Monday, March 31, 2008

Compassionart songwriters record in Nashville

Compassionart songwriters, Paul Baloche, Steven Curtis Chapman, Andy Park, Martin Smith and Michael W. Smith continued to record songs last week that were written during a retreat in January. Meeting at Pentavarit Studio in Nashville, the studio hummed with activity as the songwriters were joined by guest vocalists tobyMac and Leeland Mooring (of the band Leeland), each putting down their signature vocals on tracks that were started at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London. Friends like Charlie Peacock and Eddie DeGarmo dropped by to spend time with the songwriters, as well as listen to the progression of the Compassionart songs. Guiding the tracks at the production helm for this recording session was Matt Bronleewe (Natalie Imbruglia, “Evan Almighty” [Soundtrack], dc Talk, “Heroes” star Hayden Panettiere) and Paul Moak (Mat Kearney, Shane & Shane, Derek Webb), and engineering was Andy Hunt (Jars of Clay, Good Charlotte, Buddy Guy).

Nashville’s top daily paper, The Tennessean, broke the news Wednesday about the recording session and a meeting that Compassionart founder and Delirious? frontman Martin Smith was to have with record labels about jointly releasing the upcoming Compassionart album. Martin was quoted as saying, “This is a challenge for the industry, as I am talking to the labels now about how to put this album out together.” Following the meeting that included EMI CMG President and CEO Bill Hearn, Provident Music Group President and CEO Terry Hemmings and Integrity Media Chief Marketing Officer Daniel McGuffey, Martin was encouraged, saying, “There was a real spirit of wanting to work together.” The resulting Compassionart studio album is being planned for a late fall release.

Compassionart, a charity based in Littlehampton, England and dedicated to seeing works of art generate income for the poorest of the poor, hosted a songwriter’s retreat in Scotland, UK. Working together toward a common goal involving no personal gain, the songwriters set out to write 10-12 songs and, by the end of the retreat, had completed 22 new songs. In addition to those recording this week, Compassionart songwriters include Stu Garrard (Delirious?), Israel Houghton, Tim Hughes, Graham Kendrick, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, and Darlene Zschech. Together the songwriters account for at least 42 million albums sold, 82 No. 1 songs, 10 GRAMMY Awards, 110 Dove Awards, two Stellar Awards, two American Music Awards, and 98 current CCLI Top 500 songs sung by millions in churches around the world.

The first Compassionart song that will be released is “So Great,” recorded by Michael W. Smith, Christy Nockels and Israel Houghton and to be featured on the WOW Hits 1 release in April.

In addition to the songwriters, the publishers, managers, copyright institutes and agents involved have all waived their rights and are donating their efforts on this project to Compassionart. The songs are to be given through Compassionart to the world not just to sing, but also to raise money for the relief of suffering around the planet. One half of the monies received over the songs’ lifetimes will go to the songwriters’ charity of choice, and the other 50% will go to a charitable project agreed upon by all the songwriters involved.

For more information on Compassionart, go to

PHOTO CAPTION: Compassionart founder/Delirious? frontman Martin Smith greets tobyMac at Pentavarit Studio in Nashville.

Creation Festival the Tour

Creation Festival, the nation’s largest Christian music festival and the premier name in Christian music events, is pleased to announce that it is expanding its brand once again to launch Creation Festival: The Tour. Kicking off in October, the “mini Creation on wheels” will allow fans across the country to experience a taste of the annual 4-day events held in June and July in one night of music, teaching and fun.

Headlining this one-of-a-kind event is BEC Recordings band, Kutless, with special guests, Thousand Foot Krutch and Pillar. The line up is rounded out by female-fronted rockers, Fireflight, as the opening band and Integrity’s Worth Dying For providing a time of praise and worship. KJ-52 will also perform and serve as MC for the night. World-renowned speaker, Bob Lenz, will share the gospel each night, with Pastor Harry Thomas, Creation Festival director and co-founder and Teen Mania’s founder, Ron Luce, also joining the tour on select dates.

A special Tooth & Nail Records “pre-show” will kick off the event, featuring performances by Run Kid Run, Esterlyn and Children 18:3.

“We are excited to be a part of this ground-breaking tour,” exclaims Jon Micah Sumrall, frontman for Kutless. “It has been an amazing experience to play Creation ? a festival we attended with our youth group when we were in high school ? and now, to be invited to headline Creation Festival: The Tour, we could not be more honored! We are looking forward to heading out on the road and impacting lives together with the Creation folks and the other bands.”

