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Interviews

  • What God is Teaching Me - Ernie Haase

    Posted on February 3, 2014 by John van der Veen

    I recently sat down with Ernie Haase from Signature Sound and asked him a single question, "what is God teaching you now?"

    Now if you know anything about Ernie, you will know that he is a fun loving man. Not only is he a great singer in one of America's top southern Gospel quartets, but he is a husband, a father and practically a stand-up comedian. At first blush, I thought that Ernie would answer this in a really simple way. Or tell an elaborate joke first.

    Neither. He simply answer the question is a honest way. A real way.

    Ernie: It's very, very simple.

    Be still, just be still.

    There could be 100 amazing things good that happen at a concert and I'll go back and lay in my bunk on the bus and stress and fret over the one thing that didn't go right.

    Now I know that at this point in my life I know that I have ever been in control. God's always been in control, steering me. So I'm just going to relax and enjoy the trip. I'm just going to be still and enjoy the moment.

    So what about you? What has God been teaching you lately?


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Signature Sound, Ernie Haase

  • Blog Summary for January 2014

    Posted on February 3, 2014 by Family Christian

    Here are some of the most popular blogs that have been read by our followers during the month of January.

    MercyMe's Shake - Q&A

    MercyMe's new album, Welcome to the New releases later this year. Their first single from the album, Shake, hit stations already and is climbing the charts.

    We thought we would ask a few questions about Shake and their new album.

    Your new song, Shake, is a bit of different path for traditional MercyMe singles. What is the inspiration behind the song?

    Read the full q&a by clicking here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    Lecrae, how much was music or the arts part of your life growing up? Did you realize early on that there was some talent in your life, or did that come later?

    "Absolutely. I was a latchkey kid so I would sit at home for hours while my mother was at work. I had to use my imagination. I’d sit in front of the television so much. Sometimes she would allow me to watch television and she would come home to see if it was warm so I had to figure out what I could do with my time. It just became an outlet to start writing, experimenting, and just trying to be creative. I knew I had a passion for the arts, but we didn’t recognize it. It was one of my fifth-grade teachers who recognized it and suggested to my mother that I be put in a special class. That special class led me to audition for a special school so I actually went to a performing arts middle school for a couple years. That’s really where I started to hone my writing skills."

    Read the full interview here.

    Free Wallpaper for Your Mobile, Tablet or Computer

    February is also a month for love. We would be amiss if we didn't mention Valentines Day and what that stands for. As followers of Jesus, Valentines Day is much more than a once-in-three-hundred-sixty-five-days type of holiday. For we have been loved well, so we are compelled to do the same to all around us. AND not just on one day, but every day.

    Look below for some free wallpaper to decorate your desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. These are completely free to download. Just right click on the size that you need and you will be all set. To find out which size you need, click here.

    Both images are taking from our Coupon Calendars that we sell online and in our stores. Click here to find the Growth in Faith Calendar and the He Refreshes My Soul Calendar.

    See the whole selection of sizes here.

    What if the Trouble Is in Me?

    "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33b (NIV)

    When Barry and I were first married I came up with a nickname for him: "Velcro-Boy."

    He earned that title because every time I turned around, there he was. In the beginning, I thought I might suffocate from lack of oxygen!

    If I went out for an hour to buy groceries he would call me: "Hey honey, where are you?"

    "I'm at the grocery store ... remember, I told you right before I left."

    I might on a good day make it to the cereal aisle before the phone rang again: "I'm missing you. Are you almost done?"

    I'm sure some of you are thinking what a blessed woman I am. But while it's lovely to have someone enjoy your company, I subscribe to the old adage that, "absence makes the heart grow fonder." My heart was never going to have that opportunity!

    Read this whole devotional from Sheila Walsh here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Nick took some time out of his busy schedule to do a little Q&A with us. Read the full blog post here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses
    physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now
    enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and
    rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet
    there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine
    style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Jon White and Cole Walowac have parlayed a long-term friendship and shared passion for music into one of the hottest careers in the industry. Despite their young age, the duo’s
    history is a lengthy one. “We were in the nursery in the same church,” Jon says.
    “We moved away to Massachusetts for a few years, Cole and I met back up in
    the same middle school and we started playing in the youth group band. Cole
    would play drums and I would sing and that’s how we started making music.”

    Read the full q&a here.

    Francesca Battistelli - A Girl. A Voice. A Mission.


    "The more you walk in relationship with the Lord, the more you learn to trust him. I'm learning not to focus so much on the issues I think are so big right now—our bus has broken down, or someone said something that frustrated me. I'm learning to slowly let things roll off my back, to say, 'Hey, God knew about this before it happened and He's got a way out or a plan better than mine.' I've learned to stop freaking out and just trust that God knows what he's doing. He's not going to leave me in a bad place because He never has before."

    Such it is with Francesca Battistelli. Honest. Simple. Beautiful. Intentional.

    We have all been exposed to her music. Starting with "I'm Letting Go," or "Free to Be Me." "This is the Stuff" or "Strangely Dim." It doesn't matter. For every time that "Franny" opens her mouth to sing, she is opening her heart.

    There is a vulnerable side to this young lady. And if you didn't know it already, you will be able to hear it by reading the interview below. Franny came to our corporate Christmas party to bring encouragement and holiday greetings. After I sat down with her, I was reminded again about her passion.

    Read the full interview here.

    Michael Landon Jr. - Leaving a Legacy in Film

    Michael, what do you think that the lack of family type of entertainment has done to the family unit, you know, the idea of sitting down and all watching stuff together on a regular basis? What do you think that that causes in a family dynamic?

    "It's hard to probably calculate exactly what the repercussions are. I can't imagine it not having some detrimental effect to the family. I mean, technology is amazing, the way we use it, the way we can quickly disseminate information back and forth between each other. But at the same time, obviously, there is this fragmented aspect of being together, where everybody is in the same room and yet not really present with each other. They're on their phone and tweeting, or emailing or texting their friends. It's definitely breaking down the family unit in a way. It doesn't allow for intimacy to really grab hold of families. And also, I can't imagine that the increased and different content isn't breaking down the family unit as well. It clearly is. The messaging that's coming out of a lot of these shows sometimes is sexually promiscuous or shows a lack of respect for authority whether it be for parents or teachers or whoever. I mean, these are messages that our children are being bombarded with constantly--no holds barred. It seems nothing is really off limits. If you advocate limits, then you're against freedom of speech. It's always spun off in a very kind of negative tone."

    Read the full interview here.

    The Storm Inside - Sheila Walsh

    The chaos of life can be overwhelming, and women seem to get a heavier dose. Each day comes with its own pressures, heartaches and disappointments that slowly erode the joy, peace and closeness to God every woman needs. Chaos always feels like the enemy as it rages around us and inside us.

    In The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are, bestselling author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh invites you into ten life-changing, hope-filled transformations where hurt and heartache are divinely redeemed into joy and faith. Sheila shares insightful biblical teaching, intimate stories of her own storms and the chaos other women have faced and overcome.

