Tag Archives: Britt Nicole
Posted on April 11, 2014 by Family Christian
This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Britt Nicole, MercyMe, Matthew West, Newsboys, Switchfoot, Casting Crowns, Mandisa, Building 429, Steven Curtis Chapman, Colton Dixon, Tasha Cobbs
Posted on October 23, 2013 by Family Christian
Produced by Britt Nicole’s longtime collaborator Dan Muckala, along with producers Chris Stevens, David Garcia and Josh Crosby, Gold merges her passionately thoughtful lyrics with infectious beats and soaring melodies. The sweeping, slow-building "All This Time" recounts Britt’s struggle to overcome the pain of her parents’ divorce, while "Stand" blends high-powered beats with sweetly inspirational lyrics about rediscovering your strength. On "Ready or Not," sunny acoustic strumming gets elegantly layered over stomping rhythms and in-your-face electro effects.
Whether delivering a soulful ballad or a beat-soaked dance track, Britt strikes a stunning balance between vulnerability and self-assurance all throughout the album. This re-release of 2012's Gold features new mixes of "Gold" and "All This Time."
Here is Britt's story behind the song, "Ready Or Not" featuring Lecrae.
Here is the lyric video.
What do you think?
Posted on August 6, 2013 by John van der VeenComing 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!"
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)
This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, TobyMac, Britt Nicole, Matthew West, Brandon Heath, Jesus Culture, Group 1 Crew, Chris August, Israel Houghton, Mandisa, Capital Kings, Colton Dixon, Meredith Andrews, Jamie Grace, Plumb, Natalie Grant, John Eldridge, Stasi Eldridge, Gary Chapman
Posted on July 16, 2013 by Family Christian
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
This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, TobyMac, Britt Nicole, Matthew West, Brandon Heath, Chris August, Israel Houghton, Mandisa, Capital Kings, Colton Dixon, Jamie Grace, Cindy Morgan, Plumb
Posted on March 28, 2013 by John van der Veen
1. Your song, ‘All This Time,’ seems to be dealing with the loss and brokenness of this world and God’s grace to overcome it. Would you mind sharing the story behind the lyrics?
This song is very personal to me, but people relate to it in all different ways. For me the song is all about the moment that I realized I was not alone, but that God was right there with me. I was seven years old and my family was going through some hard things and I didn't know what to do, or where to go. I remember running to my room, with tears rolling down my face, and grabbing my bible. My grandfather is a pastor and he told me that Jesus would always be there for me. The song talks about how God sees our heartache, He sees our broken dreams, and how He's right there with us through it all, It's a reminder that we don't have to walk alone, God is right there and He always will be.
2. In your song ‘Ready or Not,’ you did a collaboration with Lecrae. What was that like?
I really look up to Lecrae, for his talent but even more for who he is. He is truly speaking into the lives of young people all over the world, so it was amazing to be able to work with him! The song is one of my favorites on the record.
3. Britt, you’re an entertainer, an evangelist for the Gospel, a wife, a soon-to-be-mom; how do you handle “life?”
Ummmmm..... Sometimes it's crazy! :) No, honestly by the grace of God and taking one day at a time. I focus on not worrying about tomorrow but trusting that God knows and has everything I need for today, whether that is joy, patience, rest, a pedicure..... He knows, haha! Life has only gotten sweeter since I have become a wife, and I can not wait to be a Momma! :)
4. Who are your influences? What authors do you follow? What artists do you listen to?
I look up to people like Heidi Baker, Mother Teresa, Esther in the Bible.... These are woman who changed and are still changing the world. The courage, grace and love that they have for people and God is hard to put into words, I just know that I want to learn from their life and be that hope for my generation that they were for theirs!
Britt Nicole - Gold
Posted on January 7, 2013 by John van der Veen
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.”
What follows is a brief Q&A with both Jon and Cole:
1 - What is your background? Where did you guys grow up? What made you interested in music?
Cole: We both grew up right outside of Washington D.C. We were actually really into sports growing up so if you were to tell us we would one day be in a band making music we wouldn't have believed you. But in high school we started playing for our youth worship band and that sparked an interest for us in doing music. By junior year, we really started to put sports aside and begin focusing on our music.
2 - Your debut album will be available on 1/8/13. It's not very often that a "freshman" artist get's to work with such big players in the industry. How did you happen to land gigs with such big artists (Mandisa, Group 1 Crew, Britt Nicole, TobyMac)?
Jon: We have been blessed for sure! God has really been giving us some amazing opportunities these past few years. It all started through remixing some songs on TobyMac’s remix record, Dubbed & Freq'd album. After that, the calls came in to start working with other artists. We really love having different flavors on our tunes and being able to work with all the artists we have up to this point!
3 - What are your biggest influencers? Musically and spiritually?
Cole: Our number one influence is God. We are constantly trying to pursue Christ in all that we do because He has had the greatest impact on people by showing love. Musically, we listen to everything from old stuff like Herbie Hancock or Frank Sinatra all the way to current music like Deadmau5 and Radiohead.
4 - You guys are jumping on the East Coast run of Winter Jam this next year. What does your live show look like?
