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CHRI Team “Summer Playlist” Recommendations

August 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Music
Here’s what the CHRI Team is listening to on repeat this summer. Listen to the playlist for free on Spotify, click here.  Tell us your favourite summer tune and we’ll add to the playlist!

dan_150 Dan Adams:“Gotta Be Tonight” by Lifehouse”Feel It” by Toby Mac
care_150 Care Baldwin:“The River” by Jordan Feliz”Through Your Eyes” by Britt Nicole
ashlyn_150 Ashlyn Berkhout:“Kings and Queens” by Brooke Fraser”Verge” by Owl City”Hey Mama” by Matt Kearney
danc_150 Dan Cole:“Your Hands” by JJ Heller
ashley_150 Ashley House“Hard Love” by NEEDTOBREATHE”Say Yes” by Michelle Williams”Priceless” by For King & Country

“God I Know” by Love & the outcome

skye_150 Skye MacDiarmid“Real Love” by Hillsong Young and Free”Faithful to the End” by Bethel Music
bill_150 Bill Stevens:“Power” by Group One Crew”Better” by Hezekiah Walker
denise_150 Denise Stevens“God is on the Move” by 7eventh Time Down”Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin
brock_150 Brock Tozer:“Brand New” by Ben Rector”Hard Love” by Needtobreathe”I Know” by Group 1 Crew

“Brother” by Seth & Nirva (f. GabeReal)–Brother

dianne_150 Dianne Van der Putten:“Never Gonna Stop Singing” by Jesus Culture”God’s Great Dance Floor” by Chris Tomlin”Running” by Hillsong

“Deeper” by Meredith Andrews

“Trust In You” by Lauren Daigle

“Father of Lights” by Kim Walker-Smith

Jordan Feliz’s ‘The River’ Brings Fans Authenticity and Hope in Midst of Tragedy

May 2nd, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Music
By Jeannie Law (Source: ChristianPost.com)

Jordan FelizWith the release of his debut album The River, contemporary Christian artist Jordan Feliz is winning over the hearts of many with his mainstream appeal and passion for worship.

Feliz started out as part of a secular band that was steadily growing an audience and making a name for itself, but as he began to pray about his future he felt unsure of where he was heading in the group and said God started closing doors. Soon after, still remaining prayerful, he was asked to serve part time as the worship leader of a church he felt drawn to.

Within a few months of being obedient to God’s shift for his life, Feliz received a phone call from an old friend asking him if he would fly out to Nashville and write and record a few songs, all expenses paid. While in Music City, the singer fell in love and he and his wife prayed for about a year until he heard from God that he was to move there and make music for the church.

Feliz admits he wasn’t sure if he should jump right into something after leaving his band and switching churches, but he obediently walked through the doors as the Lord kept swinging them wide open for him. Now the chart-topping newcomer, released his first full album on April 22, but says it wasn’t easy.

“It was honestly probably the most rewarding and yet exhausting experiences ever. I wrote for about two years straight, 18 months to be exact, going into signing a record deal and then releasing an EP,” Feliz told The Christian Post. “When they released ‘The River’ to radio, I just got welcomed with open arms. Everybody just started loving the song and I was shocked by that because I really thought people were going to hate the song.”

His first single, “The River” was No. 1 on Billboard’s National Christian Audience Chart for 10 weeks. Feliz said that his acceptance by the industry and an increasing fan base was another indication that creating and singing Christian music was “God’s plan” for his life. Success came so quickly, he said, he had not even started touring the EP yet before being asked to continue writing for his album.

“This record is really special to me. It’s a lot of stuff that I’ve been wanting to do musically for a long time and it’s a lot of stuff that I’ve been wanting to say,” the singer continued. “I think more than anything I want ‘The River’ to tell [people] that they have this amazing opportunity to just basically be made new everyday by a God that loves them so incredibly.”

“We are his children and when we accept that and when we embrace it, we will truly find that He is the satisfaction in our lives. He is the only real satisfaction that lasts.”

Now, with a fully packed touring schedule, the California native says he gets to hear everyday stories from some of the people who come out to his shows. After hearing their hearts, Feliz believes people take to his music because they are craving authenticity.

