Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sanctus Real lead singer Matt Hammitt to release solo album

Multiple GRAMMY-nominated, Dove Award winning Sanctus Real lead vocalist Matt Hammitt announces the release of his first solo album, Every Falling Tear, on Sparrow Records Sept. 13. Organically sparked by the rich joy and pain of life over the last year that strengthened Hammitt’s faith and solidified his resolve to lead his family well, these new songs are his most deeply personal to date.

Encouraged by his Sanctus Real band mates to release these songs and to share his story through the songs that are meant to provide hope for people that are in crisis, Hammitt’s journey to the new album started with the current, critically acclaimed and best-selling Sanctus Real album, Pieces of a Real Heart.

“The bridge lyric in ‘Redeemer’ says, I don’t have every answer in life / But I’m trusting You one day at a time / ‘Cause You can make a weak heart stay alive forever,” reflects Hammitt regarding the current hit radio single from Pieces of a Real Heart that is Top 15 and continuing to ascend the Billboard radio charts. “Those lyrics, along with songs like ‘Keep My Heart Alive,’ ‘Dear Heart,’ and then the album with a broken heart on the cover, came out on March 9 of 2010. One month later on April 12 my wife, Sarah, and I found out that our son, Bowen, was going to be born with a severe congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.”

Pictured (l-r) are: Emmy, Matt, Bowen, Sarah and Claire Hammitt.

The whole album became a prophetic glimpse into what the Hammitt’s were about to go through, and proved to be a source of hope as Matt and his wife, Sarah, take care of Bowen “small victorious one,” who was born Sept. 9, 2010 and has now gone through two heart surgeries, an infection and other complications since being born.

“I will never forget the night of his first open heart surgery - we got a call in the middle of the night that Bowen’s heart had stopped beating,” says Hammitt on a SanctusReal.com video blog encouraging people to share their stories of redemptions. “The redemption that was for me, in probably this most broken time of my life, was that all the treasure in this world, everything I put my hope in here in this life, was burned away in that moment. I could clearly see that the only real treasure I have is the hope that I have in Jesus Christ. Bowen’s doing great now, he’s making an incredible recovery and the fact that we still have him; we thank God for that every day. We’re eager to see what God continues to do through his life.”

Born out of the heart of a father, wrestling with his pain, but buoyed by his faith and love for his family, Hammitt's main impetus for writing the songs on Every Falling Tear was to play them at Bowen’s bedside in the hospital, with the hope that they would be a source of comfort for his family, as well as a reminder of God’s faithfulness in the midst of their uncertainty.

“A lot of what we went through with Bowen was really hard on my wife and I emotionally, and I felt and understood the pain of others going through similar circumstances as us. We also met families at the hospital [C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI] whose children had either just died or were on the verge of dying, and it felt like they were losing hope. One of the main reasons for recording these songs was to go back to the hospital and hand out the music to help lift these families out of despair.”

Having already recorded and handed out demos of songs in the hospital, Hammitt also sang “All of Me” on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoeGKOXeO-s. The studio recording of this song is now available for the first time through digital retailers, including iTunes and Amazon.com. “All of Me” will be the first of four tracks from Every Falling Tear to be released each month leading up to the full album release in September.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Every Falling Tear and its singles will go to benefit the Whole Hearts Foundation, a new foundation Hammitt has set up to help families going through similar challenges as himself. Providing assistance for families of children affected by congenital heart defects, additional details on the foundation will be announced soon.

As his solo project’s first single is released today, Sanctus Real’s fastest-selling GRAMMY and Dove-nominated, fifth studio album Pieces Of A Real Heart continues to sell over 130% ahead of the band’s last GRAMMY-nominated album. The album has also sparked two No. 1 songs, “Forgiven” and “Lead Me,” the latter having been heard by well over 100,000,000 people at radio and receiving the first-ever song endorsements from Focus on the Family and FamilyLife, as well as gathering two “Song of the Year” Dove nominations. The success of the singles helped pave the way for the band to become Billboard’s No. 4 most played Christian band of 2010 at radio. In all, Sanctus Real has gathered 14 No. 1 and Top 5 radio hits so far.

Sanctus Real creates compelling, authentic music that lives up to the meaning of its name: to be Holy (Latin meaning of “Sanctus”), and its members are about living out their lives as “real” Christians, not only on the stage and as they interact with fans, but also in the quieter moments of their lives as husbands and fathers. Matt Hammitt’s solo album carries this idea forward.