As well as providing an exciting evening of great music, Creation Festival: The Tour is also very ministry oriented, with a local community outreach planned for each date. While the type of outreach will vary by date and may include activities such as clothing drops and food drives, every city will take part in having a direct positive impact on their community.

Pastor Harry Thomas, Creation Festival co-founder, explains: “Whenever Jesus came to a town, people became aware of God's love for them. Our vision for Creation Festival: The Tour is to bless people spiritually and in practical ways. We want to go beyond the venue walls into the community with a touch of God's love and good news!”

Several companies have partnered with Creation to make the Tour possible. Compassion International will serve as the ministry sponsor and Tooth & Nail Records, BEC Recordings and Interlinc have also come on board. Additional sponsors and their contribution will be announced soon.

“Our vision for this tour is to brand the Creation Festival model in a new and fresh way,” says Nick Kulb, tour producer and Creation Festival director of marketing & sales. “We have spent countless hours in creating not just another concert, but an event that has unique features and focuses heavily on the ministry component, which is the foremost purpose of everything we do.”

Creation Festival: The Tour will be routed and booked by William Morris Agency, with dates and cities to be announced soon.

Additional elements and highlights will be added to the tour, with many announcements forthcoming. For up to the minute information about Creation Festival: The Tour, please visit

Read our review (with tons of pics) of Creation East 2007.
Click here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Alathea's song "Hurricane" wins John Lennon Songwriting Contest

Alathea's song "Hurricane" selected as a winner in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Visit for details...

Visit Alathea's website here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

House of Heroes unveils three new songs

Powerpop rock band House Of Heroes is giving away three new songs free to fans as part of a digitally-aggressive campaign by label home Gotee Records with the full album The End Is Not The End available at on April 15th for just $9.99.

The site,, allows fans to download three new House Of Heroes songs free of charge in return for providing five email addresses of other people who they think may enjoy the music as well. Those email addresses will only be used by the label to send the link to the House Of Heroes download site.

“When you set out to make a record, you have certain hopes and expectations as far as how you expect the final product to turn out. I can honestly say that we exceeded every single one of those with this new music, “says lead vocalist/guitarist Tim Skipper. He adds, “It's an exciting time for music with the developments we have in technology, especially communication. We're ready to try something new! Hopefully this thing spreads very organically, with friends telling friends and so on.”

House of Heroes has two major label releases to their credit including their 2005 self-titled debut and Say No More in 2006. Prior to signing a record deal with Mono VS Stereo/Gotee, the band released an indie project What You Want Is Now (2002) to much critical acclaim and a large grassroots following. On the tour front, House Of Heroes has opened up for the likes of Silverchair, Relient K, MxPx, and music legend Stryper, as well as full-blown tours with acts including Spoken, The Evan Anthem, Last Tuesday, Dropping Daylight, Love Arcade, and Kids In The Way. Plans for extensive touring this year include a recent headlining club tour in markets including St. Paul, Chicago, Columbus, NYC, Nashville, Atlanta, Orlando and more.

The band is Columbus-Ohio natives Tim Skipper (guitar/lead vocals), A.J Babcock (bass/vocals), Colin Rigsby (drums/vocals), and Jared Rigsby (guitar/vocals).

Apple iTunes

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cross The Line tour poster (Superchick, KJ-52, Disciple, Britt Nicole, Starlitplatoon)

Click the poster to enlarge and see if the bands are coming to a town near you!

Robbie Seay Band's "New Day" on Oprah's "Big Give"

“New Day,” from Sparrow recording artist Robbie Seay Band, will be featured on episode three of “Oprah’s Big Give,” which will air this Sunday, March 16 at 9 pm ET on ABC. “New Day,” showcased on Robbie Seay Band’s critically acclaimed 2007 release, Give Yourself Away, is slated to be the group’s next Christian radio single, following their Top 5 hit “Song of Hope.”

The March 2 premiere of "Oprah's Big Give" drew 15.7 million viewers, the largest audience in primetime that week for any program other than "American Idol," according to Nielsen Media Research. On the show, participants compete to find the most creative ways to multiply a given amount of money and other resources before giving them away to help others.

In addition, FOX recently featured Robbie Seay Band’s “Rise” on four national television promotional spots for its hit show “American Idol.” The song was used in promotion for the seventh season of “American Idol,” which premiered January 15 and 16.