“I think that’s one of my main goals as a person, let alone an artist in general, to be authentic and to be myself as much as possible. I think people want that authenticity and the truth,” he explained. “If there’s some way that I can be used as some kind of extension of the Lord and He’s using me and I can be true to myself, I think people can gravitate toward that. I know that I do with other artists that I listen to. I’m [also] guilty of gravitating toward things that are real.”

Listening to funky soul music growing up, Feliz revealed that his parents were big fans of Sam Cooke, Al Green, Earth Wind & Fire and The Commodores, and had a big influence on his music style. The young father has used those influences in his music with an added twist by adding sounds from some of his modern influences such as One Republic, Ryan Tedder, for King & Country and paved his own lane.

“I can see the difference [in my music compared to] other things that are going around in Christian music. That was kind of my goal to be a little different. I wasn’t trying to change anything, I was just really trying to be myself and made music that I really wanted to hear,” he said. “I think if we’re really going to be true to ourselves as artists, then everybody should sound different. Then we can just be who we are — that’s who the Lord called us to be, He created us to be. I think that can kind of get lost in all markets.”

On the 11 track LP, the song that is most personal to him is the last song on the album, named “Satisfied.”

“I wrote it right after my wife and I lost our first baby and it was me going through this learning phase,” Feliz shared. “In my life I’ve never really gone through a whole lot of hardships. I lost both of my grandmas and that was pretty tough but I think that (losing the baby) was probably the first thing that’s ever happened that really rocked me and the first time I probably ever been angry with God.”

In his time of despair Feliz said he reached out to friends for guidance and a lady from his previous church sent him a Facebook message that really helped him navigate through the pain. She, too, understood grief, because she lost both her son and daughter in the same year and soon after her husband. She told Feliz in her message that she spent so many years being angry at God and not going to church or talking to anyone because she was battling depression.

“She said the Lord came to her and said, ‘The one person that you’ve been mad at, me, is the only satisfaction that can fill the void of loss,'” He explained. “The one person that I was angry at was the solution to my wife and my loss. That’s where “Satisfied” came out of and He is that satisfaction for us.”

Before the interview was over, Feliz graciously offered advice to other new artists looking to break through in this new era of music.

“I feel like a lot of people think that because of YouTube and all these social media things, that they can just kind of create something. Yeah, I do do that, but it’s more of a tool to harness the audience that has already been created, it’s not really to build more audience,” he explained.

“The Lord calls us to work, and that is our worship. We worship Him in our hard work. Just keep truckin, when you have an opportunity to sing or to play drums or whatever you want to do, you just go do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a bowling alley or if you playing in front of 10,000 people, just do it. The Lord gives us the smaller responsibilities before we can be entrusted with the larger ones.”

Feliz added that the more one works to pursue what they want, the better their results will be.

“Be who you are, don’t sacrifice that, just work. Go out and do the homework that you need to do and prep and do all those things that you need to do,” he advised. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s the conditioning that you need for the future. If you don’t have that conditioning sometimes it can be very chaotic and you can lose focus really fast. Continue in God — I think that is so important.”

The River is now available on iTunes. For more information on Feliz visit jordanfeliz.com.

CHRI Staff Share Their Favourite Christmas Album

December 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Music
dan_150Dan Adams: Let It Snow, Baby…
Let It Reindeer by Relient K
It’s a fun Christmas album with a fun title. Who doesn’t like Relient K?! My second choice would be Bebo Norman’s “Christmas… From the Realms of Glory” (also from 2007)

relient_k

care_150Care Baldwin: Joy by Avalon

Although the 2014 Michael W. Smith album is worth mentioning because of its beautiful orchestrations, arrangements, and collaborations, I am choosing Avalon’s “Joy: A Christmas Collection” from 2000 as my favourite CCM Christmas album. I have always loved the powerful vocal ranges and strong harmonies in Avalon but the song choices here combined with those harmonies makes this a very festive album. Featuring classics like “Jesus, Born on This Day”, “Don’t Save It All for Christmas Day”, “Light a candle” and my favourite “The Angel’s Medley”.

