Christian Retailing

Sacrifice and worship fuel musical challenge Print Email
Written by Shannon Walker   
Monday, 07 September 2009 11:29 AM America/New_York
Band's new recording inspired by selflessness of young church members

light up the world cdAfter four critically acclaimed albums, the Desperation Band returns Sept. 15 with Light Up the World, a new 16-track CD inspired by the selflessness of young members of the group's home church.

Born out of the student ministries at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., the band took its name from the church's Desperation student conferences. The group "has always been and always will be about the presence of God," said Jon Egan, frontman and co-producer.

"We exist to bring Him glory and reveal His truth to a broken world. If we know who He is, we know who we are," he added. "If we know who we are, we can live as God meant us to live. ... It's all about His purposes."

On Light Up the World, Egan and his bandmates dig deeper into those purposes, reflecting on the type of worship that spurs the church to compassionate action. Much of the inspiration for the album came from New Life's student-driven effort to change the lives of children by building orphan homes in Uganda and Kenya.

The students went far beyond donating pocket change and weekly allowances, Egan noted, with many of them taking on odd jobs or second jobs to reach their goal.

"As I watched the students give all that they had, I started to realize that the best way to reach a young person in Colorado Springs was to help them reach a young person in Uganda," Egan said.

The youth worship pastor at New Life, Egan penned most of the songs for the new project, including the title track, "Be the Change" and "Holy Ground," which he co-wrote with Hillsong Music's Mia Fieldes.

With a companion digital songbook, the enhanced studio CD features new songs, plus bonus live versions of the band's hits "Rescue" and "I Am Free." Also included is a bonus video.

To order the CD and digital songbook (0-00768-46910-1), call 800-333-9000, or go to

Cross-country ride inspires new collection Print Email
Written by Production   
Monday, 24 August 2009 03:29 PM America/New_York
MarkSchultz CD-Come AlivePlatinum-selling, Dove Award-winning Mark Schultz releases his long-awaited Come Alive (0-80688-73942-3, Word Distribution) on Word Records,

Aug. 25. His first new studio album in nearly three years is perhaps his most personal to date, with songs of hope, loss, joy and redemption.

Many of the album's songs were inspired when Schultz rode his bicycle from coast to coast to raise more than $250,000 to benefit the James Fund, which provides assistance for widows and orphans. The first radio single from the recording, "He Is," was inspired by stories of families battling cancer.

"He is, He was and always will be. It's a pretty important message—no matter what kind of rough road you are riding through," said Schultz, recalling the time he spent with a cancer-stricken girl who came to one of his concerts with her father. "When the cancer started to get bad, I flew up and spent a day with her, and prayed with her and her family. She was never going to blame God for her cancer. She just always knew there was a bigger purpose in it."

The CD was produced by multiple-GRAMMY winner Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, CeCe Winans), Shaun Shankel (Beyoncé, Hilary Duff), Bernie Herms (Natalie Grant, Avalon) and Paul Mills (Third Day, Bluetree). It includes collaborations with such songwriters as MercyMe's Bart Millard and Barry Graul, Matthew West, Joy Williams and Herms.

To order Come Alive, call 800-876-9673, or go to


New release finds Skillet wide 'Awake' Print Email
Written by By Velvet Kelm   
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 03:22 PM America/New_York

'Comatose' follow-up opens 'a new chapter' for hardworking rock quartet


skillet CD-awakeIt has been three years since GMA Artist of the Year nominee and two-time GRAMMY-nominated Skillet's last release, but the rock band that brings Awake to stores this month has been far from idle.

Many of the group's 2008 and 2009 shows touring Comatose, the band's 2006 release, were sold out, placing the four-piece in Pollstar's Concert Pulse Top 50 Tours list. The band also opened for mainstream acts Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace, and toured with Flyleaf.

Comatose produced more No. 1 singles from one recording than any other artist in the industry since Christian radio charts began.

One of the hardest-working and most broadly appealing acts, Skillet features its raw energy and multi-textured music on Awake. First single "Hero" has become a Christian radio favorite this summer.

Produced by Howard Benson (Daughtry, Flyleaf, Papa Roach) and mixed by Chris Lord-Alge (Green Day, My Chemical Romance), Awake's songs speak to real-life experience. "Hero" declares that anyone can be a hero to someone, while "Monster" tackles the inner struggles people deal with that others don't see.

Other subjects include loss ("Lucy"), making the most of every moment ("One Day Too Late") and eating disorders ("Never Surrender").

