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Meet the Artist: Bob Smiley PDF Print E-mail
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 08:51 AM EST

MulletsOnFireComedian Bob Smiley releases his newest DVD, Mullets on Fire (622306019090, $14.99), Feb. 15 through Crown Entertainment ( The video captures Smiley’s live performance at Roseville, California’s Bayside Church.

How did you come up with this DVD’s amusing title?  The title Mullets on Fire is the punchline from one of the bits I did. ... The feature presentation is strictly stand-up—fast-paced story form. There are messages in there. I end with a story about how much God loves us unconditionally. I tell a story about listening to my son playing trombone and how bad it is, but how I love it because he’s playing it for me. Maybe we’re not playing the song how God created us to play the song. He still loves us. We’re His children. There are quite a few inspirational things in there. 

I’m also doing some bonus features. They will have a question-and-answer period. After the concert, I go out and take questions from the audience. If they have questions about a bit from the past, I’ll also do the bit. A second bonus feature will be cartoons to go with some of the bits from my first CD. 

You’ve been touring as a comedian for a long time. What is that like?  Well, my hotel shampoo collection is extensive. When my kids were young, I would bring them shower caps from hotels and tell them they’re space helmets. When I first started, I simply wanted to use comedy as a vehicle to get them in, get them laughing and then let me share scripture or my testimony. The thing I’ve seen is not only are people receptive to that and that plan is still working, but also [what] I’ve learned is just simply laughter is a huge healing tool. ... I did a show at a Christian coffee house one night for no money. I had a dad come up after and said he and his teenage son had not spoken. … When they heard I was coming, the week leading up to it, they were able to share old bits from that old DVD and laugh. It really kind of started the healing process. They had more in common than all the problems. I’ve seen families laugh together. There could be tragedy walking through the door, but God uses laughter and joy to show that He’s not given up on them. 

How hard is doing stand-up comedy night after night?  I’ve done a show for eight people and 82,000 people. I’ve done a football stadium. I did a show in the middle of a racetrack, and I had to stop my jokes while the cars raced between me and the audience. I did a show for a church called “55 and Better,” but no one in the audience could remember being 55. This lady kept talking to me through the whole show. She would ask questions and I would answer her. At the end, she stood up and gave me a big hug. It was the perfect end to a show. I feel like I’ve seen every situation a comic could be in. 

What is the key to demonstrating confidence and yet remaining humble?  I love my job and I have the confidence that God has blessed me. I realize that God has given all of us individual talents to use to glorify God. That’s the whole reason He gave me that talent to begin with. He’s going to equip me with the ability to do my job well. The humility comes from the fact that God would even use me. I’m just so grateful to do stand-up and to do it well enough to do it this long. I think a lot of people do stand-up comedy and put us up on a pedestal where we don’t belong. To me, I say words into a microphone and people laugh.

Rap, worship and Southern gospel among start-of-year music releases PDF Print E-mail
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 08:38 AM EST

Baritone Doug Anderson returns with ‘Drive’ while fast-growing church’s worship band sings praise

Thrive-DougAndersonDrive - Doug Anderson, StowTown Records, (Provident Distribution), 643157427827, Jan. 21

A Dove Award-winning baritone vocalist in Ernie Haase & Signature Sound,  Anderson sees the release of his second solo project, Drive, on Jan. 21. Once again using the talents of producer-songwriter Wayne Haun (Jason Crabb, Ernie Haase ), the project features a cover of Dolly Parton’s “The Seeker” and tracks such as “I’ll Be There With You”  and “Sundays Are Made for Times Like These.”


OnlyKingForever-ElevationWorshipOnly King Forever - Elevation Worship, Essential Worship, (Provident), 083061098728, Jan. 14

Elevation Worship returns with its third release on the Essential Worship label. Based in Charlotte, N.C., Elevation Church is one of the fastest-growing churches in America with more than 12,000 in weekly attendance, and Elevation Worship’s songs are being sung in churches worldwide. The theme of the album is who God is as King and who His people are as children of the King. Key songs on the album include “Only King Forever,” “Grace So Glorious,” “Raised to Life” and “Last Word.” Guest artist Darlene Zschech leads the song “The Love of Jesus.” The project will be supported through appearances at major worship conferences. 

