What’s Up in Music: April

A recent sermon by singer-songwriter and pastor Johnny Minick that was included in a spiritual care package for soldiers is making an impact on troops in Iraq. The sermon, titled “The Future of America”, has been ministering to soldiers through the River of Life Assembly of God military outreach, Good Soldiers of Jesus Christ (GSOCJ). “Apparently, one of the soldiers who had started a growing church service for the other soldiers had played and distributed the sermon to the other troops,” remarked Johnny Minick. “This ongoing church service has grown from 25 people to over 150 people in less than a month.” Attendees of the services include U.S. troops and many converted Iraqi citizens.
MercyMe’s latest hit single, “Homesick,” has already topped the Christian radio charts, and continues to rise on the mainstream Adult Contemporary charts, currently at #14. “Homesick” is the band’s third consecutive mainstream radio hit.
A look at the Billboards Heatseekers chart for the week ending April 9th shows other Christian artists getting mainstream attention: At the #1 spot is Sparrow’s ZOEgirl; at #2 Gospo Centric’s Kurt Carr Project; and at #17 Curb Records’ Natalie Grant. The Top Heatseekers chart lists the best-selling titles by new and developing artists, which Billboard defines as those who have never appeared in the top 100 of The Billboard 200 chart.
NBC is currently in production with, “Three Wishes”, an unscripted, reality-style pilot starring five-time Grammy-winning artist Amy Grant. In the show, Grant will lead a team of experts to a small town to help make dreams come true for deserving people. The spectrum of wishes includes paying tribute to an unsung hero, helping a hopeless family in the grip of a member’s life-threatening medical crisis, living out a mind-blowing sports fantasy, and even saving a desperate local economy on the verge of slipping into debt. To have your wish considered, visit www.nbc.com and click on “contestants”.
Rocketown recording artist Shaun Groves and his wife Becky recently celebrated the birth of their third child, Penelope Ann Groves. The new baby was born literally just hours after her dad placed the finishing touches on his upcoming third CD, White Flag (due out in July). Weighing in at 8lbs 13oz and 21 inches long, Penelope joins sister, Gabriella, 4, and brother, Gresham, 2.
Jars of Clay recently hit the K-LOVE and Air 1 Radio Network airwaves for a 12-hour fundraising marathon which resulted in more than $241,000 being raised for the band’s Blood:Water Mission’s flagship campaign, “1,000 Wells.” The ambitious initiative was designed to provide clean water well systems to 1,000 different locations across southern Africa and is presented by Blood:Water Mission. The nonprofit organization was founded by Jars of Clay to foster AIDS relief through holistic community development by promoting clean blood and clean water solutions in Africa. The amount raised during the K-LOVE and Air 1 Radio Network marathon will help build 80 wells.
On April 12th, the International Justice Mission will announce the launch of its “Seek Justice” campaign, which is focused on bringing awareness about the issues of human trafficking, modern day slavery and other forms of oppression to American Christians. The campaign brings together a diverse group of Christian artists, like including Peter Furler, Natalie Grant, and George Rowe, who are committed to the cause of seeking justice for those who would otherwise have no voice. Natalie Grant recently became involved in the fight against human trafficking through traveling to South Asia. Her single “Home” from her new CD, Awaken, was written for girls who have been rescued from brothels.
VH-1 recently spotlighted Christian artists Skillet, Audio Adrenaline as well as actors Stephen Baldwin and Kirk Cameron in its latest news special, “Religion: A Pop Culture History”. The half-hour show charted the recent explosion of religion and pop, from the blockbuster movie “The Passion of the Christ” to Kanye West’s hip-hop smash “Jesus Walks” to the aggressive marketing of Christian hard-rock bands to Hollywood’s sudden interest in Kabbalah.
Many of your favorite Christian songs are now available for download at www.SongTouch.com. The site boasts 15,000 titles from gospel to rap to rock to adult contemporary, making it the most comprehensive collection of Christian music online. Songs are 99 cents each, with a subscription service available. Visit HYPERLINK “http://www.songtouch.com” www.songtouch.com for more information.
In other online news, EMI CMG has begun making more than 300 catalog albums available for digital download through major digital music services like Napster. The 310 titles include nearly 100 EMI CMG artists, ranging from current top-sellers to legendary artists, all of which were previously unavailable in digital format.
Three-time Grammy Award winner and Gospel Music Hall of Fame legends The Mighty Clouds of Joy celebrate 45 years of creating acclaimed gospel music with their new album, In the House of the Lord: Live in Houston. The group recorded the project during a special concert at The Fountain of Praise Hillcroft Worship Center in Houston, Texas, in December 2004. With 35 albums under their belt, the group has established themselves as one of the longest-standing gospel groups and one of the best-selling quartets of all time.
Worship leader Chris Tomlin, best know for his songs “Forever,” “We Fall Down,” and “The Wonderful Cross,” is making history with his latest album Arriving. The first single, “Indescribable,” remains in the Top 10 even as the second single from the album, “Holy Is The Lord”, debuts in the Top 10. “In my 15 years of radio programming, I have not seen an artist with two songs in the top 10,” notes Grant Hubbard, EMI CMG Label Group vice president, national promotion. “It’s quite an accomplishment and we are amazed at the support of Chris with our radio partners.”
Acclaimed folk-pop artist Bebo Norman tops the charts again, securing back-to-back radio hits with his compelling anthem “Nothing Without You” reaching the No. 1 spot on Radio & Records Inspirational chart this week. This song is the follow up to Norman’s No.1 success “Disappear,” both appearing on his latest album, Try.
Cape Town’s SAMA (South African Music Awards)-nominated Peculiar People Band, who’ve landed two Top 10 songs on South African mainstream pop radio, are bringing their music to the United States with the release of their latest album, Not Ashamed (Maranatha Music). The band will be touring in support of the album; the first single, “Can I Leave My Head”, is currently receiving radio play.


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