Ahhh, the doldrums of mid-winter are over. At least that’s what it seems like in our stores today. There are a slew of new releases available. Many people of all ages have been waiting for these. From Casting Crowns to Kirk Cameron. From a modern day parable of the story of Joseph to a Bible that points to Jesus throughout the whole book.
Here are the new releases for today, January 28, 2014.
So many of us today are simply surviving. But we were not made to survive, we were made to Thrive! 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, the seventh studio album from Casting Crowns, is packed with the band’s signature style of songs about real life that redefine our identity in Christ, pointing us to our purpose from Him so that we may carry it out through Him. Featuring 12 brand new songs, including the lead single “All You’ve Ever wanted,” the album centers on the themes of “Reaching Out” and “Digging Deep.”
In 2012, Jamie Grace received her first GMA Dove Award – for New Artist of the Year – and now she returns with her second album, Ready to Fly. The record’s first single, “Beautiful Day,” continues her message of staying strong and experiencing life to the fullest. Ready to Fly is about waiting, yet while you’re waiting being ready to move – ready to fly – when the timing is right.
Jesus isn’t just found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. His presence can be felt throughout the whole Bible, even in Genesis. The Jesus Bible contains the complete New International Version (NIV) with daily study helps that point to Jesus and show how he fulfilled the prophecies for the Messiah found in the Old Testament.
Kirk Cameron presents the follow-up to his bestselling film, Monumental. In Unstoppable, Kirk takes you on a personal and inspiring journey to better understand the biggest doubt-raiser in faith: Why? He goes back to the beginning – literally – as he investigates the origins of good and evil and how they impact our lives and our eternities.
Reminding us that there is great hope, Unstoppable creatively asks and answers the age-old question: Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?
Seasons of Gray is a modern day retelling of the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. This uplifting feature film is quality family entertainment with strong morals and an enduring message of hope.
What man intends for evil, God intends for good . This simple, yet powerful, message is all Brady Gray has left. His brothers, driven by jealousy, cast away their own flesh and blood in the same way that Joseph was sold into slavery by his siblings. Heartbroken and separated from his family, Brady holds tightly to his faith and begins to build a new life for himself – but there are more challenges in store for this servant of God.
False accusations land Brady in prison, where his God-given gift of interpreting dreams helps him forge friendships that will play an important role in his ultimate salvation. Upon his miraculous release from prison, Brady discovers, as his dreams predicted, that his brothers direly need his help. Despite the pain and suffering caused by his betrayal, Brady must find the strength to embrace one of the Bible’s most important messages: We forgive because we are forgiven.
Girls of Grace: Live Love Lead is an in-depth look at God’s grace and how it marks our daily lives. Simply put, a Girl of Grace is a girl who lives freely, loves fiercely and leads fearlessly. To live freely means to live in the light of the Gospel of Grace; to love fiercely is to actively demonstrate Christ’s love to the world around us; and to lead fearlessly is a charge to be brave and to take a stand.
A soundtrack to the “Girls of Grace” conferences held nationwide, Girls of Grace: Live Love Lead is full of chart-topping hits that will inspire and encourage teenage girls everywhere. With popular songs from top Christian artists, this compilation is the perfect soundtrack for her life as she finds her way in the world through faith.
Hosted in the hub of the Christian Music industry, Nashville Tennessee, the 44th Annual GMA Dove Awards included several powerful performances by Big Daddy Weave, Colton Dixon, Michael W. Smith, and For King & Country, to name a few. The official hosts of the event were Amy Grant and Kirk Franklin as well as pre-cast telecast hosts Jamie Grace and Chris August.
The Dove Awards took place on October 15th and will be aired on October 21st at 8 p.m. EDT on UP.
Click here for a list of the winning albums.
Throughout the night, Matt Redman frequented the stage, winning 4 awards for his single “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” as well as the Songwriter of the Year Award. Matt was also a part of the Dove-Award winning album, “Passion: Let The Future Begin” along with Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanﬁll, Kari Jobe, David Crowder, and Christy Nockels.
Artist of the Year was awarded to Tobymac who took home a total of 4 awards, including 3 for his short film and album, “Eye On It”. Upon winning the Artist of the Year Award, TobyMac stated, “It feels weird to be called artist of the year when I know it takes a family, and I always want to acknowledge that. I said in one of my songs a long time ago, ‘I’m just a little man trying to fit in God’s plan.’ I still feel like that”.
Other winners included For King & Country as New Artist of the Year, Lecrae’s “Tell the World” for Rap/Hip-Hop Song of the Year, and Jason Crabb’s “What the Blood is for” (Southern Gospel Song of the Year). The Uplift Someone Award was given to Mandisa “for her music, message, and humanitarian heart, all of which (individually and collectively) have inspired others,” said Amy Grant.
Among a number of spectacular performances, the musical tribute to the Gaither Vocal Band, performed by Karen Peck, Daily & Vincent, Signature Sound and the Isaacs, was one of the most remarkable displays of passion and talent. Another memorable moment included a collaborative performance with Michael W. Smith and the Newsboys in honor of evangelist Billy Graham.
UP’s President & CEO Charles Humbard stated, “Congratulations to the GMA Dove Awards winners, performers, presenters and hosts Amy Grant and Kirk Franklin for a thrilling night a spectacular entertainment. This evening celebrates the unifying and uplifting power of this genre and demonstrates why this is the biggest night of Christian and Gospel music. There is no other network dedicated to showcase this prestigious musical celebration other than UP.”
For a list of winners click here.