    Read the full blog post and watch a video from Sheila here.

    Phil Robertson. Father. Teacher. Theologian. Commander.

    If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock.  The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.

    Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.

    As a high-school athlete, Phil was All-State in football, baseball, and track which afforded him the opportunity to attend Louisiana Tech University on a football scholarship. There he played first string quarterback ahead of Terry Bradshaw. Phil's been quoted as saying "Terry went for the bucks, and I chased after the ducks." After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education and a Master's in Education, he spent several years teaching. While his students claim he was an excellent teacher, spending time in a classroom brought Phil to the conclusion that his time and talents would be better spent in the woods.

    Read our full interview with Phil here.

    If you like these blog posts. Make sure that you check out our blog regularly. Or add our blog url to your blog reader.


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Movies, Interviews, Proverbs 31, Alex Mosoiu, Dan Hubka and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, MercyMe, Francesca Battistelli, Nick Vujicic, Capital Kings, Phil Robertson, Michael Landon Jr., Wallpapers, Sheila Walsh

  • MercyMe's Shake - Q&A

    Posted on January 22, 2014 by John van der Veen

    MercyMe's new album, Welcome to the New releases later this year. Their first single from the album, Shake, hit stations already and is climbing the charts.

    We thought we would ask a few questions about Shake and their new album.

    Your new song, Shake, is a bit of different path for traditional MercyMe singles. What is the inspiration behind the song?

    "The inspiration behind the song really came out of a new season we're in, and that I'm in personally, in learning about God's grace. The idea that, because we've been changed and because He sees us with no condemnation we should be floating on air because we have something that most of the world doesn't. Ironically, we're the power ballad band, so I'm excited about "Shake" because it's energy and beat offer a small glimpse of how I feel, and where I am right now.

    I'm a horrible dancer. But I'm allowed to dance in front of my kids (even though they think I'm horrible too). But everybody can shake or shimmy. And I hope the sound of this song will inspire people to do just that.

    My favorite line says "Brand new looks so good on you" and that's where the title of the album came from. I think we as a whole we need to understand that no matter what we've done we remain new, and we can't mess it up because of the cross. The old is dead and gone and we're redeemed, no matter what the world or the enemy tells us. So that's what the album is about. You're going to hear a lot of the same grace message throughout the album, and that is on purpose. So that being said, we just thought "Shake" was the perfect song to start with. And we hope it gets people excited."
    - Bart

    You guys look like you had a lot of fun making the video. What was that experience like?

    "Making the "Shake" video was a fun time for us. We hadn't made a real music video in 6 or 7 years. So it was fun to finally have an idea and make it come to life. We blocked off downtown streets in Huntsville, had a remote controlled octo-copter camera, and over 100 extras including some choreographed dancers, so it was a blast. We are all just a bunch of goofball dads, so we wanted to show that Christians could have fun and have a good time. We wanted to encourage others to get up and shake like we have a reason to.

    In fact we even created the "Shake" dance you see in the video, and it seems to be catching on with people. We've been seeing others posting their own "Shakes" with the #MMShake hash tag, and have gotten to record some additional videos doing the dance with radio stations. So it's been a lot fun to see people getting into it."
    - Robby

    Anything specific we can look forward to on your new album?

    "We're really excited about the record. I think we're supposed to say that every time we make an album, and hopefully it's better than the last one. But, I can honestly say this one is different for us. The title "Welcome To The New" really speaks on behalf of a lot of things. We're in a new season as a band, but also for me personally. I'm in a place where the Gospel seems brand new to me. I grew up in a very legalistic church. They didn't directly say that it was about works, but there always seemed like there was an opportunity to try harder. And I was taught that the better you were, the more you were in God's favor. Then about 2 years or so ago I was in a place personally where I felt so many things were just hanging by a thread. I was doing everything to try to succeed because I thought that's what I was supposed to do. So I wanted to be really good at it and thought that God would be pleased. It didn't make any sense until a friend came into my life and spoke the truth of God's grace to me. That there's nothing I can do to make Christ love me more than he already does. And for some reason I somehow never really heard that before.

    If I don't do another great thing; if I have the ability to sabotage everything good about my life. Because I know Christ, his Grace will still be enough. And I realize that I probably speak on behalf of a lot of the church that tries really hard. We keep ourselves busy thinking that if we do the song and dance long enough God will say "I see you amongst all those people, way to go!" And I realized that this whole time he's been screaming out, "I have been pleased with you since the day you called my name, and I have never stopped. Even at your worst I'm madly in love with you." Even at our ugliest and at our worst the Bible says to come boldly to the throne. We were all unworthy, broken vessels who didn't deserve it before. But now the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells inside of us, and we're holy as he is holy.

    There's a song on the album called "Flawless," and the chorus says: "No matter the bumps, no matter the bruises, no matter the scars or how deep the wound is. The cross has made me flawless." So, I'm hoping this record can speak that grace message to people. The same message that has become brand new to me. And I've never been more excited about telling people that they are redeemed, and holy and righteous."
    - Bart


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, MercyMe

  • Francesca Battistelli - A Girl. A Voice. A Mission.

    Posted on January 6, 2014 by Dan Hubka



    "The more you walk in relationship with the Lord, the more you learn to trust him. I'm learning not to focus so much on the issues I think are so big right now—our bus has broken down, or someone said something that frustrated me. I'm learning to slowly let things roll off my back, to say, 'Hey, God knew about this before it happened and He's got a way out or a plan better than mine.' I've learned to stop freaking out and just trust that God knows what he's doing. He's not going to leave me in a bad place because He never has before."

    Such it is with Francesca Battistelli. Honest. Simple. Beautiful. Intentional.

    We have all been exposed to her music. Starting with "I'm Letting Go," or "Free to Be Me." "This is the Stuff" or "Strangely Dim." It doesn't matter. For every time that "Franny" opens her mouth to sing, she is opening her heart.

    There is a vulnerable side to this young lady. And if you didn't know it already, you will be able to hear it by reading the interview below. Franny came to our corporate Christmas party to bring encouragement and holiday greetings. After I sat down with her, I was reminded again about her passion.

    Dan:                Is there anything you can tell us about the new album?

    Francesca:     Yes. It will be out April 22nd hopefully, and it's called If We're Honest. It's going to be amazing. I'm so excited about it. It's my favorite one yet. I think that's probably normal, but I really feel like these songs are just right and the timing is right for them. There's just a lot of energy on this record which I feel like the last one lacked even though I love it. I think it's going to be really good and a whole new season.

    Dan:                If we're honest.  What does that mean?  At least on this particular record.

    Francesca:     Well, it's the title of my favorite song on the record which is just a very honest song about really just that.  If we were truly authentic with each other and honest with each other all the time and kind of not tried to hide behind the facade of everything's fine and I'm perfect and life is great.  I feel like that is sort of what the enemy wants us to do to isolate ourselves and keep us from true community and truly being the body of Christ.

