Galen Crew

Galen Crew is an American recording artist, producer, and songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee. His music is known for its dream-like quality which often features deep yet whimsical themes and seems to emanate from a different world. At his core, Galen is a storyteller. He crafts stories that pull from various art forms….citing fantasy authors such as Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Herman Hesse as having inspired him just as much as the Beatles, Coldplay, and John Mayer. Imagine if the mysterious Grimm Brothers fairy tale collections were somehow transformed into modern pop songs – and you’ll start to get idea of the imagery, depth, and layers within Galen’s music.

Having played in various bands throughout his life, Galen had always been primarily the songwriter and guitarist. But at age 19, he began writing unique material that didn’t fit with any of the bands he was playing with, and he tentatively stepped out as a vocalist himself. The first few demos he recorded as a solo artist immediately caught the attention of Roger Cook, legendary British songwriter (“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”; “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress”). Galen and Roger have now written over 100 songs together. One of them, titled “Sleepyhead” – a unique story song that is something of a medieval myth or fairy tale – organically went viral in China. Upon discovering that his music was gaining millions upon millions of streams on Chinese music platforms, Galentoured the country twice – and found that although he had never been to Asia before, his fans knew the words to his songs in every city he performed in. Galen describes the experience as being simultaneously surreal and inspiring. In fall 2016 he teamed up with Hover Coalition Music. In 2018, he released Apologue, a large body of work released in 4 Volumes. Galen’s music has now garnered over 150 million plays worldwide.

 

Avalon

AVALON REVEALS THE NEXT CHAPTER
Jody McBrayer Returns To Group After 12 Years; Group Welcomes Newcomer Dani Rocca
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 29, 2018) – In a video posted to their official website and social media platforms today, AVALON – beloved, lauded and iconic vocal group – revealed ‘the next chapter’ in their decorated career.
With a very quick video – that is sure to garner excitement and further questions from their devoted audience – the group simply announced ‘Hi! We’re AVALON.” In that video, viewers catch a very quick glimpse that reveals two new members Dani Rocca and, after a 12-year absence from the group, Jody McBrayer.
“Greg and I are thrilled to welcome back our friend and brother, Jody McBrayer,” shares Janna Long. “I know our friends will be thrilled to see Jody with AVALON again just as much as we’re ecstatic to share the platfor with him.”
Jody McBrayer comments, “Who would have ever imagined that, after nearly 12 years, I would be a part of Avalon again? I’m always surprised at how God works and so extremely happy and grateful for this new season with them.”
“After we heard her sing for the first time, Janna looked at me and said ‘I love this girl’s voice.’  Very soon, we fell in love with person who is Dani Rocca. I know our friends will love her, too,” said Greg Long.
AVALON is set to record new music together, and details will be released at a later date regarding that project.
As in the past, AVALON will perform a very select set of tour dates as Greg & Janna Long are staff worship leaders at Woodlands Church in Texas and Jody McBrayer performs with Cana’s Voice and solo tour dates.

Gaither Vocal Band

https://www.gaither.com

The Gaither Vocal Band got its start in the early 1980s with four guys singing around a piano backstage before a Bill Gaither Trio concert. Gary McSpadden, Steve Green, Lee Young and Bill Gaither were just having fun, harmonizing on “Your First Day in Heaven” when Bill decided they should try out their new sound on a live audience that very night. The audience went wild… and that impromptu performance marked the beginning of an era.

Now, for more than a quarter century, the Gaither Vocal Band has created a legacy of award-winning excellence that has forever raised the bar for male harmony. The list of men who have comprised the Gaither Vocal Band over the years reads like a “Who’s Who” among the gospel music industry’s best-loved voices. And, always at the helm, has been Bill Gaither, who has led the group out of his personal passion for great harmony and his genuine desire to bring meaningful music to a hurting world. The Grammy-winning, chart-busting success of the Gaither Vocal Band has far exceeded his wildest expectations.

Today, the Gaither Vocal Band roster is comprised of Bill Gaither, Wes Hampton, David Phelps and Adam Crabb. Individually, these men are gifted artists and men of authentic faith. Together, they are the incomparable Gaither Vocal Band, known around the world for their powerhouse vocals, innovative harmonies and life-altering message… a message of grace, hope and redemption.

Tamela Mann

https://www.tillymannmusic.com/

Few entertainers today can match the unbridled energy and creative passion that Tamela Mann brings to her multi-faceted career. An acclaimed actress, NAACP Image Award nominee and Dove Award-winning vocalist as well as wife and mother, Mann’s talent has helped anchor one of the industry’s most successful film, TV and theatrical franchises, while her amazing vocal gift is at the top of her impressive resume.