For all the latest on Matt Hammitt and his family, see www.bowensheart.com.

Read our interview with Sanctus Real.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Iona Album coming soon!

Celtic music fans, the wait is over! Iona's new album Another Realm is finished and ready to ship. Watch this promo to see if it's for you, and click here to visit their website and order. We highly recommend!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ben Kasica leaves Skillet

Skillet has just announced that 10 year veteran guitar player Ben Kasica has decided to leave the band. It's all on good terms, and they've put up a blog post with more details.

Ben says in part:

"This has been an incredible journey for me. Joining the band shortly after turning 16 and basically growing up on the road, I had no idea how long the ride would last but have enjoyed it immensely and been thankful to God for everything I've been a part of. We've traveled to loads of places, met many many wonderful people, drunk way too much coffee, made tons of memories and hopefully touched lives with eternity. I feel completely blessed and honored to have been a part of Skillet's history."

Read more at their website here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rebecca St. James Engaged to be Married!

One of Christian music’s most recognized and beloved artists is opening the New Year with an exciting announcement: Rebecca St. James is engaged to be married!

St. James will wed the man she’s been waiting for –Jacob Fink—on a date soon to be announced. The Christmas Day proposal came at Rebecca’s family farm in Franklin, Tennessee where she was presented the brilliant, solitaire diamond ring. The groom-to-be asked her parents, David and Helen, for their blessing prior to him surprising Rebecca with the engagement ring and his request for her hand in marriage.

Jacob, originally from Colorado, now resides in Southern California. He spent two years as a missionary in South Africa before attending college and graduating summa cum laude with a degree in communications and an emphasis on film production. He worked in television production prior to his current career in music. The couple met through mutual friends in Los Angeles.

Noted Rebecca in a communication to friends: “We are truly amazed at finding our dreams and ideals met in the love we’ve found. We are exceedingly grateful for this precious gift from God.”

Rebecca’s signature song, “Wait For Me,” released in 2000, inspired national attention to the ideals of purity before marriage—a self-lived message she has taken to young people worldwide from her concert stages and through her best-selling books and personal testimony.

2011 will be a milestone year for St. James, who recently signed with Provident Label Group’s Beach Street/ Reunion Records. Her new studio album I Will Praise You releases on April 5 with its first single “Shine Your Glory Down” impacting radio on Feb. 11.

Currently planning promotional and concert tour dates, and a wedding, Rebecca is also putting final touches on her ninth book, “What Is He Thinking?” (Hachette/Faithwords), which is due out in September.

Read our interview with Rebecca.

Photo credit: Ben Smallbone

Friday, August 20, 2010

Newsboys to release Christmas Album!

With the continuous momentum of Newsboys' current CD release Born Again, a No. 1 radio hit and an extensive touring schedule, they continue their whirlwind year with the announcement of their first-ever Christmas project. Christmas! A Newsboys Holiday will release October 12th, courtesy of Inpop Records.

The new CD was produced by Dustin Burnett, Michael Tait, and Juan Otero of The Write Bros, half of the production team of Born Again. Comprised of six holiday classics, Christmas! A Newsboys Holiday includes "Winter Wonderland," "Jingle Bell Rock," "All I Want for Christmas is You," "O Holy Night," "The Christmas Song," and "Mary Did You Know."

To help promote Christmas! A Newsboys Holiday, Newsboys will join Newsong the weekend after Thanksgiving to kick off the "Very Merry Christmas Tour 2010." This 20+city nationwide tour kicks off in North Carolina and will finish up in Georgia on December 20th. Check out the tour dates listed below to see if can help ring in the Christmas season with Newsboys at a city near you.

There is no question the momentum keeps continuing to escalate for Newsboys and their July 13th release of Born Again. The current single and No. 1 hit "Born Again" continues to stay high up on the charts, having a total of 7.1 million impressions to date. Following the largest street week of their careers by selling an astounding 45,311 units and hitting #4 on Billboard's overall chart, Born Again continues to keep its place on the Billboard Top 200 chart and is No. 3 on the Christian Soundscan chart, scanning more than 72,000 units in the first month of release.

