In many parts of Canada and the USA, it seems like winter doesn’t want to loosen its grip. The Christian music industry has been in similar doldrums, with very few new interesting releases. Here are two new releases to knock the snow off the roof and hopefully welcome in a new springtime for the industry.
Red– Perfect Life
The moment the first track from this album, “Release the Panic,” hit my speakers, I knew I was in for a treat. The intensity of this and other similar tracks like “Damage”, alternating between a screamo growl and melodic vocals, will appeal to anyone who loves their spiritual message with an edge. The title track shows that the band can rock with smooth vocal chops equally effectively. Interesting loops makes songs like “Die for You” equally at home in the mosh pit and the dance floor. Lyrics have a positive slant but are not explicitly Christian, making this accessible to youth who may not be in sync with a more in-your-face message. The overall theme of the songs is the state of the soul without Christ. “Hold Me Now”, however, shows that the band can also write a heartfelt ballad and it is one of the stronger tracks on the album. Consider Thousand Foot krutch mixed with Family Force Five and ignited with a touch of Anberlin, and that pretty much sums up this excellent release. This is poised to be one of the top hard rock releases for 2013
Colton Dixon– A Messenger
Colton Dixon first came into the public eye by being an American Idol finalist. There was no doubt of his Christian upbringing in the choice of several explicitly Christian songs on the show. This is his first release and it is solid. The lead cut “Noise” is a great rocker, showing off Dixon’s distinctive vocals. Much of the album has lush arrangements and a clean vocal approach painted over top of a solid hard rock rhythm. A great example of this is a highlight of the album, “Love Has Come for Me”. There is some very nice piano on some of the cuts, which is Dixon’s instrument of choice. “I’ll Be the Light” and “You Are” are both great ballads with very direct spiritual lyrics. Stylistically, the album could use a bit more variation but, for a debut album, it is a tremondously promising release. I look forward to hearing more from Colton Dixon.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18th, 2013
What: DeoSound Announces 2013 Songwriting Competition
When: Deadline to Apply October 15, 2013
Who: Contest is open to songwriters of all ages from Canada, the US, and beyond who compose an original Christian song (Music + Lyrics)
How: Artists can submit their composition marked with a Creative Commons license to awards.deosound.org
Why: The contest is intended to provide Christian songwriters exposure and encourage them to make their work freely available for noncommercial use.
DeoSound Expands Christian Songwriting Competition
The DeoSound Christian Songwriting Awards are expending by countries and by amount. Now in their third year, awards are now open to entries from Britain, Australia and New Zealand, in addition to the US and Canada. The award amounts have also grown, with more than $2000 available in awards and scholarships. One thing that hasn’t changed: entry is completely free.
Past winners have not only been creative in their songs, but also in the wide variety of ways they used their awards.
Singer/songwriter Caroline Van Halteren took first place in 2012 for her contemplative “Ashes to Beauty”. Caroline feels a strong call to bring God’s word to people through music. She is preparing for worship leadership, and used her $1000 award toward her degree in Modern Music Ministry in Nashville, USA. Serving a congregation is wonderful and worthwhile, and Caroline sees songwriting as a way of sharing her faith and her gifts well beyond those walls.
Kevin White, a youth pastor near Toronto, Canada, was a 2012 award winner for the rap song “Piece of the Pie”, co-created with Daniel Mullin and Michelle White. Kevin put his award toward recording equipment, so he can make more music for less money.
While cash awards attract attention, songwriters have found the benefits run deeper: every entrant receives individual feedback from the judges to help them get ever-better at writing Christian songs, and encouragement to share their gifts with the Christian community.
The DeoSound awards have also helped songwriters get their songs heard.
Sean Evans story provides a great example. Years ago, Sean wrote the song “Jesus’ Eyes”, along with Aidan Purnell. A full-time job and a young family made it impossible for him to look at forming a band, recording an album or two, and touring in the normal commercial way of getting his songs heard. When Sean entered the DeoSound awards in 2011, he learned about Creative Commons licensing. Sean found he could easily let people all over the world use his song for non-commercial purposes, avoiding all the complications of traditional publishing and international licensing. It was easy quick to use, simply marking his songs “Copyright Sean Evans CC-BY-NC-SA Some rights reserved,” along with the year. Sean also liked the fact it was completely free.
Sean’s song went on to become one of the 2011 DeoSound award winners. If his song achieves commercial success, Sean can still profit from it. But Sean’s main goal is that God can use his song for even bigger things: “I hope the song will be used to honour other men and women of God, and inspire us all to see our neighbours through Jesus’ eyes!”
Another 2011 winner, Jude Fernandez, explained why he chose not to lock up his song with the usual restrictive commercial copyright, “Always write songs and music from your heart. If you gain financially from your music, it can be one sign that your music is good. But whether it is a song of praise, a love ballad or rock and roll, good music has to come from your heart with no thought of fame and fortune. If you receive financial gain from it, that is really just the icing on the cake.”
Jude has since seen his song downloaded in numerous countries around the world. He has no idea who is singing it, but is perfectly OK with that. He is just glad God is using his music: “I would like this song to be sung all over the world to praise God and his son Jesus. And remind us of how loving, forgiving and powerful our God is.”
Christian songwriters who want to say “Amen!” to that can enter their songs at Awards.DeoSound.org. Entry is free, and open until October 15, 2013.
DeoSound is non-profit ministry bringing God’s word to the world through free Christian music. DeoSound is active in producing Christian music, developing Christian songwriters and musicians, and encouraging the Christian community to share God’s saving word free of charge wherever possible.
Complete rules for the awards are available at Awards.DeoSound.org. Additional information on DeoSound, and free music downloads from past winners, can be found at DeoSound.org/winners.
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