Nashville - the land of honky-tonk, cowboy hats, and host of the Gospel Music Association week of festivities. April 21-26th saw everyone who's anyone in Christian music packed together to mix and mingle and listen to a lot of music. The event included seminars for the various streams of music industry professionals in attendance, an 'indie impact' weekend for independent artists looking to further their careers, meet and greets with some of today's top Christian artists, evening showcase concerts, and the GMA Awards (formerly known as the Dove Awards) to cap the week off.
Upon arriving at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville, the official headquarters for all things GMA related, one is taken aback by the magnitude of this event. Radio station booths are being set up for live broadcasts, giant TV screens are blasting a steady stream of high powered videos, promoter booths are being built all over the place, enormous artist promo banners are hung everywhereÖyou can't turn around without Barlowgirl or Third Day staring right back at you. And let's not forget to mention the people. When I said earlier that 'everyone who's anyone in Christian music' was there, I literally meant EVERYONE. You can't walk through the lobby without bumping into Chris Tomlin or saying 'hi' to Brian Littrell, and then keep running into them again and againÖand again.
GMA week is great because it offers something for everyone interested in music. Whether you are a musician looking to get more involved in your craft, a professional hoping to get more connected to the industry, or just a fan of Christian music dreaming of getting pictures with all your favorite artists and watching all the evening showcases, GMA will gladly meet your needs. A bit overwhelming for a first timer, GMA week offers too much to do in one shot, and one quickly learns that the week will become about choices, especially when it comes to the evening showcases. With numerous concerts happening every night, one must take time to thoughtfully decide which events to attend, or how to best time it so that they can see their favorite artists at each one. From heavy rock, to r&b, to acoustic singer-songwriter, there was something for every musical taste. This year even saw an 'indie singer-songwriter' event where musicians were able to put their names in a hat for a chance to play in front of industry professionals and peers for feedback. Some great hidden talents were produced and I'm sure you'll be hearing more from some of them in the near future.
One particularly good showcase to note was the Songwriters Showcase. It highlighted some of today's most popular Christian songs by allowing the people who wrote the song to talk about the story behind it and perform it in an intimate acoustic setting. Hosted by American Idol contestant Mandisa and Mark Schultz, it featured performances by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns and Bernie Herms, Chris Tomlin and Ed Cash, Sanctus Real, BarlowGirl, Marcus Hummon of "Bless The Broken Road" and more. A unique opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at how some great songs came about, and the impact that they have had on the songwriter and listeners alike.
GMA week also provides the opportunity for media like Soul Shine to interview a number of the bands and artists that are in town that week. During the week I got the chance to sit down with some great artists and talk about life and music, all while coloring in the now immensely popular Playtime Coloring Book. I would like to title this sectionÖ
Look Mommy, Aren't You Proud!!
Centricity Records recording artist Jaime Jamgochian is one of today's most promising up and coming worship leaders. Although she says that this past year has taught her how to be satisfied with where she's at in her career, it's hard to see why she would be at all discontent. With her number one charting single "Hear My Worship" being played all over the country on radio and in churches, landing a spot on the Girls of Grace tour, and traveling full time, Jaime admits she has been beyond blessed already. Her goal for the next year is to see a song of hers connect even more, crossing all borders and gender boundaries.
South African band Tree63 has been around for quite a while and have seen the Christian music industry change over that time. The biggest change they've seen is the popularity of being a 'worship band' and Christian bands feeling the need to do worship even though they might not be called to do so. Back home in South Africa, Tree63 is known as simply a rock band, and has the unique opportunity to attract the attention of mainstream music while doing worship overseas in North America and Europe. Their new album comes out this summer and their single "Sunday" will hit radio in early June.
Canadian rockers Downhere have seen their share of good and bad within the music industry. Being dropped from their label after winning a Dove award a few years back, Downhere was put in a place of re-evaluation. Believing that music is what they were called to do, they persevered, signing with Centricity Records and gaining their momentum back. It was well worth it. Downhere has seen incredible success since then, and is ready to continue to take on America with their music.
One of Christian music's newest and brightest young bands from Canada is ArticleOne. Taking their name from the bill of rights that states all men are created equal, these London, Ontario natives are ready to take Christian music by storm. Just recently signed to Inpop Records, ArticleOne has a rock and roll Cinderella story, their record label came across the band's MySpace page, fell in love, and the rest is history. The boys are getting set to start touring in the states, and are working on material for their next album.
This Beautiful Republic
This Beautiful Republic is one of today's most hyped bands in Christian music. There is good reason for it though, not only do they have a cool name, but their music is great as well. Releasing their debut album Even Heroes Need A Parachute
just three weeks ago, This Beautiful Republic is set to stay around for a long time. Currently touring with Sanctus Real, NeedToBreathe, and Dizmas, and set to tour Europe in August, This Beautiful Republic is one band to keep close eye on.
Britt Nicole is glad she listened when God told her 'no.' After graduating from high school, Britt was set on leaving her small town for Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Excited about the new adventures in store and ready to make a difference, she was all but on the plane when she heard God telling her not to go. Obediently following that still, small voice, she stayed in North Carolina and pursued music, writing songs and booking her own shows. Fairly soon it started to grow and she was getting attention from record labels and management companies. Recently signing with EMI and opening for the Winter Slam tour, Britt Nicole has realized the true blessing of obedience.
Rush Of Fools
Rush Of Fools is what every young musician dreams of. After being a band for only five months, the boys of Rush Of Fools decide to enter "Band With A Mission," a contest with a grand prize of a record contract and management deal. They entered only because the contest promised to give them constructive feedback to help with their emerging career. They ended up winning. Now signed with Midas Records, and releasing their debut self titled album, Rush Of Fools is ready for the long haul.
Jessie Daniels is not only one of today's most well known and promising female singers in Christian music, but one of the most genuine as well. To read more on Jessie, feel free to read the article on her in the Soul Shine 'Feature' section.