Reflections on GMA 2006: Changes and Rebirth

In April, thousands of artists, journalists and industry professionals converged in Nashville for the 37th annual Gospel Music Week and GMA Music Awards show. The recurring theme of the event seemed to be change and rebirth. To highlight just a few news items:

– Right in the middle of GMA week, Jeremy Camp and his wife, Adie, celebrated the birth of their second daughter, Arianne Mae. On Wednesday, April 5th at 1:44 a.m. Arianne Mae was born, weighing 5 lbs 13 oz. and was 19 inches long. She joins her proud big sister, Isabella Rose, now 18 months old. It was a busy GMA week for Jeremy Camp. In addition to the birth of his new daughter, he had five Dove nominations, performed at the GMA Awards show in a tribute to Steven Curtis Chapman, and nabbed awards for Songwriter of the Year and Song of the Year at the 28th Annual ASCAP Christian Music Awards.
– The guys in Sanctus Real have had more than their share of ups and downs and ups over the past year. Drummer Mark Graalman and his wife, Susan, welcomed their first baby, son Benjamin, last February. Just hours later Mark’s own father was diagnosed with terminal cancer; he passed away just two months later. Lead singer Matt Hammitt lost his grandmother, and bassist Steve Goodrum left the band last year to pursue other interests. The band has since welcomed Dan Gartley as their new bassist and added guitarist Pete Prevost as part of their tour lineup. Lead singer Matt Hammitt and his wife, Sarah, recently welcomed their first baby, daughter Emmerson Mae, and bassist Gartley and guitarist Chris Rohman both recently got married. Songs on the band’s latest album, Faces of Love, released in April, were born in large part from these joys and sorrows.
– First Call is back for a second round, as original members Bonnie Keen, Marty McCall and Melody Tunney reunited to record their first full-length project together in over 15 years. Performing for the Ministry Partners International showcase dinner, it was clear that while they’ve been pursuing other avenues of ministry they’ve picked up right where they left off. The album, REJOICE: An A Cappella Hymns Collection, releases May 26th.
– Brian Pittman, former bassist for Relient K, and his new band Inhale Exhale have just signed a recording deal with Solid State. The band, which includes guitarist John Larussa (formerly of Narcissus), vocalist Andy Levy and drummer Bobby Poole (Buck, John Rueben), is currently in the studio working on their first album. Expect a completely different sound than his former band; Brian describes it as “mainly heavy and dabbling in the melodic.” He assures fans that he and his former band mates remain great friends and are mutually supportive of each other’s music. “There’s not a guy who’s more blessed than me right now,” he says.
– By The Tree’s founder and lead singer Chuck Dennie has left the band to pursue a calling as a worship pastor, but the band continues on. Drummer Aaron Blanton has stepped up to the microphone as guitarist and lead singer, replaced at the drums by Garrett Goodwin. Bassist Ben Davis was married last summer. By The Tree is set to release a new rock worship album this fall.
– Building 429 guitarist Paul Bowden has left the band in order to spend more time with his family. In March, lead singer Jason Roy and his wife, Courtney, welcomed their second child, daughter Haven Madison Roy. Haven weighed 7 lbs, 12 ounces and was 20 inches long, and joins big brother, Avery. Building 429’s latest album, Rise, debuted in March on the Top 5 on three major Christian Soundscan charts.
– Last year Starfield welcomed new drummer Gordie Cochran, replacing John Andrews, who left the band to be closer to family at home. Last summer, both Cochran and bassist Shaun Huberts got married. The band’s sophomore album, Beauty In The Broken, hits stores May 16th.
– Downhere’s drummer Jeremy Thiessen was married last May to girlfriend, Erin Robinson. Last summer the band signed a new recording deal with Centricity Records. Wide Eyed and Mystified, their third album and first on the Centricity label, releases on May 23rd. The first two singles from the album, “The More” and “A Better Way,” are available at Downhere heads to Marrakech, Morocco May 2-8 to participate in the 2nd Annual Friendship Fest.
– Hard rocker Eowyn and her husband, Russ, sold their house and gave up all the amenities of a normal married life to move in with her parents so that they could pursue her ministry reaching out to young people. While he gave up the solid, dependable professional job with benefits he’d always dreamed of, Russ says he wouldn’t change a thing. Eowyn admits that she’s given up trying to fit into the typical CCM mold she thought the industry demanded. Instead, she’s claimed her own identity and found happiness as an indie artist with God in total control. “Locked Away,” the first single from Eowyn’s latest album, Identity, has just been released to Christian rock radio.
– New Zealand rock band Detour 180 has officially made the move to the States. All of the band members and their wives (guitarist Morgan Lawrence and bassist Daniel Watson are single) have settled in Nashville. Vocalist Adrian Robertson says that God’s hand was on the whole process; their visas were approved with remarkable speed and simplicity. Watch for Detour 180’s new U.S. release this summer on Slanted Records.

Related Articles:
Backstage at the GMA Music Awards: In Their Own Words
GMA Week: The Changing of the Guard
A Closer Look at the 2006 Dove Awards Winners
2006 GMA Awards Winners
Who’s Who at GMA Week 2006
GMA Week Journal Tuesday, April 4
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