Cole: Our live shows are such high energy! Our main goal is to make people feel like they’re part of the show. We want them to feel free to dance and jump up and down and go crazy. But most importantly, we want them to be inspired to love God and love others around them.
5 - What are you most looking forward to in 2013?
Jon: We cannot wait for our debut record to drop on January 8th and also to meet all of our fans who come out to our shows! It’s definitely an exciting time for us and we’re looking forward to see what God has in store for us!!
6 - Red Bull or Starbucks?
Cole: Depends on what time of day. If it’s an early morning, than definitely a Java Chip from Starbucks. If it’s a late night in the studio, then a Red Bull.
Jon: Red Bull! I don’t drink coffee, plus, Red Bull gives you wings!
TobyMac introduces Capital Kings:
You'll Never Be Alone. (Lyric Video)
I Feel So Alive (Lyric Video)
Be There (Lyric Video)
Tell Me (Lyric Video)
I Feel So Alive (Telemitry Remix)
Posted on December 6, 2012 by Family Christian
It's that time of year again - Grammytime.Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance Jesus, Friend Of Sinners Casting Crowns Track from: Come To The Well [Beach Street/Reunion Records] Take Me To The King Tamela Mann [Tillymann Music Group] Go Get It Mary Mary [Columbia Records] 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord) Matt Redman Track from: 10,000 Reasons [sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records] My Testimony Marvin Sapp Track from: I Win [Verity Gospel Music Group]
This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Marvin Sapp, TobyMac, Lecrae, Chris Tomlin, Britt Nicole, Matthew West, Kari Jobe, Matt Redman, Casting Crowns, Grammy, Tamela Mann, Mary Mary, Fred Hammond, Donald Lawrence, Rhett Walker Band, Israel Houghton, James Fortune, Anita Wilson
Posted on August 20, 2012 by John van der Veen
Even though he has a new record on a new label and is dad to a new baby, Mark Schultz is returning to his roots in so many ways. With his soon-to-be-released album All Things Possible, Mark is rediscovering what’s at the heart of his faith and ministry – the unconditional love of God… a love that makes all things new, and well… possible.
Family Christian: So, it’s been a few years since your last album. You came out with an instrumental record Renaissance that was exclusive to Family, but the last one that you did with Word was back in ’09, correct?
Mark Schultz: Yes, I think it was 2009.
Family: So since you’ve had a quieter couple of years from the music scene, what has been keeping you busy?
Mark: Well, we had a baby—number one. My wife Kate, who’s an OB-GYN has had like eight years of schooling, school then residency. She told me after her first week of residency where she worked 100 hours, “You might as well just find something to do for four years and just come back and see me when I’m done because I don’t think I’m going to see you ‘til then.” So that was a busy touring time and record time and we knew she was going to be busy. Well she’s now done with that and has her own practice here in Nashville, and so for the first time, we’ve gotten to really hang out with each other since we’ve been married anyway. In some ways it feels like we’ve been married for seven years, but in other ways it feels like we’re newlyweds, which is nice. And we’re about five months into a new family with Ryan here. I would say since my last record, this season has been very family-oriented, which has been pretty awesome.
Family: So when you wrote your last record you were married, but moving into this one you’re in a new season of parenthood. Do you feel like the writing process has changed a little?
Mark: I do. When I was a youth director, my most productive time was like five o’clock in the afternoon until about eleven o’clock at night. I’d just go to the chapel and lock the door and make a pot of coffee and write songs. I realize now that we’ve got a child and my wife works regular hours, that 5-10 pm is when people hang out. So I’ve had to adjust that a little bit and realize that now I’m not just a singer and a songwriter, now I’m a dad and we’ve got kind of a normal family structure. I’m just kind of learning how to balance all of those things together.
Family: You’ve written some pretty impactful “love songs” through the years. Now that you’re married and a dad are those songs still part of your repertoire? Do you still find yourself writing those songs?
Mark: Interestingly enough for this new record, I wrote a song for my son, Ryan before he was born. It talks about what all went on before he arrived. Like, I talk about marrying his mom and about us getting ready for him to come. And how excited I am. I can see his smile, and his mom holding him and how it’s really great. And the chorus is that I’m imagining these things. So it was kind of fun to write that for my son. Someday when he gets old enough to hear that song and appreciate it, I think that’s going to be a cool thing. I’ve never had that in my life before. Usually I’m writing songs for other people. And then I wrote a song called “I Will Love You Still,” which is the last song on the record, which I actually wrote with my wife. Funny enough, a lot of songs I write with my wife because I’ll be walking through the kitchen, and I’ll get stuck on something – I can get stuck on it for three months. I’ll be singing it and she’ll just say, “What do you need?” I’ll tell her and she’ll just come up with a line. And I’ll be like, “Hey, where were you three months ago?” She’s a great songwriter. But we actually sat down and wrote this one together, and it turned out really neat. So that’s fun as well. This is more than you asked, but I’ll say even in a broader sense, when he was just a few weeks old, I was driving somewhere – I think we dropped his mom off at Target so she could go get some baby stuff. She said, “Hey, just drive around the block a couple times. I’ll be right back.” So I did, and my song “I Am” came on the radio, and man, I got choked up as I was driving. I looked in the rearview mirror and said, “Hey Ryan, it’s your dad singing.” And for the first time I realized that, “Oh my gosh. He doesn’t even know that this is what I do” you know? And it was really neat for me to share that with him even though he’ll never remember it. For me, it was kind of a neat moment.
