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.
Mark Hall, lead singer of top Christian band Casting
Crowns, talked with Christian
Retailing about the band's October
2011 release from Beach Street
Records, Come to the Well.
Listen in as Managing Editor Christine Johnson talks with Hall about
songs such as the theme for the new movie
Courageous as well as Hall's favorite on the release, "Already
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
With Denver Bierman at the helm, Denver & the Mile High Orchestra has been entertaining and inspiring audiences for 13 years. New album Groovy releases this month from GFK Records.
How did you decide on the album title?
It’s a little bit of something old and a little bit of something new. That’s what I love about our music … it reminds you of something long ago and yet has kind of a fresh and exciting energy to it, so it made perfect sense. … This is one of these records that makes you want to bop your head and get up and dance and clap your hands. We’re like, “This is going to be a pretty groovy album.”
Did you write all of these songs?
I arranged all the music for Groovy, and I co-wrote with Jamie [Statema of Go Fish] three or four songs for the album, and then I wrote solely probably another two or three.
Who did you have in mind as your listener?
I started writing a lot of songs that were geared for my children to not just entertain them but to teach them things. … Over the course of a few years, I felt like I’d written some songs that would be really applicable to the American family and to the Christian family out there.
Anyone who has grown up in Sunday school will appreciate “Sunday School Swing.” You had fun on that one, didn’t you?
The “Sunday School Swing” is a classic big-band rockabilly arrangement that the Mile High Orchestra has been known for all of these years. ... Tunes like “This Little Light of Mine,” “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” “The B-I-B-L-E,” “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho”—we were able to fit all of these songs into one tune called the “Sunday School Swing,” and it is so upbeat and fun.
On “Man Gave Names to All the Animals,” the reference to Fuzzy Wuzzy will get a laugh—did that one take you back?
That’s an old Bob Dylan song about how Adam had named all the different animals living there in the garden in the very beginnings of creation, so we were able to do a duet with Go Fish, which is by far one of the most creative groups out there.
Do you have a favorite?
There’s a very happy song on this album called “Brand New Day” … the kind of song that just reminds us all that God came with a clear purpose to redeem us, to give us hope, to give us a future.
The songs of worship leader and Dove Award-winning artist Matt Redman are some of the most sung by Christians around the world. His new sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records release, 10,000 Reasons, comes out this month and is available from EMI CMG Distribution.
You recorded this album live with 1,000 of your best friends, right? How did this project come about?
We decided to make a live record—as there’s such a special dynamic that happens when the church gathers together and we sing our hearts out to God. I really hope we’ve captured something of that explosive devotion on this album. We recorded it in Atlanta during LIFT, Passion City Church’s first worship leader collective. Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin hosted, and throughout those couple of days, I had the joy of leading the 1,000 or so worship leaders and pastors there in these 11 brand-new songs. It was such a dynamic experience—some very special memories that will last a very long time.
Did you write all of the 11 tracks?
Every song on the album is co-written, and I love the team of friends which has emerged over the years to do this. Friends like Jason Ingram, Jonas Myrin, Chris Tomlin and Matt Maher were all part of various songs—and I know that none of these compositions would have got to where they were without this team dynamic. Co-writing is so vital if we’re going to push creativity and find new ways to talk to God in worship songs. I don’t think many things as church are designed to be done alone.
Could you reflect on one or two?
The “10,000 Reasons” title track was a special one for me. The title comes from a line in the song which says ‘For all Your goodness I will keep on singing; 10,000 reasons for my heart to find.’ The truth is there’s never a time to run out of reasons for God’s praise. As we survey our lives, we see them covered by His goodness and kindness. When we look back over our years, we see nothing but faithfulness. When we look toward God, we see glory and grace dancing together, and mercy and majesty exploding in beautiful harmony. So, if we get up one day and can’t think of a reason to exalt Him, there’s something wrong with our spiritual outlook. His wonders are flying at us daily from every direction.
I think my favorite song on the album is “Holy.” It seemed to explode when we led it live at the LIFT gathering and recording. One of my life’s quests is to search for words and melodies that can help paint a big picture of who God is. This one is a reminder that Jesus is set apart, above all others, and He should take the highest place in our hearts and lives.
GRAMMY-nominated and Dove-winning Peter Furler releases his first independent album since the leaving the Newsboys—On Fire—June 21 from Sparrow Records (EMI CMG Distribution).
Has going solo been a significant adjustment?
It kind of has. It’s something that I’d never thought of. Newsboys was something that was very dear to me, still is dear to me. It was like a tree I planted when I was a teenager, and obviously God made it grow. Over the years it’s been such a blessing, and when it came time—really because of the non-stop touring schedule—I just really felt, to be honest, I felt the Lord tell me it was time to let the ground rest, even though I wasn’t actually tired the last couple years I headed the band, which were the best years really. I thought we were at the top of the game and things were great, but at the same time, I was getting this sense to let the ground rest. I didn’t know what it meant because I wasn’t tired or burnt out, none of the things that usually happen, but I knew I had to follow the little checks I was getting. … I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I kind of liked that. I’d had 20-odd years of knowing exactly what was happening pretty much a year in advance, but then the music itch came back.
You bring a joy to your music, just as you did with Newsboys. Are you just naturally a happy kind of guy?
I’m not a life-of-the-party type person. When I’m out on stage, I definitely like to encourage people and stir up things, cause a stir. I enjoy that to a certain degree, but that’s not who I am usually around my home. I’m not a depressed person either, it’s not that. It’s something that we have to stir up within us. We have to kind of put on something and think and watch our thought life. These songs, at the same time, they are full of joy, because that is within me also, but it doesn’t come natural. … It comes from the Lord.
The first single was “Reach,” about God reaching for us. Have you sensed that greatly in your own life?
To me, it’s become more evident that God is everywhere, which we know that from Scripture. … The greatest example of Him reaching out to us is through Jesus and Him coming to earth. That’s the greatest example, but also at the same time, we can sometimes feel like we’re forgotten as people and we’re just caught up in this big world. But God cares for us individually.
“All in Your Head” talks of getting a “kick of love.” Is it a motivational song?
It is, and it’s really just a thing of not letting life pass you by. I think for my wife and I, in the last couple years I was with the band, probably even a few before that, we had another inkling, another stirring to simplify. … My wife and I bought an RV, so instead of riding in the tour bus and getting driven to shows, I drove myself and her and her little dog. We drove to every show, performed the concert, then I’d get in and drive again. It was just such a thrill. We’d stop at the KOA campgrounds and sleep at the Wal-Mart Supercenters, which was kind of strange. You’d play a show for 10,000 people in Minneapolis, and that night you’re sleeping in the Wal-Mart Supercenter. It was definitely an eye-opening experience. … We sold the house we had and bought a smaller one. We got rid of things, got rid of furniture. We’re kind of still in that process, in a way. It was a really great time for us to do that and to live the adventure—to step out and take some chances, and to not just settle. I think even in our life as Christians, to really get on mission trips and to step out a bit, or do something in your local community or local church. Any time someone’s depressed, my first advice is to say go on a missions trip—to get out there. That was the song, again stirring up folks to not settle.
What touring are you planning?
I’m looking at doing quite a few shows around the release of the record in June. We’re working all that out. Then doing a full tour—probably about 25 cities—in the fall, then, hopefully, the possibility of being on Winter Jam.