If you are new to Christian rock, please read this
post about the definition of Christian rock and some of the biggest questions about Christian music.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Secular Christian Rock

For this post, I want to talk about secular Christian rock music. First off, this is not an oxymoron. You can have secular Christian musicians. Secular Christian artists are simply musicians whose music is mainly in the secular market, instead of the Christian market. Most Christian rock bands choose to play music in both markets of secular and Christian. But, these five bands I want to share with you play solely within the secular market of music, without compromising their beliefs and faith.

The first band is Lifehouse. They first came to prominence in 2001 after the release of their first album No Name Face. Their first single, Hanging By A Moment, became the most played song of 2001. In their career, they have released five albums and sold upwards of fifteen million records worldwide.

Their lead singer, Jason Wade, was raised in a Christian home. Both of his parents were missionaries in Thailand, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. When he was twelve years old, his parents moved back to the United States and soon divorced. This divorce drove Jason to begin writing poetry and learning how to play the guitar.

Instead of simply being labeled a Christian band, Jason Wade and the members of Lifehouse simply want to share positive music and let their listeners interpret songs for themselves. They want to have music that affects everyone, not just Christians.

This music video is of the song Broken. This powerful song is all about coming to Christ broken and empty and then finding healing in His name. The concept of this video is really cool. I won’t spoil the ending for you.

The second musician is Adam Young who is known as Owl City. Adam Young began writing music in his parent’s basement, to help with his insomnia. Before he was signed to the major record label Universal Republic Records, Adam Young released two independent albums. These albums soon became very popular on myspace, which attracted the attention of Universal. His major label debut, Ocean Eyes, sent Adam Young soaring into the spotlight. In the first week of its release, Ocean Eyes sold over 20,000 albums, and the single, Fireflies, sold over 60,000 units. Fireflies eventually sold over 600,000 units.

Adam Young believes his message is to simply bring praise and glory to Jesus Christ, because Jesus is the reason he creates music. “The Lord Jesus Christ is my reason for creating and I have nothing but thanks and gratitude toward Him for being allowed to do what I do, and ultimately, seize my wildest dreams as if they were just there waiting for me. I guess my whole message or goal of this whole operation is to bring glory to Jesus Christ by all that I do and say, not just as it relates to Owl City, but in all areas of my life,” said Adam Young in an interview.

This music video is of the song Fireflies. This song has many different meanings and interpretations. For me, I believe this song is simply about dreaming and how magnificent and beautiful dreams can be. This video is a fun video of Adam Young playing music surrounded by many toys coming to life.

The third group is the band The Fray. This group literally became famous overnight. The band was formed in 2002 and was signed to Epic Records in 2004. In 2005, the group released their debut album, How To Save A Life. This album went double platinum, selling over two million records. Their second record, released in 2009, did very well on the sales charts but not as good as their debut. Their second self-titled album went on to be certified gold, selling over 500,000 units.

The band believes their most important calling is to be relevant to their listeners. When lead singer, Isaac Slade first began writing music, all of his lyrics were Christian oriented. But, he soon realized that all his non-Christian friends did not know what he was talking about. So Slade began a radical change in the lyric writing of the band, so that everyone (Christians and non-Christians) could understand their music. The Fray does not want to be a band that simply just quotes Bible verses, but writes songs that relate to people's lives. “The Pharisees just quoted Bible verses. Jesus related the parables to people's lives. The people were drawn in by the plot development, character and conflict," said Slade.

This video I have for you is from their debut album. The song is the title track called How To Save A Life. This song came from a mentoring relationship Slade had with a kid in a Christian halfway house. This teenager just wanted to destroy himself. But thankfully, with the help of Slade and others, this teenager is on the road to recovery. This song is all about the trials, triumphs, and prayers of Slade while trying to mentor to this teenager.

The fourth group is called Daughtry. This rock band is fronted by season 5 American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry. After being voted off American Idol, Chris Daughtry and the band released their first album in 2007. The album went on to sell four million records and was named the number one selling album of 2007 by Billboard. Their second record, Leave this Town, was released in 2009 and has currently sold over one million records.