    It just came from some experiences where I felt like the song is personal because I really feel like that's just all too prevalent not just in this industry but in Christianity especially in America of just everything's fine, and I'm not really going to be myself with you.  I'm not going to let you know really any of my junk, but you can't get healed of anything unless you confess and kind of are out there.  It's sort of a heavy song on a very lighter record, but it's needed I think in it's truths.

    Dan:                Absolutely.  I've found that it can be a very scary thing to reveal those things, but what evil wants us to believe is that we're alone and that nobody is going to relate to those things if we're honest so a very relevant topic.

    Francesca:     Totally, because I think when you are honest that's when you are sort of just real with whatever is going on in your life.  That's when grace comes in.  We naturally want to give grace and support and encouragement to someone who says, "This is the truth.  This is what I'm going through."  But, yeah, you're right.  The enemy tries to tell us the opposite.  "They're going to hate you." Which is not true.

    Dan:                You said something that I didn't think any artist was allowed to say which was, "My favorite song on this record is ..."  I thought people weren't allowed to say their favorite songs, but you actually have favorites.

    Francesca:     I do.  I always have favorites.  Yeah.  I love every song on this record.  I'm so excited about it, but this one from the moment we started writing it, I just knew this was going to be the one that was my favorite and it is.

    Dan:                Was the recording process different for you at all this time around?

    Francesca:     Yeah, it actually was. The last two records if you do count Christmas, we lived in Atlanta instead of Nashville and I was pregnant for both of those recording processes. It was just a lot more stressful and I felt a lot more pressure to sort of get it right and get it done quickly especially with Hundred More Years. That was a follow-up to a record that sort of exceeded everyone's expectations so I thought I got to do it again. I think you can sort of sabotage yourself by getting too inside your head.

    This time I just didn't feel any of that. We had just moved back to Nashville. It was the summertime. I had plenty of time and I just wrote three or four days a week which again has just not been the truth for the past couple of records. It's been really just fun and relaxing and for me it's always been my favorite part of the process, of the creative process because I'm sort of an introvert and artsy type. This was the first time since I think the first record that I really felt like this is fun again. Like this isn't just busyness and work. This is actually really awesome. I'm excited to share.

    Dan:                Have you noticed your audience transition at all?  From my perspective, those first couple records your audience was younger girls and now you're transitioning into a new stage in your life with the role of being a mom.  What I've heard from your music, it relates at different levels now and different areas.  Are you experiencing that transition of a wider audience because I think that your music still does speak to a younger demographic, but now you're capturing the hearts of moms and more.

    Francesca:     For sure.

    Dan:                Are you noticing that now?

    Francesca:     Yeah. It really is. It's interesting and every tour is a little bit different. I feel like that's where I see that the most. There's definitely still so many young girls, and I love that. There is something cool whenever I'm at the table and a girl comes up to me and she goes, "I love your music," and I sign her thing and her mom says, "I really love it too." It's like their little secret. I think that that's awesome. I love to be something that a mom and a daughter can listen to together and older sister can too. Hopefully, that audience is growing. I think this record will do that for them.

    Dan:                Is there a time that you can come to where you have seen your faith in action?  Or a time where you've felt a call that you needed to respond to?

    Francesca:     Is this the stories that you ... Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I have a great story to answer that question. Funny you should ask. Back this past summer we got an email from a little girl who, she is 13 now, but when she was 11 she started an organization called Project Jesus that ministers to girls and women in Uganda. She wrote this email and said basically, "Everyone's telling me that I'm crazy for writing you that you're too busy and you'll never write back, but I have this organization," kind of laid it all out and said, "And I'm hosting a benefit concert, or I'd like it to be a concert. It's a benefit luncheon on Orphan Sunday and I would love Francesca to be there. I totally understand if she can't. You'll probably not write me back, but maybe she could just send a signed CD or something."

    I remember just reading these words or I think my husband was reading them to me, and I was just so struck by her faith because she said, "Even though everyone's telling me that I'm crazy, the one thing I've learned over these past two years," I mean she's 13 years old, "Is that when we step out in faith, God does fix things." I was just so blown away by that because how many of us say that, but to actually believe it and act on it and sort of live that crazy faith life that she was living at 13 years old just blew me away. I kind of wanted to tell those naysayers that they were crazy and they were wrong. We just really felt like we needed to ... I felt like I needed to say yes.

    Actually I had a couple of other things that week that I just said, "We need to put these off. I want to be there for this girl." What ended up happening is a couple of days after I got that email, I was in the studio writing with a couple of friends and I was telling them that story and then they said, "What do you want to write about today?" I said, "I want to write about that. I want to write about Mallory." We wrote this song called Giant's Fall which is a song about Mallory. It's really just a song about don't be afraid of giants in your way. That whatever obstacles are facing you, God is with you and it doesn't matter if what you have seems like a little, he can turn it into a lot.

    I wrote this song for her, but didn't tell her. We've since recorded it and it's going to be on the record and back a couple months ago when we went to sing at the benefit we were nearing the end of the afternoon and I started explaining that I wrote this song, I just saw her mom crying, and she's crying and I'm crying. I got to play the song for this roomful of people the first time I ever played it. It was just a really powerful moment and just reminded me that when we're obedient, God does amazing things. That goes for Mallory. That goes for me writing the song. Being there, I think that if nothing else, I think she'll be able to look back and say, "That was one thing that I asked God for that He did." He's done many things like that for her, but how cool to be just like a tangible answer to prayer for someone even though it was little and I just showed up and sang a couple songs. It was cool.

    Dan:                The last time we talked, your label was circling in on trying to figure out which one of nine songs may be the first one to release to radio. Do you know which one has been selected for that?

    Francesca:     We do.  Yes.

    Dan:                Can you share it?

    Francesca:     Yes. It is called Write Your Story. They have already ... It doesn't go officially out for us until January where it's already been picked up by a couple of networks. It's amazing to see just the response to it. I think somebody up at The Fish heard it over the phone and said, "Okay, we're going to add it." That's just amazing to me and just sort of that affirmation that, "Okay, I think you picked the right song, and you're going in the right direction." I'm just so excited and people are already hearing it, but I haven't really announced it so I don't know what to say on Twitter except, "Thanks. I'm glad you like it," when people hear it. I can't wait for January and it's official.

    Dan:                Can you give us an idea what the song is about or what was behind it?

    Francesca:     Yeah, absolutely. It's funny because I didn't even realize it until somebody said something in passing after we had written the song that it was sort of like a follow-up to My Paper Heart which is "I've never been the same since you wrote your name on my paper heart." This song is just about basically saying, "God, I am an open book. I am just here, willing, available to do whatever it is that you call me to do. I want you to write your story on my heart." I think it will speak to so many different people I think to the girl who is waiting for her husband and saying, "God, write your love story for me." To the people who are just saying, "Okay, God, I know that you have something for my life and I don't know what it is, but I want to be open to whatever."