Give Yourself Away released August 28 and was one of the top 25 Christian albums downloaded on iTunes for over 18 weeks. The album features the hit single, “Song of Hope,” which charted 18 weeks in the Top 5 on R&R’s Christian CHR National Airplay chart and Top 10 on R&R’s Christian AC National Airplay chart. The song was also one of the Top 20 Christian CHR/pop singles of 2007, according to CRW’s year-end charts.

Read our review of Give Yourself Away here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Avalon travels to Nicaragua

Photo by: Ben Pearson

CAPTION: Avalon visits with students from Ruben Dario school in Nandaime, Nicaragua on Feb. 22. Having helped secure sponsorships for more than 20,000 children as a World Vision partner since 1998, Avalon witnessed first-hand how money raised on behalf of the child sponsorship organization has improved education in that part of the country.

Read our interview with Avalon here.
Read our review of Another Time, Another Place here.

Sixpence None the Richer news

Four years since they parted ways, platinum-selling group SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHER have decided to reunite and will make their first appearance in four years together at SXSW (Thursday, March 14 @ The Tap Room).

"Leigh [Nash] and I had been making music together since we were teenagers. As we approached our 30s, there was a bit of restlessness to explore other things," explains Matt Slocum. "In the midst of this exploration, I felt a void open up, like I needed to be making music with Leigh."

Adds Leigh, "While we were apart, we both spent a lot of time thinking about the band and what we had taken for granted. One day a few months ago over coffee, we just knew it was time to breathe life back into the gift that God gave us. I am so thankful and excited for the future."

Most noted for the Grammy-nominated ballad "Kiss Me," Sixpence has since become a household name. After the success of "Kiss Me" (landing on the soundtrack to Miramax Films' "She's All That" and played at the televised wedding of England's Prince Edward in 1999) the band followed up with a cover of The La's "There She Goes," propelling them into the limelight again. Sixpence has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the gems of morning talk shows, as well as had their music hit #1 status in 11 countries.

Sixpence is currently working on an EP that will be available this spring, followed by a full-length Christmas album due out later this year.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Natalie Grant "Relentless" tour

In support of the release of her best-selling and critically acclaimed seventh album, Relentless, Curb recording artist and GMA’s reigning Female Vocalist of the Year, Natalie Grant, is set to bring the “Relentless Tour” to audiences across the country this spring. Sponsored by Gospel Music Channel, the Tour will include special guest Inpop recording artist Jimmy Needham, and introduce new Axiom recording artist Ashmont Hill.

Kicking-off March 8 in Woodward, Oklahoma, the “Relentless Tour” will hit Atlanta; Seattle; Decatur, Illinois; Mobile, Alabama; Kansas City, Missouri; and Boca Raton, Florida, among other locations this spring. During the Tour, Grant will perform selections from Relentless, as well as many of her signature songs, including the powerful hit “Held.”

Relentless, Grant’s first studio recording in nearly three years, debuted on Nielsen SoundScan’s Top Christian Albums and Christian Retail charts at #2, as the highest debut and top album by a female artist on both charts. The project’s first single, "In Better Hands," is a multi-format Christian radio hit.

Grant recently earned the Gospel Music Association’s most prestigious Dove Award nomination, Artist of the Year, and has been nominated once again for Female Vocalist of the Year, a distinction she has held since 2006. Grant is among a select few in the genre to have also achieved a formidable foothold at mainstream media and radio. A tireless advocate for victims of human trafficking, she was one of the first Christian artists to raise awareness of this worldwide atrocity. Grant created the Home Foundation in 2005 to support various anti-trafficking efforts around the world.

Houston, Texas-based, singer/songwriter Jimmy Needham first made a name for himself on the independent circuit with his soulful pop sound and passionate evangelical focus. Needham’s Inpop Records debut, Speak, released in 2006 and showcased his down-to-earth lyrics while exposing the rock, pop and gospel-influenced side of his art as well. The album produced a #2 single at Christian Hit Radio with “Lost At Sea,” and its song “Dearly Loved” also broke the Top 10 on CHR. Last fall Needham was featured on tour with NewSong, Echoing Angels and Nate Sallie. His sophomore album, Not Without Love, is due in stores August 19.

Axiom Records group Ashmont Hill is preparing to release their debut self-titled album on May 13. Getting their name from “Ashmont Hill,” an idyllic community near Boston, the group of four (all related by blood or marriage) has made beautiful, spiritual music for years at Jubilee Church, where their father is Bishop. Phil Thompson, sisters April Joy Thompson and Deborah Bullock, along with Deborah’s husband, Will Bullock, heard the call from the Lord to bring their music to a larger community. Ashmont Hill’s album is a true collaborative effort between the band and their producer Sal Oliveri, with vocal arrangements by Calvin Nowell.

