The 2012 Winter Jam line-up was announced tonight at an exclusive VIP event held at Nashville’s Visitor’s Center right outside of Bridgestone Arena. Skillet will headline Christian music’s largest tour in 2012. Additional artists on the bill include Sanctus Real, Peter Furler (his first touring outing in three years and his first since leaving newsboys), Kari Jobe, Building 429, Group 1 Crew and hosts Newsong. The One Verse Pre-Jam Party will feature new Word artists Dara Maclean and For King & Country as well as new hard rock outfit We As Human, currently on tour with Skillet and discovered by front man John Cooper himself.
In addition to a stellar, all-star line-up of some of the hottest acts in Christian music, speaker Nick Hall will bring the gospel message each night, while illusionist Brock Gill will provide additional entertainment.
Tonight’s launch party included appearances by numerous artists as the line-up was announced as well as special acoustic performances by Newsong (“One True God”), Peter Furler (“Reach”) and Kari Jobe, who sang her brand-new song “We Are” from her forthcoming Sparrow Records debut.
Voted Pollstar’s No. 1 tour in attendance for the first quarter of this year, Winter Jam outpaced mega tours from Bon Jovi and U2. Now in its 17th year, Winter Jam has proven to be the launching grounds for numerous acts through the years, as well as the catalyst that has taken the careers of multiple artists to a whole new level with the exposure and prominence that such a high-profile tour provides.
Newcomer Dara Maclean is excited about introducing her music to fans each night and more importantly sharing her heart behind the songs found on her debut album. “I am so excited to be on Winter Jam because of the opportunity to reach as many people as possible,” Maclean told The Sound Opinion at tonight’s launch event. “We’re in it for the people. We don’t do what we do apart from getting to reach people, and Winter Jam is a ministry on a nightly basis…to be able to talk with thousands of kids at one time and to get to use what we do as a platform. I’m ready to just dive in and hang out with people I love. It’s a huge platform, and it’s an honor. “
Winter Jam will kick off January 6, 2012, in Charleston, W.V. and hit 47 cities through the beginning of April. As usual, no tickets are required, and admission is only $10 at the door. For a full list of tour dates, visit www.jamtour.com.
Who are you most excited about seeing on Winter Jam this year?
Yesterday, we detailed the rain-filled events of Friday night at this year’s Night of Joy. The second evening was equally as fun! While the rain held off, Saturday night’s crowd was considerably thicker, which meant longer lines at popular rides like Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. The excitement from the clusters of youth groups attending was palpable. Saturday night’s line-up was just as strong as Friday night’s: Jars of Clay, TobyMac, MercyMe, Sanctus Real, Kutless, Marvin Sapp, VaShawn Mitchell and Chris August.
Sanctus Real‘s performance was so packed that only a lucky few made it into the Galaxy Stage area to see their performance, which was sure to be amazing as Matt Hammitt & Co. just keep getting better. Fortunately, for those like me, who weren’t able to get in to catch them, they will be joining Casting Crowns out on the road this fall for their massive “Come to the Well” tour, keeping their visibility high.
For those unable to get in to see Sanctus Real, there was more room in front of the main castle stage, where many migrated to check out Jars of Clay‘s tight set, which included a wealth of hits spanning their long career, as well as selections from their community-driven release, The Shelter (Essential).
Meanwhile, youth leaders were treated to several exclusive acoustic performances in the Youth Leader Lounge sponsored by Word Records. Meredith Andrews belted out a flawless rendition of her hit “You’re Not Alone,” while also sharing a few new songs. Plus, in a surprise appearance, BarlowGirl played a 50-minute set. The sisters have been on a sabbatical from touring, taking time off the road to rest and write for a new album. The acoustic setting allowed their beautiful harmonies to take center stage as they showcased rock selections as well as some of their most popular ballads. The girls gave a huge shout-out of thank-yous to the youth leaders in the room and ended their set with a brand-new, mid-tempo song about patiently waiting for God to fulfill the dreams He places on our hearts.
Reigning Male Vocalist of the Year Chris August played the Youth Leader Lounge the prior night, but he took to one of the larger stages Saturday. He played two back-to-back sets on the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland. The budding singer/songwriter drew quite a crowd of onlookers as he delivered everything from his mega-hit “Starry Night” and his stirring ballad about forgiveness, “7 x 70″ to his infamous “Candy Wrap.” He did a few cover songs as well and bantered with the audience, proving that his comedic side is definitely more prevalent than his serious side.
Afterwards, fans rushed back to the main castle stage to catch the king of hip-hop do his thing. TobyMac wowed the audience with a packed 60 minutes of high-energy pop, rock, rap and funk complete with the Diverse City Band. Few artists can work a crowd like TobyMac, and he had this audience, filled to capacity with youth groups, eating out of the palm of his hand as he covered everything from “Tonight” and “City on Our Knees” to “Hold On,” “Boomin’” and “Jesus Freak.”