avalon_joy

ashlyn_150Ashlyn Berkhout: WOW Christmas: Red 2002

My favourite and probably most memorable Christmas album is WOW Christmas: Red 2002. This album was my first introduction to Christian artists and contains a ton of Christmas classics! I’d have to say some of my favourites off the album are “Do You Hear What I Hear” by Third Day, “This Christmas” by Toby Mac, and “Christmas is all in the Heart” by Steven Curtis Chapman. Blessings to you and your families this Christmas season!

wow_christmas

trudy_150Trudy Connelly: Mary, Did You know by Jeremy Camp

My favourite Christian Christmas song is “Mary, Did You know”. It touched my heart the first time I heard it which was, if I recall correctly, in The Nativity Story film. I find it very impactful every time I hear it sung. As a mother with two sons, I can only imagine what it was like for Mary to watch Jesus grow knowing, as I believe she did, what He was destined to do as our Saviour. To watch him suffer must surely have pierced her heart because any suffering of a child breaks a mother’s heart and in Mary’s case it would have been multiplied many times over.

jeremy_camp

ashley_150Ashley House: The Christmas Sessions by MercyMe

Released back in 2005 I first heard the album in 2007, the first Christmas I was a Christian. The songs are classics but reinvented in away only MercyMe can do. Although its 10 years old, is a must own album!

mercy_me

bill_150Bill Stevens: The Spirit of Christmas by Michael W. Smith & Friends

Maybe it’s my background in film and television but I love a lush orchestral arrangement and when it’s the London Symphony Orchestra (also appearing on many motion picture soundtracks) I get goosebumps.

Renowned orchestral maestro David Hamilton was a third co-producer, who arranged and oversaw the London Symphony Orchestra’s recordings on the project while Michael and CMA awards producer Robert Deaton were the other two.

The end result is both cinematic and nostalgic as even the newly penned tunes are arranged to evoke yesterday’s Christmas with today’s clarity and quality. I’d love to get tired of it but I only hear it once a year!

michael_smith

brock_150Brock Tozer: Home For Christmas by Amy Grant

Well, this is a tough question, but I would have to say that my favourite CCM Christmas album, of all time, is Amy Grant’s, “Home For Christmas” (1992). There’s something about Amy’s voice that *feels* like Christmas, to me (I suspect it’s the warmth). Most people know this album, for her hit “Breath Of Heaven”, but the truth is every song, on “Home For Christmas”, is stellar & smartly chosen. Her originals (such as “Breath Of Heaven”) are goose-bump-inducing, and the classics are re-interpreted in such a beautiful way. To this day, Amy’s renditions of songs like “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, & “Grown Up Christmas List”, are my favourites ever recorded.

amy_grant

dianne_150Dianne Van Der Putten: Joy by Avalon

My favorite Christian Christmas album would be Joy by Avalon with “Joy to the World” and others on this album. Makes me incredibly happy and has me jumping around. Another would be “How Many Kings” by Downhere. Love it!!

avalon_joy

A Guide to 2015’s Christmas Music

December 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Music

ChristmasPreview2015

Ready for some new Christmas music? Who cares if it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet; the red cups are out and so are the stockings! To freshen up your holiday season soundtrack, check out these brand-new releases for Christmas 2015!

MercyMe! It’s Christmas by MercyMe

Find it on iTunes here.

Award-winning, platinum-selling band MercyMe has proved over and over again that there’s not a lot they can’t do (and do well). Their second Christmas release (following up The Christmas Sessions) continues to prove that, bringing the perfect blend of reflection and holiday cheer. The confidence and energy that shone in most recent album Welcome to the New translates perfectly to the Christmas setting as well, making this a must-have for the holiday season.


ADORE: Christmas Songs of Worship by Chris Tomlin

Find it on iTunes here.

Chris Tomlin’s second Christmas project (following up 2012’s Glory in the Highest) was recorded live at the historic Ocean Way Recording Studios in Nashville– and he invited some friends along for the ride. Lauren Daigle, All Sons & Daughters and Crowder all lend their vocals to the worshipful Christmas offering.


Christmas is Here by Danny Gokey

Find it on iTunes here.