Emmy Award-winning, five-time GRAMMY nominee Brandon Heath will release his first holiday offering, Christmas Is Here, Oct.15, 2013. Rich in musical diversity, Christmas Is Here takes listeners on a nostalgic journey through the most anticipated time of the year. “I want people to just hear a song and slip back into the past,” Heath says. “Good Christmas music is really about sparking people’s memories.”
Heath has dreamed of creating a Christmas album for a long time and invited some friends to join him in the studio to make the process memorable. Sonja Isaacs, Ellie Holcomb and Matt Wertz all contributed background vocals, and Ben Shive (Andrew Peterson, Matt Wertz) produced the album, which was recorded in mid-July.
The award-winning songwriter looked to some of his favorite Christmas albums for inspiration—recordings by Nat King Cole, Harry Connick, Jr., Patty Loveless and Kenny & Dolly—desiring to craft a timeless release fans would want to pull out year after year. Reflecting his influences, Christmas Is Here features three originals and seven classics, including traditional arrangements of “The Christmas Song,” “O Come All Ye Faithful/Angels, We Have Heard on High,” “Silent Night” and “The Bleak Midwinter,” among others. The well-known Christmas songs showcase a spectrum of sounds ranging from big band to a cappella to bluegrass.
Two of the three new cuts reveal Heath’s witty personality that has endeared the hit-making award winner to audiences. “The Day After Thanksgiving” pokes fun at the Christmas commercialism that sets in at the end of summer, leading most to completely overlook fall, one of Heath’s favorite times of year. “Momma Wouldn’t Lie to Me” is equally as lighthearted, with Heath putting his parents on the spot for the truth about Santa, mirroring a real-life conversation from his childhood. “Rest assured, no child-like beliefs will be harmed due to the listening of the song. No spoilers!” Heath proclaims.
In his trademark storyteller fashion, Heath highlights a lesser known character in the Christmas story on “Just A Girl”—the innkeeper who turned Mary and Joseph away. “I took a little creative license to tell what happened,” he explains. Through the innkeeper’s eyes, Mary is seen as an ordinary girl, but Heath notes the irony of the scene. “There’s a story [about] when a non-believer asked a Catholic, ‘Why is Mary so crucial to the Christmas story?’ And the Catholic says, ‘She’s just a girl who said yes.’ I think that says a lot for us,” Heath offers. “God is often giving us opportunities we don’t realize the significance of, but we just need to say yes. God can do things though ordinary people. Mary was just a girl, but she was also a catalyst in a huge event in the rest of history.”
Fans can see Heath live on tobyMac’s “Hits Deep” Tour beginning November 7 and running through mid-December. The tour will hit 20 cities this fall and also features Mandisa, Jamie Grace, Colton Dixon, Chris August and Capital Kings. Heath and Mandisa will also reunite for select dates this fall on their popular “Brandisa” tour.
The pages of history have been written by ordinary people who had something extraordinary to say with their lives. Bill Gaither is just such an individual… an Indiana-born kid with an insatiable love for music who grew to become an industry leader who would change the course of gospel music history through the songs he has written and through his influence as a mentor for other artists.
An avid fan of gospel quartets throughout his childhood, Bill founded his first group, The Bill Gaither Trio, in 1956, while he was a college student. He began teaching English in 1959 because his musical aspirations couldn’t support him full-time… yet. In 1962, Bill did one of the best things he has ever done. He married Gloria Sickal, who became the best writing partner Bill could have found anywhere. The couple spent the first five years of their married life juggling full-time teaching jobs, writing, singing, recording and publishing until music became their full-time career in 1967.
That’s where it all started.
I had the privilege to sit down and chat with Mr. Gaither. It was more-or-less a walk down memory lane more than anything.
Mr. Gaither: It was the music that really caught my attention first. It would be in the late ’40s, and I would listen to the radio and I heard a gospel quartet. I just loved four-part harmony, the below base singers and the tenors and how that all worked and it got my attention. Later on I found out what they were singing about, but the first time I heard it, it was just their singing that I liked.
John: Do you remember that first artist that you heard?
Mr. Gaither: They’re the group called the Big Four Quartet. Nobody knows much about them.
John: I’m sure there are a few that still do. What was the first concert that you went to?
Mr. Gaither: I went to their concert. They were appearing at our little town. They were from Indianapolis and were on a 50,000 watt pure channel station, so they traveled throughout the Midwest. They came to our little town of Alexandria and I went see them.
John: At that time, Mr. Gaither, it seems like traveling gospel groups certainly had the ability to tour maybe a little easier than what they do now. Was that a simpler time?
Mr. Gaither: They were in smaller venues and didn’t require a lot of amplification. It required some, but it didn’t require the kind amplification you have to have in arenas these days. It was good. It was just a car so they weren’t carrying around a lot of equipment. I think they always carried some product too, to sell.
John: Growing up there in Central Indiana, you had your eyes set on being a school teacher, right? Or did you always think that maybe at some point you would be involved in the music industry?
Mr. Gaither: When I was a kid I thought I could do something in music, but after I got out of high school I’ve realized that that’s a tough road to go. I went to college, and majored in education and worked as a teacher for the first 10 years of our professional life.
John: Were you always a song writer? Were you writing songs all the way through that time? Did you write songs in childhood, et cetera?
Mr. Gaither: No. I didn’t start writing songs until I headed out of college. I started writing songs because we were running out of material that our group could sing. We were just running out of material that we could do.
John: How could that be? Running out of material, that is rather ironic. How many songs you have written through these years?