Newsong's Very Merry Christmas Tour 2010*:
11/27 Whiteville, NC
11/28 Charleston, NC
11/30 High Point, NC
12/2 Norfolk, VA
12/3 Schofield, WI
12/4 St. Cloud, MN
12/5 Brookings, SD
12/7 Portage, MI
12/8 Valparaiso, IN
12/9 Marion, IL
12/10 Marion, IL
12/11 Franklin, NC
12/12 Destin, FL
12/15 Saint Peters, MO
12/16 Athens, AL
12/17 Pascagoula, MS
12/18 Albany, GA

*Dates subject to change

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Switchfoot 6th Annual BroAm A Success!

Switchfoot members surf with the champions. Pictured (l-r) are: Tim Foreman (Switchfoot), Timmy Curran (world champion surfer/musician), Rob Machado (US and world surfer champion), Chad Butler (Switchfoot), Tom Curren (#3 Best Surfer in the world) and Jon Foreman (Switchfoot).

Switchfoot is pictured on stage at the Bro-Am. Switchfoot’s Bro-Am was held June 26 in Encinitas, CA. The surf/music event donated all proceeds to Stand-Up for Kids. This year over 7,500 people attended and it raised over $130,000 for the organization.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Washington Projects Return with Light Up the Dark

Brother and sister duo, The Washington Projects, are back with Light Up The Dark, the follow-up to their widely successful debut, Commanders Of The Resistance. Available now, the album can be found for digital download through iTunes, AmazonMP3 and Rhapsody among others, and physical copies can be purchased through the group’s website. The project will be released to retail stores on August 3rd, through Universal.

All songs on Light Up The Dark were written by Rachael and Je’kob Washington and the album was produced by McPhly Entertainment, with Je’kob at the helm and the assistance of Kajmir Royale and Luke Witherspoon III.

“We are very excited about this album,” explains Rachael. “Through every record we release, God allows us to share a little piece of our hearts and what he’s given us with the entire world. Whether our music reaches five million people or just one, it’s an amazing feeling to know that we are being used in shifting someone’s heart and mind toward love and dedication to the only eternal kingdom. In an industry where almost everything comes down to numbers, we strive to remind ourselves daily of the true purpose of what we do - Touching souls with the teachings of Christ thru the gift of music. Light Up The Dark is a call to be what we were created to be - A bold & shining beacon of Light in a Dark world - based around the verse Matthew 5:14.”

The first two radio singles from the album are “Light Up The Dark” and “You Are Beautiful.” The first video is the title track for the album and was filmed by the local San Diego Crew 4120 (www.fortyonetwenty.com). Additionally, the song “Justus” will be featured on Are You Outraged, from International Justice Mission. The purpose of the album and campaign is to raise 1 million dollars to help abolish labor and sex slavery.

Je’kob comments on their involvement with the organization: "It's an honor for us to be a part of this monumental compilation. We've been supporting IJM in their endeavors to eradicate sex & labor slavery for some time now. The statistics are absolutely staggering and sometimes it can be hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. But, hopefully the sales of this compilation will provide enough funding to deliver some serious backing in the efforts to erase this terrible stain on humanity.”

Their first step out as The Washington Projects after their stint on Warner Bros./Word Records as Souljahz, Commanders of the Resistance brought great success for the group. The duo headlined the 12-city “Dare2Share” Tour and also did a USO European/Mediterranean Tour with Nappy Roots, as well as playing festivals and venues across the country. The project garnered critical acclaim from media outlets and was received very well by Gospel Music Channel viewers, with the videos for “Take It To The Streets” staying in the #1 slot for over two weeks and “You Are My World” holding at #2 for over three weeks.

The twosome has had a lot going on personally as well, with Rachael getting married to Kent Messini last September and Je’kob branching out on his own to start McPhly Entertainment, a unique production company that allows independent artists to get full records, EP’s, or just one song from start to finish, including production, mixing, mastering, photo shoots, websites, & online worldwide distribution via iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, etc for an easy to handle and individually customized monthly fee. Je’kob’s most notable recent accomplishment has been producing “Be Alright,” the first single from multi-platinum selling hip hop group, The Nappy Roots’ newest record, The Pursuit Of Nappyness.

The Washington Projects are currently booking dates for a tour to support Light Up The Dark.

