2014
09.11

The Dwelling Place is a brand new worship album recorded and released to raise adoption awareness and support. In this behind-the-music video, pianist, singer, and songwriter Simon Miner shares the vision behind The Dwelling Place Project along with commentary and footage about bringing this dream to life.

Available now on CD or MP3, this thirteen-piece collection of poignant psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs sings about life together and belonging to God.

Album Review:
http://www.hallels.com/articles/5465/20140908/simon-miner-family-friends-the-dwelling-place-project-album-review.htm

More about The Dwelling Place
http://dwellingplaceproject.com/about/our-story/

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2014
06.11

check out the hilarious, energetic, tongue-in-cheek new video from Family Force 5, – featuring KB on the guest verse! GO BZRK!

from the forthcoming album Time Stands Still, out August 5th

about the album:

Family Force 5 gears up for their fourth studio album, Time Stands Still, a reflection on the liberating, ethereal experience of connecting with the holy. It is an encounter that transcends boundaries, and that eclipses our frailty and our doubts. The man-made constraints of time disappear, becoming irrelevant. It is union. It is perfection. It is eternal. As 2 Peter 2:8 advises, “…Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.” In this moment, Time Stands Still.

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2014
03.12

When MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard talks about the band’s latest album, Welcome to the New, it’s with the passion of an artist rejuvenated and reborn. He’s proud of the lively, spirited rock vibe that drives many of the 10 tracks. He’s still basking in the glow of the recording sessions, where he and his bandmates left their comfort zone and stretched the boundaries of the MercyMe sound.

But when he talks about the overarching theme of Welcome to the New (Fair Trade) Millard gets especially fervent. And here’s why: “New” is the fruit of his real-life embrace of grace. It all adds up to a musical, lyrical and spiritual turning point—that most rare of trifectas for a beloved veteran act that’s been at it since 1994, and has four gold albums and a platinum disc to its credit.

Simply put: If Millard asked big questions on 2012′s The Hurt & The Healer, then Welcome to the New steps out boldly with a bigger answer that he didn’t find so much as it found him. (More on that in a bit.)

“The last album was about needing a full-blown collision with the healer—when my family was hanging on by a thread, my cousin who was a firefighter died, and I wrote the title song in 10 minutes in a concert arena, in tears,” Millard recalls. “I was thinking, ‘Why we do we go though this mess, this junk in our lives? Is there any chance that what I’m going though is not in vain?’ And Welcome to the New is the answer to that song: It’s where we landed after the collision. And we didn’t go through it in vain. I feel like the gospel has come to life for the first time.”

You can hear Millard’s conviction in the album closer “Dear Younger Me,” a song he considers the most personally meaningful on “New.” Built around an organic, slapped percussion loop and plaintive swells of electric guitar, the song is framed “like a letter to my younger self. I was physically abused as a kid and I’ve had a chance to play this song for people who’ve been through similar things. This is the one song I hope brings a lot of healing to people.” Wrestling with how to encourage and bolster his younger self, Millard lands on this refrain: “You are holy / you are righteous / you are one of the redeemed / set apart / a brand new heart / you are free indeed.”

Yet from start to finish, MercyMe wraps the “New” message in music that’s infectious and inventive. The track “Greater” shows the band taking delightful chances and succeeding. Imagine shades of the Lumineers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the “O Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack, then throw the result into full gallop under a big sky: “Bring your doubts, bring your fears / Bring your hurt, bring your tears / There’ll be no condemnation here / You are holy, righteous and redeemed.”

“If there was one song that musically and spiritually represents the place where we are, the grace message of joy, ‘Greater’ is it,” Millard notes.

Then there’s the song “Shake,” the first hit single from “New” and a throwback to the days of INXS and their most funky, danceable material. “We thought it was a great way to kick off the record,” Millard says. “It’s a little bit of a departure from what we do.” Actually, it was a big departure for Millard when it came to showing off his moves for the music video. “I grew up Southern Baptist which means I would be banished if I were to learn how to dance,” he says, laughing. “But we figured that everyone has at least a good shimmy in them. Even my grandmother, she can shake it.” And the theme of rebirth shows MercyMe putting its best foot forward: “Brand new looks so good on you / So shake like you are changed.”

Millard is quick to praise his longtime bandmates for their willingness to explore and expand (Nathan Cochran on bass; Michael John Scheuchzer and Barry Graul on guitars; and Robin Troy “Robby” Shaffer on drums). But he also singles out producers David Garcia and Ben Glover as vital to helping MercyMe find the footing that helps “New” more than live up to its title.