    Even for me, doing what I'm doing, it looks like you've got this path laid in front of you, but if God says, "No, I want you to stop all that and go do something else," I want to be able to hear His voice. I want His story at the end of my life to look back and say, "God, you wrote it. I just was there for the ride." It's a really fun song, but that's sort of the message or the story.

    Dan:                You're on your fourth record. You've established a career. I was talking to a co-worker of mine of what does it feel like as you transition from a place where you're an artist and you're trying to make it and you go from wanting people to hear your music and doing everything you can to get people to hear your music, to the place where now you're requested to come play music for them?  But they're now asking you instead of you asking them.  What is that journey like?

    Francesca:     Yeah.  It has been so interesting for me because at the beginning there it was like, "Okay, I don't know what this is going to look like."  Like you said, just playing for everybody, and then for even me it just all sort of took off really fast and I didn't know what to do and was just sort of saying yes to everything and then sort of slowed down again and I'm sort of I feel like just now finding my feet and like, "Okay, those past five, six years have been a little bit of a blur.  Now what do we really want to do?"  God has made it so that my husband is able to play drums for me and manage me and just be very focused and very intentional.

    I feel like for the first time this year it's like we're finding our legs.  But, yeah, it is amazing.  Anytime someone asks it's still like, "Oh, really?  We didn't have to call them to play a concert like they want us to come?"  It's always scary still.  It's just an honor and crazy when I think about it because there were so many years that were goodness gracious it was a very a awkward time.

    Dan:                Can you say who you're touring with yet?

    Francesca:     I think so.  Yeah.    We're doing the Hands of God tour with Sanctus Real in early spring and Hands of God is a song that I wrote with Matt Hammitt from Sanctus.  We're excited to take them out and do that tour.  I love those guys.  Then like five days after that ends, we go out on "The Bible: Son of God" tour, which we're really excited about and that is basically The Bible Miniseries was seen by millions of people.  It was mind-blowing.

    So Mark Burnett and his company have sort of said, "We want to take this experience into churches and venues around the country and sort of turn it into this interactive experience with the film, and with the artists, and with sets and all sorts of things that I'm not really even sure what the scale is like yet because it's the first year, but I'm really excited about that.  That will run up until, I guess, right before Easter, right before the record comes out.  We're really excited and it's going to be a busy year, but I'm ready for it.

    Dan:                Did you write that song?

    Francesca:     I didn't write it.  No.  I just sang on it and it's very beautiful.  So they've talked about things I know they're doing like an inspired by project, but beyond that, who knows?  Maybe it will make it to the live show.

    Dan:                Thank you so much for your time.

    Francesca:     Yeah.  Thank you.  It was fun.

    So, about her new album? Well, as stated above, Francesca returns with her brand new release, If We’re Honest.  Featuring the radio hit “Write Your Story,” this new CD perfects the soulful pop sound that began with her gold-certified debut, My Paper Heart, and its best-selling follow-up, Hundred More Years.  If We’re Honest is full of bright, upbeat songs and personal, thought-provoking ballads that will inspire, encourage and challenge you in your daily walk with God, and ultimately point you toward the hope that’s only found in Him.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Francesca Battistelli, Sanctus Real, Bible MiniSeries, The Bible, Mark Burnett

  • The Most Read Interviews of 2013

    Posted on January 3, 2014 by Family Christian

    In 2013, we had the privilege of sitting down and talking with some great individuals that have had such a huge impact of people all over the world. The ten interviews below are just a sampling of who we talked with.

    These are the folks who have been challenged greatly, and in their challenges, they continue to challenge others. To love more. To serve more. To hope more. To rest more. To seek more. To study more.

    The ten interviews below are the interviews that were read the most. Shared the most. For that, we are thankful. We look forward to many more interviews and discussions in 2014.

    Amy Grant - The Wife/Mother/Singer/Songwriter

    There’s nothing like life experience to provide a deeper, richer emotional palette for a songwriter to draw from when crafting new music. For Amy Grant, it’s been 10 years since her last full studio album and it’s been a decade marked by soul-shaking milestones. As she’s always done, Grant has embraced both the triumphs and challenges, distilled them to their essence and poured the lessons learned into songs that ache with honesty and reverberate with gentle wisdom.

    How Mercy Looks From Here is the soundtrack of a life well-lived. “A lot of major life changes happened during these past few years.” Grant says. “So on this record, there’s zero filler. Every song has a real story behind it.”

    In chatting with Amy, I saw, again, that here is a woman of deep faith. Deep love. Love for family. Love for art. Love for food. Yes, food. And love for God.

    Read the full interview here.

    Phil Robertson. Father. Teacher. Theologian. Commander.

    If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock.  The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.

    Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.

    Read the full interview here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Read the full Q&A here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.

    "There’s a saying that goes around that says 'If you crossover make sure you bring the cross over.' That’s definitely my heart and my aim. I want to remain distinct and authentically Christian in whatever realm I’m in. I don’t want people to walk away saying, 'Lecrae is a Christian because he said so. Lecrae is a Christian because they labeled him that.' But I want them to say, 'Lecrae is a Christian because I can tell by his life that he values Jesus.' That’s really what my aim is, for people to see I truly treasure and value Jesus and His Word. If [crossing over] happens then, by God’s grace, let their lives be changed."

    Read the full interview here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses
    physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now
    enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and
    rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet
    there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine
    style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Jon White and Cole Walowac have parlayed a long-term friendship and shared passion for music into one of the hottest careers in the industry. Despite their young age, the duo’s
    history is a lengthy one. “We were in the nursery in the same church,” Jon says.
    “We moved away to Massachusetts for a few years, Cole and I met back up in
    the same middle school and we started playing in the youth group band. Cole
    would play drums and I would sing and that’s how we started making music.”

    Read the full Q&A here.

    Michael Landon Jr. - Leaving a Legacy in Film

    Michael Landon Jr., son of the late television legend, Michael Landon, has been in the film business for over 25 years.  Educated at USC and a Directing Fellow graduate of the American Film Institute, he has worked in just about every capacity of the movie making process including film loader, 1st and 2nd assistant cameraman, stedicam operator, Director of Photography, apprentice film editor, production assistant, and actor.

    "Just trust in Jesus. Trust Him. Trust that He's going to bring you through to the other side, and don't try to do it on your own strength. And I mean that sincerely. This is not just to tell an audience of Christians. When I was 18 years old, I was a wreck. I was a wreck. My parents had divorced, and I was completely lost in the world. And I fought. I fought The Message. I fought it all the way, all the way. I didn't want to have anything to do with Jesus, nothing. Yeah."

    Read the full interview here.

    Mandisa - Finding Freedom by Overcoming

    Coming off her most successful album ever, Mandisa returned to the studio to record her new album, Overcomer. Her previous album, What If We Were Real, has sold over 270,000 albums and featured the breakout radio hits “Good Morning,” “Waiting For Tomorrow,” and the #1 hit, “Stronger.” The American Idol alum and three-time Grammy nominee continues to be a voice of encouragement and truth to women facing life’s challenges. Mandisa also continues to have unprecedented media exposure for a Christian artist including two recent appearances on Good Morning America.