For further information on Natalie Grant and the “Relentless Tour,” visit

“Relentless Tour”

Woodward, OK - March 8
Norfolk, NE - March 9
Atlanta, GA - March 22
New Port Richey, FL - March 28
Boca Raton, FL - March 29
Vero Beach, FL - March 30
Kansas City, MO - April 10
Seattle, WA - April 12
Byhalia, MS - April 17
Bethel Park, PA - April 24
Elkhart, IN - April 27
Tupelo, MS - May 1
Mobile, AL - May 2
Conway, AR - May 4
Fayetteville, NC - May 10
Williamsburg, VA - May 11
Decatur, IL - May 15
Lebanon, MO - May 16
Mount Vernon, IL - May 18

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Brad Avery leaving Third Day

According to the band's blog, Brad Avery is leaving Third Day. To quote the site:

"Third Day and Brad Avery have made the very difficult decision to part ways.

We appreciate Brad’s many contributions to the band's career to date, including his work on our forthcoming album, but the time has come for us to follow our separate paths.

He has been an important part of Third Day for the last 13 years as we've traveled the world together and performed over 1,000 concerts. We will miss him as a band member but he will always remain our brother and our friend. Brad is a wonderful person, gifted songwriter and talented musician. We trust that God has amazing plans for his future."

Warren Barfield's "Worth Fighting For" coming in May!

Essential Records recording artist, Warren Barfield, has announced the May 20, 2008 release of his third, in-studio album, Worth Fighting For. The 11-track project was produced by Charlie Peacock (Switchfoot, Nichole Nordeman); Mark A. Miller (Casting Crowns); and Jason Ingram and Rusty Varenkamp (Bebo Norman, Rush of Fools).

Worth Fighting For marks a decided return to Barfield’s own creative instincts. Barfield shares, “There was a huge difference between the first and second records, but this one meets in the middle. My life is so much different than it was a year ago, and I’ve got something important to say, so I wanted to clothe these songs in a way that will carry the message to the people who take time out of their lives to come see my shows. That’s what we set out to do, musically.”

The songs of Worth Fighting For draw a bead on the sanctity and sacrifice of relationships—the encouragement, prayer, the listening and the commitment we make to those we love, to those we choose to ‘do life’ with. “True Christianity is about being Christ to others,” Barfield says of the theme of the record. “If we really believe in the whole thing, if we really believe He came all that distance and gave His life because He loved us, it’d change the way we love each other. That kind of love really could change the world.”

Producer Charlie Peacock comments on Barfield, and Worth Fighting For, “The most unique thing about Warren is his voice. All of the songs and the production are meant to highlight his unique gift. Warren is gracefully human as a person and an artist, with a heart bent toward Jesus.”

“Love Is Not A Fight,” the first radio single from Worth Fighting For, is gaining big and immediate response from radio. Bob Thornton, Program Director of KXOJ in Tulsa, Okla., shares, “‘Love Is Not A Fight’ is going to save some marriages, at the very least. Not too many songs actually carry power, but this one is loaded.”

“Love Is Not A Fight,” will play an integral, musical role in the upcoming film, Fireproof, the new movie from the creators of Facing the Giants. Fireproof is an action-packed love story, set to open in theaters this fall. This inspiring film will have audiences laughing, crying and sitting on the edges of their seats, as they are drawn into the world of a firefighter, his wife and a marriage worth rescuing.

Barfield describes the story behind “Love Is Not A Fight.” “My wife is my best friend, who I love dearly, and she loves me. But isn't it fascinating that two people who love each other so much can cut one another so deeply? When you let issues build up in a marriage, the smallest thing can trigger a war, and pretty soon you can lose sight of your love and commitment to one another. We had a night where something as trivial as spilled pretzels forced into the open things we had left unsaid. Once everything had calmed down, I wrote this song. In that moment, I fully realized my duty, as my wife’s husband, was to wrap my arms around her. To love her more than my pride, more than my desire to be ‘right,’ and to find a way to move through life’s good and bad times together. That will be a struggle at times, but love is worth the fight.”

Worth Fighting For comprises the following 11 tracks: “The One Thing,” “Say It With Your Life,” “God Believes In You,” “Love Is Not A Fight,” “This Road,” “Drop the World,” “The Singer Not the Song,” “As It Is In Heaven,” “Reflect You,” “I Belong To You,” “Love Is Not A Fight” (acoustic version). (track sequence subject to change).

For further information, visit