Winter Jam Tour 2013Pop/Rock
At the heart of Winter Jam is ministry and it's commitment to no tickets and only $10 at the door. This remains a unique characteristic to Winter Jam and underscores the importance of making the event affordable for families, individuals and groups of all sizes.
Franklin TN | Christian & Gospel
With 11 million career albums sold and 6 GRAMMY® Awards to his credit, TobyMac refuses to settle on past accomplishments, as he delivers a diverse album built on honest struggle. He remains passionate about his desire to write songs at the intersection where life and spirituality collide. He calls his new album, Eye On It, which he also calls a complete labor of love.
From his early days in influential group dcTalk to his very first solo album, Momentum, Toby has worked hard to inspire his audience with words of conviction, hope, empowerment and the redemption found in his faith in God. He furthers that vision on the thrilling Eye On It, produced by Toby, Christopher Stevens, David Garcia and Jamie Moore.
“What is it like to live a life of faith? It doesn’t look perfect, I can promise you that,” Toby admits. “We’re all struggling. We’re struggling to mend relationships, to love people well, and to love God. But the gift of walking this life of faith is that you can make it right each day. You can turn and start over, determined, with your eye on it.”
The follow-up to 2010’s Tonight (which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200), Eye On It, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, is an elevating collection of 12 tracks, all of them written or co-written by Toby—and many of them deeply personal.
The album’s first single, “Me Without You” looks at the importance of God in one’s life. Toby wrote the song from the perspective of who he might be without his faith, instead of who he is because of it. The result is an inspired bit of songwriting. “I’d be a mess,” he says with a self-depreciating laugh. “I’d be insecure, self indulgent and probably doing all the wrong things.”
“Made For Me” chronicles the love-at-first-sight courtship of Toby and his wife Amanda, driven by a passionate but poppy vocal and a jangly beat. “I stand in awe that I have this amazing woman as my wife. “
Still, he admits the pair has their differences, and even sings about them. “We’re opposites in a way and see things very differently. She’s from a third-world country and I grew up just outside of Washington, D.C., in Virginia. She’s a morning person; I’m a night person,” he says. “But we are committed to laying down our minor differences and holding on to what brings us together.”
With five kids, family is a cornerstone of Toby’s life, so it’s fitting he titled a song as such on Eye On It. But “Family” isn’t an exaltation of his wife and children—instead, it’s a glimpse into the everyday disagreements between two people who love each other. “The song ’Family’ comes from personal experience. There are many times my wife and I are sitting there, with a wall between us, trying to figure out how we can get back to being unified. Inevitably, what penetrates the wall is that we both want the same thing: preserving our love, our family and our faith in God. We are on the same side,” Toby says.
Yet each song on Eye On It—even those that deal with Toby’s home life—has universal appeal, speaking to the flawed human side in all of us.
“I want my music to depict what I’m going through. I want to write about the things that upset me, move me, hurt me and haunt me. The things that are real,” he says. “With Tonight, I was determined to live more passionately with God. I was throwing down the gauntlet. Eye On It is a continuation of that. It’s saying, ’This is the person I want to be and I’m going to keep my eye on it, God willing!’ I am going to remain focused on what matters to me.”
The vulnerable “Forgiveness” (which features Lecrae) epitomizes that sentiment. With its unforgettable hook and yearning chorus—we all make mistakes some time, and we all steps across that line—the song is a plea for something we all crave: not only forgiveness from God, but forgiveness from others and from ourselves. “There are two sides to forgiveness. There’s asking for it and there’s offering it,” Toby explains. “But before you can be forgiven, you have to confess. In a lot of ways, this song is a confession. We’re all going to cross that line one time or another, but the important thing is recognizing it and turning around.”