Mr. Gaither: We’ve probably written about 700 or 800 songs. I’m not sure, but the copyright department keeps track of all of that.
John: That’s incredible. You’re still writing today?
Mr. Gaither: Yes. Not as much as we did in the early days, but I think we’re writing good quality stuff at least.
John: Absolutely. At what point then when you became a schoolteacher—you said you were doing that for the first 10 years of your gospel career—at what point did you make that transition…?
Mr. Gaither: When my night job overtook my day job. I wasn’t being honest and fair, I don’t think, to the school system that was paying me. I was writing a bit and we were travelling quite a bit, and I can remember the day I went to the principal, and he said, “I knew this day was going to come. I hate to see it come.” I tell him, I said, “I can’t keep pushing this on both ends.” He said, “Man, we hate to lose you as a teacher, but you’ve always got a job in case you want to come back.”
John: That’s great. Mr. Gaither, going back to the songs that you and your wife have written through the years, when you go through your catalog, what do you think is the most important song that you guys have ever written?
Mr. Gaither: That’s hard to say from our perspective because we’ve got some pretty important songs that never really got into top. When I’m asked that question, I usually go back to the songs that the people ask for and the songs that seem to rise to the top. Among these is “Because He Lives.” We’ve got that from all over the country and all over the world. We just went to Norway last year in an arena with 8,000 people singing “Because He Lives” in Norwegian too. We just went down to Brazil, Sao Paulo, and 8,000 people down there were singing “Because He Lives” in their language, in Portuguese. We go over to Hungary and the same thing happened there with “He Touched Me.” That song is always at the top of the list of songs that people know that we’ve done. There’s something about that name.
John: When you looked at all of the hymns or gospel songs that have been written from centuries ago, has there been one that you or Gloria continue to go back to that has definitely impacted your heart?
Mr. Gaither: There’d be several there, and they would have to be the category of hymns. “How Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is always a very meaningful lyric and the lyrics of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” would be one I back again too. Some of the gospel lyrics too, like “The Love of God could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made. Songs like Hamlin’s “Until Then My Heart Will Go On Singing.”
John: Mr. Gaither, when you look back at your ministry through the years what sticks out in your mind as maybe one of your greatest achievements?
Mr. Gaither: I don’t know. In fact, I hope I brought some people together. I think … I hope we’ve done something to unite the body of Christ. There are so many things that they divide it with today, but I hope that we have united some folks. I told somebody the other day that … what are you doing? I think I’m a bridge.
John: That’s a fantastic statement. What do you think, kind of running down the rabbit trail here a second Mr. Gaither, what do you think of the church here in the United States here in the West recently? Are we in trouble? Are we on the right track? Are we continually focusing on the centrality of the gospel?
Mr. Gaither: I’m quite encouraged with the church at this day in effect. I think as a whole the church is doing a lot of doing of significant things in the community. I think with the dawn of this century, we’ve become more of a light. I learned a little chorus in Sunday School, I think it’s a very important chorus. It goes, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” I hear people talk about we got to fight the darkness. I’m not sure we fight anything. I think what we do … the only way to fight the darkness is let your little … let your light shine and I think if you get enough lights shining, the darkness dissipates. I think I see that more and more all the time. I think the church is finally coming of age and realizing it’s more than just talking, it’s more than rambling all the time about what we’re about. It’s about being and being the Body of Christ and being the extension of Christ in the culture and I think we’re making a difference.
John: Just thinking back over what immediately flooded into my mind when you said that, was one of the times that I was at a Homecoming show. I don’t know if you guys still do it, but remember those little flashlights that you had and at some particular point all the lights go dim and everybody starts shining these lights and it’s incredible. The whole arena is then lit up with these tiny little lights and it’s fantastic. I think what you just said, that picture in your live show is a clear, very visible example of what the church can and should be.
Mr. Gaither: I think we have to talk less and walk better.
John: That’s a good statement. Wow. Mr. Gaither on that note, would you be willing to share what God has been teaching you lately?
Mr. Gaither: If I’m on anything here lately it’s been on theme with being … by being viral. By that I mean being what we say we are and doing on a day to day basis by the way we treat the waitress at the waffle house. There’s so many different ways to let that light shine and I guess the biggest thing that God is teaching me is just finding more ways that I can be and that I can live out the Scripture.
John: Amen. Mr. Gaither, what’s on the horizon? What do we have to look forward to for the second half of 2013 from the Homecoming team?
Mr. Gaither: I’m 77 years old. I don’t even buy green bananas anymore. I’m not sure. I really take … I don’t live much in the future and I don’t live at all in the past. I really live in the moment. I live in the day and I take the doors that are opening for me today and try to make as much out of them as I can. I might say today first is I’m just spending most of this day preparing for a trip that we are doing in Indianapolis on November the 30th this fall with Wheeler Mission. It’s going to be a major benefit where hopefully we’re going to raise close to half a million dollars for the homeless in Indianapolis where our mission has been being the evangelist and outreach for 67 years. It’s already there, I don’t have to organize them. All I have to do is help them do what they do better. I find myself at this point being preoccupied with that.
John: What’s the name of that organization?
Mr. Gaither: Wheeler Mission in Indianapolis. Been there for 70 years feeding the homeless, taking in the homeless.
John: There is a … let’s see. I’m not sure if I have the title correct but there is a Women of Homecoming album coming out this fall, is that correct?
Mr. Gaither: Yes, this fall. We just taped it earlier and it’s … all of the videos up to now had been a mixture of both males and females but this is just the women singing and the women’s issues are pretty much the same as the male issues but they’re wonderful themes about responsibility and themes about commitment, themes about forgiveness, reconciliation, love, trust, hope in a different call of times. The songs are wonderful. Praise and worship. It’s going to be a wonderful video.
