Christian Music Monthly: February 2005

(((Cover Story/ Anointed: Making a Comeback)))
After five albums and a decade in Gospel and Christian music, the
highly-acclaimed, award-winning brother/sister gospel duo Anointed is
back in the spotlight with an eagerly-awaited new album, “Now Is The
Time,” the beloved gospel duo’s first recording for Sony
Urban/Integrity Music. “Now Is The Time” is slated for release on
April 5, 2005.
Since the time of the group’s inception, Anointed has been guided by
the creative vision of Da’dra Crawford Greathouse and her brother,
Steve Crawford. This spirit-filled vocal duo draws seamlessly from
pop, gospel and R&B influences to create a sound and a message that
readily finds a home among congregations small and large, inside and
outside the church. Anointed is among a handful of artists able to
bring together the diverse audiences of modern Christian music: urban
and traditional gospel as well as contemporary Christian. In other
words, black and white. Anointed’s wide appeal is reflected in the
seven Dove Awards, two Stellar Awards and three Grammy nominations
the group has earned over the years.
Da’dra and Steve’s passion for music and ministry, as well as their
gift for inspiring diverse audiences, come together in the pair’s
latest musical collection. “Now Is The Time” is the work of seasoned
artists and showcases the sophisticated presentation Anointed is
known for in concert with the stylings of veteran producers Warryn
Campbell (Mary Mary, Ruben Studdard), Mark Heimermann (Michael W.
Smith, Amy Grant) and Roger Ryan (Shirley Caesar duet with Faith
Evans).
“It’s about hope and encouragement and the songs are so dynamic,”
says Sony Urban Gospel executive vice president Tara Griggs-
Magee. “I’m so proud of their work ethic and of their passion for
this album.”
“Now Is The Time” also represents an artistic and professional
evolution for Da’dra and Steve. While the pair are accomplished
songwriters and arrangers and have always played a role on the
production side of their work, this album marks their first producing
credits on “Jesus Is Lord” and “You Are” and co-producing credits–
with Ryan on both “Gonna Lift Your Name” and “Eternal Life.” Gospel
legend Andrae Crouch joined Anointed in a special appearance
on “Jesus Is Lord,” the song he originally penned and made famous
over two decades ago. The duo also wrote or co-wrote all but one of
the album’s tracks.
“Making this album has been an extraordinary process,” says
Da’dra. “We made discoveries about ourselves and about the recording
process, and now it feels great to be able to express ourselves more
in the production of our songs.”
True to Da’dra’s words, many of the tracks emerged from the siblings’
most intimate spiritual experiences and the result is an expansive,
complete offering. Sony Urban Gospel A&R vice-president Joseph Burney
puts it best when he says simply, “It’s what you need.”
For Anointed, “Eternal Life” embodies the foundation of their faith.
As the writer of the song, Steve explains, “Tears would fall from my
eyes just thinking about our ability to share the message of God’s
love for us through this song. The production of this song has the
musical influence of Richard Smallwood (known for combining gospel
with classical and baroque musical styles). This sweeping, emotional
ballad makes heady use of that big orchestral sound.
“Now That I’m Free,” another intimate ballad from Steve and
songwriter Dave Clark, is a soulful, melodic story told in
music. “What the lyrics explore is the idea that your revelation of
God influences the perspective of your struggle,” says Steve. “Once I
received revelation of who He is and what He wants for my life, it
liberated me.”
Anointed is known for its compelling live performances, and “Now Is
The Time” features the duo in top form. “Gonna Lift Your Name,” for
example, captures the great energy of today’s immensely popular
praise and worship sound. The triumphant gospel harmony came to
Da’dra as she was waking from a dream.
“I heard the chorus in my head and I jumped up to search for my
recorder and paper and pen. I was frantic to get it down,” Da’dra
recalls. She and Steve got together in his garage and put together a
demo of a track that, from day one, has been completely captivating.
The song moves from testimony to can’t-hold-back jubilation,
celebrating the renewal found in God’s grace.
“Everyone who’s been down that road can feel this,” Steve explains.
The lyrics tell of the human experience from struggle to triumph: I
remember the day you found me. My hope was lost and fading fast. I
searched but couldn’t find relief…Then…I felt a rushing mighty wind.
It changed my heart…Now I have peace within. Gonna lift your name on
high. Your presence I cannot deny. Tell everybody if I could, cause I
know Lord You been so good.
Working in the studio with producer Warryn Campbell, Anointed
transformed the already affecting “Gonna Lift Your Name” into a
heavenly gospel remix. Gospel artists are not typically known for
remixes, but Anointed has always dabbled in the form. When the duo
walked into Campbell’s L.A. studio to hear what he’d done with
Da’dra’s “dream” song, they were blown away.
“We didn’t recognize the song,” Da’dra admits. “And we were totally
blown away. We loved it.” Anointed fans, particularly younger
listeners, are sure to love it too. The mesmerizing blend of urban
backbeats and rock guitar sends the already jubilant gospel track
into the stratosphere.
When Da’dra and Steve wanted to capture the soaring, airy melodies
of “Trust In You” and “Now Is The Time,” they turned to Christian pop
producer Heimermann. “It started with a melody,” says Steve
of “Trust In You.” Heimermann built on that melody and the track
evolved into a fusion of bouncy, youthful rock over a gritty, funky
groove. “Now Is The Time,” the album’s title track, almost didn’t
happen. Da’dra and Bose had written the song for another artist, but
the artist didn’t use it and the song sat in limbo. The breezy,
lighthearted pop track is a faith affirmation for Da’dra and Steve.
“It speaks to faith being the key to fulfilling your purpose in
life,” Da’dra explains. “The time to believe is when no one else
except you and God can see. Your actions will follow your belief
system and move you toward the place you need to be. It speaks so
much to where we are as artists.”
The album is rounded out with two more Campbell-produced
tracks, “Mighty Long Way” and “Gotta Move,” as well as another from
Heimermann, “The Great I Am.”
Anointed fans, it sounds like the duo’s ready to make a comeback.
Look forward to their new CD!
(((Brief Bits)))

