your music?
I write music because God has placed a
seeker’s heart within me. I still don’t understand why He uses me, but
the stories I receive from fans blow my mind. The fact that God is
moving and healing broken people and lives through music and words
reminds me that what I do is important. I don’t understand it, but I
will follow and continue to create music as long as God continues to
inspire and drive my heart. Thanks for walking on this journey with me.
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 October 2011 03:48 PM EDT
Singer-songwriter Michael Card visits the Gospels in his new “Biblical Imagination Series,” with books, DVDs and CDs dedicated to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Christian Retailing talked with him about the series and its first installment on the Gospel of Luke.
What do retailers need to know about the “Biblical Imagination Series”? It’s going to cover the four Gospels initially. We’re thinking it’s going to take five to six years to finish it. There will be a book, a record and a teaching video on each one of the Gospels. … The video has already come out, it’s with Day of Discovery. The book and the record are coming out with InterVarsity.
You started with Luke. What drew you to his Gospel? I had just written a book on slavery, and because of that research, I became convinced that Luke was a slave, so (with) this whole idea of engaging with your imagination, you ask, who is it that wrote the Gospel? What is it about their personality, what about them as an individual would shape the Gospel in certain ways? So I started out just trying to read the book as having been written by a slave. Certainly he was a doctor—we know that for sure because Paul said so. So that’s how I got into it. The book really came to life.
So you’re working on whichever Gospel is firing your imagination at the time? I couldn’t have started with Matthew because I know the least about Matthew. I am the Wednesday-night Bible teacher at our church, and I am working through Matthew, just getting started. But it’s been interesting with this approach, this engaging-with-the-imagination approach. Matthew is starting to come to life to me, too. Matthew was always my least favorite Gospel.
What is your process of engaging with the Scriptures and how that evolves into music, books and videos? I was discipled by a wonderful man named William Lane, and (he) is the person that really started this ball rolling. He used to say that we need to engage with Scripture at the level of informed imagination, but he never told us how to do that. He just did it. He discipled me for about 27 years. We were together constantly for six years, then for another 21 years we were together a lot. So I was left to myself to figure out how to do this. Over the years, what I realized is that it’s the imagination that really integrates us in our heart.
These songs are all written by you. Do you ever work with other writers? I work with other melody people. One was written with Scott Brasher; Scott is a melody writer. Two of them were written with my best friend, Scott Roley. Scott and I, we’ve been best friends for 30 years. We sort of finish each other’s sentences, we have that kind of friendship. ... He’ll start a song and I’ll finish it, or I’ll start a song and he’ll finish it—that’s how we worked. At a point when I would be discouraged or depressed about the whole process, he is about five years older than me, but he brings his youthful enthusiasm into the room and (you) finish things that you wouldn’t have finished otherwise.
What would you say to retailers about this series? I think the church in general is recognizing that they are hungry for Scripture. I think in the wake of the current sort of worship movement, a lot of people have realized that are really just hungry for the Bible. I hope that retailers will (be excited), maybe since it’s a timely series. Hopefully it will be something that will wash people’s feet.
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 October 2011 03:50 PM EDT
A multiple Dove Award winner, including for Male Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year, Brandon Heath releases his third album, Leaving Eden, Jan. 18 on Reunion Records.
Was having written the Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year for 2009 (“Give Me Your Eyes”) added pressure when it came to the next recording? A little bit. I remember the first day going in to write for the new record, I wrote with Jason Ingram, the guy that I wrote “Give Me Your Eyes” with. There was pressure for both of us, I think, because we have a big song (and) it kind of feels like everyone is just expecting you to write another one. And for me, I hate writing under pressure. So we sat down in a studio and prayed and thought, well, whatever the message is on this next song should be simple. We don’t need to embellish anything, let’s just tell the truth.
What’s your writing process? Life on the road can be a little draining and not inspiring, honestly, so I don’t do a lot of writing on the road. But when I get home I just try to catch up with my friends and my family and the people that have the biggest influence and impact on me. I really quietly pay attention to them and I take a lot of notes and put a lot of stuff on my iPhone that I want to write about.
There seems to be a strong theme of redemption running through this album.
I’m glad you caught that because a title like Leaving Eden can sound a little depressing, you know? (The title track) came from a counseling session with this guy (who) said if we are going to really work on your life, we need to go back to the beginning ... back to Eden and mourn what actually happened there. ... It was the loss of our innocence and it’s really affected all of us. But then all the songs thereafter ... there’s a few pieces of Eden. I just picture this really lush green space in my heart that hasn’t been touched yet—and I really want to protect those things. I believe that a lot of the songs are talking about that a little bit. ... I do want to take you on a journey in redemption a little bit because I do feel redeemed.
Many of your songs seem to wrestle with some kind of dissatisfaction. I just like writing about what I see and I think that’s my job as an artist, to just observe and to interpret. A lot of times the world leaves us longing for something else. ... It’s that we are looking for the right thing in the wrong places. A lot of times that brings a dissatisfaction, so that’s why it’s a recurring topic for me: I know the right answer, but I don’t know why it is that it’s so hard for me to go after that. And I think a lot of people are asking the same question. It’s a great universal topic.
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 October 2011 03:53 PM EDT
Mainstream thriller and Hollywood script writer Andrew Klavan’s young adult “Homelanders” series has been optioned for a movie, as the April 2009 hardcover debut title, The Last Thing I Remember, is released in softcover this month.
Are you concerned that some of the faith element may be lost in the film? “You hope it will stay true to the original, especially the theme and the ideas, but you really don’t have a lot of power. ... Summit Entertainment made the “Twilight” books (into films) that had a definite undercurrent of faith and morality, and they kept that stuff in. There is always a danger with this in Hollywood.”
With a long and successful mainstream career, what brought you to Christian publishing? “What brought me to Christian publishing was I became a Christian myself, which I hadn’t been. I was born and raised a Jew and lived many years as an agnostic, even an atheist for a while, so it was a very slow conversion. ... So when Thomas Nelson contacted me and asked me if I was interested in working in the young-adult (genre), I just loved that, and before they finished the sentence, I said, yes, I’m interested.”
How has writing for the Christian market been for you, as your mainstream work is known for being quite gritty? “Working in young-adult novels, the vision tends to be a little softer anyway. I don’t deal with the same kinds of subjects with young people that I deal with for adults. It’s just not the same market, so in that way I fit in. I do sometimes feel that there is a narrowness to the Christian market that can hurt storytelling, and I’ve worked very hard to keep my stories immensely exciting, very fast-moving.”
How has coming to faith changed your writing? “This really surprises me more than anyone. ... One of my great fears as I was struggling with the issues of faith was I didn’t want to lose my sense of realism. You can’t tell stories about life if you don’t see life as it is, in my opinion. The funny thing is that I found that embracing faith has made my view much more realistic. ... I have found that by embracing Christianity has made my worldview much more realistic ... understanding people much deeper, on the one hand, and I think much more compassionate on the other, so I have been very happy with the work I have produced since my conversion. It really has been an absolute pleasant surprise.”
For an exclusive, extended audio interview, visit the Christian Retailing book blog at www.christianretailing.com.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 10:24 AM EDT