John: Name some of the ladies that will be on the album.
John: Quite a selection.
Mr. Gaither: Yes.
John: Fantastic. I love it. I’m excited already. When you look at the Homecoming albums or videos through the years, how many of them do you think are surrounded around a theme?
Mr. Gaither: Many of them are, many of them are not. The theme in the early days was honoring some pioneers who had gone before, which I think was a good thing to do, and then they took on a theme or a life of their own. We had two that we had at Thanksgiving on being thankful and a couple … we did about three or four with a theme of honoring the Graham organization and the music that’s come out of it, with Billy Graham even involved himself with interviews and talks. Then where we have traveled internationally, we did one in Australia, one in England, and one in Africa. It takes on various themes depending where we are. When in New York City at Carnegie Hall that was more of a peace rally thing.
John: One last question here for you Mr. Gaither. When you and your wife sit down to relax, who do you listen to?
Mr. Gaither: My reading or my listening is all across the board. I still love classical music and would listen to a lot of classical in my car, at the house. I like early country. I’m not real crazy about the current country but I like some of the early country singers. I like a good gospel song.
John: Anyone in particular come to mind or just a nice variety?
Mr. Gaither: It’s pretty much across the board. Now I enjoy listening to the Vocal Band.
John: As you well should. There’s nothing wrong with that.
John: I’m sorry. I said that was my last question. I would follow that up with how about books? Do you and Mrs. Gaither read a lot?
Mr. Gaither: We read a lot. We read a lot of … I read a lot of biography myself. It’s interesting to learn from the lives of other people. Things they did right, sometimes things they did wrong but that’s always an interesting way. I love history books, I’m quite a historian, and I love good spiritual help books.
John: Mr. Gaither, I want to thank you so much for your time today. I know you have an extremely busy schedule and I am so honored to talk with you today. You have been even from a distance such a great example of a godly man and a godly grandfather to me and to my family through all these years, so I’m very grateful for that. I’m thankful that you were able to take my call today.
Mr. Gaither: You’re very, very kind and we’ll look forward to the Women of Homecoming Video … it’s very special and it will minister to a lot of people.
John: I’m sure it will.
Mr. Gaither: Glad to speak with you, my friend. You have a good day.
When it’s all said and done, I am not sure if there is a stopping point for this man.
I sat down with Mandisa at a local coffee shop to talk about new music, coffee vs. tea, family and what it means to be an over-comer. What follows is a real conversation. Mandisa, some would say is a true artist. She is that for sure, but she is so much more. She is a warrior in a huge battle. She is a fighter – fighting for the truth of the Gospel. That can be summed up with one statement from her, “There is joy unspeakable!”
John: I’m reading a quote, and I’m not sure where this was, maybe on your promo sheet or something, but you said, “I recorded both the song ‘Overcomer’ and the album to fuel faith and empower people; to remind those facing a battle that all for the strength and power they need is readily available to them. We are all overcomers.”
Mandisa: Because we are natural people. We have a supernatural heritage, but we’re natural people. We tend to only see our circumstances and not look beyond our circumstances. I was reading in Judges 6-8, which is the story of Gideon, and it was fascinating to me. If you look at the snapshot of who Gideon was and Judges 6, and then if you look at the end in Judges 8, it’s almost like two completely different people. He was really kind of riddled with fear; I just think it was a stronghold of his. When the angel came to him and said, “Oh, mighty man of valor, the Lord is with you,” Gideon’s initial response was, “Well, if the Lord is with me, then why is this happening?” That’s so typical of us, isn’t it? We hear that the Lord is with us but then we look at our circumstances and say it doesn’t feel like the Lord is with me. Once Gideon started to believe what God said about him, he started walking it out. It took him believing what the angel of the Lord was saying to him to make him really started walking as a mighty man of valor. It was a process.
I’m convinced that when people start believing what God says about them, they’ll start walking it out. But God, He requires the faith at first. That’s why He says time and time again, “Believe Me, trust Me.” I love the man in the Gospel as He says, “I believe; help my unbelief.” God honors that prayer; it’s like, “Lord, I really want to believe and I believe you a little bit but help me in the areas where I don’t so much.” I think when we pray that, God says, “Okay, thank you for finally asking me.” Wham! “Here you go!” [laughs]
John: When somebody comes to you and says, “Yeah, but you have it all together.”
Mandisa: Ugh! Please. [laughs]
John: They may say, “I’m just a single mom raising three kids,” or “I’m a college student with the whole world ahead of me,” or whatever, and yet they can’t see anything going on in their lives spiritually. How do you say, look at Gideon or look at the man in the New Testament who said, “Help my unbelief”? What is your secret? Have you found a set of steps or something?
Mandisa: Totally. I say look at them and look at me. My last album was called What If We Were Real? That’s because God really sent me on a journey of taking the mask off. It was the mask that I would wear to try to tell the world that I’ve got it all together. He taught me to really let people see me as I truly am because I’ve found… I don’t know, I think so often in the Body of Christ we drive up to church, get in an argument with our family in the car, and then drive up and hit the church door and we’re like, “Hi. I’m blessed and highly favored.” We put on this veneer like I’ve got it all together and I actually think that God calls us to live more transparently, to live more vulnerably and to let our brothers and sisters in Christ see us as we really are. One, because in that way we can help one another know that we’re not alone; and two, it helps us to become more than what we are or were to start with.