Family: Tell us a little about the thematic elements of All Things Possible. We can obviously hear those three words and a few Bible verses come to mind, but what does Mark Schultz think about when he hears those words “all things possible”?
Mark: Well, I’ll tell ya. I came up with that idea a few years ago. I was riding my bike across the country. I tell this story in my concert sometimes. I feel like God was with me when I first started, even though I was a little out of shape and everything. I dipped my back tire in the Pacific Ocean and started down California and I knew I was heading to Maine, and I felt like, “Hey, God’s with me.” I got about 20 miles into the trip and I thought, “Yeah, He’s with me. He’s not trying as hard, but He’s still with me.” And then I got the top of my first mountain and it just wore me out. And I was like, “Okay, He left me for a little while.” And we got to the first church for the first concert to raise money for orphans and I remember there were about 400 people at the church and I said, “Hey, I thought you told me that this was packed.” And they said, “It is. It only holds 400 people.” But as soon as I started talking about being adopted and what I was doing and threw out the set list and just started singing, man, my heart just opened up and poured out for orphans. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. I felt like God was taking over. At the end of that night they took up some money that we had raised and took an offering. The minister came over and said, “Hey, this isn’t bad for our little church. I’m not sure what you’re used to.” Well, we hadn’t done it before, so I wasn’t used to anything. That little church of 400 people had raised $20,000 for orphans that night. I remembered a quote from Bono of U2. He used to say, “God bless my records, bless the singles.” And then he had a friend tell him, “Hey, why don’t you quit asking God to bless what you’re doing and just do what God’s doing because it’s already blessed.” And, of course, I wrote for The James Fund, and The James Fund having the verse [about how] true religion is taking care of orphans, and it hit me that night after that concert riding my bike across the country, “Man, God said true religion is taking care of orphans, so if I’m riding my bike for that cause and I’m doing concerts for that cause, I’m not in control of it anymore because it’s God who’s doing it and I’m just following along with Him in what He’s already doing.” And that’s how we raised all the money for that. I thought, “I want to live like that. I want to live for God’s purposes, not my own purposes ‘cause I know they’re already blessed.” I know the Bible verse, “With man it’s impossible. With God all things are possible.” And that’s where this record took root.
Family: What a great story. Do you find that statement resonating in every area of your life?
Mark: It’s interesting. We just had a meeting about this this morning as we were talking about the record. I think what’s so interesting is people might have a time when they experience God and say, “That was impossible without God. I know that was God that did that.” But our memories are short-term when it comes to those things. We’ll say, “Oh, we’ll never forget this mountaintop experience where God has done these things.” And it feels like we get about a year away from that and we’re like, “Ya know, I just haven’t felt the presence of God in anything.” And then He does something again and we’re like, “Oh, I do remember.” We’re called to remember, ya know? And so I just start thinking about all these things. I have a great example. I did a tour and made the last record. We were in Italy, and I was just [feeling like], God’s forgotten me a little bit and I need a place to play the record. And I just feel like I need a place to play the piano. And my wife said, “We should pray about it.” So we did, and later than night we went out to get something to eat and we walked down the street. And here we are in Florence, Italy and she looks over and says, “Hey, is that a church?” I looked, and I said, “It is.” We walked in the church, and there’s all kinds of art on the ceiling and everything. And my wife is like, “Oh my gosh. That’s awesome!” But it didn’t mean anything to me. Then I saw a grand piano and I was like, “Oh my gosh. That’s awesome!” I went and talked to the minister, and said, “Hey can I play this piano sometime?” And he said, “Sure. Come tomorrow and play it.” So I went the next day to play the piano. It was about five o’clock in the afternoon, and about five kids came in. They were American kids that were studying in Florence. The minister said, “Hey, will you play a song?” And I said, “Sure.” And they were like, “Hey, will you play another song?” And I was like, “Sure.” So I played about four or five of my songs. And then one of the kids raised his hand and said, “Hey, you play an awful lot of Mark Schultz songs.” I said, “Listen, I’m a big fan.” But, I stayed there for the next few weeks that we were over there and became their praise and worship leader for those five kids and their youth director. I just loved it. Then by the time we were finished with the record and were leaving there, there were thirty kids coming to that church. They were excited and they felt like they [had] won. I was excited and felt like we’d won just from the experience of being there. I feel like that was a moment for me when God said, “Hey, you know what? I’m with you, and you can do ministry anywhere.” It doesn’t have to be what you’re used to. I think about that. I think about the bike trip. I think about meeting the youth minister on accident that I ended up working with for ten years, who’s still my mentor, just running into him at a restaurant one day. I tried so hard to get into the music business when I first got here and I was going nowhere fast. And then I ran into a youth minister who was just crazy enough to hire me from being a waiter. It really changed the direction of my life.