“This was our first time working with them, and fitting along the vein of being new, we tried it and just loved it,” Millard says. “It’s like they’re an extension of MercyMe now. When you’re in a band this long, it gets to the point where you get in the room with the guys and the same stuff comes out. We just wanted someone to stretch us.”

And stretch they did. While the Nashville studio settings were certainly familiar (Ocean Way on Music Row and Dark Horse Studios in Franklin), the process certainly wasn’t for Millard and company.

“We would track the drums and the bass, and then each musician would create parts on their very own,” Millard says. “Some of the songs had as many as 100 tracks of background vocals, and the producers gave us an environment where we didn’t feel like we could do anything wrong. We were chasing rabbits like crazy—nothing to lose and everything to gain. It was like kids being in a garage again playing music for the first time.”

That’s apt considering that Millard feels, by his own admission, akin to a spiritual beginner these days.

While some Christians may understand the concept of grace with glad hearts and open minds, Millard admits that for him, it’s been a much different story. “I grew up with a legalistic background, and even though it was all about grace, there were always three more things you could do to make life better. But of course, I’d do 10: I was an overachiever. That’s why I started a band; if we weren’t giving God our best, he wasn’t happy with us.”

That relentless drive almost finished the band as well. Burned out from giving so much of his life and energy to MercyMe, and feeling as though he fell short somehow, Millard was ready to turn in his resignation and “go work at a Home Depot or something.” That’s when an old friend—a youth pastor from the first church camp MercyMe played 20 years ago—popped back into his life with a most unexpected message.

“He said, ‘There is nothing in our life to make Christ love us any more than he does.’ And I thought that was a novel concept, but I didn’t buy it: I have a wretched heart, and I’m nothing without God. But then he said, ‘Because of the cross you are a brand new creation. You can’t worry about the heart that can’t be trusted. You have a brand new heart and mind in Christ. And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s something I never heard growing up. There’s no way I can sabotage this.’”

So yes, Millard stayed on with MercyMe, and it’s a wonderful thing he did. Welcome to the New brings on the reboot in fine style, but not in such a way to kick the band’s loyal fans into a wholly unfamiliar space. And if the singer sounds full of joy on this new disc, it’s because he most definitely is. “We’ve never been more comfortable in our skin and focused on the message,” he says. “I am not a tortured soul on this album.”

Welcome To The New- MercyMe- April 8th

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2014
01.28

Check out this powerful live performance of “The Only Name (Yours Will Be),” the smash hit single from Big Daddy Weave’s 2012 release Love Come To Life.

Also, don’t miss the forthcoming “Redeemed Edition,” expanding on the content of the original release with bonus live and acoustic cuts.

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2013
11.07

Casting Crowns

Releasing January 28th, Casting Crowns’ 7th studio album Thrive explores the balance between Truth, Love, Faith, and Works and is packed with signature Casting Crowns songs about real life that redefine our identity in Christ. In the words of Mark Hall, ‘we were not made to survive, we were made to thrive’. Like a tree planted by the water, we should be digging into God’s word to know Him and know who He has made us to be. We should be reaching out to the world and showing others who He is through our lives and our stories – knowing Him and making Him known.

Thrive- Song by Song

All You’ve Ever Wanted
“It’s about combating that logic we have in us that says when we fail, we need to make it right. We think we need to make things right with God. We think we’ve got to make Him proud again. We think we’ve got to give back to God. Not only does it NOT work, it’s not needed. We’re fighting a battle that’s already won and that’s what this song is about.”

Broken Together
“Marriage is tough. We bring a lot of fairytales to the picture when it comes to marriage. We bring them to the altar with us [thinking]: ‘This is going to be perfect. We don’t have to be apart. We can just wake up together every morning and no one is going to have morning breath. We’re not going to have any problems.’ And then the problems hit and you don’t know where to file those into your picture. . . The idea I’m trying to say is: ‘Can you lay down who you thought I was and love the ‘me’ that is? Can we take this from where we are now and realize that I can’t be that person?’ Only God is going to be able to make this work and broken people can be broken together. To me, it’s probably the most important song on the record.”

Dream for You
“The kids in our youth group sang back-up vocals on this song. I wanted a bunch of high schoolers to come in and sing this song to give life to the truth, that before you plan your future, you should make sure you’re not following your dream instead of God’s dream. God’s dream is a lot bigger than yours, and God doesn’t need you to pull off His dream for you. He can do it if you’ll just follow Him. I’ve had that conversation so many times with so many seniors sitting in my office. Just let God be creative and let Him do what He’s doing. If your goal is to really follow God, He’s not going to steer you off the cliff.”