So, my last album was a process of coming to understand that, and I have just learned to be very transparent–almost to a fault on my social media sites. I posted earlier this week about a moment where I had to confess to somebody at a store—it’s a long story, you can read it on my Facebook [laughs] —I had to confess to somebody at the store that I lied to them and [groans] that is just never easy to do! But I did it because, well, the Lord told me to and he convicted me and the less you listen to the conviction of the Lord, the more you get numb to it. I just want to always follow the conviction and to repent when I need to and to receive God’s grace and forgiveness and to keep it moving.
I just try to make it a point of letting the world know I do not have it all together. I’m on this journey just like you are and let’s do this together, let’s learn from one another.
At the same time, you have to recognize that you’re more than what you currently see. When God looks at us, He sees us as he created us. He sees us covered in the blood of Jesus, not as what we see when we look in the reflection in the mirror.
John: Is it scary sometimes when you get that vulnerable with people?
Mandisa: I think it used to be; it’s not so much anymore. It’s been a process, but I can thank Simon Cowell, in part, for that [laughs], for kind of putting me on blast, you know, on American Idol years ago. It helped me to not live hidden and not live hiding who I really am. Him making fun of my weight on national television put my weight story out there for the world to see, and that’s the main area where I was the most timid of letting people really see what was inside. So when Simon threw me out there, I was kind of forced out there, but it was a blessing in disguise because I feel like I’ve really learned a lot through it. I’ve helped several brothers and sisters along the same journey know that they’re not alone and that they—and I’m struggling just like they are—we have everything we need to fight and to come in victoriously.
John: Total sidebar, but do you still stay in contact with some of those people from those days?
Mandisa: The contestants I do.
John: Who won that year?
Mandisa: Taylor Hicks. He is in Las Vegas right now, and I know I’m a little bit biased, but I think that we had one of the more successful seasons. If you look at our Top 10, you’ve got Catherine McPhee on an NBC show, Kelly Pickler was just on Dancing with the Stars, and Chris Daughtry is a superstar. So many of the people on my season are doing really well, so that’s one of the great things about social media. I can always tweet them and Facebook them and keep in touch with how they’re doing. Then when I get to their cities, I can look them up and say, “Hey, let’s go grab some coffee.” But no, I don’t hang out with Simon Cowell on a regular basis. [laughs again]
John: So let’s look at this: Each of your records seem to tell another chapter or story in your life; adding, maybe, another layer of who you are. When you put those songs together or create that album, are you thinking of Mandisa? Are you thinking of your personal friends… or your fan base? When you make a record, who’s that for?
Mandisa: I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question and I like it!
My albums have been a journey of my life. True Beauty was first and that was coming right off of doing American Idol and really learning not to define myself by the standards of the world but by what God says about me. Freedom was when God started chipping away at the things in my life that I’ve been bound by, mainly my food addiction, and I began really letting Him teach me that true freedom is not the fact that I can eat these scones that are right behind me, but that true freedom is knowing that I don’t have to and knowing that I have the power to resist those scones and the chocolate cookies or whatever is tempting me.
The third was What If We Were Real? That record was God chipping away at the layers and letting me show the world who I really am, and with this one, it was a combination of me looking at my life and how I’m overcoming not just the weight struggle, but also lots of other areas in my life. I’m overcoming … I think for a long time I was very miserable being single. I call myself super-duper single because I think once you hit 30 you’re not just single, you’re super single. (Laughs)
I’m just saying, once I hit 30. (laughter). I think I was so miserable in that for such a long time, and I feel like God has been helping me to overcome depending on a man to complete me. I believe that I’m called to be married; I believe that I’m going to meet my husband one day, but saying “I’m going to live my life right now and not just wait for the moment when I get married.” That’s a big overcomer story for me.So, I was thinking about myself in those areas and then I was thinking about some friends of mine. One in particular, whose name is Keisha, was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant and was undergoing chemo treatments while she was seven months pregnant. When I looked at her story, I went, “Wow! You were in the middle of this battle and had the greatest outlook!” I could just see how God was going to use this as a testimony. I was like, “Keisha, you’re an overcomer and we’ve not even seen the end of this battle.” For me, it’s about really studying the Word of God and coming to understand that an overcomer is somebody who has not even conquered their circumstances yet.
The Bible describes an overcomer as, first of all, if you have the Holy Spirit inside of you, the Bible makes it really clear that those who believe that Jesus is Lord, are overcomers, because Jesus is an overcomer. Then, of course, in John 4:4, it says that the One who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world. So, it really isn’t about circumstances; it’s not about feeling like we’re an overcomer. We’re an overcomer because God says that we are. Like I said earlier, once we believe that, I think that’s when we’ll start walking it out. But we have to believe it first.
That’s what this album is, is it’s convincing both myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ to believe that you and I are overcomers. That we need to and can trust God, and that the One who is inside of you is greater than the one who is of the world. You can beat whatever it is that you’re going through, even though beating it may not look like we think it does. Keisha’s doing really well with her cancer. She’s had a double mastectomy and is still going through more treatments, but her baby was born perfectly healthy. We don’t know what the end is going to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s overcome this; she may overcome it by seeing Jesus face to face sooner rather than later. Or she may overcome it by God completely healing her, but what we know is that because Jesus lives in her, she’s an overcomer regardless of how we see the circumstances working out.
John: Is this record more personal for you?