Chris Daughtry is a musician that is not openly Christian. With that said, Daughtry is a professed Christian. Before his band Daughtry, Chris was the front man for a band called Absent Element. This group had many songs, including some worship songs like Heart of Worship. Chris Daughtry does not openly share his faith with the public, but his faith definitely comes out in a lot of his songs.

The song I want to share with you is called Home off his debut album with Daughtry. This song definitely has duel meanings. The first meaning could be Daughtry is writing the song about physically going home to be with his wife. He wants to go home to be with his wife and family, where their love is always true and fulfilling. But, I also believe this song talks about an eternal love. This song could also mean that Daughtry has a longing to go home or to heaven to be with Jesus Christ because His love is true, unfailing, and forgiving. The video features many backstage and live shots of the band throughout touring.

The final group is called The Rocket Summer. This is a solo project of Stephen Bryce Avary. On all of his albums, Stephen performs all the instruments and does the vocals. For live shows, however, he does have a band that plays with him. The Rocket Summer has released four full length albums and two EPs. His big break came in 2007 when he released the album Do You Feel. The album debuted at number forty-four on the Billboard 200 and sold 15,000 units in its first week.

Stephen cites the reason for signing with a mainstream label was the possibility of connecting with everyone who hears his music, not just Christians. “It was a deliberate choice to sign with a mainstream label first. I didn't feel it was right at that time [to sign with a Christian label]. I knew that I wanted this to be something to connect with people that didn't go to church or know Christ,” said Avary.

The song and video I want to share with you is called Do You Feel. This song is simply about waking up from complacency and changing the world. It is about having a heart for the world, and a desire to feel and even change the world’s problems. The concept for the video is very simple. It features musicians and ordinary people with different messages written on their hands. 

I hope you enjoyed my look at secular Christian music. These are not all the Christian bands that are in the secular market. There are many other bands including: The Devil Wears Prada, Switchfoot, P.O.D., Paramore, MXPX, The Almost, 12 Stones, Anberlin, Mae, and more. These bands choose to be solely in the secular market without compromising their faith and belief in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Christian rock testimonies

For this post, I once again want to tackle testimonies in Christian rock. I have personal testimonies of three different Christian musicians, and I have a testimony from a mother and son who were impacted and forever changed by the love of one Christian band.

This first testimony is from Sonny Sandoval. He is the lead singer for the Christian metal band P.O.D. This band has garnered critical and fan acclaim by selling over 10 million records worldwide. They have also received three Grammy nominations.

This video is a powerful testimony of Sonny coming to know the Lord through his mother’s battle with terminal cancer. In a hospital parking lot, Sonny asked Jesus Christ into his heart.

This second video is of Aaron Gillespie. He is the former drummer and back up singer for the Christian screamo group Underoath. Now he is the lead singer for the Christian rock group The Almost.

In this video, Aaron is very honest about his past failures, sins, and anxiety. That is the reason why I believe his testimony is so powerful. Aaron shows the world that you don’t need to be perfect or even semi-perfect to have a relationship with Jesus. You only need to be willing and open.

The third video features John Schlitt of the classic Christian rock group Petra. John Schlitt joined the band in 1986 after Greg X Volz left the group to pursue a solo career. John Schlitt stayed with the band until his retirement in 2005.

Schlitt has a powerful testimony about his life before Christianity. He was the lead singer for a band, but Schlitt soon became addicted to cocaine and alcohol. On the very day Schlitt decided to commit suicide, he was lead to Christ by his wife and her pastor.

For the last testimony, I have two videos. Instead of another Christian musician talking about their personal testimony, I decided to post a video of a family. This video features the testimony of a mother and son who were impacted by the love and care from the group Hawk Nelson.

While on tour, Hawk Nelson decided to start visiting Ronald McDonald homes in support of their One Little Miracle Campaign. One little boy named Nicholas captured the hearts of the band, and forever changed their lives for the better. This is part 1.

Here is part 2. This video features the members of Hawk Nelson inviting Nicholas to come on stage with them. Nicholas’ dream was to be a rock star, and for one night, Nicholas’ life was changed forever.