Toby has clearly been taking all the right steps, moving through the often prideful music business with a sense of humility that belies his success: To date, he has sold more than 3 million albums as a solo artist and over 11 million overall. In “Thankful for You,” he details his ascent to the top of the Christian music charts—the Tonight single “City on Our Knees” spent a staggering 8 weeks at No. 1—giving a shout-out to the spare bedroom in which the aspiring hip-hop artist-producer first experimented with two turntables and a microphone. Sings Toby: It’s never been my dream to see my face in magazines, it’s always been about the music, hoping God would use it to set some people free.
“Every line I write, I’m thinking about how to serve humankind, whether they’re people who share in the faith I have or not,” he says, citing one of his chief influences, reggae icon Bob Marley.
“Marley was a writer who understood spirituality, society and music. We might not see things exactly alike when it comes to our faith, but I learned a lot about how to write socially and spiritually connecting songs to people’s lives,” Toby says. “That is the purpose of the music that I make.”
And nowhere is that purpose more evident than during Toby’s live performances. This year alone, he is projected to play to more than 2 million fans, and his on-stage energy has set the bar for what it means to be a touring Christian artist.
“I’m wired for the live show,” he says. “That’s the way you get your music out there and every year we’re doing 100 shows or more. The most amazing feeling for any artist/songwriter is to take a song that came from your heart and have the audience sing every word along with you. That is a sweet humbling moment.”
“The music is a labor of love that I create for people to enjoy; and hopefully be inspired by, it’s not a self-indulgent thing. It’s my way of serving the listener he says. “I hope Eye On It, and all my albums, point people toward something deeper, something more hopeful.”
Toby believes that’s already happening. The way he sees it, faith songs are breaking into the mainstream.
“The wall is coming down for sure. I’m watching bands that have these delicate, wonderful messages of hope and faith in their music. There is real purpose in that,” he says. “Gospel/Christian artists are an important part of society and our voice needs to be heard, for all the right reasons.”
Thus, TobyMac’s latest album. With its messages of perseverance, determination and hope, the record is further proof that music can better lives, reassuring listeners that it is indeed possible to find grace, if only they keep their Eye On It.
Nashville TN | Rock
Two sides inhabit the lifespan of a storm: first, the suddenness of the chaos in the storm itself, then the damage, debris and, hopefully, renewal and new growth in the aftermath.
The members of RED -- vocalist Michael Barnes, bassist Randy Armstrong, guitarist Anthony Armstrong and drummer Joe Rickard -- have lived the storms, and need you to believe you can come out the other side while listening to the tracks that make up the band's new project "Release The Panic."
The duality infused in all of "Release The Panic"'s songs -- be it musical or lyrical, from the title track all the way through -- is absolutely intentional.
"Every song on this record is two-sided," Randy says. "'Damage' is a great example, talking about how 'all I do is damage,' yet our character is determined by how we repair that damage.
"Same thing with 'Release The Panic,'" he continues. "We as humans can panic and be worried about our everyday lives. In the end, the battle has already been won."
"That's the double-sidedness of it," Michael says. "Releasing the panic, you either let go of the worry and the anxiety, or you actually panic and go crazy."
For the band, releasing some of the panic that comes with making a record meant embracing creative change. From teaming with veteran rock producer Howard Benson (P.O.D., My Chemical Romance, Daughtry, Skillet and many more) to introducing even more loops, beats and yes, danceable elements alongside RED's trademark heaviness, "Release The Panic" brings you RED in ways you've never heard before.
"When you look at the whole scope of the record, we've got more heavy songs on this record than ever," Anthony says. "'Release The Panic' and 'Damage' are two of the heaviest songs we've ever done."
"At the same time, it's OK for us to do a song like 'Die For You' and 'Same Disease' because something like 'If We Only' balances it out," Joe says. "It all fits in; it's just growing and changing with the times."
That growth is designed to take RED's impact to the next level, and involved the band reinventing the way it made music. RED came off the road completely in the first part of 2012, a first for a band known for its non-stop touring schedule, and based out of Los Angeles while making "Release The Panic."