Mandisa: I think all of my records have been personal. This one is different in that where I am in my life is different than all of my other past albums. I just feel like I’m in a great place of contentment that I’ve never had before. I love being single now; there are many benefits. Let me tell them to you… (laughs)
On Mother’s Day, I got a last minute flight to Charlotte where I got to support my friend Lisa who was speaking in her Church. She was speaking about something that was really difficult for her, and as I booked those flights with my miles, I was like, “If I was married and had kids, I probably couldn’t have hopped this flight at the last minute and gone to support her.” I can take my money and use it to benefit causes that are important to me. I can spend as much time in my bed as I want to and I get the whole bed to myself. I love my bed; I named my bed Rufus because I love it that much.
I have the ability to do that without having to worry about somebody next to me pulling my covers, I love that. I think more importantly, I can spend as much time with the Lord as I want to. I can wake up on any given day, sit there in my bed, Rufus, and talk to the Lord all day long and study the Word and fellowship with my friends. You can’t really do that when you have different devotions to your children or to your husband.
John: It’s different.
Mandisa: It’s a different kind of a calling, but for right now I’m just appreciating that I have those things. So, yeah, in one area, that’s important, and I have a song, “I’m Praying for You” that I wrote with Chris August. That is a song to my future husband—who is not Chris August, by the way. (laughs) Let me just make that clear!
So, I long for that day, but I’m not putting my life on hold. And I’ve got a lot of great workout songs on this album, just because that’s been important to me in the last few years. More than anything, there’s a lot of worship songs this time around because I’m just so loving the Lord and just so thankful for so much that that came out in my music. I’ve got a lot of songs that are like, “God you don’t have to do another thing, I just want to worship you because you’re that good.”
Yeah, it’s different from my other albums. I think a lot of my other albums were more like, “Lord, when?” and “Help me,” and “I can’t get through this!” So now this one is a little bit more like, “Thank you, Jesus! I know that I can get through this!”
John: “Dear John”… Can you tell us about that song?
Mandisa: Oh, gosh! Do you have Kleenex ready? (laughter)
John: We can get some. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay too.
Mandisa: No, I’m happy to talk about it. Although I’ve never been able to talk about it without crying.
John is my brother. He is not a Christian, and I really want him to be. And the reason I want him to be is not because I want him to live a life of rules and regulations. It’s because I know the abundant life that I have from a relationship with Jesus, and I simply want him to have that same abundant life. We’ve talked many times about faith. But right now he’s enjoying his party lifestyle, and he sees a lot of hypocrites—people who say they believe one thing and then their lives reflect another. So I think that’s just kind of been a way that the enemy has blinded his eyes. I pray for him on a regular basis and I have a lot of people praying for him. All of my Facebook and Twitter people know. Natalie Grant is a great friend of mine, and she has an alarm that goes off at nine o’clock every single day to remind her to pray for John. Here I go with the tears… (laughs)
So, I played “Dear John” for him on Fourth of July weekend. It was the first time he heard it, and his response was, “You know, that’s a great song, Disa.” And, of course, my response that I wanted was, “What must I do to be saved?” and I know that that day is going to happen; it just hasn’t happened yet.
So “Dear John” is a song that I wrote, if I were to write a letter about my desire for him to live that abundant life in Jesus and then if I were to put that letter to music, that’s what “Dear John” would be. I am praying first for his salvation, and hoping that as he listens to that song, he would put it on repeat without even knowing why, that he just keeps playing it and calls me up and says, “Okay, I’m ready.” Secondly, I’m also praying for every unbeliever who listens to it. I just … I’m asking God to flood them with grace and forgiveness. I think so often people think that it is about, I don’t know, a list or something of things that you have to do. My brother’s enjoying partying and he likes going to bars and he likes women, and I just think that he probably has some shame there, but he’s just kind of enjoying that. But if I could just convince him, you don’t know what you’re missing! Jesus is literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me and what you think you’re getting from these bars and alcohol and women, it does not even come close to the joy and the freedom and the satisfaction you get from a life with Jesus.
So I’m praying that for him and I’m praying for every unbeliever as they listen to it that they’ll just receive a flood of forgiveness and grace. Third, I’m also praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ who have loved ones in their lives who don’t know the Lord, that God would just rise up like faith to talk to them, to maybe write their own Dear John letter and say “Hey, one of my favorite artists, Mandisa, has this song that I really want you to listen to,” (laughter) but before you listen, let me tell you about what Jesus means to me.
I don’t know, I can just imagine people sending a letter with that song and then their loved one calling them and saying, “Okay, I recognize that you want this for me because you love me, so let’s talk about it.” I’m just praying that God opens up doors for conversations about Jesus to be had through this song.
John: Very good. Okay, so let’s see. We’ll kind of change gears a little bit. So talk about the record. Any new guest vocals?
Mandisa: Yeah, lots of guest vocals.
John: Is Chris on it as well?
Mandisa: He is, yes. I wrote with Matthew West. We wrote a song called “The Distance.”
Mandisa: I wrote with Plumb, we actually wrote “Dear John” together.
John: Does that mean that Matthew is then singing with you?
Mandisa: Matthew was doing the background on “The Distance.”
Mandisa: I wrote “Dear John” with Plumb, she’s singing background on that. I wrote “Praying for You” with Chris, he’s singing background on that. Then, there are a few people who aren’t singing on the album, but we wrote with… Israel Houghton on a song called “At All Times.” He lives in Houston, so we didn’t get those vocals. Then Cindy Morgan and Britt Nicole wrote a song that I did not write on called “Where You Begin,” and they’re not singing on it but they wrote that song.