Stereotypes-HeeSunLeeStereotypes - HeeSun Lee, In My City Records, 859711574122, Jan. 21

As with the lead single from Korean rapper HeeSun Lee, “I Break Stereotypes,” the artist arrives with a new sound. Delivering her lyrics in rapid-fire fashion, she has been compared to mainstream counterparts such as Nicki Minaj. Songs include “Skin Deep” and “Changed Me.”

New DVD Releases January 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 08:35 AM EST

BonhoefferBonhoeffer, the 2011 ECPA Christian Book of the Year, is the inspiration for the new DVD Bonhoeffer: A Four-Session Study on the Life and Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas ($26.99), releasing Jan. 28 from Thomas Nelson. Filmed on location in Germany, the four-part series hosted by Metaxas will explore how Bonhoeffer impacted his community during World War II and how his faith has influenced the church since. Sessions include “Life Together” and “Religionless Christianity.”


Jeremy Lin, the NBA basketball star known for his outspoken Christian faith, is the subject of the documentary Linsanity ($19.99, ARC Entertainment/Provident Distribution) releasing Jan. 7. The film spotlights the rising popularity of Lin, who proved himself in a crucial New York Knicks game, scoring more points in his first start than any other player in modern history. The film scored the second-biggest per-screen box office when it was released to theaters in October. 


ImInLoveWithAChurchGirlJeff “Ja Rule” Atkins, Adrienne Bailon, Stephen Baldwin, Vincent Pastore, Michael Madsen and TobyMac star in I’m  Love With In a Church Girl, releasing on DVD ($19.99) and Blu-ray ($29.99) Jan. 21 from Reverence Gospel Media Films (Capitol Christian Distribution). Based on a true story, the film follows a drug trafficker who falls in love with
a devoted Christian woman. The film released to theaters in October. 

New Jamie Grace album attracts top production team PDF Print E-mail
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 08:34 AM EST

GRAMMY-nominated and Dove Award-winning artist ‘Ready to Fly’ with sophomore project

ReadyToFly-JamieGraceJamie Grace, GRAMMY Award nominee and GMA Dove Award winner for Best New Artist, is back with her sophomore album, Ready to Fly, on Jan. 28. The new studio record from Gotee Records follows her breakout album, One Song at a Time, also from Gotee. The new release reunites her with producers Christopher Stevens (TobyMac) and David Garcia (Britt Nicole), and adds Chuck Butler (Royal Tailor) to the production mix.

 “The entire concept of Ready to Fly is being ready even when you don’t know what the Lord has planned for your future,” Grace said. “I wrote the title track the night before I turned 18. I was crying out, wondering what God’s plan for me was. I started to doubt so many things, but as I randomly began singing the lyrics to ‘Ready to Fly,’ I realized I don’t have to have my whole life figured out to start my journey. This record is about being in the waiting with God, yet while you’re waiting being ready to move—ready to fly—when the timing is right.” 

 The album features appearances from Manwell of Group 1 Crew on “Just a Friend”; Grace’s sister, Morgan Harper Nichols on “White Boots”; and Jason Crabb on the digital-only bonus-track version of “Fighter,” a song inspired by Grace’s childhood struggle with Tourette Syndrome. Other tracks include “My First Love,” “To Love You Back,” “Every Bit of Lovely” and “The Waiting.” 

 This summer, Grace released first single “Beautiful Day,” which rose to the Top five on the Christian Hot AC/CHR and Christian AC Indicator radio charts. She also released a lyric video for the song to social media networks.  

 In the fall, Grace previewed songs from the project on TobyMac’s HITS Deep Tour 2013 and will continue touring on The Roadshow 2014 with a number of artists, including Skillet, Third Day and Royal Tailor. She also made her big-screen debut in the motion picture Grace Unplugged, which released to theaters in September.