    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!"

    Read the full interview here.

    Skillet. The Rock Band That Doesn't Quit

    Skillet recently made headlines when their last album, Awake, became one of just three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, forming an improbable triumvirate with the Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. The news that Skillet had sold more than a million albums in the U.S. came as a shock to all but the band’s wildly diverse horde of fans, male and female, young and old—known as Panheads—whose still-swelling ranks now officially number in the seven-digit range. This remarkable achievement was announced just as Skillet was putting the finishing touches on their eagerly awaited follow-up album, Rise (Atlantic/Word).

    "When our last record came out, there was a guy who basically sent me an email saying he heard our song on NFL. “Hero” was playing and he liked it. He said he went to their website and found out who the band was, and bought the song. He said he loved the song and came to a show. One thing led to another, and basically this guy and his wife were both in the pornography industry. They both were filmmakers. The guy got saved and ended up leading his wife to it too. So they were saved now and got out of that industry and have gotten into church. And it was all from hearing our song on NFL. Stories like that are amazing! It’s something only God can do. And we are so honored He is using our music to do it."

    Read the full interview here.

    God's Unfolding Story In the Life of Laura Story

    t’s one thing to write compelling, heart-stirring, emotionally rich songs of worship, praise and honor to Christ. People have been doing it for centuries, forming the backbone of faith traditions the world over.

    It’s another thing entirely to bare your soul, share your vulnerabilities and risk criticism and career success by challenging the mold and daring to say that God is not necessarily a God of happy endings.

    Instead, He is the God of every story. This is what Laura Story is learning day by day.

    On her new album, God of Every Story, Laura becomes the most vulnerable. In Great God Who Saves and Blessings we certainly heard the heart of who Laura is, but it was within the established relationship of artist and listener. With her new title, she attempts to bring those walls down, bridging the separation.  God of Every Story is an album where we don't just see Laura's heart in some sort of abstract way - from a distance, but she asks us to join her in seeing what God is writing in Laura's life.

    Read the full interview here.

    The Jason Crabb Interview

    GRAMMY and DOVE Award-winning Jason Crabb has become one of the most respected names and voices in Christian music. Working alongside accomplished producers Jay DeMarcus (band member of Rascal Flatts), Ed Cash and Wayne Haun, Jason has delivered his sophomore studio solo recording, Love Is Stronger. A moving collection of down-home gospel and contemporary songs that feature Jason’s incomparable voice and heartfelt performance style, the release offers inspiring and challenging messages of comfort through the love of Christ that conquers all. Loved by audiences of every age and background, Jason Crabb is fast-becoming a prominent voice of hope for his generation and for generations to come.

    "I absolutely love the Southern style living. I'm kind of a—oh, I don't know what you would call it--a hybrid, I guess. I love all of it. Fried chicken, the fried pork chops, I'm in the woods a lot, and I love the outdoors. I even like to hunt a little. That’s just the way we grew up. I grew up in the swamplands of Kentucky, with coal miners and different ones and that's pretty much who I am. But then again, you know, I love nice cars (that I don't have!) and the finer things in life as well. But if it ever came down to it, give me the rocking chair, the front porch and a cup of coffee and I'm in a good place."

    Read the full interview here.

    Which interview stands out to you as a favorite?


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Movies, Interviews, John van der Veen, Alex Mosoiu and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, Laura Story, Nick Vujicic, Mandisa, Capital Kings, Jason Crabb, Skillet, Amy Grant, Phil Robertson, Michael Landon Jr.

  • Blog Summary for December 2013

    Posted on January 2, 2014 by Family Christian

    Here are some of the most popular blogs that have been read by our followers during the month of December.

    Michael Landon Jr. - Leaving a Legacy in Film

    Michael Landon Jr., son of the late television legend, Michael Landon, has been in the film

    business for over 25 years.  Educated at USC and a Directing Fellow graduate of the

    American Film Institute, he has worked in just about every capacity of the movie making process including film loader, 1st and 2nd assistant cameraman, stedicam operator, Director of Photography, apprentice film editor, production assistant, and actor.

    Read the full interview here.

     

    Phil Robertson. Father. Teacher. Theologian. Commander.

    If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock.  The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.

    Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.

    Read the full interview here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.

    Read the full interview here.

     

    The Storm Inside - Sheila Walsh

    The chaos of life can be overwhelming, and women seem to get a heavier dose. Each day comes with its own pressures, heartaches and disappointments that slowly erode the joy, peace and closeness to God every woman needs. Chaos always feels like the enemy as it rages around us and inside us.

    In The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are, bestselling author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh invites you into ten life-changing, hope-filled transformations where hurt and heartache are divinely redeemed into joy and faith.

    Read the full post here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Read the full interview here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses
    physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now
    enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and
    rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet
    there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine
    style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Read the full interview here.

    Mandisa - Finding Freedom by Overcoming

    Coming off her most successful album ever, Mandisa returned to the studio to record her new album, Overcomer. Her previous album, What If We Were Real, has sold over 270,000 albums and featured the breakout radio hits “Good Morning,” “Waiting For Tomorrow,” and the #1 hit, “Stronger.” The American Idol alum and three-time Grammy nominee continues to be a voice of encouragement and truth to women facing life’s challenges. Mandisa also continues to have unprecedented media exposure for a Christian artist including two recent appearances on Good Morning America.

    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!"

    Read the full interview here.

    Skillet. The Rock Band That Doesn't Quit

    Skillet recently made headlines when their last album, Awake, became one of just three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, forming an improbable triumvirate with the Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. The news that Skillet had sold more than a million albums in the U.S. came as a shock to all but the band’s wildly diverse horde of fans, male and female, young and old—known as Panheads—whose still-swelling ranks now officially number in the seven-digit range. This remarkable achievement was announced just as Skillet was putting the finishing touches on their eagerly awaited follow-up album, Rise (Atlantic/Word).

    As soon as the master was turned in to the studio to finish post production on the new album, I sat down with John Cooper

    Read the full interview here.

    Running on Empty - devotional from Suzie Eller

    We were in between moves, living out of suitcases. My husband was working in one state while I was staying in another to sell our home. I had a bad cold, and coughing had interrupted my sleep for nights. I was so tired that the rings under my eyes had rings under them.

    When my husband suggested we take time away from the packing, selling, and traveling, just to rest, I mentally listed the reasons we couldn't. How could we manage our many to-do's if we took time off?

    Read the full devotional here.

    Combating Loneliness - devotional from Samantha Evilsizer

    "My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted." Psalm 25:15-16 (ESV)

    Don't look his way, her heart and mind insist.

    She doesn't want to look. Then again, she does. Though my friend did not check the "Plus One" box on her RSVP card, she wishes she had. Why had she come to this party alone? Maybe then she wouldn't gravitate to him.

    He's reckless and destructive. My friend knows better, but he's the only one who can relate to her. Even so, she avoids eye contact, hoping to make him believe she doesn't need him anymore.