Follow Me
“I think some of the most confusing times for me, as a believer, have been trying to understand God just from what I know already or what I’ve heard… instead of getting into His word for myself. When you try to understand God’s forgiveness without getting into God’s word, all you’ve got is a reference. The forgiveness around you won’t add up. If you are trying to understand God’s love, how much He’s going to stay with you, and His patience with you, but you’re not in the word…all you’ve got to go on is what you are seeing around you. So when I get into His word, I see a God who loves me not because I’m doing “good.” I see a God who loved me before I even knew what “good” was. I see a God who is pursuing me, who is sustaining me and who will finish me. He says in Matthew 5 and 6 that He is coming after our heart, not just so we would do better or become better versions of ourselves. He is going to recreate us, turn us into the ‘us’ that we were supposed to be from the start. All He wants is for us to know Him and to make Him known. He will produce the fruit! You can’t hang fruit on your life. Fruit comes within and fruit comes from Jesus.”

Heroes
“We all want to be a hero. If you are a guy, you lay in the bed at night and you dream your hero sequences. You are going to swoop in and save the damsel in distress. You are going to save the children from the bus. You go to movies that say over and over and over, ‘Look at all these ordinary people everywhere, they need a hero.’ So we come to God saying, ‘I want to be this hero for you.’ We look at the word and say, ‘I want to be David for you. I want to be Nehemiah for you. I want to be Moses for you (who gets out there and does the awesome stuff).’ But the problem is, not one of those people in the Bible ever said that. No one, who has ever done big things for God, has ever said, ‘Hey, I want to go do big things for God.’ People who love God and want to walk close with Him (when they finish talking to God), they look at the world and their hearts are broken. They know something has to be done. David never set out to be a giant slayer. David was following God and a giant got in his way. Peter never planned on walking on water. That’s just where Jesus was. Nehemiah didn’t want to build some giant wall. He just loved God and his heart was broken for his city. If we love God so much, we do anything He says no matter how crazy it sounds. You will find yourself in a position to be a hero.
This song is about actual people in my church right now. The first verse about the single mother is a lady named Robin Lamp, who is raising two girls by herself and running the divorce care ministry for our students. She struggles to make ends meet; however, she loves those girls enough to bring them up to walk with Jesus. Jake and Jessie are the seniors in the hallway walking through their school and decided that popularity wasn’t what they were going to go for. They’ve seen dozens and dozens of these middle school guys and young high schoolers come to know Jesus because of what they do. Even in the outro of this song you will see a boardroom with a Bible, that’s Chris Bledsoe, a businessman who decided to go build a business with Jesus in the front of it. In the classroom praying for revival, that’s Lynn Hudgens, a lady who prays for her class every year before they come that they’d see Jesus…even though she can’t outwardly share Him in the classroom. Being a hero is blooming where you are planted and loving the people you are with.”

House of Their Dreams
“All of Crown’s songs come out of our ministry in the church. These are things that God is bringing us through. These are things that we’re seeing God do in other people. There are challenges inside the church that we want to see God do more in, but it’s real life stuff. I can tell you where those families are now, where those people are now, what their choices were and how their choices affected them… and this song is a lot like that. This song is about a family that the enemy attacked. He attacked them from four directions. He did what he does with all of us. He wants to divide us. He wants to get us all alone thinking that we’re the only one with a problem and there’s no way out and once he’s isolated us, we can’t draw from each other as well and families go down. This is a story of a family that desperately needs Jesus, and a family that I feel God is going to do a miracle in. They are on their way, but we are still praying for them.”

Just Be Held
“I was out with my students surfing in Florida once and we were just learning how to get up and how to do this thing. I never mastered it, but when I got the closest to getting on the board a wave hit me and I went rolling. I rolled so many times that I realized I didn’t know where up was. I couldn’t figure out where the air was. The light was going everywhere and that was a terrifying feeling of no control (absolutely no control). I think when life’s storm hits us, that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for something we can grab onto and steady ourselves…we may even look at our faith that way. I need to grab onto God and steady myself, but what I’m finding even in our recent storm of life with our little girl Hope, and all the things that she’s been through medically, is that I just can’t grab a hold of something. What I’ve got to understand is that God is taking a hold of me. Instead of being the ‘fixer Daddy’ that grabs a hold of whatever I can and makes this work, I’ve got to understand that I’m already in His hands. I’m already being held and I’m already in His control and in His protection, even in the chaos. This song, to me, reminds me that I am being held by Him. As crazy as it is when I look around me, I’ve got to rest in that truth.”