To order, call Provident Distribution at 800-333-900 or visit

Switchfoot’s ‘Fading West’ tries to ‘find peace in dangerous places’ PDF Print E-mail
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 08:32 AM EST

New songs inspired through relaxed creative process

FadingWest-SwitchfootSwitchfoot, the San Diego-based rock band that’s proven to be one of Christian music’s most successful crossover acts, returns to the spotlight with the group’s ninth studio project, Fading West (075678683824, $13.99), releasing Jan. 14 from Atlantic Records (Word Distribution). 

Approaching the record after the band’s 17 years together, including double-Platinum success from breakthrough release The Beautiful Letdown, frontman Jon Foreman said the challenge was to do something fresh and new while still maintaining the group’s identity.

“The point became, ‘What are we going to do to push ourselves?’ “ he said. “Could we take ourselves somewhere we’d never been before, yet achieve a feeling of comfort at the same time? How do we go to a new place that feels like home?”

To find inspiration, band members took to their surfboards while touring in support of their previous release Vice Verses. According to co-founder and bassist Tim Foreman, “the idea was to surf, write songs, play music and see what ideas came.”

Songs birthed during that creative process include “Worth the Fight,” “All or Nothing,” “Slipping Away” and debut single “Love Alone Is Worth the Fight,” which broke records when released on Christian Hit Radio (CHR) charts in the fall. The album closes with songs distinctly inspired by water, “Salt Water” and “Back to the Beginning.” The comfort of the water and the potential danger served as a fitting metaphor for the album’s theme. 

“You’re comfortable out there, but it’s the unknown,” Foreman said. “You can paddle out in South Africa, and it’s exactly like home and nothing like home all at once. That’s what I’m hoping our record feels like—trying to find peace in dangerous places.”

A film, also titled Fading West, coincides with the new release. The film was screened on the band’s tour as well as on demand and through digital outlets. It is described as “pock documentary, part surf film and part travelogue.” 

To order Fading West, call Word Distribution at 800-876-WORD (9673).

Kirk Cameron’s ‘visual journal’ raises the ultimate question PDF Print E-mail
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 08:30 AM EST

Actor-director’s successful documentary was born out of the loss of his teenage friend

UnstoppableKirk Cameron (Growing Pains, Fireproof, Left Behind) tackles one of life’s most significant questions—why God allows suffering—in his new documentary, Unstoppable (602341006293, $17.99), arriving on DVD Jan. 28 from Provident Films. Described as a “visual journal,” the film blends Cameron’s narration with dramatic creative vignettes. 

“Why doesn’t God alleviate pain and suffering?” Cameron asks in the film’s opening moments. “I want to answer that question to the extent that I think we can based on what we know from experience and history and from God’s Word.”

The direction of the film was inspired by the death of Cameron’s 15-year-old friend Matthew, who participated in Camp Firefly, a camp for terminally ill kids started by Cameron and his wife, Chelsea Noble. 

“When he passed, I found myself asking the question, ‘Why, God, didn’t You heal Matthew when I know You can heal him? Where were You in the middle of this?’ ” Cameron said. “On my way to his funeral and burial, I took cameras with me and documented the whole process and then looked back in the Bible to find where God is since the fall and the garden of Eden, tower of Babel, crucifixion—where is God in the midst of all this terrible tragedy and what’s He doing?”

Dramatic elements are used in the film, including Cameron leading a discussion on the proper way to put the story of Noah on film. In the middle of the discussion of such a serious, heart-wrenching topic, the vignette provides some comic relief.

“The movie needed a little lightening up, so we wanted to put some humor in there,” he said. “It was the riskiest part of the whole movie.”

Cameron enlisted Liberty University as a production partner, and it also served as the location for the film’s simulcast premiere party through NCM Fathom Events. Billed as a “one-night only” live event, most theaters sold out of tickets, scheduled a second-night showing and the documentary bested movies such as Gravity and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 in per-screen averages. The film grossed $3.2 million on 700 screens. 

“We didn’t have any kind of a marketing and promotional budget to speak of, and we were only on one showing of each of those nights,” Cameron said. “It was the biggest one night in NCM Fathom Events’ history.”

To order Unstoppable, call 800-333-900 or visit

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