Family: So before you started your musical career, you were a youth pastor and it still sounds like it’s in your blood. Do you miss that to some extent?
Mark: Oh man! I really do. At some point in time I want to get back into that because I feel like I became so energized when we were over in Italy. The kids would come in and we were so excited to see them, and hug them, and encourage them in what they were doing. It’s so interesting. My wife comes away from really deep one-on-one conversations and that energizes her. For me, I’m more of the guy who’s slapping high-fives with people and hugging them and encouraging them and showing up at their events. That energizes me and that wears her out. So having deep conversations for too long with me starts to wear me out. We’re “opposites attract” in that way. Man, I love being involved with youth, whether it’s the college age or high school age. Plus, I think when you’re writing songs and telling stories, you kind of run out of material for yourself. And it’s so refreshing to see what God’s doing in the lives of others and their families and with them personally. I think God sets things in our hearts that make us come alive. Definitely, hanging out with youth and leading them and helping them grow spiritually is a thing that is awesome for me. It makes me come alive.
Family: Let’s talk a little bit more about the record, then we have some quick bullet point questions for you. It seems like there’s always a song that’s put on a record but for some reason or another, you never hear it on the radio. What song is that from All Things Possible?
Mark: I hope it’s not most of them. (Laughs) It’s true, there’s always a song that you go, “Hey, that didn’t turn out how I thought it was going to.” I always kind of think of songs as kids. Like when you’re first writing them they’re young and just being born and you’re so excited. And you hope they grow up and go out and reach their full potential. That’s always exciting to see. There’s always some of them that over-achieve, and you’re like, “How in the world did you become president?” And there are always the ones that you just knew great things were going to happen [from] and they’re never heard from again. So I think writing songs are kind of like being a parent in seeing how your kids are going turn out, not knowing. But I’ll tell you one song that probably won’t be a radio single, but one that I just absolutely love [called “One Day”]. The genesis of it happened when I was doing a concert. I was playing the song “I Am,” and it was just me and the piano and I was singing. I look out in the audience and people have their eyes closed and a lot of people are singing along with the song. I look about half-way out into the audience and there was a row where there are a couple kids in wheelchairs. As I hit the chorus for “I Am,” I look out there and this boy is smiling with his head thrown back and both his arms straight up in the air celebrating, making fists and pushing them straight up in the air like he’s just watched somebody score a touchdown. I’m singing “I Am,” and I just get choked up. I have to stop. I thought to myself, “That kid gets his own song.” For him to hear these words about who God is and what God can do and people thinking in their seats that they’re trusting God and loving God. But for this kid, in my mind he’s thinking, “You know, someday I’m going to meet God face to face and I’m going to kick this wheelchair to the curb. I’m going to start running and I’m never going to turn around and look back at this wheelchair again.” The chorus is “One day we’ll touch the Healer’s hand. One day we’ll be whole again. One day He’ll take every sorrow and wipe our tears away. One day.” When I started writing this song and thinking about that kid, man, I gotta tell ya, it reminded me that there are things in my life that I know God could touch and heal. People with cancer, He can touch and heal them. And what that day is going to look like compared to what this world looks like. I love singing that song in concert. Like I say, it may never be a single, but I think about that little boy with his hands up in the air in his wheelchair, knowing that better things were coming when he gets to heaven.
Family: Mark, what are you listening to currently?
Mark: Whatever my wife has on her computer. I wish I could be better at telling. I’m like a radio guy. So I listen to whatever’s on the radio and I hop around a lot. I wish I could be the guy that tells you, “Hey, here’s my favorite artists that I listen to.”
Family: Well not necessarily your favorite, but currently, who are you listening to? And if you can’t think of one, that’s okay.
Mark: I will say this. I’m real encouraged. I think, and I could be wrong, but I think Christian music, as far as artists that are singing, as far as their voices and everything, I think they’re getting better. I think they just keep getting better. Now, of course, I can’t think of any of their names, but (starts singing) “there’s got to be more to life.” No, not that one. That’s like ten years old. I’m thinking about two girls. The one that sings the song about the rip in her jeans and the dent in her fender.
Family: Francesca Battistelli.
Mark: Man! Unbelievable voice! Just unbelievable voice! And there’s another girl singer, and I can see her face. She had a record called Gold.
Family: Britt Nicole.
Mark: Oh my gosh! Dude! You can find any of those girls on mainstream radio. They would compete with anybody in my opinion. I think they’re unbelievable. The Afters. When I hear a great song on the radio, my antenna goes up. I just go, “That’s a great song.” I’m a big fan of those artists for sure. And as well, I listen to country and I listen to pop and I listen to talk radio and it’s just whatever’s on the radio. I just switch back and forth.
Family: Are you a book reader?
Mark: I am getting to be more of a book reader. My wife has a problem with book reading – she loves it so much. I’m just joking but, when she was in residency, she had to study medical books like all day long, so to relax she would just get a novel and read it before she went to bed. I was like, that’s hard for me to believe someone can do that. But I do enjoy books, especially when we’re traveling. It feels like we’re always delayed or something’s going on. If you’ve got a book in your hand, you’ve got a better way to pass the time.