So, yeah, lots of guest appearances on this album and they’re not only some of my friends, but they’re also some of my favorite artists. So it’s just been neat to be able to come together on these.
John: That’s great! That’s cool.
Are you a book reader? You are a book reader; what are you reading right now? That’s okay if you mention like three or four.
Mandisa: Okay. I’m reading Captivating by John and Stacy Eldredge, just because as a single woman that’s a great book for me to have. I’m also reading through The 5 Love Languages because there’s kind of a new relationship in my life. I don’t know where it’s going to go but, shhh. (laughter)
John: And it’s not Chris August.
Mandisa: It’s not Chris August.
Female: He didn’t hear that part. (laughter)
Mandisa: I think it just kind of helps to know how people are wired. I’m really into my friend Tam here; she does radio at Capitol with me and we’ve been talking all day long about personalities and how different kinds of people communicate with one another. I’m just into stuff like that. So I’m reading The 5 Love Languages, as I mentioned, and I’m realizing what my love languages are and are not. I think it will really help me to be able to show love to whomever I marry; but not just in a potential marital relationship, but with friends and family and coworkers too. So I’m reading that. Then, I’m also reading through the Bible; my Church is reading through the Bible, the Scriptures both in the Old and New Testament, and I’m using the voice translation, which I absolutely love.
Those three things I’m reading right now.
John: You are an author as well.
Mandisa: I’m working on a new one [book].
John: Really? Wow! When does that come out?
Mandisa: We’re just in the process; we’re meeting with publishers now. I have my preference, but we want to do an overcomer book. We want to do an overcomer book where people would compile a bunch of overcomer stories because I’m just convinced that when people tell their story in their testimonies, it helps them because the Bible says that we overcome by the word of our testimony. But it also helps people to hear it so I want to hear people tell their stories of how they overcame cancer because when people are going through cancer to read something like that, fuels their faith. So I want to compile these powerful stories about people in the middle of their battles, and also at the end of the battle. So, we’ll see.
John: What kind of music to you listen to now?
Mandisa: I’m a big CCM fan; the thing I love about CCM music, which stands for Contemporary Christian Music for those who don’t know, is that it comes in every style. You’ve got Christian Hip Hop and Rap and Country and Rock and Polka, probably! I don’t know. (laughter) I love that you can get all these styles, but the thing I love most about Christian music is that it’s not just something that makes you feel good, that makes you want to get up and dance, there’s a purpose and a meaning to it, and it helps you connect with the Lord. I love worship artists. My favorite worship artists are Israel Houghton and Jesus Culture, Meredith Andrews. I love the more current, more pop, hip hop styles. Capitol Kings I’m loving now. Then more pop artists like Britt Nicole and Natalie Grant. I don’t know; I love it all! If you look at my iPod, you’ll see a little bit of everything, but it’s pretty much all Christian music.
John: Last question, because we’re going to end here at three o’clock.
Female: Okay, we can leave a few minutes late too, because we came so late.
John: Well … What are you most excited about in 2013 besides Overcomer coming out?
Mandisa; I think the Hits Deep tour. We did it last year. It is tobyMac’s tour. He brings out a bunch of artists that are all my favorites. Last year it was Britt Nicole and Group 1 Crew were on it, but Britt and Blanca from Group 1 Crew are in baby mode right now, so they’re not on it this year. But we’ve added Colton Dixon who was on American Idol as well and is my label mate, and Capitol Kings who I just mentioned. I love them, they’re just really current. Then the people who were on it last year as well, like Brandon Heath, Jamie Grace and Chris August and Toby and myself. I cannot wait; it’s literally all of my favorite artists in one night.
John: Is that this fall?
Mandisa: It is. It starts in November and goes through December. Then in October I’m doing some more shows with Brandon Heath. We’ve been touring all year together; we did a 3-in-1 tour with Laura Story, and then we did a few shows called the Brandisa tour (laughs), because there was a rumor that he and I were dating so we just sort of embraced the name Brandisa. We are not, we are not dating.
John: Who started that rumor?
Mandisa: He did. (laughs)
John: Oh, he did? (laughter)
Mandisa: He went on a national radio station and said that we’re dating. I was like, “Brandon, look, I know it’s all kind of fun and games, but as a single woman you are messing up my game by telling the world that we are dating!” (laughter)
So we set the record straight. There’s a video on YouTube of him clarifying that we’re not dating. But, yeah, we’ve been touring together all year long.
John: So we need to pray for a husband for Mandisa, and for her brother.
Mandisa: You can pray for continued contentment for Mandisa and then the husband will come whenever God is good and ready. (Laughs)
GRAMMY®-nominee and Best New Artist GMA Dove Award winner Jamie Grace has released her follow up single to the smash hit success of “Hold Me.” The single, titled “Beautiful Day,” is available from Gotee Records beginning now. The song reunites Jamie with producer/songwriter Christopher Stevens under the direction of TobyMac and will be a part of her forthcoming new album to release later this year.
Accompanying the single, Jamie has also released a lyric video for “Beautiful Day” that combines her performance of the song with animated hand drawn lyrics and imagery here:
“I’m still having a hard time processing the response to ‘Hold Me,’ the song I started in my dorm room,” says Jamie. “The past few years have been absolutely incredible and I feel so blessed to have the privilege of sharing even more music. ‘Beautiful Day,’ although a fun song, has a message saying that in spite of what we’re going through, every day is a good day and an incredible gift because God made it. In my young life I’ve learned that every day can begin with worshipping my Creator.”