Love You With the Truth
“This song is about a person realizing that they’ve been a really cruddy friend because they haven’t shared the truth with the person closest to them. A lot of people will say, ‘I want to share the gospel with my friend, but I don’t want to ruin my friendship.’ What you are really saying is ‘I love my friendship more than I love my friend and I don’t want to lose them by giving them this to save them.’ That’s what this song says. It’s tough, but it’s truth.”

This is Now
“This is the first song I wrote for the record and it’s really important to me. It’s to help people understand what God’s forgiveness looks like. I was in the office with a girl named Stephanie, who was about to go to college. She was scared to death that she didn’t belong to God because she couldn’t figure it out when it officially happened and she was questioning her salvation. We were walking through it and I kept asking her questions until she started sharing, ‘I just fail too much and I don’t see how God can stay with somebody who messes up like I do.’ Your logic will tell you that you’re on strike two, but you’re not. You’re His and if you belong to God, you are always His.”

Thrive
“We’ve kind of had this Celtic feel with a couple of songs in the past like ‘Praise You with the Dance’ and ‘Spirit Wind’ so it’s always been a little part of us and we just thought with this big, fun worship song, that we’d just make it a big camp song. It’s kind of natural, but the idea of ‘Thrive’ came out of our student ministry. For years I’ve been using the idea of Psalm One in showing them what a believer looks like… If you’re not getting into the word for God to define Himself to you, you will define God with what makes sense to you and what makes sense to us is, ‘I better do good or I’m in big trouble’ and ‘He’s going to stick with me for so long, but I’m going to blow it.’ That’s not the picture that the Bible has. God didn’t put you here just so you could survive through hard times. He put you here to thrive, to dig in and to reach out and this record is an effort to draw a picture of what a believer, a follower of Jesus, would look like if they dug into their roots and understood God and themselves more.”

Waiting on the Night to Fall
“This is a song about addiction, about someone that’s trapped by something they are hooked on. Addiction is like an old man who has got us in some way. Addiction is patient and [says], ‘If you want to be excited about Jesus this week, you go right ahead. I’ll just be right here. Run and sing your songs and do your thing and I’ll be here waiting.’ It seems like that with every record there is a warning song.”

You Are the Only One
“This is the first time I’ve written with Matt Maher. I felt like I knew him because we sing all his songs in church. I’ve always been a big fan of Matt since ‘Your Grace Is Enough’, but we’ve never had a chance to write together. He sent me an email a while back and said, ‘I’m working on this song right now and you just keep popping in my head every time I keep thinking about it. It’s called ‘You Are The Only One.’” I took the verses and I began laying out these verses that show this is where the world is, they are real live people who love life and love their family and want to be happy. They are just destroying themselves because there is no compass. This is where the world lives and love is great, but love isn’t going to save them. This song reminds us that at the end of all of our good deeds and thoughts, Jesus is the only one that’s going to save and rescue us. The second verse draws a picture of what happens when somebody gets saved: One more skeptic to believe, one more prisoner has been set free, one more longs to be your hands and feet, one more stands for the least of these.”

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2013
10.11

Following up her smash hit 2011 release Blessings, Laura Story returns with another intriguing collection of lifesongs and contemporary worship with God of Every Story-

check out this collection of the album’s highlights performed in an intimate live setting-

“I Can Just Be Me” Live Performance

“Keeper Of The Stars” Live Performance

“There Is A Kingdom” Live Performance

“God Of Every Story” Live Performance

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2013
09.12

Grammy and Dove winner Laura Story is just about to release a brand new album, God of Every Story. Until then, enjoy this live performance of her new single “I Can Just Be Me


plus, Enter for a Chance to Win a Baby Taylor acoustic guitar, signed by Laura Story and Steven Curtis Chapman!

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2013
07.30

Carrying the momentum from their critically acclaimed debut, Royal Tailor return with the encouraging first single “Remain,” from their forthcoming album release.

Check out the official lyric video!

grab the single here:

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2013
07.24

Audio Adrenaline’s soaring beach-rock anthem “Believer” gets the video treatment! Watch Kevin Max and company on the seashore with this encouraging video:

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2013
07.16

by Melissa Riddle Chalos

Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other.
–Frederick Robertson

It happens all the time. A young woman and a young man meet, fall in love, get married and settle into a brand new life only to discover that ‘home,’ like love itself, is more than can be measured by a feeling. It’s not something you can build with four hands. It’s not four walls with a roof and a door with a key. It’s not a floor plan or a mortgage or a comfy, cozy chair by the fireplace. It’s not even always a physical place.