    Read the full devotional here.

    Which blog posts did you enjoy the best?


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Music, Movies, Interviews, John van der Veen, Proverbs 31, Alex Mosoiu and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, Nick Vujicic, Suzie Eller, Mandisa, Capital Kings, Skillet, Phil Robertson, Michael Landon Jr., Sheila Walsh, Samantha Evilsizer

  • Angels We Have Heard on High - for King & Country

    Posted on December 17, 2013 by Family Christian

    for King & Country has taken the music world by storm. Their debut album, Crave, has become a favorite to so many. Their live show is simply ferocious.

    Their new Christmas EP, Into the Silent Night continues to be anything but silent. Their song arrangements have breathed new life into classic holiday songs.

    Check out their new animated video for Angels We Have Heard on High:

    What do you think?

    So celebrate the Christmas season with for KING & COUNTRY and listen to Into the Silent Night EP. Just in time for the holidays, this five-track compilation includes both studio and live versions of the original song "Baby Boy," as well as "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Little Drummer Boy."

    Bonus - check out our recent interview with Luke Smallbone from the band:


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Christmas, for King & Country

  • Blog Summary for November 2013

    Posted on November 28, 2013 by John van der Veen

    Here are some of the most popular blogs that have been read by our followers during the month of November.

    Liz Curtis Higgs - The Women of Christmas

    A sacred season is about to unfold for three women whose hearts belong to God. Elizabeth is barren, yet her trust in God remains fertile. Mary is betrothed in marriage, yet she is willing to bear God’s Son. Anna is a widow full of years, yet she waits patiently, prayerfully for the Messiah to appear in the temple courts.

    Following in their footsteps, you too can prepare for the Savior to enter your heart, your mind, and your life in a vibrant, new way this season. In The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna, bestselling author Liz Curtis Higgs explores the biblical stories of these three women, unwrapping each verse with tender care and introducing you afresh to The Women of Christmas.

    Read the full interview here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.

    Read the full interview here.

    Phil Robertson. Father. Teacher. Theologian. Commander.

    If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock.  The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.

    Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.

    Read the full interview here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujici

    Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Read the full interview here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses
    physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now
    enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and
    rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet
    there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine
    style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Read the full Q&A here.

    Clinging to Christ in the Middle of the Hurricane - Natalie Grant

    In the opening lines of “In The End,” the spirited but poignant unplugged track that wraps her latest album Hurricane, Natalie Grant puts it as plainly as she ever has in dealing with the troubling storms we all face: “Can’t catch a break/You’ve had your fill of old clichés…”. Emerging from a dark, spiritually challenging time in her own life, the multi-talented singer/songwriter—a Grammy nominated, five time GMA (Gospel Music Association) Dove Award winner for Female Vocalist of the Year – breaks through the well worn and cheerful, but not completely truthful, phrases that often leave those who are struggling in need of more.

    Natalie and I sat down (with her daughter, Sadie, on her lap) and talked about what went into her new album. The ups and downs of life. Times of depression. Times of joy.

    Read the full interview here.

    Operation Christmas Child

    1993, more than 100 million boys and girls in over 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ.

    Twenty years ago, Franklin Graham made a promise to collect a few gifts for boys and girls in war-torn Bosnia. Today, Operation Christmas Child has become a year-round, international project, delivering millions of shoeboxes to children in nearly 100 countries each year.

    Two decades after it started, Operation Christmas Child continues to deliver shoebox gifts and the Good News of Jesus Christ to boys and girls around the world.

    Read the full story here.

    Taylor's Gift - An interview with Todd & Tara Storch

    It was the last run of their first day on the slopes, the beginning of another great family vacation for Todd and Tara Storch and their three children. But when thirteen-year-old Taylor’s life was tragically cut short in a skiing accident, the Storches were overcome by the devastating loss of their daughter. Still in shock, they were asked a question no parents ever think they will hear: “Would you be willing to donate Taylor’s organs?”

    Their answer would change their family’s lives forever and provide comfort during their darkest moments. It would also save the lives of five desperate people anxiously waiting for a heart, a liver, a cornea, a pancreas, and a kidney.

    Read the full interview here.

    Everfound - God of the Impossible

    The four brothers of the Russian-born band Everfound, who immigrated to Denver, Colorado when they were young children, have been inspired by their ancestors’ commitment to their faith in the face of oppression in the Soviet Union. Although their ancestors were not legally allowed to profess their Christian faith, Everfound has sung freely and clearly about Jesus on four independent albums, and they will do so again on their major label debut with Word Records, the self-titled Everfound.

    For this album, they wrote 75 songs and narrowed it down to the best 12, including the lead-off hit single "Never Beyond Repair." While these songs are intensely personal, they were written with the a generation in mind. Everfound’s goal was to write songs that would serve as the soundtrack to people’s daily lives.

    See the full post here.

    Mandisa - Finding Freedom by Overcoming

    Coming off her most successful album ever, Mandisa returned to the studio to record her new album, Overcomer. Her previous album, What If We Were Real, has sold over 270,000 albums and featured the breakout radio hits “Good Morning,” “Waiting For Tomorrow,” and the #1 hit, “Stronger.” The American Idol alum and three-time Grammy nominee continues to be a voice of encouragement and truth to women facing life’s challenges. Mandisa also continues to have unprecedented media exposure for a Christian artist including two recent appearances on Good Morning America.

    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!"

    Read the full interview here.


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, Nick Vujicic, Mandisa, Capital Kings, Todd Storch, Tara Storch, Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty, Natalie Grant, Liz Curtis Higgs, Operation Christmas Child, Everfound

  • The Rhett Walker Band - Faith on the Road

    Posted on November 12, 2013 by John van der Veen


    “I won’t be caged to the status quo. I’m not afraid to stand and say what people won’t.” -Rhett Walker, “Get Up Get Out”

    Now there’s an understatement. Rhett Walker is not like any rising Christian musician you have met before or will meet again soon. The outspoken 25-year-old son of a preacher was born and raised around the South, his mellow yet animated voice a sure mix of Georgia and the Carolinas. In that drawl, he tells an intense wild oats story tempered by God’s grace, a testimony that fuels the deep-fried rock found on Rhett Walker Band’s debut, Come To The River.

    Indeed, Rhett is a shining example of faith, family, and country values today—an experienced man who teaches that grace comes with a calling.

    I caught up with Rhett and band at a summer festival earlier this year. I have to admit that the interview was more laughing than actually talking, I was challenged by what these guys have been through.

    John: Be honest. How did you come up with the name?

    Rhett: Funny thing. It's actually Joe; his last name is Bande, B-A-N-D-E. I'm Rhett. Kenny, his third middle name is actually an Indian name, was Walker. We just kind of put it together. Kevin is not a part of the band.

    Kenny: I'm not in the band.

    Rhett: So it's Rhett Walker Bande. We figured, make that "Band." It looks cooler.

    John: I love it. Why don't you give a little bit of background: Where did you guys come from?

