Christian Retailing

Meet the Artist: Michael Card Print Email
Written by Aaron Dillon   
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 10:46 AM America/New_York

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.

Meet the Artist: Brandon Heath Print Email
Written by Aaron Dillon   
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 10:42 AM America/New_York

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.

Meet the Artist: Dallas Jenkins Print Email
Written by Staff   
Tuesday, 22 February 2011 01:14 PM America/New_York

What if..., starring Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) as a successful businessmen who awakens to an alternative life as a pastor, released on DVD last month from PureFlix Entertainment. We asked Producer and Director Dallas Jenkins:

How did the theatrical run go?

The theatrical did well. Our plan was to focus on a conservative budget, so weunderstood the reality of numbers againstblockbuster releases, but surprisinglythere were some markets where the film played for over two months because of good word-of-mouth.What if… hasbeen moving around markets for five months now. And that's the deal—theaters will keep a movie as long as it sells tickets, stores will keep a DVD as long as it sells copies.

Meet the Artist: RED Print Email
Written by Aaron Crisler   
Friday, 28 January 2011 10:21 AM America/New_York

Four-piece Dove Award-winning hard rock band Red’s third album, Until We Have Faces, is released Feb. 1 on Essential Records.

What’s the inspiration behind the new record?
Anthony Armstrong (guitar): We are all fans of C.S. Lewis and his book Till We Have Faces. The record is not really about the book, but there was a phrase (there) that we all kind of gravitated towards, and it talks about that no human being could ever receive messages from the divine until they find their true identity. That’s the most relevant thing that stuck out to us in the last record cycle ... meeting a lot of kids and a lot of people who are kind of searching (for) who they really are. ... This record—that’s the anthem for those people.

How has Red’s music changed since the last album?
Michael Barnes (vocals): We combined some of the elements that we loved about the first record, End of Silence, and the inspiration that had, and Innocence and Instinct, some of the heaviness and the drive that record had. Until We Have Faces is those two records on steroids.

As an unapologetically Christian band, how has it been playing on the road with leading secular bands (Papa Roach, Godsmack)?
Randy Armstrong (bass): There’s obvious differences in the content, but at the end of the day, we are all musicians just trying to do the same thing, make a living doing music.  ... We really try to find people where they are at and inspire them and really brand sort of a lifestyle change through our music.

How has the digital revolution impacted Red?
Randy Armstrong: The digital age has leveled the playing field for a lot of music because bands don’t sell records anymore. It all comes down to, are you going to earn it on the road by playing live shows?
Anthony Armstrong: It’s also a place for our fans to find out, to gather and talk about the music.

What does 2011 hold for Red?
Anthony Armstrong: We are going out on Winter Jam (through) March.

Meet the Artist: Third Day Print Email
Written by Aaron Crisler   
Friday, 28 January 2011 10:10 AM America/New_York

GRAMMY- and GMA Dove Award-winning band Third Day sees the release of Move (Essential Records/Provident Label Group/Provident-Integrity Distribution) on Oct. 19. Frontman Mac Powell, bass player Tai Anderson, drummer David Carr and guitarist Mark Lee talked with Christian Retailing about the latest recording.

Your new album is simply titled—Move. How did you come up with the name?
(Tai Anderson) We were answering the question from “Revelation” (the title track from our last album), which says, “Tell me, should I stay here or do I need to move?” and we really liked the idea of go, move—put your faith into action.

What are some of the album’s other highlights?
(Mark Lee) “Children of God” is a powerful song with a great message that we’re excited about sharing with our fans. “Surrender” is another fun one. It never fails to get a reaction when we play it for our friends.

If you had to pick a favorite song on the album, which would it be?
(Anderson) “Surrender.”?It starts so small with just a single slide guitar. By the end of the song, the band is rocking, accompanied by a huge string section. The song is just epic, and made more so because we allow it time to develop.

What is special to you about the sound or the lyrics of this album?
(Mac Powell) This album somehow has this mix of a sound that you haven’t quite heard from Third Day before and yet there’s a familiar sound as well.

Has Third Day developed through the years?
(Lee) When the band started out, we were all single, high school and college students. Now we’re all married and have school-aged kids. But we’re still the same guys.

Any message for stores?
(Anderson) Crank it up! I think this is a project that even passive Christian music fans will respond to if they hear it.
(Powell) When you have been around for as long as we have, you come to realize very quickly that we don’t achieve success on our own. There are so many people behind the scenes sharing our music with others and getting our music out to the masses. Christian retail has been a key element in the success of Third Day, and if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t still be here doing this.

Meet the Artist: Sergio Cariello Print Email
Written by Aaron Crisler   
Friday, 28 January 2011 10:07 AM America/New_York

A former Marvel and DC Comics artist, Brazilian-born Sergio Cariello is the illustrator of The Action Bible, an updating of the David C. Cook’s successful Picture Bible, releasing this month.

How does your faith inform your art?
Because my parents brought me up taking me to church and Sunday school, I learned about the Bible at a very young age. Even as I kept drawing and getting published, I had a strong desire to know God better, so I went to a Bible school to study God’s Word full time at age 16. But I never stopped drawing and I dreamed of one day combining the truths of the Word with my ability to draw.

How did your career develop?
After I finished further Bible training in New York, I applied to an art school there and was accepted. I became a janitor in a church 40 miles away in order to attend (art school). Later I entered the business as a letterer for Marvel. Soon I was fulfilling my dream of drawing comics for a living, working at home.

What was your greatest professional achievement prior to this Bible?
I was fortunate to be able to draw Spider-Man, Avengers, Batman, Wonder Woman and many iconic characters in comics, but one character who got me an Eisner (Award) nomination for best new series in 2007 was The Lone Ranger.

How do your illustrations differ from the original in The Picture Bible?
I have a great respect for the original work done by (André) Le Blanc. Mine differ in style, just by being a different artist with (my) own personal tastes. Maybe also in the dynamics introduced, where I tried to jazz it up and modernize it, adding more impact and action to it, hopefully implementing what I’ve learned in my career as an artist for so many different genres.

What is it like to draw Jesus?
It’s a great thrill combined with a great weight of responsibility. I imagine Jesus not as portrayed in most history books, with very delicate, angelic gestures, but someone strong, well built, ready to walk a few miles on foot and work hard as a carpenter, always ready for the task ahead of Him—even the one that took his life for three days.

Which was the hardest Bible story to illustrate and why?
The battle scenes were the hardest ones because of all those people I had to draw (laugh).

Don’t cartoons trivialize the Word of God?
Only if the ones behind the production don’t have the respect and the seriousness of the content. No matter if the style is cartoony or different from one someone might be used to seeing, the key is the motivation behind it.