Family: Alright, these are short questions. I don’t know how short the answers will be, but what is your favorite cookie?
Mark: (Laughs) You mean, you’ve got short questions, and I just go on for fifteen minutes about my favorite ingredients ever?
Family: If you want…
Mark: Man, I need to be careful what I say about this because somebody might bring me one to a concert. You know what? I really love chocolate chip cookies. I’ll just be honest with you. I do. And, here’s where I start to get longer on my answer, my mom makes these, they’re kind of peanut butter but they got the Hershey’s Kiss in the middle. My mom makes those for Christmas every year so I tell her those are my favorites, so I guess I’ll just go ahead and say that.
Family: Those are the bomb. What is your favorite restaurant?
Mark: Favorite restaurant, you know what? I would say it’s Bin 54 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They’re all about steaks and French fries. I love ‘em!
Family: Have you ever been cow tipping or snipe hunting?
MS: (Laughs) I think I was involved in snipe hunting without knowing about it when I was younger. I have an older brother and cousins, so they had me do several things where I made a fool out of myself, so snipe hunting was in that I believe. I lived in Kansas and never tipped a cow, my whole life. So, no, I’ve never tried. I never wanted to tip a cow, just for reasons of not wanting to get hurt.
Family: If Family Christian invited you on a cow tipping trip, would you come?
Mark: (Laughs) If I were to be officially invited to a cow tipping, I would have to believe that I would give it a try. I was never formally invited, but...
Family: One last question, and Mark, you sort of answered this, but in a concise answer, what is God doing in Mark Schultz’s life right now?
Mark: Man, that’s an interesting question. I would say this, and let me think about where I… oh yeah, I remember. My wife and I have been watching sermons from Andy Stanley in Atlanta, and he just did a series. I’ll never forget, this happened just a few months ago, but this is kind of revolutionary in my life, to realize that I’m accepted by Christ and that I’m loved unconditionally. And I gotta tell ya, most of the music artists that I know or just in general, really are approval-seeking people. I know I am. I’m a big approval seeker. Like, I would rather not have any conflict at all. I would just rather people just like me and be really happy with me. That’s a hard way to live your life. When you’re reinforced on the stage, when you write a song and people clap, it’s reinforced. You say, “They like it. I did something that people like.” I don’t know why it’s taken this long to realize that I’m loved unconditionally and accepted by Christ, that that’s the highest order. That’s the thing that I focus on. And I gotta tell ya, I’m glad we’re talking about this because I have to go do something right after this conversation to remember this. But I think that’s the biggest thing, living my life free of people’s opinion. Their opinion of you can go up and down as the day goes on, but knowing that I’m accepted by Christ lets me live a little freer and a little happier and a little not so much walking on egg shells around hoping everybody likes me. You know what I mean?
Family: To be perfectly honest, Mark, it’s not just artists. It’s everybody. We all have that problem. Don’t you think that every person struggles with selfishness and pride, at times?
Mark: Yeah. I think that’s right. Ya know, there’s something in a study where I’m thinking I’m accepted by Christ and loved by Christ that, in a weird way, it kind of takes the pressure off me to have to be everything to everybody or feel like I need to live up to this great standard or to not let anybody be mad at me. And just say, Hey, you know what, some decisions are tough to make, but knowing that if I’m living fully for Christ, if I’m wanting his okay more than man’s okay, ya know? I think it’s all that wrapped up together. But, man, when I’m not focused on that, it gets to be a huge trap. It’s a huge trap to fall into.
Family: You hit it right on the head. It’s understanding that Christ loves us. Christ took our sin and so He comes to us and says, “You know what? I see it all. You don’t understand how depraved you are and I do… but this is how much I love you.” The more we can contemplate that, it seems that some of those battles with pride and self-worth tend to dissipate.
Mark: Yeah. I know when I first heard these words, when I first watched that sermon and I really let it set in, I felt more peaceful than I had in a long time. You know, because you’re making a record, especially this record, and you want people to like it and you want radio singles and you want the record label to like it. You want your family to like it. There’s so much pressure and you feel like you have to live up to this and you don’t want to let people down. I remember having almost a moment with God one time when I was praying several years ago and I was like, “God please help this record to sell. Let it have a great single. Let it be great.” And I felt God saying to me in my heart, “Hey, do you love to write songs about Me? Do you love getting up in the morning and writing a song about Me? And then go to bed at night still excited about that song and excited about the next one tomorrow? I’m not going to stop you at the gates of heaven and say, ‘If you’d only sold 10,000 more records I’d think about letting you in.’” He goes, “You were born to do this, so I just want to cheer you on. I want you to love what you do and love what you’re doing. I don’t care about the record sales. I’m not keeping tabs on that. I’m just keeping tabs on your heart and are you being true to who you are?” And it took me back to that moment and was just really freeing for me.
Family: Mark, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. We so appreciate your wisdom and your honesty here. You’ve really encouraged us, and we’re so thankful for that.
Mark: Oh, thanks to you too. I love it.