* Sparrow Records’ artist Steven Curtis Chapman recently won a GRAMMY
Award for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album for his latest
release, “All Things New.” I don’t know if you realize this, but
Steven Curtis Chapman has sold over nine million records, including
two RIAA certified platinum albums and seven RIAA certified gold
albums. He’s also received five GRAMMY awards, an American Music
Award, 47 Dove Awards (more than any other artist to date), and he
has recorded 42 No. 1 radio hits as well as receiving numerous other
honors. Wow! Meanwhile, the Chapman family has established
Shaohannah’s Hope, a foundation providing information and assistance
to families who desire to adopt. For more information, please visitwww.ShaohannahsHope.com.
* Inpop punk/pop/rock band Superchic[k] offers a new project, “Beauty
From Pain,” hitting stores March 29. “Pure,” the album’s first
single, represents an in-depth look at Superchic[k]’s individual’s
lives over the past year, as every band member faced the breakup of a
serious relationship. And you know how hard that can be. “With each
of us going through these painful experiences, we were able to
expound on the emotions we were feeling and learn from the pain,”
describes deejay/producer Max Hsu. Vocalist Tricia Brock adds, “This
album is more about where we are at right now. It makes the music
more powerful. We are singing from the heart, full of emotion,
showing people that we relate to those times when you don’t
understand God and life gets lonely.”
* “Pictures on Mantles: The Best of Russ Lee,” a compilation of the
singer/songwriter’s career-spanning greatest hits, is now available
from Lee’s Vertical Vibe Records. Lee co-wrote nine of the project’s
12 selections, including two new cuts, “Faithful Love” and “Sweetest
Sound,” co-penned with James Elliott. Besides recording, Lee has
visited Iraq twice to perform a series of concerts and visit with
U.S. military personnel stationed throughout the country. Kudos to
him for that!
* Gospel singer LaShun Pace hasn’t recorded for four years, and
during that time, she’s had a rough time: the lose of a daughter, a
separation and divorce and a battle with her weight. But, God is a
God of restoration, and though she was tested in the fire, she’s
coming out gold on her EMI Gospel release, “It’s My Time,” in stores
March 1.
* Christian music legend Sandi Patty (best known for her incredible
voice and her divorce, which sent shockwaves thru the Christian music
industry because it puts its stars on pedestals of perfection and
once in a while gets quite judgmental and forgets that every one,
saved or unsaved, is imperfectly human…) has written a book about her
rise and fall and rise again in Christian music. It’s called “Broken
on the Back Row,” and is available from Howard Publishing.
* Compelled to make a difference in third-world countries, rock band
Jars of Clay founded the Blood:Water Mission. The first effort of
this non-profit organization is the 1000 Wells Project, which
officially launches in Spring 2005, with the goal of raising funds to
build, rebuild and repair 1000 wells in urban and rural areas of sub-
Saharan Africa. The band will have a new CD, “Redemption Songs,” a
collection of soulful recordings crafted from ancient hymn texts and
spiritual songs, available at retail on March 22.
* Australian Paul Colman is set to release his 11-song solo
debut, “Let It Go,” for Inpop Records on March 1. You’ll hear his new
song, “Gloria,” on the radio. About “Gloria,” he says: “I wanted a
song that called everyone to acknowledge the God of
creation. `Gloria’ is a call to all humanity. We are all here
together, and we were made by God, so let us come before Him and give
Him glory.”