Tamela seems to effortlessly juggle a variety of notable projects while still finding time to aid such worthy organizations as the American Diabetes Assn. 2012 looks to be a memorable year for Mann as she’ll be seen with Jordan Sparks and Whitney Houston in the upcoming film “Sparkle,” she and her husband, NAACP Image award winning actor and comedian, David Mann will co-host a new lifestyle and cooking TV “Hanging With The Manns,” and she’s releasing a new album, “Best Days”.

“I want to present music that people can be blessed by and that can be healing,” she says about her new record. “We have to put music out to keep people encouraged and keep lifting the body of Christ up, and even the ones that haven’t become Christians. We need to encourage them that the best thing that they could ever do is become a child of God.”

With “Best Days,” Tamela is on a mission to share the strength and joy that can be found in being a child of God. Produced by Myron Butler, the project showcases Mann’s powerful voice and her gift for wringing every ounce of emotion from a great lyric. The title track, penned by Butler, is a jubilant celebration of God’s promises. “It’s a very encouraging song. It gives a lot of hope,” Tamela says. “It’s about looking back on your past and not letting your past take over your life. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Things will be better.”

That positive, life-affirming attitude is not only the focal point of Tamela’s new album, it’s at the heart of everything she does. Whether she’s starring in a film, a play or on television with her husband David in the successful TBS comedy “Meet the Browns,” or recording a Dove Award-winning album, the singer continually touches people with her impressive talent and her Christ-like spirit.

Faith has always been the foundation of Tamela’s life. “It was all about faith and all about God in my mom’s house,” She recalls of growing up in Fort Worth, Texas as the youngest of 14 kids. “We couldn’t listen to like R&B or blues. My mom would say, ‘You can’t listen to those blues in my house.’ She was really strict, but we listened to a lot of gospel music—The Clark Sisters, Andrae’ Crouch, Walter Hawkins, The Williams Brothers and Inez Andrews.”

Tamela knew at an early age that she was called to music ministry. “When I was eight-years-old, I was going to youth choir rehearsals with my older siblings, and I would start learning the songs that they were singing. I noticed myself scooting up closer and closer to the choir stand, singing with the choir. I jumped in there and started singing soprano right off.”

Though she was young, her voice caught the attention of the choir director and her uncle, who was the pastor. “I had an opportunity to sing the lead and the song was James Cleveland’s ‘I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired.’ It went over so well and I got so moved while I was singing the song, I started crying. I didn’t know what it was at the time, being so young, but it was like the spirit of God would take me over every time that I would sing. I found out that singing was my passion.”

By the time she was 12, she was in the singing choir at the Holy Tabernacle church. Shortly after high school, she met three young men that would change her life forever. David Mann became her husband Darrell Blair who is now her pastor, and their pal Kirk Franklin, who helped launch Tamela’s singing career when he recruited her to be part of his groundbreaking group, The Family. Tamela sang on five of Franklin’s albums and has fond memories of those days. “I look at all of us and just how God has blessed us in different areas,” she says. “We’re going on and doing our own things. We’re all still serving the Lord which is really a blessing.”

After her stint with The Family, God continued to open doors for Mann to serve him in the arts. She landed a role in the play “He Say. . .She Say. . .But What Does God Say?” Her stage skills were noticed by actor/writer/producer Tyler Perry who chose her to appear in his play, “I Can Do Bad All By Myself.” From there her acting career escalated as she developed the role of Cora Simmons in Perry’s plays and such films as “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “Madea Goes to Jail” and 2011’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family.” The Madea films have become one of Hollywood’s most successful film franchises and Mann’s portrayal of ‘Cora Simmons’ has become a cornerstone of the series.

Tamela has also taken ‘Cora’ into America’s living rooms via the television screen, co-starring with her husband David in the #1 TBS series, “Meet the Browns.” Yet even as she’s become increasingly successful as an actress, Mann’s passion for music has never diminished. She’s recorded four highly acclaimed albums, including “The Master Plan,” which won the 2011 Dove Award for Traditional Gospel Album of the Year and was nominated for an NAACP Image award.

Though an award winning project might cause some artists to feel pressure when they enter the studio to record their follow up album, Tamela just felt excited and motivated to take her music to another level, and she does just that on “Best Days.”  “I take no glory. I take no merit for myself because it all comes from Him,” Mann says. “Everything that I am comes from Him. The Lord gives me words and the most fulfilling part is that I can plant a seed of joy and hope for people that I’ve never met.”