For more "Four Questions With..." check out these blog posts.
Posted on July 26, 2012 by Family Christian
Brandon Heath is certainly no new comer to the music scene. His career has taken him on some amazing journeys through the years. Brandon has written songs not just for his own albums, but also for Bebo Norman, Matt Wertz, Joy Williams of Civil Wars, Britt Nicole, Jars of Clay and others... Most fans know him for writing and recording songs like "I'm Not Who I Was," "Give Me Your Eyes" and "Your Love."
Not many folks know that Brandon sang his song, "Love Never Fails," at Carrie Underwood's wedding. Carrie has been a fan of Brandon for a number of years and she wanted him to sing the song for her first dance with her new husband, Mike Fisher.
This October, Brandon releases his newest album, Blue Mountain. From the dynamic first single, "Jesus In Disguise" to the heartwarming tale of "Paul Brown Petty," Brandon weaves together a collection of songs full of heart and rich with redemption. Staying true to his craft of personal songwriting, Blue Mountain's back porch ease further establishes Brandon Heath's accessible brand of story telling.
The first single from Blue Mountain is Jesus In Disguise. Below is the lyric video for you.
Earlier this year, Brandon recorded an acoustic EP earlier this year. Songs include "Give Me Your Eyes," "Your Love" and "Wait and See." Click the image to see the album.
PS - Bonus video here. Brandon with Third Day, singing a great song from the late Rich Mullins.
Posted on July 10, 2012 by John van der Veen
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.
Family Christian: Can you give us a brief overview of your childhood? Where did Lecrae come from?
Lecrae: I was born in Houston, Texas to essentially a single parent household. We moved from Houston to Denver, and then, just because my mother was single and was just kind of struggling to make ends meet, I would stay with my grandmother quite often in San Diego, California. So between Texas, California, and Denver, those were the places I bounced around. I was just a sponge. I picked up so much in all that time. Obviously not having a strong male influence or role model, I gravitated to anyone who would pay attention. Most of the time those were terrible influences [who] influenced me to run in the wrong direction quite often. I grew up with a great sense of insecurity in figuring out what I was and where I belonged. Not growing up in church didn’t make it any easier. So I pretty much wrestled through that my whole life until my senior summer in high school. I got into a lot of trouble and [things] really exploded. I had to say “God, I need your help.” That’s really when I began to sense that God was drawing me and [I] later became a Christian after hearing the Gospel.
FC: What made you feel that impression that God was pursuing you?
Lecrae: I had gotten into trouble my senior summer. Financial trouble, trouble with other people, trouble with women – I was just running myself into a dead end. So I’m thinking, “I’m seventeen, let me do the mature, adult thing, and go to church.” Grandma was a Christian so the roots of the foundation I had established of the Christian God were through my grandmother. And that was where I needed to go. By grace, there was a young lady that I went to high school with that invited me to a Bible study. I went, and I had never seen Christians who dressed like me or talked like me, so I thought they were Martians from another planet! When I saw them, I said, “Oh you guys are human!” They loved me genuinely and that’s really what started it.
FC: Do you still live in Houston?
Lecrae: No, I’ve since moved from Texas to Memphis, and from Memphis to Atlanta. I’ve been in Atlanta for the last three years.
FC: You’re married?
Lecrae: I am, with three beautiful kids.
FC: So did you marry that lady from high school?
Lecrae: No, I actually met my wife at the same Bible study [though]. She was friends with the young lady who invited me. I met her there, and obviously I thought she was way too Christian for me, but I became a Christian and grew in the Lord and it worked out between us.
FC: 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?
Lecrae: 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.
FC: Would you say that you’re trained in other forms of art beside hip hop?
Lecrae: I definitely wanted to be around artistic people all the time, [because] you pick up a lot. Acting and theatrics are my forte. I got a full scholarship for acting. I thought I was going to be an actor. I saw a movie with Bruce Willis in it and thought, “I want to do that.”
FC: So at what point did you decide that maybe there was something in hip hop for you? If you were leaning toward theater or acting, or at least had a desire for that, when did you decide “I want to do something with hip hop”?
Lecrae: Hip hop – it’s an art form but it’s a culture as well. You grow up in the culture and you never leave it. It’s a style of dress; it’s a way of thought. I always grew up in the culture, and it was part of who I was and I carried it into every world I was in. Even moving into the theater world, I would bring that element into it. What was unique about me and different about the world I traveled in, was I grew up watching cousins and uncles. They loved hip hop, listened to it constantly. As a little kid, you just listen to everything they listen to, they’d break dance in front yard and I was just exposed to this. From grabbing paint cans and trying to learn how to do graffiti to all those different elements. As I grew older I found that I really had a knack for rhyming and I pursued that. So by thirteen I got serious about using my writing and rhyming skills. I did it everywhere I could. I didn’t really have a lot of social currency in middle school or high school. I wasn’t the most popular kid. I’m super tall, but I started playing basketball late so it took me a while to catch up. My social currency was being able to rap and that’s what I would do in the cafeteria at lunchtime. That’s what really connected me to other peers.