* For more brief bits, check out “Beat on the Street” atwww.christianmusicmonthly.com.
(((Making Noise: tobyMac, Audio A, Kutless & Hawk Nelson)))

GRAMMY Award winning ForeFront recording artists Audio Adrenaline and
tobyMac recently announced “The Diverse City Worldwide” tour, also
featuring BEC Recordings artist Kutless and new labelmate band Hawk
Nelson.
Kicking off on April 2nd in Cedarville, Ohio, at Cedarville
University, the tour will run through May and hit 30 markets,
including Phoenix, Anaheim, Denver, Kansas City and Minneapolis.
Audio Adrenaline and tobyMac are both known for their high-energy
shows, and as Audio Adrenaline frontman Mark Stuart says, “The
artists of this tour were picked as perfectly as Juan Valdez hand-
selects coffee beans from the mountain sides of Colombia. A perfect
blend is coming your way, an aroma of rock-n-roll that you won’t want
to miss!”

“This tour is about unity,” tobyMac comments. “A house divided
against itself cannot stand. But when we come together and celebrate
our diversity, we become a strong tower…a city on a hill.”
Along with a new GRAMMY nomination, four GRAMMYS already under his
belt, a smash #1 hit single at Christian CHR and Rock radio since the
release of “Welcome To Diverse City” in October 2004, tobyMac has
seen his sophomore project’s sales reach beyond 300,000, an 84%
increase over his previous GRAMMY-nominated and critically-acclaimed
release, Momentum, which is near RIAA gold certification. In 2004
alone, tobyMac was lauded by several reader’s polls and critics
polls, including CCM magazine’s Favorite Male artist, Best Album and
Best Solo artist by ChristianMusicToday.com, Entertainer of the Year,
Male Artist of the Year and Producer of the year by CMCentral.com,
and one of the Best Albums of 2004 on CBN.com. tobyMac has an active
and vibrant internet following who flock daily to find out more atwww.tobymac.com.
Since their first ForeFront Records release in 1992, GRAMMY Award
winning band Audio Adrenaline has become one of the best-selling rock
acts in Christian music. In addition to 18 No. 1 radio hits,
including the CCM Song of the Decade for the 1990s, “Big House,” and
numerous Dove Awards, Audio Adrenaline has sold over 3 million
records and received a RIAA certified gold record for its 1997
release, “Bloom.” The band is currently touring in support of its
ninth album, “Worldwide,” and is well-known for its humanitarian aid,
launching the Hands and Feet Project that’s dedicated to helping
orphans in Haiti. While not on the road, band members Mark Stuart,
Will McGinniss, Ben Cissell and Tyler Burkum are currently in the
studio working on their summer `05 release. More information on the
band can be found at www.AudioA.com.
Kutless has not looked back since the release of their self-titled
album in July of 2002. “Sea Of Faces,” Kutless’ sophomore release in
Feb. of 2004, established the band by widening their fan base and
radio appeal. All six of Kutless’ Rock singles reached #1, while both
CHR releases and AC release went Top 5– a feat unprecedented for a
rock band. Kutless is one of the hardest working touring groups in
the Christian music business, playing several hundred shows a year.

