What’s Up in Entertainment: May

Simple/INO Records’ singer/songwriter Phil Wickham’s self-titled debut in a big way in May. With 5,847 units sold Phil Wickham hit the Billboard’s Top 200 at No. 149, Billboard’s Top Christian Albums at No. 8 and Billboard’s Heatseekers at No. 3. The Southern California native is the second artist to sign on MercyMe’s Bart Millard and producer Pete Kipley’s label Simple Records. At just 21 years old and with the support of one of the biggest artists in the industry, Wickham has a long future ahead of him. If that’s not enough, the album is a great mix of praise and acoustic alternative rock. Check it out at www.philwickham.com.
In May, Steven Curtis Chapman performed five concerts in South Korea for U.S. troops, a historic event because it was the first Christian concert ever for U.S. troops based there. The concerts were part of a tour that took Chapman to New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, South Korea and several cities within China. After his tour closes in China, Chapman’s family will join him there to spend a month working in area Beijing orphanages. Later this summer, Chapman heads into the studio to start recording for his 2007 spring release.
A judge has ordered that a Nyack, N.Y. porn shop close its doors after receiving protests and petitions from Catholic citizens and local Nyack residents, including actor Stephen Baldwin. Judge Joan Lefkowitz of Westchester said the Nyack planning board failed to consider the SEQUA act (State Environmental Quality Review Act) which requires boards to review how an opening of a public establishment will impact the environment and community. Baldwin admits that his initial opposition focused on the zoning issues. But after an interview with Donnie Deutsch on CNBC during which Deutsch said that he didn’t think pornography hurt families at all, Baldwin says, “I think there may be a bigger problem potentially within the media and its ignorance as to how culturally devastating pornography is. I may have to take up this fight in a greater way.”
BEC Recording artist Jeremy Camp’s album Live Unplugged: Jeremy Camp will be available in 500 Hallmark Gold Crown stores nationwide as part of Hallmark’s Mother’s Day and Father’s Day promotions. Other artists in the promotion include Amy Grant, Neil Diamond, Rod Stewart, SheDaisy, Jim Brickman, and Michael Buble.
MercyMe’s fifth album, Coming Up To Breathe (Simple/INO Records), sold over 58,000 units in its first week of release in May, debuting at No. 13 on the Billboard Top 200 SoundScan, sandwiched between Toby Keith and Shakira’s latest. The album entered at No. 1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Christian SoundScan chart. The video for their single, “So Long Self,” hit Yahoo’s Music Main page on May 1st. In addition, the band is spearheading Redeem the Vote’s non-partisan efforts to register 18 to 29 year old voters for the 2006 elections. 
Dustinburke Band, an independent Christian group from Dayton, Ohio, was awarded Indieheaven’s first Momentum Scholarship at the annual CIA SUMMIT conference in Nashville. The $20,000 Momentum Scholarship awards one artist or band with an all-expenses-paid ten song album project produced by Jim Cooper (Building 429’s Glory Defined) and mixed by Tony Palacios. In addition to the recorded project, the band will receive additional marketing and tour support as part of the Momentum Scholarship package. To find a recipient, the Indieheaven staff searched for a full-time artist or band that was actively pursuing passion and excellence in their music mission. Qualifications included having a strong work ethic, a consistent live performance schedule, and a heart for ministry. As part of the agreement, the group will remain independent until April 1, 2007.
The Afters’ popular song “Beautiful Love” has been awarded RIAA Gold Certification for Digital Sales. The RIAA award was developed to recognize the significant sales of the ever growing digital music market since 2004 and recognizes tracks with sales of more than 100,000 downloads.  
Kutless’ new album, The Hearts of the Innocent, is making waves all over the place. The album, which released in March, landed the band at #1 on the CBA charts, #2 on the overall Christian charts, and #45 on the Billboard top 200. The video for “Shut Me Out” has been placed on an exclusive Microsoft/Wal-Mart DVD give-a-way, and purchasers of X-box’s new game The Apprentice, featuring Donald Trump, will receive a copy of KUTLESS’ new video. “All Of The Words” from KUTLESS’ third album Strong Tower played for almost 2 minutes on a recent episode of NBC’s “Scrubs.“
Daughters of the King author Dr. Gail M. Hayes recently launched a new national book club for young girls in grade K-5, called “Precious! Pretty! Powerful!™” Dr. Hayes is an acclaimed national speaker who speaks to women about purpose and identity, helping them understand their value in Christ’s eyes. The club is designed to help girls across the nation and around the world grasp the message that they are Precious! Pretty! Powerful!™” For more information, visit www.preciousprettypowerful.com.
Finalists for the 2006 Christy Awards were recently announced. The awards celebrate the best Christian fiction. This year’s nominees include Whence Came a Prince by Liz Curtis Higgs (WaterBrook Press); Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin (WestBow Press); Comes a Horseman by Robert Liparulo (WestBow Press); Last Light by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan); Living With Fred by Brad Whittington (Broadman & Holman) and The Noble Fugitive by T. Davis & Isabella Bunn (Bethany House Publishers). For a complete list of nominees, visit www.christyawards.com/Finalists06.htm. The awards will be given out on July 8, at the Denver Marriott prior to the opening of the International Christian Retail Show. Bret Lott, author of eleven books including Jewel (an Oprah’s Book Club Selection in 1999) will be the keynote speaker.
Actor Stephen Baldwin is preparing for the release of three books, which will be published by Broadman & Holman and hit stores July 1st. Livin It: Testimonies is a book of testimonies from several of the top skateboarders that toured with the Livin It skate team. Livin It: What It Is talks about finding purpose for being on this planet, knowing there’s a God who loves you for who you are, and believing there’s hope for the future. Spirit Warriors is the first graphic novel from Baldwin about six radical young kids entering the spiritual war zone every day for classic battles of good against evil. Each spirit warrior has his or her own unique ability, moving between the natural and supernatural to fight for their faith and the expansion of God’s kingdom.
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