FC: Did you feel forced to approach hip hop or lyrics differently after you became a Christian?
Lecrae: As a Christian I really did kind of wrestle with “How do I do this?” The things that really steered me away from Christianity [originally] was that I really did think it was about putting on airs and about rules and regulations. I liked baggy jeans and my urban style and I thought that Christians and that didn’t mix. And so going to the Bible study I saw individuals who did dressed like me and talked like me. [Up until that point] I didn’t know Christians wore their hats back and things along those lines, so that really intrigued me. I loved that I could be authentically hip hop, but authentically Christian. The things that God didn’t endorse, obviously I would have to let them go, but there were so many beautiful things that He did endorse and so many wonderful aspects within hip hop culture that just made me me that He could use for His own glory. I just began to walk in that and allow Him to change me.
FC: When you hear the term “Christian rap” or “Christian hip hop,” what do you think?
Lecrae: I think what people are trying to communicate is that there are redeemed individuals within hip hop culture. And I would say I’m one of them. I think that as a Christian, we’re to be a light in this world. I think it’s almost like saying “Christian American,” it doesn’t mean that I’m not American, it just means that I’m distinctly and authentically Christian as much as I am American. And so my Christianity is going to permeate throughout my American-ness. So when I think about Christian hip hop I think of an individual who is a Christian who is using hip hop to communicate things that God will endorse.
FC: What do you think of the Christian hip hop industry? Are we doing well? Are we competing, in a sense?
Lecrae: As an industry, there is definitely a lack of infrastructure. Simply because it’s definitely more of an organic art form, I think there’s definitely a lack of infrastructure. I think that’s been one of the passions that my friends at Reach Records have had; to bring some awareness to music and to really bring a different light and perspective. I’m really grateful to all of the different entities within the Christian music industry for embracing us and giving us a seat at the table. And I think that’s only helping more hip hop artists in positions to serve.
FC: What artists do you listen to personally, either hip hop or not?
Lecrae: I love listening to all the guys on my label: KB, Tedashii, Pro, Andy Mineo, Trip Lee. I love those guys. There’s another guy, Swoope, that I think is a phenomenal artist. They’re people that really inspire me and I think they’re just phenomenally talented at what they do.
FC: You’ve been busy with collaborations lately, appearing on Britt Nicole’s newest and also with Jimmy Needham. Who would be on your list of dream collaborations?
Lecrae: I’m a big fan of Brooke Fraser and Gungor, so I would love to work with them. You might see some Lecrae and Tenth Avenue North action happening as well... I definitely would say Hillsong United. I’m blown away at all that they do. I’ve been to Sydney and seen how incredibly passionate they are about what they do. I think that’s mind-blowing. I’ve been really fortunate. Not many artists can say they’ve done stuff with the Chris Tomlins and the Crowders. So that’s really been a blessing for me.
FC: Do you think you’d ever cross over into mainstream music? And what do you think about that type of responsibility?
Lecrae: There’s a saying that goes around that says “I 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.
FC: So you’re not apprehensive of something like that happening? You’re just saying, “If that happens, God’s going to have to be the one to make it happen”?
Lecrae: Absolutely. I think as Christians, we all have the same calling, and that calling is to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul and love others as ourselves and to glorify God in everything that we do. If I was an architect, who all of the sudden made it into one of the biggest architectural firms, I’m still going to have that same calling. As a musician, to be able to walk in mainstream realms, I still have that same calling. The Bible says, “Take heed, lest you fall,” but this has really been the story of my life. I’ve traveled into other realms in order to be a light and be a missionary. Some of them were very dangerous, and I don’t look at this as any different.
FC: What do you think of church culture today, here in the U.S.?
Lecrae: Obviously, I love the church, the church that God is establishing, that Jesus died for, so I’ll never have any negative things to say about His church. Even though she’s spotty and has issues, He’s perfecting her. Church culture, or what I’d call Christendom, is this kind of traditionalism that we’ve set in motion. It doesn’t necessarily have any validation in the Bible, and I think can be very dangerous—creating rules and regulations and putting ourselves in positions where we’re the final authority on things because this is the way it’s always been done. It’s dangerous and we can be Pharisees in that regard. I’m very optimistic that there are sincere believers out there that are okay with tradition but don’t want to endorse traditionalism for the sake of traditionalism but want to embrace tradition because it’s God-honoring. I think that’s a beautiful thing.
FC: Tell us a little bit about Man Up: what went into it conceptually and what you hope it accomplishes.
Lecrae: Yes, so Man Up was kind of us at Reach Records and Life Ministries surveying the culture, both the church and outside the church. There was a lack of understanding of what masculinity really looks like and what it is. Obviously, we believe the Bible is the authority on masculinity, and so we wanted to address that. Men, specifically in the West, have no rights of passage, no way to know when they become a man. Everywhere else in the world you gotta kill a lion or stab a shark, or go on some journey, and you come back and you’re a man. But here in the West, we’re really kind of clueless as to what makes us a man. So we’ve begun to make up our own definitions when Jesus has given us so many. He was the picture-perfect man. He was selfless, He was sacrificial, He was courageous, He was authoritative, and He loved his wife – the church – to the death. Those were some of the elements that we wanted to put out there and portray for those inside and for those outside the church, that they may say, “Ah, this is what manhood looks like. And it’s a goal that I’ve never attained in my own strength.” And so, one of the key factors in manhood is repentance. Ya know, you’ve got to man down to man up. Wave your white flag and say, “Jesus I can’t do this.” I think that’s the first step in being a man.