"We're both excited and scared to death of some things because we're so much closer to this project than we ever have been," Randy says. "We were on the road touring when we were making all the other records. Here we were, 100% locked into writing and making this record. It was amazing."
Known for getting passionate performances out of some of music's most powerful singers, Benson knew he had something special when first working with Michael Barnes.
"He's really committed to being a disciplined, great singer," Benson says. "In my world, most of my singers are completely the opposite of that; they don't take care of their voices, or they treat them like guitars and just throw 'em around."
The one creative element that has remained consistent is RED's ability to take feedback from fans -- be it through social media presences or face-to-face communication after a blistering live show -- and filter that into the new music created.
It's that trust gained across thousands of shows and now four records that allows the band to be transparent with that fan base, maybe saying things others in those fans' lives can't say.
"We can talk about the darker things," Anthony says. "We're still challenging people to get outside their comfort zone in certain ways, where they're rethinking themselves and being honest with themselves about who they really are."
Those ideas show up on "Release The Panic" on songs like "So Far Away" (dealing with emotional distance), "Glass House" (where even at our most transparent, no one can see into our true motives) and the album's initial single, "Perfect Life."
"As we recorded in Los Angeles, and looked at pop culture as a whole, the inspiration for that song was all around us, all the time," Anthony says. "There are people who have themselves convinced they're living the good life, but it's the clawing their way to live this kind of life that's troubling."
So these multi-faceted themes, meshed with fiery and sometimes unexpected musical moments, team to create RED's most electrifying project yet, something the band's new production partner watched coalesce.
"The thing I like about this record is that they're very forward-thinking songs for a rock band," Benson says. "These guys are sitting on a powder keg, frankly, and I just can't wait for the rest of the world to hear it."
It's time to unleash the storm. And it's time for new growth to shine through.
It's time to "Release The Panic."
Franklin TN | Christian & Gospel
Life was good for Matthew West. Having catapulted onto the Christian music scene in 2003 with his debut single, "More"—the most played Christian AC song of 2004—the multi-Dove Award nominee and sought-after songwriter had enjoyed two critically-acclaimed studio recordings, Happy (2003) and History (2005); been a mainstay at Christian radio with memorable hits like "Only Grace," "History" and "Next Thing You Know"; and toured with such artists as tobyMac and BarlowGirl. But in April of 2007, with a new label home at Sparrow Records, concert dates on the books and plans to hit the studio with a fresh batch of songs for an album he’d already titled Something To Say, Matthew lost his voice.
After one look at his vocal chords, doctors at the Vanderbilt Voice Center immediately put all his plans on hold. They discovered a vascular polyp and hemorrhaged blood vessels on Matthew’s vocal chord, making it impossible for him to sing. His doctors were convinced only two courses of treatment would work: complete silence and surgery.
"Everything came to a screeching halt," Matthew says of the diagnosis and the news of surgery. "All of a sudden my calendar was completely cleared. My studio plans were postponed. My life shut down." Even worse, he says, was the frustration of not being able to communicate with his wife, Emily, and 1-year-old daughter, Lulu. "I was armed with a dry erase board, unable to do the little things we take for granted everyday, like talking with my wife, or singing to my little girl before bed."
This season of silence wasn’t just a wake up call for the Wests, it was a dark, uncertain place. "I saw a side of Matthew that I had not yet really seen," says Emily. "A more fearful side, vulnerable, less confident. But also, I saw in Matthew a determination to allow God to do a work in his life through this trial. I saw him commit time each day in prayer, and really seek God for some purpose to this season."
Matthew recommitted himself to journaling his thoughts and prayers during his season of silence. "Solitude is an uncomfortable place, and silence is so unnatural for most of us," he relates. "I found myself surrounded by questions like, ’What if I can’t sing anymore? What if my voice doesn’t sound the same? What if I can’t provide for my family?’ It was foundation shattering. But over and over again, I felt this recurring message on my heart saying, ’Cease striving…don’t even ask for answers, just be with Me. Be still. I am using your voice, even when you can’t hear it.’"