For Kim Walker-Smith and Skyler Smith, best known for their ministry with Sacramento, California-based Jesus Culture, an international outreach movement with over 70 conferences and seven full-length recordings to date, the concept of ‘home’ has always held great personal and spiritual meaning. They’d grown up in the same small town, had even known each other as children, but when they reconnected at a worship conference in 2008, boom!, it was love. Eight months later, it was marriage. But coming together as one has been a journey of faith and patience.

Eighteen months in the making, The Smiths are finally ready to birth their first musical collaboration, a worshipful, modern folk-pop collection called Home. Carved out of their unique love story, the worship life they’ve aspired to as individuals and the ministry they’ve shared as part of Jesus Culture, Home explores the intimacy of time alone and together in the presence of God, and that sense of belonging as a universal metaphor for our relationship God pursues with his children.

“Calling this album Home took on so many meanings as the project progressed,” explains Skyler. “We’ve always traveled so much, we’ve known that ‘home’ would have to be wherever we found ourselves. We didn’t want to force anything, but we wanted to come together as a couple and say something personal and honest about our lives in relationship with each other and in relationship with God.”

In that sense, Home couldn’t be more opposite than the live, corporate worship experience captured on the Jesus Culture records, on which Kim’s voice is most often associated. “From the beginning of our marriage,” Kim says, “we’ve been very intentional about blending our lives, taking every opportunity to be 100% completely together, so this album really is a defining moment for us, a creative endeavor that’s represents who we are as a couple and as worshipers who desire intimacy with our Creator.”

Produced by Jeremy Edwardson and Jason Borneman, Home is a labor of love, fusing together two very different approaches and personalities into one unified sound. Kim, who had recorded two solo records, has long been a pop fan, with a big voice and bold, dynamic on-stage presence, a songwriter who pounds out lyrics faster than most people can sing them. Skyler, a creative visual designer who plays guitar and serves as an executive team member on the Jesus Culture staff, is most at home in an Americana/folk vein, a meticulously poetic songwriter who writes and rewrites and rewrites some more.

So, much like a couple of creative newlyweds attempting to merge her floral tapestry curtains with his ripped leather armchair, Skyler & Kim Walker Smith pushed through the frustration of creative barriers to craft a fresh new sound all their own. Not only is the breadth of Kim’s vocal gift more obvious in a studio environment, but the beauty of the couple’s harmony is essential to the mix. “Looking back over the past almost two years, it’s so easy to see now how the Lord was in it,” Skyler says. “God had put this in our hearts, and even when it wasn’t quite happening, we knew he would create a blend that was distinctively us. He directed us when to start it and inspired the worship content in it, and we’ve come out on the other side with something we’re super happy about.”

From the soothing, acoustic opener of “Your Voice” to the benediction of “My One & Only,” Home is a finely tuned marriage of songs that speak to the kind of love that always pursues, always trusts, always shows up.

“…In your arms, my heart is resting,
I have found my home in you, the One I was made for…” —from “Home”

Here, themes of human love and God’s love are woven so organically, it’s often impossible to see the seams. “Unstoppable Love,” a dramatic, multi-layered effort intensified by Kim’s bold voice, began as a love song but grew into a worshipful acknowledgement of the length of God’s unrelenting mercy toward his beloved. In “My One & Only,” what started as a worship song became an intimate song of devotion between a husband and his wife.

Eleven of the twelve tracks were written collaboratively by Skyler and Kim, the one exception being “Christ the Rock,” a hymn-like declaration that builds to a crescendo of “Holy, Holy, Holy,” penned by a dear friend of Kim’s who had gone through a rough season in her life. In these and many other intimate moments on Home, Kim and Skyler open the door of their life together and invite listeners inside, hopefully to discover what is possible when your heart can be sure that it is unconditionally loved.

“I’ve always felt like part of the cost of being a worship leader on stage is in living that vulnerability out loud, showing people what it’s like to be real in worship, that what they see on stage is what they’d see of me at Home in worship,” explains Kim Walker Smith, who is expecting their first child in September. “When you’re vulnerable in that way, it can be scary, it’s a risk, but that’s what people look for and it’s what they need to see and experience, that freedom. So the outcome is so much greater than the risk.

Ultimately, she says, “That’s what we’ve tried to do on Home. These are the messages of our lives, our marriage, the songs of our hearts… We believe that realness and vulnerability is contagious and that it brings freedom.”

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