Tooth and Nail band Hawk Nelson has stormed onto the punk-rock music
scene with their debut, “Letters To The President,” released in July
2004. Following the release, they were selected to play legendary
rock band The Who on the hit NBC show American Dreams. In addition,
their song “California” was featured on WB’s Summerland and the
track “Like a Racecar” was heard on Smallville. Hawk Nelson strives
to reach young audiences with their energetic personalities and
positive songs hoping to encourage teens to stand up for what they
believe.
(((Laura Agee Interviews…Rachael Lampa)))

For 19-year-old Christian singer Rachael Lampa, gone are the days of
books and classrooms, but she doesn’t miss it. She is simply content
where she is.
“I am not looking at going to college right now. I am simply enjoying
traveling right now…walking around the cities I tour without having
to worry about homework,” she says.
Touring around with her brother and manager, Ryan Lampa, the singer
has come a long way since starting out as a young 14-year-old who got
up on stage at a Christian music seminar and sang a Whitney Houston
song.

“I got a record deal,” she said, laughing. “I grew up in a Christian
family, but we didn’t listen to Christian music much. I grew up
listening to Stevie Wonder. I have always liked Stevie Wonder and
have to get my everyday fix. It was weird not growing up with
Christian music because people would ask me, `Don’t you know dc talk,
and I didn’t,” she remembers.
Reared by a Filipino father and a Hungarian-Irish mother, Lampa grew
up not really knowing about racism either.

“I didn’t know what it was since I live in a mixed family and have
friends of color. People talk about racism, but I never really saw it
as a problem,” she says.
She instead grew up versed in knowing about the traditional Filipino
meal of Lo Mein at Thanksgiving. And though she may have been naive
to names of other Christian artists, it saved her from developing a
certain “attitude” about Christian music.
“I am so thankful I didn’t grow up listening to Christian
music…thankful I am not a crazy, weird obsessed fan…gushing all
over (other artists),” she says.