Most of the songs on Something to Say were written before Matthew’s surgery, but in many ways, it took this trial to fully understand their meaning. "Prior to this experience, I only had a glimpse of what these songs had to say, but having literally nothing to say for two months, it was as if I understood what these songs were trying to communicate all along. It’s like writing messages or taking notes and then taking the test to see if you really ’get’ what you’ve written. Sometimes you’re given the message before you know what it means. Then the test comes, and you can see how God intended everything to be."
Driven by a distinctive lyrical clarity, Something To Say is a soundtrack for life—a powerful reminder that God is speaking every day out of the broken places and pieces of our lives. Produced by Brown Bannister, Ed Cash and Chris Stevens, the album delivers the infectious guitar-driven pop that fans have come to expect from an artist and writer whose songs have also graced projects by Natalie Grant, Mandisa, Mark Schultz and Billy Ray Cyrus, as well as a cut on Rascal Flatts’ multi-platinum Feels Like Today.
From the high-energy title track, to the powerful "The Moment of Truth," to the closing ballad "Stop The World," Something To Say unfolds in fresh and thought-provoking ways to reveal its message of hope and healing. "I wanted to write songs that weren’t afraid to talk about real life," Matthew says. "Real struggles. Real issues. Real problems. Because every song about real life is an opportunity to sing about the real Hope that can be found in Jesus."
"Life Inside You" is an unforgettable example. Based on a true story, Matthew captures the struggles—and Hope—of a teenage couple facing pregnancy and addiction. "This young couple, with all the potential in the world, on the verge of throwing in the towel… somehow in the center of what seemed so hopeless, that tiny heart was beating… She kept the baby. It’s a boy. They got sober and got married. Redemption is real."
The core message of the entire album, he says, is "no matter how many mistakes we’ve made or trials we’ve faced, it’s the brokenness of our lives that God uses to give us something to say to the world. I was sitting in church one Sunday after my surgery when my pastor read a quote from C.S. Lewis: ’God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.’ It’s easier to cover up the weakest moments in life, hoping no one sees, but that’s not God’s plan for us. ’Offer it up to Me, let Me show you what new life is like, what I can do with your mistakes.’ He will amplify His voice through you in a huge way."
Ultimately, Matthew hopes to communicate the message that God is indeed at work in all our lives, in every circumstance, in every moment of our existence. And even in the silence—as Matthew well knows—there is still great Hope to be shared, a story to be told, and something to say.
Atlanta GA | Christian & Gospel
Jamie Grace, a 21-year-old singer-songwriter, was discovered on Youtube by GRAMMY ® winner TobyMac and signed to his label Gotee Records.
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Jamie Grace received her bachelor's in Children's Ministry from Point University in May of 2012. At age 11, Jamie Grace was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, and has since traveled the country sharing her story and faith through music and speaking.
Jamie Grace's full length album, One Song At A Time, was released in September 2011. Her debut song "Hold Me," was nominated for Best Contemporary Christian Song for the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards, Billboard Awards and received two nominations for the 43rd annual Dove Awards. She also received one album nomination and went home as the "Dove Awards New Artist of the Year."
Nashville TN | Christian & Gospel
Dallas TX | Pop
A multi-talented singer and guitarist, Jason was among the most popular and talented artists in American Idol history, entering the record books as the first contestant to play an instrument on the show. His performance of the Leonard Cohen-penned classic “Hallelujah” proved such an audience favorite that the late, great Jeff Buckley’s rendition of the song hit 1 on the iTunes chart the following week, selling an astonishing 178,000 digital singles. Jason scored a chart-topping single of his own a few weeks later with his interpretation of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” which also hit 1 on iTunes after a show-stopping performance of the song on American Idol. Upon the season’s conclusion, Castro was among the stars of the hugely successful “American Idols LIVE! Tour 2008.”