Stand-out vocalist Danny Gokey is offering his take on Christmas classics like “White Christmas” and “Mary, Did You Know?” this year. Danny’s rich, soulful voice and hope-breathing approach to his music, both heard through songs like “Hope In Front of Me” and “More Than You Think I Am,” make this a collection of Christmas songs not to be missed.


God With Us by Laura Story

Find it on iTunes here.

If you’re looking for something with a reverent, classic approach, Laura Story’s God With Us is perfect for you. With a traditional approach to songs such as “Silent Night” and “Angels We Have Heard On High,” alongside a few original offerings in Laura’s signature poignant style, this album is sure to provide a soundtrack for peaceful celebration.


Christmas Worship II by Paul Baloche

Find it on iTunes here.

Acclaimed worship songwriter Paul Baloche brings something unique to the table with his dedication to focusing the season’s melodies on worship. The result is his unique method of blending classic worship lyrics with classic Christmas tunes to help listeners encounter both in a new way. This second volume of Christmas Worship from Baloche continues to give listeners a unique way to recognize and worship God throughout Christmastime.


It’s Almost Christmas by Jon and Valerie Guerra

Find it on iTunes here.

This album from newcomer Jon Guerra and his wife was a welcome surprise release this November. The husband and wife duo, who introduced their dynamic vocal and violin pairing to listeners across the country on the Rock and Worship Roadshow early this year, crafted this eleven song collection by choosing both classic to cover and writing four original tunes. If you’ve enjoyed Jon’s beautiful single “Stained Glass,” then you’ll want to check out his take on seasonal music.


An Angel Band Christmas by Andrew Greer & Friends

Find it on iTunes here.

This DVD and CD duo, released by Lightworx and Lucid Artist, features performances, duets and conversation between Andrew Greer and fellow artists like Point of Grace, Cindy Morgan, Jaci Velasquez and Nic Gonzales. The offerings by industry veterans makes the CD a stand-out album to add to your collection, but the DVD adds a whole new dimension, featuring the filmed-for-TV segment plus almost 40 minutes of bonus footage.


Gift of Grace by Brad & Rebekah

Find it on iTunes here.

This husband and wife worship team are offering up their first Christmas release this year, aiming to assemble a Christmas collection saturated by the truth of God’s grace. Their treatment of classic seasonal carols alongside a few fresh, original songs draws full attention to the arrival of Jesus as a gift from a loving, gracious God.


Great Joy by Vernon Hill

Find it on iTunes here.

If you’re looking for some gospel-flavored holiday tunes, Great Joy by Vernon Hill is a must-have this year. The blend of originals and Christmas classics are all transformed by smooth soul influences. The collection is certain to infuse joy into your celebrations this December.


Before Our King by Michael Bahn

This worshipful release from Michael Bahn aims to give worshippers easily accessible tools to express their adoration of Jesus. The single “Rejoice” is a foretaste of the project’s heart, centered on joyful worship of Christ perfect for this season celebrating His birth. Michael is the worship pastor at River Valley Community Church in Oregon, which gives his songs a sound seasoned by on the ground experience in ministry.


Goin’ Back to Bethlehem by Brothers McClurg

Brothers McClurg have established their sound of classic Americana across generations with their powerful, rich voices and focus on worship and intimacy with God. The latest result is their Christmas project Goin’ Back to Bethlehem, which approaches both Christmas classics and some original offerings with a timeless musical approach that gives this the potential to be a staple around your home for many holidays to come.

Source: newreleasetoday.com

Brock Tozer’s Top 5 New Christmas Albums

December 4th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Music
Christmas Music 2014:BrockOne of my roles, at CHRI, is Music Director, which means, in part, that I get paid to listen to new music.  (How cool is that?!?)  So, when our promotions team asked if I would consider writing an article, for the December e-magazine, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  The way I see it, if I “have to” listen to all of these albums anyway, why not at least give you the scoop on what to expect?  If it saves you a few dollars or, even better, helps you find a new favourite Christmas album, it’s worth it.

Truthfully, this is something of a slow year, for CCM Christmas albums, at least in terms of quantity.  Hopefully though, what the industry is lacking in quantity, it has made up for in quality.