For more information about The Washington Projects and Light Up The Dark, please visit www.WashingtonProjects.com or www.myspace.com/thewashingtonprojects. Follow them on twitter at www.twitter.com/WPonline.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rebecca St. James on Hannity Tonight June 16th

(Nashville, Tennessee) –June 15, 2010 – Popular Grammy Award winning Christian artist, Rebecca St. James is in New York for a live appearance Wednesday night (16th) on Fox New’s Channel’s “Hannity.” (9:00 PM Eastern/8:00 PM Central). St. James will make a return guesting on the program’s popular “Great American Panel” –her third visit to the guest panel in the last few months.

With the fall 2009 release of her starring role in the film, “Sarah’s Choice,” (Pure Flix Entertainment) giving voice to a strong pro life agenda, Rebecca is devoting time this year, amidst plans for new music and more films, to a series of special appearances nationally for crisis pregnancy and right to life organizations.

She describes her involvement on behalf of the centers as one the most rewarding results of her creative association with "Sarah’s Choice." “My passion for the pro-life message has grown tremendously as I have encountered firsthand the dedication and importance of their mission for the unborn. It is just beautiful to see their work, and I’ve felt so incredibly fulfilled and energized, coming alongside of what they’re doing and supporting them in such a small way,” she noted in a recent interview.

Rebecca St. James is the current cover/feature of the May-June issue of Celebrate Life magazine, a publication of the American Life League.

Resource Rebecca St. James online: www.myspace.com/rebeccastjames

For information on the film "Sarah's Choice:"

Read our review of Sarah's Choice.
Read our interview with Rebecca on Sarah's Choice.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dana Key dies June 6

We are very sad to report that according to CCM Magazine Online, Dana Key, of Degarmo & Key fame, died on June 6th from a ruptured blood clot. He was 56.

No more details are known at this time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Life & Faith Tour coming to a town near you!

Nashville, TN… In its debut year, the Life & Faith Tour will kick off in a big way by giving back to local communities in three cities this summer: Richmond (6/19/2010), Rockingham, NC (7/10/2010) and Atlanta (7/24/2010). The diverse lineup for the event includes six-time Grammy ® Award winner Amy Grant, multi-platinum selling band MercyMe, CMA Award winners Diamond Rio, Grammy Award ® winner Israel Houghton, Point of Grace, David Crowder*Band, Natalie Grant, The Nelons and Triumphant Quartet, Southern Gospel acts as well as Christian ventriloquists and comedians, authors, motivational speakers and more.

The Life & Faith Tour is a Christian festival with a major fundraising component to benefit the local community, born out of the simple desire to give back and leave a community in better shape than it was when they arrived. Created years ago by former fireman Ronnie Jackson, as an initial fundraiser for the local fire department in Kenbridge, VA, what started out as a cookout with local entertainment grew into a major fundraising event with headlining acts such as Travis Tritt and Alabama.

Today, over 30 years later, the tour has grown into a major family attraction. What sets it apart from other festivals is how it presents an opportunity for organizations to raise funds; this is done by simply spreading the word.

Starting February 15, tickets will be available for $47.50 and $10 of that automatically goes to a local organization. If the ticket buyer doesn’t choose a beneficiary, a default organization in each city will benefit, ensuring that the community benefits from every ticket sold. Organizations will range from local churches and youth groups to the YMCA, Red Cross and other worthy civic groups. Churches and organizations are welcome to sign up as a beneficiary starting on January 15.

“This is truly an effortless act, all organizations have to do is talk about the show, and then when a patron goes to buy a ticket, that organization gets $10 just for the referral,” Jackson explains. “However the churches and organizations must be registered on the tour’s website to become a beneficiary. When purchasing a ticket, patrons will be able to choose a church or organization where their ticket proceeds will go. Each Life & Faith venue can hold 70,000 people so a sellout crowd would leave that community with $700,000 as the tour busses pull out of town. It is truly a remarkable way to give back to the community.”

Compassion International is just one of the many sponsors that have climbed on board to help make this event possible. As a beneficiary for the tour, it is an opportunity that not only raises funds for their own organization, but it also benefits others in the surrounding communities as well. For every 70k people who attend, the tour will provide the funds to build a Habitat of Humanity home in that state.

For organizations to register to become a beneficiary and to view the full all-star lineup along with finding more information please visit www.lifeandfaithtour.com.