Among Tamela’s favorite songs on the new album is “All To Thee.” “That is a worship song that says, ‘Less of me, more of thee, all the glory and all the honor belongs to you .’ The lyrics make me cry because they remind me that it’s not about me,” she says. “It’s all about Him and I just want to be able to give everything that I have to Him.”

“Back in the Day Praise” is a nostalgic tune that takes Tamela back to her roots. “When I was growing up we’d have a lot of tent revivals,” she says, “and it’s talking about all the things we did back in the day and how when people would go to church they would kneel and pray. It’s a reminder of how we used to praise God.”

“Guest of Honor” is a modern worship anthem about treating the Lord as an invited guest. “Some of lyrics say, ‘Here we are Lord. We are waiting for your arrival.’ It’s another one of my favorite songs on this album,” she states. Tamela is also excited about her daughters, Tia and Tiffany, making their recording debut on “Best Days.” “I’m so excited for people to hear them.”

Tamela Mann has been blessed with a busy life filled with faith, family and a rewarding career. She and David have been happily married for 24 years and have four children and seven grandchildren. The couple serves as spokespeople for the American Diabetes Association, helping educate people on healthy food choices and the importance of exercise. They also incorporate tips into “Hanging with the Manns,” a new cooking show the couple is co-hosting. They revel in the opportunity to work together on different projects. “We started out as best friends and we tell each other everything,” she says of what keeps her marriage strong. “Everything that we have accomplished has been together and it’s just really a blessing.”

The Mann’s home base remains in Texas and they are active in their church. “I’m always involved in church when I’m home,” she says. “When we have activities, I’m the decorator. I always decorate the fellowship hall. I really like being involved and I think it’s important because the pastors need laborers. They don’t just need members. They need laborers. It’s very important to come and be a part of actual fellowship and be a part of activities.”

As much as she loves being home, she also loves touring and ministering to people all over the world through her music. “That’s where I find my joy, when I can sing and minister to people,” she says, “because I see the hope and encouragement that it gives people. It’s something that I will do until I die. I will do this until the Lord calls me home because this is one sure way that I know I can tell people about Him so He can be glorified. I’ll never stop because I love it so much.”

 

SELAH

https://selahonline.com

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Unmatched talent, a passion for ministry and a deep love for the Church—for 20 years these have been constants for the musical tour de force known as Selah. Amassing more than 4 million units in sales; eight Gospel Music Association Dove Awards; a Gold-certified album and eight #1 singles, the group’s signature hits include “You Raise Me Up” and “Wonderful, Merciful Savior.” Todd Smith, Allan Hall and Amy Perry have together graced the stage of Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry, all the while carrying a message of hope and healing for those who pause and listen. True to form, Selah’s first all-new recording in nearly three years, Unbreakable, is hallmarked by the beloved trio’s down-to-earth realness, soaring harmonies and unforgettable arrangements.

Produced by Todd, Allan and longtime collaborator Jason Kyle Saetveit, Unbreakable includes contributions from acclaimed producers Charlie Peacock (Switchfoot, The Civil Wars) and Scott Cash (Dan Bremnes). A centerpiece of the album and its lead single, “I Got Saved”— written by Jennie Lee Riddle (“Revelation Song”), Crystal Yates and Corey Voss—lit a very personal fire in Todd, the likes of which he had not felt since first hearing “You Raise Me Up.” He agreed to do anything necessary to get it on the record.

I’m undone by the mercy of Jesus / I’m undone by the goodness of the Lord
I’m restored and made right / He got a hold of my life
I’ve got Jesus / How could I want more?

“There’s such a power in the lyric,” Todd says of the Scott Cash-produced and Ed Cash-executive produced song, which brings audiences to their feet, hands raised, singing along. “It reminded me of when I accepted Jesus as a 5-year-old in a small town church in Michigan, of that day and of all He’s brought me through since. When we share our testimony we open up the Gospel and encourage the saints.”

Similarly, the soaring ballad “Broken Ladders” struck a chord with Amy upon her first listen. The song’s message continues to serve as a powerful reminder of her worth in Christ each time she sings it.

All You ever wanted was my heart / My heart, my simple heart
To You that’s all that really matters

“The first time I heard it, I just wept and wept in my car,” she says, describing her life-long struggle with self-esteem and acceptance. “I’ve spent a lot of years feeling not good enough, not pretty enough, and over time I’d gotten to a place of nothing being good enough, trying to meet the impossible fake-perfect standards of Instagram and Pinterest, expectations no woman could ever achieve. ‘Broken Ladders’ broke open something inside me, allowing me to let those impossible standards go, to lay those insecurities at His feet so He can do His work in me.”

