Christian Music Digest: An Audio Newsletter, is a production of Porchlight Family Media. For more info about this Christian music podcast click here.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

CMD Issue 7: Interview with 4 Proches

In this issue, you’ll hear the story behind the song “Open Hands” by Laura Story, we’ll take a look at some updates from some of your favorite artists such as Casting Crowns, and our Feature Story is an interview with the folk/bluegrass band 4 Proches.

Download Issue #7

Artist Updates

2016 saw the formation of a new CCM/Southern Gospel trio called Cana’s Voice
Cana's Voice website

Amazon MP3

Casting Crowns 11th #1 radio single
Casting Crowns 5th Platinum Album Certification

Gospel singer CeCe Winans is back with a new album

Amazon MP3

Story Behind The Song

Laura shares the message behind her latest single, “Open Hands”, which features a duet with Third Day frontman, Mac Powell. “Open Hands” is the title track from her upcoming release which is available for preorder now.

Amazon MP3

Feature Story

The family band, 4 Proches, is a talented group of four siblings from Texas with a wonderful acoustic, folksy, bluegrass sound that just welcomes you in. Their debut album, Wayfaring Stranger, features a great blend of familiar tunes and original songs. They've got nice harmonies and clear, clean vocals which shine particularly brightly on an a cappella arrangement of "Down to the River to Pray". Our Feature Story is a chat with all four members of the band; Beecher, Ezra, Liza and Asa about their music, some of their hobbies and why they do what they do.

4 Proches Website

Links Mentioned in the Conversation

Beecher mentioned the following books:
In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars by Mark Batterson
The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential by John C. Maxwell

Liza writes for these blogs:
Lies Young Women Believe

Purchase 4 Proches music from our partners. You can also purchase CDs at 4proches.com.

Questions? Comments? Share them with us!

Send me an email to feedback@christianmusicdigest.com
Call/text the listener feedback line at 623-688-2770

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

CMD Issue 6: Carman Interview

In today’s issue, you’ll hear the story behind the song "Greater" by MercyMe and our featured article is an interview with one of my favorite artists, Carman.

Download Issue #6

Story Behind The Song Column:

This issue’s Story Behind The Song Column features the band MercyMe and their single, "Greater". This is one of 10 tracks from their album titled Welcome To The New which hit #4 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

MercyMe’s Website
Grab your copy of Welcome To The New.

Featured Article:

There are a few artists that I have been following for more than 20 years. One such artist is the multiple Dove Award winning singer/songwriter, Carman. We talk about his kickstarted album, No Plan B, some challenges he’s recently faced and more.

Carman's Website
Pick up your copy of No Plan B.

Questions? Comments? Share them with us!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Top 20 Original Christmas Songs

Last year we took a look at the top Christmas albums so this time I decided to showcase my favorite original songs. We all love the Christmas carols and traditional holiday songs like We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Jingle Bells, but what about the huge selection of original Christmas tunes? Sometimes you may feel like you've heard enough Silent Night or Away in a Manger and you want to hear something fresh. Well that's what this list is all about.

It took me several hours to narrow this list down to only 20 songs. There were many that I really had to think hard about before dropping them from the list, but I think these selections are the best of the best. I have added comments to a few tracks to clarify something, to add pertinent information or just to share a thought on the song. I'm betting there will be one or two you may never have heard before so I hope you enjoy checking these out.

Song: Breath Of Heaven (Mary's Song)
Artist: Amy Grant
Album: Home For Christmas
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

Song: The Rest of the Story
Artist: GB5
Album: Christmas

Song: One King
Artist: David Phelps
Album: One Wintry Night
Song: Christmas Is All In The Heart
Artist: Steven Curtis Chapman
Album: The Music of Christmas

Song: This Is All I Have To Give
Album Artist: Todd Agnew & Friends
Artist/Vocalist: Vince Lichlyter
Album: Do You See What I See?
iTunes | Amazon
Told from Joseph's perspective, this song is absolutely fabulous and carries a lot of lyrics that get you thinking.

Song: The Night Before Christmas
Artist: Brandon Heath
Album: The Night Before Christmas

Song: This Is Christmas
Artist: Plus One
Album: Christmas

Song: He Made A Way In A Manger
Album Artist: David Klinkenberg
Artist/Vocalist: Anthony Evans
Album: The Carol Of Emmanuel

Song: What I Want For Christmas
Artist: Big Tent Revival
Album: Choose Life

Song: God With Us
Artist: Todd Agnew
Album: Do You See What I See?