Here are 5 of this year’s new Christmas albums, in no particular order, worthy of your attention…

Carolyn Arends, “Christmas: Story of Stories”

carolyn_arendsI think it’s extremely telling that Carolyn was able to more than double her $11, 000 goal, on Kickstarter, this past spring.  She clearly has a lot of fans, and for very good reason.  “Story of Stories” is what you would hope for, from a Carolyn Arends Christmas album; winsome, clever, thoughtful, acoustic.  If you like your Christmas music with a gentle touch, “Story of Stories” is for you.

Rend Collective, “Campfire Christmas: Volume 1”

rend_collectiveThis one has been touted as 2014’s “surprise” Christmas CD, since it didn’t appear on any of the album release schedules leading into the fall.  What a great surprise!  The album cover is a riot, and how could anyone not love songs like “Ding Dong Merrily On High (The Celebration’s Starting)”?!  Simply put, if you’ve liked Rend Collective’s albums, in the past, you won’t be disappointed here.  Promise.  It’s extremely fun, and just the right mix of originals and classics.

1 Girl Nation, “A Very 1 Girl Nation Christmas EP”

1_girl-nationI think 1 Girl Nation fills an important niche in CCM right now (that of the tween girl market). The production work is tight, on this EP, and the song arrangements are, to be completely frank, not as predictable as I was expecting them to be.  Overall, it’s a reasonably solid EP, and I have to give them specific props for not ruining “Let It Go”, from “Frozen”, even though the original is still slightly better.  It was a pretty gutsy move, to cover such a popular (and recent!) song, but they pull it off nicely.

Michael W. Smith, “Michael W. Smith & Friends: The Spirit of Christmas”

michael_smithI’ll get right to the point by saying that, in my opinion, this is Michael’s best album of the past 10 years.  (It’s also his best Christmas album since 1989’s “Christmas”.)  To say that Michael didn’t phone it in would be an understatement.  His special guests include everyone from Little Big Town, to Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, Bono, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Michael McDonald, and Carrie Underwood.  In fact, Carrie’s vocal performance, on “All Is Well”, makes it the “must hear” Christmas song of the year…wow!  Michael seems content, on nearly all of these tracks, to let his special guests do most of the shining.  When you combine these elements with his impeccable piano playing (and harmonizing) abilities, it makes for one great Christmas album.

Aaron Shust, “Unto Us”

aaron_shustCan I be completely honest?  I haven’t been big on Aaron Shust’s music since, his 2006 hit, “My Savior My God”.  For this reason, I was completely taken aback, by how much I truly loved “Unto Us”, from the very first note right to the very last.  Aaron has teamed up with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, and producer David Hamilton, to craft something truly timeless here. As I was listening, I couldn’t help but imagine these songs being used, as the soundtrack for an epic stage re-enactment of the Christmas story.  The originals are stellar, the covers are fresh, and there isn’t a weak (or even weak-“ish”) track on the entire album.  If you like your Christmas music BIG, like I do, don’t pass this one up!

Christmas 2014 also features full length offerings from the likes of Kim Walker-Smith, Peter Furler, & Laura Story, as well as EP’s from Chris August, and more.  I don’t have space to cover them all but, suffice it to say, there really is something for everyone, in the family, despite the aforementioned fact that it’s a bit of a slow year generally.  Go grab yourself a new favourite Christmas album and, most importantly, from my family to yours, Merry Christmas!!

A new initiative from CHRI that supports and distributes Contemporary Christian Music

June 1st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Music
CCMsource - screenshotCCMSource is a new digital music distributor and publisher providing fair access to world-wide distribution on multi-digital platforms for independent contemporary Christian music artists.  CCMSource wants to provide a music source for everyone seeking a personal relationship with God through a personal relationship with creators of the music that connects them.

Whether you are a new or an already published artist,  CCMSource will ensure that your music is available digitally on over 100 digital stores around the world.  The work process is very simple using our platform.  When your application is approved you will receive a login access to our content platform where you will have complete control of your catalogue.  You can upload your music, select the date of release, select exclusive stores, upload your cover art, videos, etc.

CCMSource will provide quarterly reports of all your sales by song, and by album, for each market around the world.

For more information, go to www.ccmsource.com

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