“People of the Cross,” a poignant song about the persecuted Church, is particularly important to Todd. He co-wrote the song with Jennie Lee Riddle, and the track was produced by Charlie Peacock. It’s a response to the murder of 21 Egyptian Christians at the hands of ISIS and a reminder to pray for those who suffer for their faith.

Jesus, we will be faithful ‘til you meet us / Give us Your courage as we finish
We want to hear ‘well done’ / We are the people of the cross

“Many times when persecution is so visible,” Todd says, “it’s because Satan is so threatened. What we don’t see is that God is working supernaturally. Thousands of Muslims are having dreams and visions of Jesus, asking people about the Bible and coming to faith in the midst of all this darkness.”

The joyful title-cut, with its infectious melody and driving beat is an admitted departure for the group, but a contrast they welcome. “We’ve never done a track like that,” says Allan. “It has an 80s retro feel, and it’s just a light pop moment.”

Amidst such powerful new selections are a treasure trove of beloved hymns and standards. From the African-influenced “This Little Light of Mine” (a tribute to Todd’s missionary heritage); to the classic “Got Any Rivers” fused with Christian music pioneer Leslie Philips’ “Carry You”; to the rip-roaring gospel medley of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot/I’ll Fly Away,” Selah hits their stride, delivering the songs—and that signature sound—fans have long adored.

Unbreakable fittingly concludes with a benediction of Hope: “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” a musical collaboration with 14-time GRAMMY® winner Ron Block of Alison Krauss & Union Station.

“Hymns have always been foundational to what we do and who we are,” Allan says.  “We sang ‘It Is Well With My Soul’ at a youth conference one time and were congratulated by a teenager afterward for writing such a ‘cool song.’  I explained to him where the song came from, showed him a hymnal and told him it was chock-full of other really ‘cool songs.’ Parents are always telling us, ‘the only way our kids know these hymns is because we sing along in the car with you.’ If we’ve played a small part in keeping hymns alive for future generations, I feel like we’ve accomplished a dream.”  

Indeed, the fruition of Selah’s dream continues, singing the hymnbook as only they can, sharing unbreakable Truth and Hope of the Gospel to those who have ears to hear.

Jaci Velasquez

https://www.jacivelasquez.com

Jaci Velasquez grew up in an evangelical church where her parents were singers, evangelists and pastors. Jaci has been singing since she was nine years old, and has been singing professionally for nearly 17 years. Contemporary Christian audiences are most familiar with her hit songs, “On My Knees” (A Dove award winning “Song of the Year”) as well as “God So Loved” and “You’re My God.” Jaci has sold over four million albums, garnered three RIAA certified Platinum recordings, three RIAA certified Gold recordings, sixteen #1 radio hits, and has graced more than 50 magazine covers. Her resume includes ad campaigns for Pepsi, Doritos, Target, Frizz-Ease, and Helzberg Diamonds.

Jaci’s latest CD is called Diamond and last year she appeared in two faith based films – The Encounter & Jerusalem Countdown. This year look for Jaci in a new film Rumors of Wars with Jaime Grace and Mac Powell from Third Day. Jaci is also working on a new devotional and writing a new book, Coffee and Concealer.

Jaci is married to Nic Gonzales, lead singer of the Christian group Salvador. Jaci and Nic were blessed with their son Zealand in 2007 and second son Soren in 2009.

Salvador

http://www.salvadorlive.com

Over the course of an acclaimed career spanning more than a dozen years, Salvador has embraced a veritable rainbow of musical styles, from the Tex-­‐Mex and Latin sounds of the band’s Austin, Texas birthplace, to hip-­‐hop, pop, jam band rhythms, rock and much more. But it took their first album in more than four years, Make Some Noise, to turn Salvador into something they hadn’t been since their earliest days: a garage band.

Yet if “Make Some Noise” blazes a new trail for this seven-­‐piece band, it’s delivered them back to where the journey began. In energy and enthusiasm, joy and abandon, infectious groove and inviting love, the new album traces a laser-­‐straight line to the band’s first full-­‐length, self-­‐titled release in 2000. Long before their Billboard Latin Music Award nominations or their Dove Award for Spanish Language Album of the Year, “Salvador” put the band on the map with festive, breathtaking songs such as “Lord, I Come Before You.” The album marks a full-­‐circle moment for a band that has toured with Third Day, worked with producer Chris Rodriguez, and performed at Dr. Billy Graham’s final New York City crusade in 2005.