It also helped Lampa develop her own style, a style that emerges more
on her fourth album, “Rachael Lampa,” recently released this past
summer.
“This is different for me– writing my own songs. I have been
learning to write different styles of songs and it has been a
learning experience just writing so much. I have always been trying
to change things up and I have really liked that funk, rock-n-roll
thing…that seems to work well for me,” she says.
Now, five years after her first stage debut, Lampa ponders the past
briefly.
“I think it is pretty awesome that I have gotten this far. I never
would have guessed that I would be traveling, not going to school.
This is my everyday life and I am doing what I love,” she says.
But her past cannot dictate where her uncharted future may lie.
“I have started work writing on a new album although it’s not
official…and this new record may have some funk, soul and rock-n-
roll on it,” she says.
But for now, Lampa isn’t looking too far into the future. She is
content to be in the present, sharing her faith in God.
“I think about a song when I am on stage and why I wrote a particular
song…what I was going though in my life at that time… feeling all
those experiences and my faith…going though those times in my life.
I wrote the last song, `Room for Me’ (on “Rachael Lampa”). The (song)
lyrics were written after 9/11 along with everyone who was writing
about 9/11. The song is about how much disaster and tragedy there is
in the world and how God gets us through it.”
–Contributed by Laura Agee
(((People Are Noticing: KJ-52)))
By Mark Weber
Only in Christian music would you have your parents talk about your
Godly life on a rap/hip-hop release. On KJ-52’s new “Behind The
Musik,” you get to know all about Christian music’s Eminem, as his
parents tell stories about their son throughout the disc. Weird? You
bet. Different? Definitely. Well, KJ-52 is still cool, and with this
release, if you don’t mind the occasional warm-and-fuzzy parental
units spinning yarns about their baby boy, you’re gonna love this
disc.
“Fivetweezy” is totally an Eminem knock-off. KJ-52 sounds way too
much like an imitator. Yet, his raps are funny, engaging and clean. I
know, I know, rap music is supposed to be all hard and gangsta these
days, but can’t there be clean, good rap? Probably.
There are two white rappers who are connecting with white audiences
in Christian music: John Reuben and KJ-52. Both use humor in their
songs to great effect. And audiences must like it, as KJ-52, for
instance, has sold over 250,000 discs.
KJ-52, whose real name is Jonah Sorrentino, grew up in Tampa,
Florida, not NYC or L.A. He first gained notoriety when he basically
confronted Eminem about his lifestyle with the song, “Dear Slim.”
Eminem has been behaving a little better lately. Perhaps he heard the
song and took the message to heart.
Hip-hop is all about boasting, and who better to boast about than
God? So, yes, there’s room for clean, white rappers like KJ-52 in the
rap game. On “Behind The Musik,” he has lots of collaborators (as
most rappers do), including Jon Micah of Kutless on the radio
single, “Are You Real?” Meanwhile, Rebecca St. James’ old hit
song, “God,” gets dusted off and re-worked with KJ-52 spitting lyrics
while Rebecca sings the rock chorus, in an appealing way. Jeremy Camp
is featured on “Right Here.” You have to give KJ-52 props for
bringing in some interesting (aka: not typically hip-hoppish) guests
on his hip-hop album.
Is “Behind The Musik” good enough to be in your collection alongside
Eminem? Yes, it most definitely is. He’s very talented. Get it;
you’ll like it. More info: www.kj52.com
(((On The Spiritual Tip)))

All of us go through seasons in our lives, some much better than
others. Life is full of ups and downs, highs and lows. For instance,
just this past month, I was horribly sick with flu-like symptoms.
When I coughed, it felt as if my whole body was coughing. It was hard
to get out of bed, to eat food, and to even think clearly. Yet,
eventually, I was able to breathe better, cough less and get back
to “normal life.” Are you going through something that’s got you
down? Addiction. Divorce. Illness. Depression. Etc.? Scripture says
weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. So I
want to encourage you to press on, praising the name of Jesus out
loud and know that there is a God and He is listening to your cries.
You may feel absolutely horrible today, but tomorrow, “you never
know,” God might just turn it around and you’re healed, delivered,
cured and/or transformed. Don’t give up! You can and will make it!
–Mark Weber
(((What’s Up With: Natalie Grant)))

Curb recording artist and two-time Dove Award-nominee for Female
Vocalist of the Year Natalie Grant returns March 22 with her most
personal album to date, “Awaken.” Produced by Bernie Herms, Phil
Symonds, Shaun Shankel, and Rob Graves, Grant wrote or co-wrote half
of the project’s 12 cuts.

Thematically, the recording captures a life-changing year for Grant,
who was profoundly impacted by a trip to India where she observed
firsthand the plight of individuals caught in the human trafficking
industry. The album’s centerpiece, “Home,” penned by Grant, Trina
Harmon and Herms and featuring the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, is
her musical reaction to the experience.