FC: And it has been well-received?
Lecrae: Incredibly well. So we did a campaign where there was an album, a short film, a tour, and a conference. The tour sold out, the album has been incredibly successful, the film is attached to the album so people have been watching it and being encouraged. And at the conference we anticipated about 1,000 people and 2,200 men showed up – three generations, the grandfathers, fathers, and sons. It was mind blowing. It was a powerful, powerful time.
FC: That is so valuable for men and fathers. Talk to us a little bit about Church Clothes: the mix tape, the video, the controversy.
Lecrae: I’ve always been a missionary and what people don’t know is that I’ve always taken some strategic and eyebrow-raising steps. So historically that’s been my M.O. I moved to one of the worst neighborhoods in Memphis, as a newly married man, which everybody said “That’s ridiculous, that’s insane, you’ve lost your mind.” From there, my wife and I went to Asia in ministry there and had to duck and hide and run from authorities and she agreed to go pregnant. Everyone thought we had lost our minds again. God showed us incredible fruit. I’ve always done music to push people to get them to get uncomfortable in their seat so they could wrestle with things. Not to become pew potatoes, just simply sitting there, growing fat with knowledge and not applying it. It’s a mixed tape that’s really aimed and geared toward hip hop culture. And one of the formats that is highly respectable within hip hop culture is a mix tape. Just talking about controversial issues that I don’t think people outside of the church wrestle with. Being an artist that’s well received in Christian circles, the majority of my fan-base is Christian, and are hearing it and seeing it, and have all these questions and issues. For me, it’s me saying to them, “Hey, this exists out here. This is what people are wresting with. We need to get out here and love on people and engage people and engage culture.”
FC: So you’ve encountered some controversy with your music. Do you think it’s because you take a bold approach?
Lecrae: I think some people don’t get it, but as we talked about I think there’s a Christian culture that wants everything to be comfortable and safe and they think that’s what Christianity is. It’s “Aaah, I’ve escaped the craziness of this world and now I’m safe.” And we would like to move into a safe environment and have, ya know, a Christian barber shop and a Christian swimming pool and not have to deal with the world anymore. But Jesus prayed that we would remain in the world but [be] protected. He also told us that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church and for the gates to not prevail against His church and [for that to happen], it must mean we’re trying to storm them. So, I think there’s just a sub-sect that want to remain safe and tucked away and not engage the world for the glory of Jesus.
FC: Can you just stop rocking the boat for a while?
Lecrae: (laughing) I would love to, but I can’t.
FC: No don’t! Don’t stop rocking the boat. So, tell us about Gravity. What’s the theme of the record?
Lecrae: Gravity is loosely based on Ecclesiastes and I think what Solomon was trying to do was bring some weight to life and that’s really what I want to do, to paint some sober pictures. Honestly everything sober is not bad so I don’t want people to think that sober pictures are bad. You know, there is a sobering picture when you’re overwhelmed with all of the hurt and the pain in this world. There’s a sober picture of how it’s only for a short period of time, it’s short-lived, or that we still have Jesus. So that’s what I would call a weighty part, a gravitational pull to remind us of who we are in Jesus. So obviously, just wanting to paint hope, but also just giving the pictures of the realities of this life that we live, and how there’s no escaping it other than Jesus.
FC: I do have a couple of questions from our Twitter followers. They should be fairly easy. What was the hardest thing that the media has put you?
Lecrae: Ya know, I don’t know if it’s the media. I would say it’s probably social media. Social media is just constant, it never stops, 24 hours a day. And so there’s always someone who is very loud and very opinionated. I will say it’s strengthened my faith if anything, because it’s made me feel closer to Jesus, or relate to Him more. I’m sure He was constantly criticized, and constantly someone had an opinion about what He was doing. I’m not perfect like Him though so some opinions or critiques might be warranted (laughs).
FC: Who was your favorite artist growing up?
Lecrae: My favorite artist growing up would probably be Lauren Hill. She sings, she raps, she sings from her soul, and then she wasn’t afraid to articulate her faith once she started to embrace it. And I really appreciate that about her.
FC: She certainly wore her heart on her sleeve, that’s for sure. One more question, are there any guests on your new record?
Lecrae: Absolutely. It’s still in the works, but I would love to work with the likes of Brooke Fraser and Gungor. There are a few, but I don’t want to give them away until it’s signed, sealed and delivered.
To find out more about Lecrae's new album, Gravity, click here.
This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Music, Jimmy Needham, Tenth Ave. North, Lecrae, Church, Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Fathers, Brooke Fraser, Gungor, Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, KB, Tedashii, Pro, Andy Mineo, Trip Lee, Hip-Hop, Rap, Britt Nicole, Swoope