Song: A Strange Way to Save the World
Artist: 4Him
Album: Christmas The Season Of Love

Song: Labor of Love
Album Artist: Andrew Peterson
Artist/Vocalist: Jill Phillips
Album: Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ

Song: Quiet of the Night
Artist: Nathan Walters
Album: Quiet of the Night (Christmas Radio Single)
iTunes | Amazon
A great song from one of the members of Plus One.

Song: Daddy Won't You Read It Again
Artist: This Hope
Album: It's Christmas
iTunes | Amazon
This is a fun, heart-warming tune that I look forward to hearing each year.

Song: One Child
Artist: Natalie Grant
Album: Natalie Grant
iTunes | Amazon | CBD
This is an absolutely beautiful song that I sometimes will just play over and over. First released on Grant's self-titled album it was re-released on her Christmas album entitled Believe. I prefer the original version.

Song: This Baby
Artist: Steven Curtis Chapman
Album: The Music Of Christmas

Song: Welcome To Our World
Artist: Chris Rice
Album: Deep Enough to Dream
iTunes | Amazon
There's just something about this song and Rice's signature style of songwriting that I just love. The song has been recorded by various artists, but I really enjoy this version.

Song: You're Here
Artist: Francesca Battistelli
Album: Christmas
iTunes | Amazon | CBD
First released as a single a few years before being included on Battistelli's official Christmas project. This song explores the feelings and thoughts Mary experienced as she's holding the newly born Jesus and I've absolutely loved this track from the first time I heard it. 

Song: We Are The Reason
Artist: Avalon
Album: Joy: A Christmas Collection
iTunes | Amazon | CBD
A spectacular rendition of the David Meece classic. While the original version is great, Avalon's beautiful arrangement just takes an already amazing song to another level.

Song: It's About The Cross
Artist: Go Fish
Album: Christmas With A Capital “C” (Snow: The Deluxe Edition)
iTunes | Amazon
A beautiful, thought provoking song that puts the holiday in proper perspective. Southern gospel group The Ball Brothers have recorded a great cover of this tune.

So there you have it. These are some of my favorite non-traditional Christmas songs. What do you think of the list? What are your favorites? Which song do you feel is missing? Share your comments below.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Top 12 Christmas Albums by Christian Artists

Image Credit: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/Alvimann
Well here we are in the middle of the Christmas season and we’re pulling out our Christmas music. Many of you started listening to holiday tunes on Thanksgiving and others, like my wife, started somewhere around Halloween. But no matter when you start or how long you keep the Christmas music in your playlists or in your CD player there are just some albums that are absolutely “must-listen” at this time of year.

The following list is certainly not an exhaustive list of Christmas albums, nor are these projects the only ones I recommend. This list is simply a collection of albums that I find myself continually going back to year after year. These are my personal favorite Christmas albums by Christian artists that I absolutely must spin every year at Christmas. I really love a blend of traditional Christmas carols and original Christmas tunes so my picks will reflect that taste.

JD’s Top 12 Christmas Albums from Christian Artists

Francesca Battistelli – Christmas, 2012
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

Even though this project just released this year I know it will be among my favorites for many years to come. This recent release showcases mostly traditional holiday tunes arranged in classic Franny style along with a few very well written originals including one of my favorite new Christmas songs of all time, You’re Here. Christmas also features a really fun rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and I think it has a very cool album cover.

Mark Harris – Christmas Is, 2009
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

Comprised of about half classics and half original compositions, Christmas Is includes a remake of the 4Him classic A Strange Way To Save The World and a very fun, unique version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Other familiar tracks are Silent Night and Little Drummer Boy. My favorite original on this album is Caroler's Song. The CD also features Harris’s daughter on the title track.

Casting Crowns – Peace On Earth, 2008
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

This wonderfully enjoyable album features beautiful instrumentation and orchestration of many familiar Christmas tunes like Joy To The World, Sweet Little Jesus Boy, and stirring performance of I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day. Also included are the original While You Were Sleeping, and a cover of Amy Grant's God Is With Us. At the 40th GMA Dove Awards, Peace On Earth won Christmas Album of the Year.

Todd Agnew – Do You See What I See, 2006
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

Probably the most unique album on my list, Do You See What I See offers a collection of all original songs. And as if that wasn't different enough, each song is also written from the point of view of each participant in the story of Christ’s birth. A third characteristic of the project that adds to it's uniqueness is that it is a collaboration with multiple other artists who voice the various characters of the Christmas story. The album was nominated for Christmas Album of the Year at the 38th Annual Dove Awards.