I hope you enjoyed these amazing and powerful testimonies.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Life and Career of the Newsboys

Throughout their twenty-five year career, the Newsboys have been one of the most popular Christian rock bands of all time. They have twenty #1 Christian rock singles and been Grammy nominated four times. The Newsboys have been featured on many magazines including Newsweek, USA Today, Rolling Stone, Guitar Player, and Modern Drummer, and they have been featured on many television shows on channels such as VH1, CBS, ESPN, CNN, E!, and PBS. The Newsboys have five gold albums, and they have sold over six million records worldwide. They have also played a live show at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But, before they began their immense success in the Christian scene, the Newsboys were formed to humble beginnings in 1985 in Australia under their original name The News. They began their career playing local shows in church basements and pubs around Australia. They soon moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and changed their name to the Newsboys, in order to avoid conflict with the band Huey Lewis and the News.

In 1988, they released their debut album, Read All About It, on Refuge Communication Records. This album features the core members of John James (lead vocalist), Sean Taylor (bassist), Peter Furler (drums), and Phil Yates (guitarist). This album actually turned out to be a flop and the record company soon dropped the band.

The Newsboys were then picked up by the label Star Song, and the Newsboys released two more albums in the next three years. Hell is For Wimps and Boyz Will Be Boyz once again enjoyed little success for the band.

Here is the music video for the song Simple Man off the album Hell is For Wimps. This is the first video ever made by the Newsboys.

Finally, after a number of lineup changes, the Newsboys' big break came in 1992 when they released the album Not Ashamed. The title track went on to be their first number one single on Christian Radio.

After the popularity of Not Ashamed, the Newsboys' reputation continued to grow. Their next two albums, Going Public released in 1994 and Take Me To Your Leader released in 1996, both went on to be gold albums and each featured many number one hits. Going Public featured four #1 hits including: Shine, Spirit Thing, Truth and Consequences, and Real Good Thing. The album Take Me To Your Leader featured three #1 singles including the songs: Take Me To Your Leader, Reality, and Let Go. Both of these albums feature arguably their two most famous and popular songs of all time: Shine, and Breakfast.

Here is the music video for the #1 single Take Me to Your Leader.

After the immense popularity beginning to grow for the band, their lead singer, John James, decided to leave the Newsboys in 1998. Peter Furler, the drummer and back up singer for the band, decided to take his place.

In 1998, the Newsboys released their seventh album and first album featuring Peter Furler as lead vocalist. Also in the album, Step Up to the Microphone, Phil Joel, the bassist for the band, stepped in for backing vocals. The percussionist, Duncan Phillips, also moved his position in the band to full time drummer. With this album, the Newsboys combined the efforts of their last two albums. Step Up to the Microphone featured the ballads that made Going Public popular and it also featured the driving rock songs that made Take Me to Your Leader a national hit. This album featured four #1 singles on Christian radio charts including the songs: Believe, Woohoo, Step Up to the Microphone, and Entertaining Angels.

Here is the video for the hit song Entertaining Angels.

Their next album, Love Liberty Disco, came a year later in 1999. This album was very different stylistically and musically than anything the Newsboys had done before. As the title suggests, most of the songs fit into disco music stylistically. Not all the songs are disco songs, some of the tracks are vintage Newsboys pop rock songs. A Beautiful Sound, Good Stuff, and Forever Man are classic Newsboys songs.

This is the official music video for Love Liberty Disco.

After the Love Liberty Disco album, the Newsboys took their biggest break between records in their career. It took three years before they released their next album, Thrive. This was another very different album for the band. Yes, they had their usual driving pop rock sound, but they also incorporated worship music into their album for the first time in their career. Songs such as It is You, Thrive, and Lord I Don’t Know helped usher in a new worship era for the band.

This next music video is a song all about kissing your cares goodbye and giving them to the Lord. Here is Million Pieces.

For their next two albums, the Newsboys decided to delve into the world of worship music. Both, Adoration released in 2003 and Devotion released in 2004, were a major contrast to the Newsboys sound. These albums were free of driving pop rock music and in its place filled with meaningful worship songs. On these two albums, the Newsboys did covers of many popular worship songs including: Amazing Love, In Christ Alone, Blessed Be Your Name, Name Above All Names, and When the Tears Fall. Both albums weren’t all covers, each record also featured some of the most popular Newsboys songs of all time. He Reigns and My Heart’s Desire could rank up there in popularity with Breakfast and Shine. In 2003, after the release of Adoration, long time guitarist Jody Davis was forced to leave the band in order to take care of his sick daughter. Bryan Olesen took his place for only one album. After the release of Devotion, Olesen left the band to start his own Christian rock band called Vota.