    Rhett: We all come from different places: Kenny's from Texas and Joe’s from Oklahoma and I'm from South Carolina and Mr. Kevin's from North Carolina. We all come from different areas, but I'd say about ... How long ago was that? Probably about three years ago? Three or four years ago, when me and you met? How long have we known each other?

    Kenny: Dude, almost six years ago.

    Rhett: Oh wow.

    Joe: No way.

    John: As a band you've been together for six years?

    Rhett: No. About six years ago, me and Kenny, we met. I led worship at a church and he played drums there, so we started doing music together, and that's where we met Joe. Joe has his own studio and we were doing some demos. Nashville's a big city, but it's actually pretty daggone small. So we all kind of got in that middle circle and met everybody, and we just all clicked, man.

    It takes time to do anything. We played shows and ... Slowly, but surely, we kind of played shows, and about a year, exactly almost a year ago we put out our first record. We haven't been playing long. We're a new band, but we've known each other for a long time. We kind of, more or less, knew each other at first because we were all in different bands. It kind of all happened.

    John: The record's been out for about a year. What was it like to, all of a sudden, go, "We're now playing on a national level?" Before, you guys were playing churches, bars maybe, whatever. And now you guys are there.

    Rhett: It's cool, man. We were just talking about this. We just got back from the West Coast last week, and we were playing in clubs and stuff and churches last year, and we were thankful for 80 people were showing up. It's kind of funny to see what a year does and what radio does, and becoming on the, like you said, the national level, because now we're pulling eight hundred to a thousand in a room by ourself. And it's like, man, last year we were thankful when the first two rows were filled. This year we got people standing around, so ...

    It's just cool, too, because then you're playing shows and people are singing your songs and it's more of just a Rhett Walker Band thing. It's like, we're all here playing music. We love music, that's why we do it. These people love music; that's why they're here. It just becomes kind of a big party and we're all just hanging out doing our thing, you know?

    John: What do you guys play live? Do you basically play through the whole record, or do you try to incorporate some other songs in there as well, that aren’t necessarily Walker songs?

    Kenny: Well, sometimes we like to play songs off of Joe Kane and the Buttercream Gang record, solo EP. There's songs that we play off of the record. We've been playing a lot of new songs. And every once in a while, we'll get the hankering to do some covers: maybe some Skynyrd, maybe some CCR or John Fogerty, kind of a mix of good old time music and partying and fun and hanging out.

    John: You guys like playing live? Is it fun?

    Kenny: Oh yeah.

    Kevin: Yeah, playing live is great.

    Joe: Except for Kevin. As long we can, we get a lot of experience.

    John: Playing live experience?

    Kenny: His name is Mr. Kevin.

    Kevin: I'm Mr. Kevin.

    Kenny: Aka, the principal.

    Rhett: The principal.

    Kevin: That's what I've been called.

    John: Why's that?

    Kevin: I got my degree in education and I used to teach ...

    Kevin: Do you want to know anything about the live shows specifically? Or just …

    John: No, just talk about the live shows.

    Kenny: Your experience. Your favorite part.

    Kevin: My favorite part is that it's a band dynamic on stage. We'll switch the set list up every night. We'll play different songs in different orders. Sometimes we'll drag out solos. Sometimes we'll add stuff. Take it away. I don't know, man. It's just like, we don't have a laptop computer that we plug in and press "Play." We all play our instruments and all sing.

    John: You're a real band. You're not playing the tracks.

    Kevin: Exactly.

    Kenny: Exactly, yeah.

    Kevin: I take a lot ... I'm not ashamed to take pride in that, I don't think. I mean.

    Kenny: Kevin also has a tendency to yell and scream out of joy and excitement at points. And beat his chest, kind of like a gorilla. Real low.

    John: So Kevin, what do you play?

    Kevin: I play the bass.

    Kenny: Drums.

    Joe: Guitar.

    Kenny: Joe Kahn and the Buttercream Gang.

    John: That's what the EP came from?

    Joe: Yeah.

    Rhett: And I play the microphone.

    John: Any obscure live experience so far?

    Kevin: Yea.

    John: Like falling off the stage? People diving off the stage? Mosh pits?

    Rhett: No. I mean, we've had some mosh pits.

    Kenny: You climbed some ...

    Joe: Rafters.

    Kenny: Some truss once.

    Rhett: I, one time, climbed a rafter and a raptor. One time I climbed a rapper. I climbed on top of LeCrae and Kanye West.

    Kenny: One time Kevin threw his bass up in the air and forgot that it was a low ceiling, and threw it into the ceiling. Remember that?

    Kevin: Oh, yeah, I forgot about that.

    Rhett: One time we got kicked out of a church.

    John: Really?

    Rhett: Yeah.

    Joe: And got the pastor fired.

    Rhett: I mean, just good days of getting shut down by the police, you know? Just because we're too loud or something like that.

    Kevin: Sometimes Joe just takes off into the crowd and plays a guitar solo. I still don't know why he does that.

    Joe: There's usually food out there, and I'm so freaking hungry.

    Kevin: Going for a hot dog, man.

    John: So if the record came out last year, what's on your bucket list for this year?

    Rhett: Well, we've just been playing a lot of shows. But we're getting ready ... We're writing right now. So we're kind of looking forward to November. We're going to record a new record.

    John: So a new record early ‘14?

    Rhett: Yeah. I would say about summertime.

    Kevin: Yeah.

    Rhett: We're kind of dialing them songs and doing that number and mailing them out.

    Rhett: You know, just trying to figure out exactly what we want to say on this record, because the first record, you just write a butt-load of songs and then you pick the best. This one, we're all writing together on this out on the road, so we're singing a lot of ... There's some love songs to our brides back at home, there's songs about our faith on the road, and there's songs that are just feel-good songs. It's coming out in the summer. We're writing this in the summer, so it's just American music. I wouldn't say it's any type of thing other than just we got instruments and we play them and sing about life. And that's kind of what we want to do on this record.

    John: You guys book readers?

    Joe: Yes

    Kenny: Yeah, sometimes.

    John: What are you reading, Joe?

    Joe: What do I read? Currently?

    Kenny: I can tell you what Joe's been reading right now.

    Rhett: Ask him what he's been reading right now.

    Joe: I was this close to not turning to this. Okay, normally I enjoy the classics very much.

    Kenny: But now ...

    Joe: But currently ...

    John: It's a Harlequin Romance.

    Joe: Currently, I'm reading this sweet series called The Animorphs. And I've read two books today, and I'm probably going to finish two more before I go to bed. They're short.

    Kenny: Short tales about ...

    Joe: But I read them when I was a kid, so it's a nostalgia thing.

    John: Yeah.

    Kenny: There you go.

    Kevin: Bring back good memories.

    Rhett: I'm reading what I read as a kid, what I always read: The Bible.

    Kenny: Okay.

    Joe: That was good.

    John: Kevin?

    Kevin: Good one, Rhett. I've been reading this book by a rabbi. It's called Yearnings. I don't know the name of the author. I've only gotten a few chapters into it.

