The Hark Up Horns and the Hark Up Choir (featuring outstanding soloists Angie Royce, Colin Tobin, Breighanna Minnema and others) place their spin on both modern day and classic musical expressions of faith.
"A New Hallelujah," a Michael W. Smith anthem, includes vocals from both Tobin and Hark Up executive director Chris Hansen. The assembled artists also cover the David Crowder tune, "All My Hope."
Baby Boomers: Remember the haunting beat of "Spirit of the Sky," that late 60s-early '70s, psychedelic-sounding mantra? It also gets the Hark Up treatment.
Using the message of each of the new songs, the inspirational-pop band is releasing 11 video segments to tell a through-the-generations story covering five decades in a family's life.
"We thought, let's create a movie that builds around the songs," said lead singer-songwriter Mark Hall. "Not a music video, but about people just living their lives with the songs simply in the background."
The tunes on their "Only Jesus" release offer backdrops for the video segments.
One recently issued video features the song "In the Hands of the Potter." In the storyline, a granddaughter follows in her ill grandmother's footsteps by taking up pottery and art (watch online). It continues the family story established in the previous six episodes.
"Unrelenting" - the title of the production - describes the love of God, pursuing his people through the lives of Old Testament figures right into the story of Jesus' life, death and resurrection.
"It's a modern version of (the Old Testament prophet) Hosea," said director Vicki Modert, Blythefield's head of worship ministries. Modert and her writing team fashioned the original script.
A contemporary couple's marriage is strained with rumors of the wife's infidelity. Even when the truth comes to light, the college professor forgives her and "buys her back," exactly as God told Hosea to do for his unfaithful wife.
They also experience respect from the cadre of volunteers and two-person staff who keep this Christian nonprofit humming with purpose.
"Most importantly, we try to treat everybody with a little dignity and respect so they leave feeling good," said Sandy Jenkinson, an assistant to executive director Dale Echavarria.
But the Andrew Peterson composition "God Rested" does exactly that. And the song provides a hinge-point in the artist's resurrection series showcase, which he brings to Byron Center on Sat. April 13.
"God Rested" refers to the literal internment of a dead Christ, and is the last song in a musical prologue. It's the jumping off point to his collection "Resurrection Letters Vol. 1," full of joyful songs of Christ's victory over the tomb.
But a listener is left hanging with anticipation on that final note.
"We are living in a time of that suspended chord," said Peterson, 44. "We know we have a promise of Christ's return but we're in a tension of expectation and longing."
The very next song is "His Heart Beats." Its poignant resurrection depiction opens with the line "His heart beats, his blood begins to flow; waking up what was dead a moment ago."
Readers looking for Christian fiction to delve into need look no further than our great state of Michigan. Authors from around the state have new releases this spring and summer that offer a wide range of genres and styles for eager readers. The month in parenthesis is the month of the book's release; all books are available at Baker Book House or online retailers.
Shannon Popkin, author of “Control Girls: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible” (Kregel), and Kate Motaung, author of “A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging” (Discovery House), faced those struggles like many authors do. They join forces to take a deep look at platform and following Jesus in their new book “Influence: Building a Platform that Elevates Jesus (Not Me),” which released in January.
“The tension is that if you want to pursue an agent or book contract or get accepted as a speaker at a conference, you have to already have a following,” said Motaung, host of Five Minute Friday, an online community for Christian writers. “But as Christians called to elevate Christ and humble ourselves, how can we be true to our convictions yet put ourselves out there?”
"Underdog" is largely the story of his life. From his upbringing ("Grand Rapids Made") to his busy schedule ("I Don't Sleep") and his life's musical mission ("Passion"), Gonzalez reveals his heart as he lays out his faith-based journey to serve his Savior.
There are tell-tale local references. A radio clip of the West Michigan Whitecaps baseball championship broadcast opens one of the tracks. Baseball was a large part of life for the Comstock Park native, who played the sport in high school and college and spent a chunk of his youth around Fifth Third Ballpark.
One of those artists is KB (Kevin Burgess, pictured), who says the roster comes together under a cohesive theme.
"It's about the eternal aspects of our existence and what we do that impacts that," said KB, 30, from Nashville. "There's a universal message about being unashamed, and I think every artist in their unique way is beating that drum."
There will be plenty of on-stage collaborations as well as some solo time. "We've put together something special that a lot of folks will enjoy," he promised.
They're off to a good start – the first two weeks worth of shows were sold out in major markets such as Houston and Atlanta.
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- Bon Appetit
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