“Awaken” also tackles the issue of self-esteem on the cuts “Make Me
Over” and “The Real Me,” the latter of which Grant wrote about her
own journey of learning to accept and embrace God’s image of her
instead of the world’s perception. Can you relate? The song is also
the inspiration for Grant’s first book, “The Real Me: Becoming The
Girl God Sees,” which will be available this fall on the W
Publishing/Transit imprint.
Additional highlights of “Awaken” include the project’s first
single, “Live For Today,” which was a Top 10 hit on both
Billboard’s “Hot Christian Adult Contemporary” chart and the
R&R “Christian AC Top 30 Indicator” chart; the upcoming second
single, “Held,” written by Christa Wells in response to the
devastating loss of two loved ones; “What Are You Waiting For,”
written by Steve Booker, Matthew Gerrard and Bridget Benenate, the
latter two who co-wrote (along with Avril Lavigne) the current Kelly
Clarkson hit “Breakaway”; and “Bring It All Together,” a gospel-
influenced duet with country music icon Wynonna Judd.

“This has really been a pivotal season for me in my artistic and
creative journey,” says Grant. “In every way, personally and
professionally, I’ve been in a real place of self-discovery, learning
a lot about myself and what’s really important in my life. The more I
know myself, the more I’m writing from my heart. I’ve realized that
in the end, it’s the power in a song that stands the test of time,
and that’s what I focused on with this project.”
“More than anything,” she continues, “I wanted to be challenged, to
take risks, to go to the edge of myself, beyond my comfort zone, to
reach for whatever my artistic limit is. My spirit has awakened to
the need to make my life count for something other than myself. Life
is hard and sad and messy and there won’t always be answers. I’ve
come to understand that it’s okay to ask questions, but at the end of
the day, we choose to have faith, to believe that God is good.”

Grant is preparing to hit the road this spring with a band for the
multi-city “Awaken Tour,” which will feature special guests Jadon
Lavik and Trevor Morgan. The tour is slated to stop in Boston,
Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Oklahoma City, among other
cities.
Later this year, Grant will help launch “The Revolve Tour,” a
nationwide conference designed especially for girls in the 7th-12th
grades. Presented by Girls of Faith, a ministry division of Women of
Faith, Grant will perform and speak at the conferences, delivering a
message on self-esteem.
(((Up & Comer: Kara Williamson)))

INO Records just released “Undisguised,” the new project by
singer/songwriter Kara Williamson, and what a voice she has!
Co-writing most of the songs on her first project with INO Records,
Williamson defines her album as “shedding the performance mentality—
all the comparisons, pretending, facades and disguises. I’m admitting
that I’m flawed. I’m a broken vessel—thankfully, God uses broken
vessels.”
“My biggest struggle has been feeling the need to perform and be
perfect all the time,” she says. “Growing up, I found myself
motivated to meet people’s expectations. Even on my past work, I felt
like I had to prove myself to people. I still struggle with it, but
God has been breaking down my self-view through the process of this
record and I’m at the place now where I’m re-learning that I don’t
have to do anything to gain His approval.”
The new album, “Undisguised,” features songs that share with the
listener Williamson’s honest and worshipful pleas, along with a love
song to her husband Charley, titled “You Are the One.” The song “Dear
Performer” is a personal take on herself, while “Work It Out” is an
encouragement to a wandering friend. Taken from a poem written by her
mother, “Oh Wounded King” is a song Williamson was compelled to write
a melody to, as its words made a powerful impact on her heart.
On the radio, you’ll be hearing “Where You Are” and “Love Is For
Always,” the album’s first radio singles, going for adds at AC/Inspo
and CHR respectively.
Managed by Blanton Harrell Cooke & Corzine Management based in
Nashville, Williamson has toured with Michael W. Smith and Point of
Grace for the “Christmastime Tour,” on the “Christmas with Amy Grant”
tour as well as participating on the “iWorship Tour” and dates with
Natalie Grant and The Katinas. You’ll be hearing her name more often
in the months to come as her own career starts building momentum.
(((The End)))
Christian Music Monthly is printed with permission from christianmusicmonthly.com

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