Right before Toby took the stage, this year’s GMA Immerse winner Rachel Barrentine gave a stirring performance. Each year, Night of Joy gives the Immerse winner an all-expense paid trip to Walt Disney World and a high-profile performance slot at Night of Joy–definite incentive to compete at next year’s Immerse event in Nashville!
Perennial Night of Joy favorites MercyMe took the stage to close out the event. While there were no pyrotechnics during their set, the clear sound of thousands of voices singing every word to “All of Creation,” “Word of God Speak” and the legendary “I Can Only Imagine” was infinitely better than all the glitz and awe castle fireworks could inspire.
Even after the last live note had been played and the last performance of the night had ended, Christian music could still be heard all the way down Mainstream U.S.A. as attendees headed back to the Monorail singing along to the strains of local Christian station Z88.3 playing throughout the park. And that’s perhaps one of the best parts. Long after the lights go down and the last firework has exploded, the music lives on.
The memories and the songs of the weekend will live in our hearts and minds until next year when Disney’s Night of Joy will celebrate 30 years. If year 29 was this fantastic, I can’t wait to see what kind of magic they have up their sleeve for year 30! One thing is for sure…You won’t want to miss it! Next year. Night of Joy 2012. Be there.
Did you attend Night of Joy this year? What was your favorite part? Do you plan to go to Night of Joy next year?
Mark your calendars for October 18, the day Casting Crowns releases its brand-new studio album, Come to the Well (Beach Street/Reunion). Crowns fans are getting a sneak peak of the new album exclusively this week at GodTube.com. The site is debuting the music video for “Courageous,” the album’s first single. “Courageous” will be featured in the upcoming movie by the same name, in theaters September 30. God Tube is also giving away a free download of the song in time for Father’s Day. Click here to watch the world premiere of the music video for “Courageous” and to download the song for a limited time.
In support of the new project, the award-winning group will be hitting the road this fall on the “Come to the Well Tour” with special guests Sanctus Real, The Afters and new singer/songwriter Lindsay McCaul. For tour dates and up-to-the-minute info on the new album, visit www.castingcrowns.com.
Check out the video below to hear the story behind the new song, “Courageous,” straight from Casting Crowns front man Mark Hall.
This week, we continue on with our exploration of the top nominees in the biggest categories for the 42nd Annual GMA Dove Awards. Let’s take a look at this year’s 10 Song of the Year nominees.
SONG OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
- “All of Creation,” MercyMe
- “Beautiful, Beautiful,” Francesca Battistelli
- “Get Back Up,” tobyMac
- “Hold My Heart,” Tenth Avenue North
- “Lead Me,” Sanctus Real
- “Let The Waters Rise,” MIKESCHAIR
- “Love Came Calling,” Triumphant Quartet
- “Our God,” Chris Tomlin
- “Sometimes I Cry,” Jason Crabb
- “Starry Night,” Chris August
SHOULD WIN: “Lead Me,” Sanctus Real
This gem is one of the best songs to come out of Christian music in a long time. After being challenged by wife Sarah to be a better spiritual leader in their home, lead singer Matt Hammitt penned the poignant lyrics to this track featured on the band’s Piece of a Real Heart (Sparrow) album. The song took on an even greater meaning this past year as Hammitt and his wife welcomed their third child, Bowen Matthew Hammitt, to their family. Bowen was born with a serious heart defect, and Bowen’s miraculous story has been chronicled in some high-profile places this year, including “ABC News,” as a result of the Hammitts’ strong commitment to faith and family. “Lead Me” became Sanctus Real’s eighth No. 1 single and first-ever AC hit, spending nine full weeks at No 1. and becoming 2010′s No. 7 most downloaded Christian song and No. 8 most-played song at radio. The song is so much more than a radio smash. It’s a battle cry for Christian men to be the leaders God calls them to be.
First recorded on Passion: Awakening (sixstepsrecords), “Our God” has become a veritble anthem for churches and youth groups around the world. The song inspired Chris Tomlin’s new studio recording and even created the title, which comes from a line of the song, And If Our God Is For Us… (sixstepsrecords). A new version of “Our God,” complete with full orchestration, begins Tomlin’s latest release. I don’t think much can compete with Tomlin’s unique ability to give an explosive, corporate voice to the Church. The soaring popularity of this song coupled with the memorable strength of the lyrics make it a sure-fire win. Interestingly enough, although Tomlin has been nominated in the Song of the Year category with at least one entry (sometimes two) for the past five years, he has only actually won this category one time. In 2006, he took home the trophy for Song of the Year for his career song, “How Great Is Our God.”
Josh Wilson’s prolific song about holding out hope in the midst of pain dominated radio this past year. According to Billboard‘s Year-End charts, “Before the Morning” was the 4th most-played song on Christian radio in 2010. “Before The Morning” came from an obscure EP, Life Is a Snapshot (Sparrow), released while Wilson was in the studio working on his new full-length album, See You (Sparrow), which recently released. The newcomer showed his talented songwriting chops and his ability to connect with the human spirit. It easily could have made the final list of nominees for Song of the Year. Other contenders that didn’t make the cut but could easily have merited a nod include “Something Beautiful” from NEEDTOBREATHE, “What Faith Can Do” from Kutless and “Walk On The Water” from Britt Nicole.