The breakout success of her previous GRAMMY®-nominated, No. 1 smash hit “Hold Me (feat. TobyMac)” assisted in propelling Jamie to win her first GMA Dove Award—for New Artist of the Year—last year, in addition to a Billboard Music Award nomination. As a result, in part of the huge success of “Hold Me,” she has experienced a major wave of acclaim and popularity in the last few years, that is evident in her YouTube’s channel combined 13 million views and even finding her making an appearance on ABC’s hit talk show ‘The View.” This fall, Jamie will appear on the silver screen with the release of the LIONSGATE® film GRACE UNPLUGGED, an entertaining story of a talented teenager rising in the music industry led by AJ Michalka (Super 8, The Lovely Bones), James Denton (Desperate Housewives), and Kevan Pollak (A Few Good Men).
Jamie Grace will be a featured guest on TobyMac’s “HITS Deep Tour 2013,” making stops across the country in November and December. The “HITS Deep Tour” 2013 will also include Brandon Heath, Mandisa, Colton Dixon, Chris August and Capital Kings.
GRAMMY®-nominated artist Mandisa is calling out all Overcomers in her latest project which drops on August 27. The long-awaited fourth studio album, Overcomer, comes over two years since the release of her critically revered and best selling GRAMMY®-nominated record, What If We Were Real, which brought on fan favorites and No. 1 songs such as “Stronger” and “Good Morning.” “Overcomer” is the lead single from the album and is an extension of the impactful message once began with her song “Stronger,” an anthem that there is hope in the midst of life’s battles.
Mandisa says, “I recorded both the song and the album to fuel faith, empower people, and remind those facing a battle, that all of the strength, power, and weapons of warfare they need is readily available to them. We are all overcomers.”
Produced by Christopher Stevens and David Garcia, Overcomer continues to showcase the former American Idol finalist’s powerful vocals and pop-leaning hooks that blend effortlessly through all 11 tracks. With caution-to-the-wind melodies weaved throughout the record, anchored by emotional songs like her open letter to her brother in “Dear John,” Overcomer is set to be Mandisa’s most impactful release to date. Many songs were co-written by critically acclaimed artists and friends including Chris August (“Praying For You”), Israel Houghton (“At All Times”), Tiffany Lee, aka Plumb (“Dear John”), Britt Nicole and Cindy Morgan (“Where You Begin”) and Matthew West (“The Distance”). This fall, Mandisa will once again embark on six-time GRAMMY® winner TobyMac’s acclaimed “Hits Deep Tour.” Joining Mandisa on the tour, which kicks off Nov. 7, are Brandon Heath, Jamie Grace, Colton Dixon, Chris August and Capital Kings.
Track Listing for Overcomer:
2. Back To You
3. The Distance
4. Face 2 Face
5. Press On
6. What Scars Are For
7. Dear John
8. At All Times*
9. Joy Unspeakable
10. Praying For You
11. Where You Begin
*Produced by Ronald Rawls and Chuck Butler
Sparrow Records and Capitol Christian Music Group announce the “GRACE Unplugged” movie soundtrack, set for release on August 27th at both retail and online. “GRACE Unplugged,” a Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions feature film starring AJ Michalka, James Denton, Kevin Pollack, Jamie Grace and more, is slated to hit theaters nationwide October 4.
The soundtrack features the music heard throughout the movie, including three brand new recordings from Michalka (“Grace Trey”), such as the key song “All I’ve Ever Needed.” Additionally, the soundtrack features songs from TobyMac, Chris Tomlin, Jamie Grace (who plays “Rachel”), Colton Dixon, Luminate, Josh Wilson, Shawn McDonald, and Nine Lashes.
ABOUT “GRACE Unplugged”:
A talented young singer and aspiring songwriter’s Christian faith and family ties are tested when she defies her worship-pastor father and pursues pop-music stardom in “GRACE Unplugged,” a moving and inspiring new film that explores the true meaning of success.
Grace Trey (AJ Michalka) has just turned 18 and aspires to do more than sing in her church’s worship band, which is led by her father, Johnny Trey (James Denton), a one-time pop star who gave up his life in secular music when he became a Christian. Grace longs to escape his shadow and make a name for herself singing songs about something other than God, but Johnny warns her that fame is not as glamorous as it looks and reminds her that serving and worshipping God with the talent she’s been given is a far more worthwhile goal.
When Johnny’s former manager, Frank “Mossy” Mostin (Kevin Pollak), shows up 20 years after the two parted ways to offer him another shot at the big time, Johnny declines the opportunity. But Grace takes it – without telling her parents. She records a cover version of her father’s old Top 10 hit, runs away to Los Angeles and, under Mossy’s guidance, begins to taste the kind of success she’s always dreamed of. But with each rung of the ladder she climbs, Grace feels pressure to compromise her Christian values and learns not everyone who says they’re on her side really is. The one exception is Quentin (Michael Welch), an intern at her record company and a fellow Christian who urges Grace to reassess her choices and put God first again in her life. Will everything she experiences lead her to reject her faith … or rediscover it?
“GRACE Unplugged” soundtrack song listing*:
“All I’ve Ever Needed” – AJ Michalka
“Desert Song” – AJ Michalka
“You Never Let Go” – AJ Michalka
“Misunderstood” – AJ Michalka
“Holding On” – Jamie Grace
“Our God” – Chris Tomlin
“Steal My Show” – TobyMac
“In and Out of Time” – Colton Dixon
“The Void” – Nine Lashes
“The Space Between Us” – Shawn McDonald
“Welcome to Daylight” – Luminate
“Amazing Grace” – Josh Wilson
*Track listing subject to change