Here is one of their most famous worship songs, He Reigns.

After delving into the world of worship, Newsboys decided to combine worship and rock and roll for their next two albums. Go released in 2006 and In the Hands of God released in 2009 featured both pop rock and beautiful worship ballads. Go features pop rock songs like Wherever We Go and Your Love is Better than Life and worship songs such as In Wonder and I Am Free. In the Hands of God features rock songs like The Way We Roll and My Friend Jesus and worship songs such as Glorious, and Lead Me to the Cross.

Paul Colman replaced Olesen in the album Go as the lead guitarist. But, after a short stint with the band, he soon leaves to pursue his own solo career. After his daughter’s recovery and a six year hiatus from the band, Jody Davis returned to the Newsboys in 2009. He was the guitarist for the In the Hands of God album and he is currently the Newsboys lead guitarist. In the Hands of God is also the first album that did not feature long time bassist and back up singer Phil Joel. He left the band shortly after the release of Go to pursue a solo career.

This next video is from the album Go, it is called Something Beautiful.

Newsboys have also lent their musical talents to the Christian kids television show Veggietales. They were featured on the Veggie Rocks cd along with many other well known Christian rock artists including: Audio Adrenaline, Skillet, Relient K, Sanctus Real, Superchick, O.C. Supertones, and many more. The Newsboys recorded the song In the Belly of the Whale for the Veggie Rocks cd. The song is also featured on the Jonah Veggie Tales official soundtrack.

Not only are the Newsboys known for their pop rock albums, they are also known for their amazing live shows. The Newsboys started the traveling Christian music festival in 2001 called Festival Con Dios, which means Festival with God. The tour ran for three years, until 2003, and featured many well known Christian bands including Audio Adrenaline, Switchfoot, Pillar, TobyMac, Skillet, Plus One, and more.

Throughout their career, the Newsboys have toured with many well known Christian bands including Code of Ethics, Plankeye, Third Day, Sonicflood, Jeremy Camp, Rebecca St. James, Kutless, Stellar Kart, Rush of Fools, DecembeRadio, and Seventh Day Slumber. In their live shows, they are also known for an amazing drum solo. The drummer, Duncan Phillips, will play a drum solo while on a platform that rises in the air, tilts downward 90 degrees and spins around. Since the platform is tilted downwards, Duncan is forced to wear two different harnesses in order to keep him strapped to his seat.

Here is a short video of Duncan Phillips performing the drum solo live.

In 2009, the only founding member remaining in the band, Peter Furler, decided to leave the Newsboys after a twenty-four year career with the group. He wanted to take a more supportive role and write and produce songs for the band.

According to Stereotruth.com, this is what Peter Furler had to say about his departure. “Newsboys to me has always been a mission, and I entrust Mike, Jeff, Jody and Duncan to continue all that is in store for us as a band. I’m looking forward to focusing on the band’s studio career and spending time in my own bed after many years in a tour bus and hundreds of thousands of miles on the road.”

Since his departure, Furler has also gone on to be a professional oil painter. He has many paintings on regular canvas and he also has many paintings on drum heads. Many of his works are featured in offices and recording studios across the country.

His replacement was a long time friend of the band, Michael Tait. Michael Tait is a former member of the highly awarded and publicized Christian rock band DC Talk and he was also the lead singer of the band Tait.

The Newsboys have announced their latest album will be released on July 13, 2010. This will be the first album with Michael Tait as the lead vocalist.

Here is the title track off their album, it is called Born Again.

The Newsboys’ career has defined this generation of Christian rock music. Through many member changes, six different guitarists, two bassists, two keyboardists, and three lead vocalists, the Newsboys are still going strong after twenty-five years.

Peter Furler said it best when he described the Newsboys in their official biography. He said, “If you aren’t making music from the right place, then it won’t be authentic, people will not connect with it, and your record will be sitting on a shelf. On the other hand, if you write from that place of true passion, without trying to make something commercial or forced, then the result will be natural. People will be drawn to it.”