You can check out a full list of nominees for the 42nd Annual GMA Dove Awards here.
Who do you think will win Song of the Year? What song do you think should have been nominated that wasn’t? Leave your comments below.
It’s been another big year in Christian music! As 2010 comes to a close, here are my picks for the Top 10 Albums of the Year:
1. Matthew West, The Story of Your Life (Sparrow)
Inspired by 10,000 real-life stories, these songs speak of tragedy, triumph, and above all, hope. This is a career album for Matthew, and the stories of these songs will outlive the songwriter. West tells the stories most of us are afraid to share. Honest, gritty, incredible.
2. Sanctus Real, Pieces of a Real Heart (Sparrow)
These songs grabbed pieces of listeners’ hearts this year. It’s hard to believe “Lead Me” was the band’s first No. 1 at AC radio. Their music just keeps getting better and more honest with every album. We love the men these rockers have become!
3. Audrey Assad, The House You’re Building (Sparrow)
Audrey is one of the best new artists to surface in years. Her poetic lyrics are diamonds in the rough, and her lilting vocals provide a beautiful backdrop for her thought-provoking content.
5. Bebo Norman, Ocean (BEC)
A songwriter’s songwriter, Ocean finds Bebo at his best. There’s some pop, but it’s the raw, organic tracks that put this album on the list. He knows how to turn a phrase better than just about anyone.
7. Chris Tomlin, And If Our God Is For Us… (sixsteps)
The popular worship leader added some major beats on his latest effort, and while he didn’t stray too far from his core audience, he breathed fresh life into this batch of songs. Greater things are still to come for this worship leader.
What were your favorite albums of 2010?
Dan Gartley, bass player for GRAMMY-nominated band Sanctus Real, shares his favorite Christmas memories.
I love Christmas. Well everyone loves it, but I really do. I listen to Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas album all year round I love it so much. I feel this way because it’s the one time in the year we all go home. Isn’t it great? College students back in their old upstairs bedrooms. Young married couples sorting out diplomatic compromises to share time between both families. Coffee tables moved to unfold pull-out couches. Air mattresses purchased and blown up in laundry rooms. Evergreen trees. Gingerbread. Wassail recipes. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye on TV. It’s all so great.
Sanctus Real lead singer Matt Hammitt and wife Sarah appeared on “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” last week right before the Thanksgiving holiday. Featured as one of the “favorite” stories of the holiday season, the piece detailed the story of Hammitt’s youngest child’s miraculous birth and homecoming. As previously reported, the Hammitt’s son, Bowen, was born with a serious heart defect and had to undergo a series of surgeries upon birth.
Doctors were uncertain as to how long Bowen would survive, but the Hammitts welcomed their baby boy home right before Thanksgiving after 10 weeks in the hospital. During the long and arduous process of praying for healing and wondering if his child would ever come home, Hammitt did what he does best–he put his thoughts down on paper and wrote a song about it. “All of Me” is the heart-warming song that was birthed through the pain of this entire process. The song will be featured on a release Hammitt is set to record over the next few months. He says the release will be a collection of songs birthed out of the hardship surrounding his son’s illness. For now, you can hear “All of Me” here.
Read the full article featured on abcnews.com here.
For the most current updates on Bowen’s condition, visit www.bowensheart.com.
Sanctus Real’s charasmatic frontman Matt Hammitt is one of the most personable people you will ever meet. Hammitt’s wife, Sarah, recently gave birth to the couple’s third child, Bowen Matthew. It’s a fitting name considering Bowen means “small, victorious one” and Matthew means “God’s gift.” Bowen was born on September 9 with a serious and rare congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). The Hammitts’ found out that Bowen’s heart would be underdeveloped upon birth early on in the pregnancy, so they’ve had some time to prepare for his birth and what this might mean for their child and their family; and they’ve handled the birth of their baby boy with courage and grace.
The Hammitts have set up a website where they are regularly blogging about Bowen. Originally designed as a way to simply keep close friends and family updated, the website has evolved into a community for family, friends and fans to journey alongside the lead singer’s family and to pray for Bowen, surprising even the Hammitts with the overwhelming response. Comments well into the hundreds can be found on some of the blog posts.
Following surgery right after he was born, they were told that it would be quite some time before they would even be able to hold their baby boy again, contstantly hooked up to life support and a dozen other tubes and wires. However, today, the Hammitts were happily surprised to be able to hold their baby boy, a small miracle in and of itself.
You can follow Bowen’s story at www.bowensheart.com. Matt is also consistently updating his Twitter feed with new developments on Bowen and the rest of the Hammitt family at www.twitter.com/matthammitt.
Keep sweet Bowen and the Hammitts in your prayers.