Amy Grant – A Christmas Album, 1983
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

This album really highlights the soothing tones of one the best female vocalists in Christian music, Amy Grant. A Christmas Album features a very unique rendition of O Little Town of Bethlehem called Little Town along with more familiar arrangements of The Christmas Song, Sleigh Ride, and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. It also includes great originals like Heirlooms and Tennessee Christmas.

Chris Rice – The Living Room Sessions: Christmas, 2001
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

This project is a masterful compilation of well known Christmas carols that Chris Rice recorded at the piano in his living room. This instrumental album offers a simple, stripped down version of the music of the season which is downright beautiful in it's simplicity. It features classics such as It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, Joy To The World, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. The only original song is Rice's Welcome To Our World, which has become a classic in its own right having been recorded by several other artists.

Carman – A Long Time Ago…In A Land Called Bethlehem/Christmas With Carman, 1986/1995

First released in 1986 under the title A Long Time Ago…In A Land Called Bethlehem the songs were re-released in 1995 with a new title, Christmas With Carman, and new track order. This project is primarily composed of original Christmas songs, with a few strands of familiar melodies like Away In A Manger. Some tracks have small pieces of Scripture recitation and monologue which help paint a full picture of the Christmas story. Originals include the Elvis-influenced Celebrating Jesus, the Jewish sounding Jehova Shalom, and the soaring, anthemic Our Blessed Savior Has Come featuring CeCe Winans.

Go Fish – Christmas With A Capital “C” (Snow: The Deluxe Edition), 2010
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

This album features the high energy, upbeat, harmonious style that has become Go Fish’s trademark. Along with the fresh takes on classic Christmas songs there are several original tunes including the title track and one of my all-time favorite new Christmas songs, It’s About The Cross. Originally released in 2006 under the title Snow, this album was re-released with three additional tracks including a remix of Christmas With A Capital “C” featuring a new verse.

NewSong – The Christmas Shoes, 2001
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

NewSong offers an outstanding holiday release with The Christmas Shoes which is comprised of originals like Sing Noel, the title track, and Christmas Carol, as well as few traditional numbers such as What Child Is This and one of the best renditions of The First Noel ever. It also contains a snappy performance of You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch, and two nicely arranged medleys all featuring the powerful and superb vocals that NewSong is known for.

Avalon – Joy: A Christmas Collection, 2000
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

This Christmas project from one of the best Christian pop groups of all time is a refreshing album to listen to. It features familiar tunes like The Christmas Song, Don’t Save It All For Christmas Day, and a couple of medleys on which the vocal prowess of this group really shines. Joy: A Christmas Collection also has a good portion of originals and the album’s finale is a spectacular remake of the David Meece classic, We Are The Reason.

Plus One – Christmas, 2002
iTunes | Amazon

This project is a fun and delightful listen. Christmas is full of great arrangements of traditional songs and also has some new selections all performed with Plus One’s signature harmony and overall outstanding vocals. It features delightful renditions of classics like What Child Is This?, Silent Night, and It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.

Steven Curtis Chapman – The Music of Christmas, 1995
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

My favorite Christmas album of all-time! The Music of Christmas is the perfect blend of new and old with traditional carols like O Come O Come Emmanuel, Angels We Have Heard On High, and Silent Night coupled with original masterpieces such as Going Home For Christmas, Christmas Is All In The Heart, and This Baby. This is a timeless collection of seasonal music that even boasts a few superbly orchestrated instrumental pieces.

Now I’d love for you to share your favorite Christmas albums. Did I mention one of your faves? Or did I miss an album that you feel should have been listed? Let me know in the comments below. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

CMD Issue 5: NewSong Interview

In today’s issue, you’ll hear the story behind the song "Live Like That" by the Sidewalk Prophets, I’ll share some updates from some of your favorite artists, and our featured article is an interview with the Billy Goodwin from the group NewSong.

Download Issue 5

NewSong (My guest, Billy Goodwin, is center.)

News Column

Jeremy Camp achieves 32 number 1 singles

Andrew Peterson - Light for the Lost Boy
Andrew Peterson's Website

Story Behind The Song Column

This issue’s Story Behind The Song Column features the recent top 10 single, Live Like That from Sidewalk Prophets.
Sidewalk Prophets - Live Like That
Sidewalk Prophets’ Website

Featured Article

I had the opportunity to chat with Billy Goodwin from NewSong about their latest album, One True God, some group history, and his unexpected connection to another well known artist.

NewSong - One True God
NewSong’s Website
Find out more about Winter Jam

Questions? Comments? Share them with us!