For lead singer/bassist and primary songwriter John Cooper, Awake marks a "turning of a page" for the band. "This album is even more immediate than Comatose, but there's also a noticeable maturity," he said. "Some of the songs are complex, others are just really intense rockers, and, overall, there's a real sense that we're opening a new chapter."

The release is being supported by a street-week "Buy Awake, receive a free T-shirt" promotion. Skillet begins its Awake & Alive U.S. tour Sept. 24.

To order Awake, call Provident-Integrity at 800-333-9000, or visit


Velvet Kelm is president/owner of The Media Collective.

Aaron Shust's new release centers on surrender Print Email
Written by Staff   
Monday, 10 August 2009 11:16 AM America/New_York

Take Over, the third CD from best-selling, three-time Dove Award-winning male vocalist Aaron Shust, released Aug. 4 on Brash Music/Word Distribution. Shust's first project in two years, the disc is the follow-up to Whispered and Shouted (2007) and is produced by Rusty Varenkamp and Jason Ingram (Tenth Avenue North, Rush of Fools, Bebo Norman, Meredith Andrews).

Prior to the release, Shust and Brash offered fans a sneak preview of one new song each week on YouTube at

Shust wrote or co-wrote each of the 12 new songs on Take Over. Speaking of the theme of the project, he said: "I see Take Over as an album about submission, about relinquishing control. One of the common threads that shows up in a lot of these songs is that we can’t achieve anything from our own efforts—certainly not salvation. We can work out our salvation, but it's only through what Christ has done on the cross that we have any hope."

In addition to the sneak preview of the album's songs on YouTube, marketing for Take Over includes an extensive radio promotional tour in support of the first single, "To God Alone." The single made an impact at radio. In addition, Shust shot a video for "To God Alone," scheduled for release prior to the album's street date.

Shust currently is preparing for a busy summer of festival and special event performances, which include the Gospel Music Association's Immerse Conference in Nashville and the National Worship Leader Conference in Kansas City, Kan. In September, Shust will headline a 20-plus-city fall tour with Chris Sligh.

For more information or to order Take Over, visit, or call 800-876-9673.

Rock-steady reminders in a changing world Print Email
Written by By Courtney Hyder   
Monday, 10 August 2009 11:13 AM America/New_York
Phillips, Craig & Dean return with a call to 'fear less, hope more'

In 18 years as a Christian music staple, Phillips, Craig & Dean has achieved longevity in an ever-changing industry, and is now releasing Fearless, the trio’s 10th studio album.

Uniquely positioned in their dual roles as musicians and full-time senior pastors in three different cities, Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig and Dan Dean know well the struggles people face and are taking the opportunity to respond to them in life and song through the new record.

"We were talking about how afraid our church members are today," Phillips said. "A look at your finances right now might mean kids who wanted to go to college can't, and so on. The fear that brings can be so paralyzing; it puts you in a cage.

"But then we asked ourselves, 'Shouldn’t believers who have the heart of eternity in them be different?' That's when we found our theme—fear less, hope more. We've written or chosen songs that say: 'Break out. Live large. This is an opportunity to show our power is in God alone.' "

"Revelation Song," an anthem rising in churches across the country, is among the songs featured. Leaning more in the worship category, Phillips co-wrote "The Spirit of God Is Here" with Paul Baloche ("Open the Eyes of My Heart") about the privilege of prayer. "Nothing to Prove"—an adult contemporary, spot-on relatable account of what life really means—was written by Dean after a close friend and church member lost his father to cancer, and offers life principles.

Nearly two decades after the group's first record, the three men are still grateful to release music that appeals to listeners.

"If you told me we'd still have an audience after all these years, I'd be stunned," Phillips said. "That’s just God."

To order Fearless, call Provident-Integrity at 800-333-9000, or visit


Courtney Hyder is a publicist with The M Collective in Franklin, Tenn.

‘Fireproof’ hit movie soundtrack arrives at last Print Email
Written by Staff   
Monday, 06 July 2009 04:34 PM America/New_York
Leeland, Third Day, Warren Barfield and John Waller are some of the artists appearing on the original motion picture soundtrack to last year’s hit film Fireproof, releasing July 14 from Reunion Records (6-02341-01432-8, $11.99, Provident-Integrity Distribution).

The Sherwood Pictures film starring Kirk Cameron, which opened at No. 4, went on to gross $33 million at the box office, becoming the most successful independent film of 2008. It then debuted at No. 1 on the SoundScan DVD chart upon its home-viewing release in January.