    Joe: Wow.

    Kevin: I love stuff like that.

    Kenny: Don't put me in on this, because after that, I would seem like an idiot.

    Joe: Man. I find obscure things to read.

    Kevin: On the spiritual side, I actually just finished, again, The Ragamuffin Gospel.

    John: Yeah, great book.

    Kevin: Yea. I read it a long time ago, and after his passing thought I'd pick it up again. But, then, I also finished, because of nostalgia, Where the Red Fern Grows.

    John: Oh.

    Joe: Oh, you just finished that?

    Kevin: Yea.

    Joe: That's a good one.

    Kenny: I remember that.

    Kevin: It's in the van. You can read it if ...

    Joe: You going to read Summer of the Monkeys now?

    Kevin: I could.

    Joe: I wasn't making fun of you. I was genuinely asking.

    Kevin: Genuinely serious.

    Rhett: Cool.

    So of course, the interview ended in laughter. These guys are a lot of fun to hang out with. They are a lot of fun to see live.  In the meantime, make sure that you check out their debut album, Come to the River.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Rhett Walker Band, Brennan Manning

  • Diving Deep with Casting Crowns

    Posted on October 31, 2013 by John van der Veen


    "If I could just get to the weekend."
    "If I could just get through this semester."
    "If I could just get to the vacation.”
    "If I could just make it through today.”

    So many of us today are simply surviving.
    But we were not made to survive, we were made to Thrive.

    Like a tree planted by the water (Jeremiah 17:7-8) 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.

    I caught up with Mark, Melody and Juan from Casting Crowns at a summer festival this year. I wanted them to feel me in on their new album and what has been going on in their life as a band.

    John: You guys just got done in the studio, recording the new record. Is there a title for this thing yet?

    Mark: Yep, the name of the record is Thrive. It's named after the thing we've been teaching our student ministry in our church for several years. It's just a picture of digging deep and reaching out, what a healthy believer looks like after Psalm chapter one.

    John: I love it. When does it come out?

    Mark: Comes out ...

    Melody: January 28th.

    John: January 28th, Thrive. New record from Casting Crowns. That's pretty cool. A little bit of background information then. When you guys record a record, do you actually go through the process of teaching, through all of the lyrical content of the record first, and then go, "Okay, you know what? Now, we have 12 great songs from these 12 great lessons we just went through." Or is it reverse? Do you put the record out in front of people then go, "Now we're going to hammer you all over again"?

    Mark: What happens is, we're just teaching what we're teaching. Just pouring into believers, it’s discipleship. Then when it's time to write, we go back and usually the things that have been resonating throughout the year, sort of start emerging on their own. It's not really ... I don't know how to say that.

    Juan: It starts out as Mark is saying something from the stage. I'm usually playing the guitar, always talking like, "Oh, it's pretty cool." Then, it becomes a Bible study on Wednesday night for the teenagers and students, and then it turns into a song, usually after that.

    Mark: And new book comes out in January, as well.

    Juan: Mark has a new book coming out in January, same title.

    Mark: The record is called Thrive, the book is called Thrive. It's a little easier to make the book happen, because I get to say everything I wanted to say for every subject. You got to turn these Bible studies into a song. That's why Crowns can't write a song under five minutes long, because we have preacher's writing. The book is coming out as well, and I also have a children's book coming out, and it's called ...

    John: This is your first children's title.

    Mark: Yes, first one. It's called City on the Hill. It's after a song in the last record about how we are all different before we come together to make the body, so I’m pretty excited about that.

    John: That is very cool. When you guys go and set out to write these songs, do you have specific people in mind when you write a particular song? Name a song, can you name a song from the new record?

    Mark: Sure. There's a song called “House of Their Dreams,” that we’ll actually do tonight. A song about a family. When we sing a song about a girl, it's a song about a girl. It’s in these things that are going on around us.

    Juan: These are real stories that you ...

    Mark: They're real stories. Because our church will hear them, sometimes I'll shift things around to protect people, but these are just real life situations. That's what's cool about them, it’s that God lives in real life situations. That's where the hope is.

    John: With that in mind, what do you guys hope that this record will do, once it goes out there next year?

    Mark: For me, we've been doing concerts for a while. All of our concerts are really to pour into that young believer. The gospel is obviously going to be shared every time we're on the stage. But I'm trying to pour in it, for those not just young in age, but a believer who's young in their faith, to help them grow a little bit. I'd notice, I would say things in the teaching moments, and people in the crowd looking at me like, "Where has this been? How do I do this?" I can tell I need to give more. This record, the goal was to take that Psalm 1 passage about us being a tree planted by streams of water, and just look at what a believer should look like. Instead of going out and trying to be an awesome Christian, let's just dig in our roots and let God define for us some things. Let Him define who He is, and let Him define who we are.

    Once we grow in our roots, fruit will begin to happen. Instead of something we try, it's something we let God do in us. Six of the songs are all about digging deep in your roots and understanding God. Six of the songs are all about reaching out, and leting God use you in the world. It's really ... I'm just trying to pour into this bigger church that we've been coming in contact with.

    John: These songs, did they affect you guys as a band? I mean, are you just as moved, as maybe your audience is? How involved are you in responding to your own music?

    Melody: I don't write the words, the music; Mark usually does that. Sometimes he’ll co-write with somebody, but I know who he’s talking about in a lot of the songs. That is a bigger connection emotionally. One of the songs in the new record is called “Broken Together,” and it's about marriage. It's about a couple of marriages of friends that are close to us, that are just going through really hard times. When he was recording it, I was already crying, because when you know who is about, it means so much more.

    Mark: For me, it usually takes a few times for some of these songs to get through. A couple of these like, “Broken Together,” I don't know. It would probably be a rough couple of concerts to get through...

    Melody: He cries, I cry and then...

    Juan: And then everybody's crying.

    Melody: I'm the band crier. I cry at the drop of a hat.

    John: Anything on your bucket list for this year?

    Melody: Bucket list? Just survive first grade.

    Juan: I’m a big C. S. Lewis fan. They're doing a thing, it’s a big event, and I have to get to London, is it the day before or day after my daughter's birthday. It'd be like a three day deal.

    John: What are they doing?

    Juan: They're erecting a memorial stone, and poets corner, Westminster Abbey, honoring C. S. Lewis, so it will be beside Shakespeare, and Alfred Lawrence Tennyson, all those guys.

    John: You think you're going to go?

    Juan: I don't know.

    Melody: You want to really bad.

    Mark: I stepped out in faith, and I reserved the ticket to be able to do that. It was free to register, so I don't know. I think I'll start in a kick-starter. Please, please, send me money.

    Melody: I love it.

    Juan: There’s always some great kick-starters out there. I want to go the Switchfoot concert. Kick-starter for that.

    Mark: Good idea.

    Melody: I just want to survive first grade.

    Everyone: [Laughing]

    Bonus: All You've Ever Wanted (Official Lyric Video)


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Casting Crowns

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