Ricky Skaggs

https://www.rickyskaggs.com

–A life full of music.  That’s the story of Ricky Skaggs.  By age 21, he was already considered a “recognized master” of one of America’s most demanding art forms, but his career took him in other directions, catapulting him to popularity and success in the mainstream of country music.  His life’s path has taken him to various musical genres, from where it all began in bluegrass music, to striking out on new musical journeys, while still leaving his musical roots intact.

Ricky struck his first chords on a mandolin over 50 years ago, and this 14-time Grammy Award winner continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music.  With 12 consecutive Grammy-nominated classics behind him, all from his own Skaggs Family Records label (Bluegrass Rules! in 1998, Ancient Tonesin 1999, History of the Future in 2001, Soldier of the CrossLive at the Charleston Music Hall, and Big Mon: The Songs of Bill Monroe in 2003, Brand New Strings in 2005, Instrumentals in 2007, Salt of the Earth with The Whites in 2008, Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947 in 2009 andRicky Skaggs Solo: Songs My Dad Loved along with Mosaic in 2010), the diverse and masterful tones made by the gifted Skaggs come from a life dedicated to playing music that is both fed by the soul and felt by the heart.
Ricky was born on July 18, 1954 in Cordell, Kentucky, and received his first mandolin at the age of five after his father, Hobert, heard him harmonizing with his mother from across the house as he played with his toys.  Two weeks after teaching him the G, C and D chords, Hobert returned from working out of town shocked to see his young son making chord changes and singing along. He soon earned a reputation among the locals in his community.  When the legendary Bill Monroe came to Martha, Kentucky for a performance, the crowd wouldn’t let up until “Little Ricky Skaggs” got up to play.  The father of bluegrass called six-year-old Skaggs up and placed his own mandolin around his neck, adjusting the strap to fit his small frame.  No one could have imagined what a defining moment that would be in the life of the young prodigy.  By age seven, Skaggs performed with bluegrass legends Flatt & Scruggs on their popular syndicated television show, for which he earned his first paycheck for a musical performance.
In 1971, he entered the world of professional music with his friend, the late country singer, Keith Whitley, when the two young musicians were invited to join the band of bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley.  Ricky soon began to build a reputation for creativity and excitement through live appearances and recordings with acts such as J. D. Crowe & the New South.  He performed on the band’s 1975 debut album for Rounder Records, which is widely regarded as one of the most influential bluegrass albums ever made.  A stint as a bandleader with Boone Creek followed, bringing the challenges of leadership while giving him further recording and performing experience.
In the late 1970s, Ricky turned his attention to country music.  Though still in his 20s, the wealth of experience and talent he possessed served him well, first as a member of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band and later as an individual recording artist on his own.  With the release of Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine in 1981, Skaggs reached the top of the country charts and remained there throughout most of the 1980s, resulting in a total of 12 #1 hits.  In 1982, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the youngest to ever be inducted at that time.  As his popularity soared, he garnered eight awards from the Country Music Association (CMA), including “Entertainer of the Year” in 1985, four Grammy Awards, and dozens of other honors.  These achievements also placed him front and center in the neo-traditionalist movement, bringing renewed vitality and prominence to a sound that had been somewhat subdued by the commercialization of the ‘Urban Cowboy’ fad.  Renowned guitarist and producer, Chet Atkins, credited Skaggs with “single-handedly” saving country music.

In 1997, after Ricky’s then-current recording contract was coming to an end, he decided to establish his own record label – Skaggs Family Records.  Since then, Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder have released an amazing 12 consecutive Grammy-nominated classics, (8 of which went on to earn the revered award) while also opening the label to a variety of other musical artists, all the time keeping emphasis on bluegrass and other forms of roots music.  Ricky and Skaggs Family Records have had the privilege of working with many musical talents including The Del McCoury Band, Jerry and Tammy Sullivan, Blue Highway, The Whites, Mountain Heart, Melonie Cannon, Ryan Holladay, Keith Sewell, Cherryholmes, and Cadillac Sky.

Ricky’s first release for Skaggs Family Records, Bluegrass Rules!, set a new standard for bluegrass, breaking new sales records in the genre, winning Skaggs his sixth Grammy Award, and earning the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Album of the Year Award.  In 1999, his second all-bluegrass album, Ancient Tones, won a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album – his second consecutive Grammy in that same category.  Just one year later, Ricky won his eighth Grammy Award in the Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album category for Soldier of the Cross, his first all-gospel recording project.
Ricky made further progress with the release of his fourth bluegrass album in 2000, Big Mon: The Songs of Bill Monroe, a project which featured an all-star cast of musicians ranging from Dolly Parton, Patty Loveless and Travis Tritt to Joan Osborne, John Fogerty and Bruce Hornsby, and celebrated the music and the life of Ricky’s mentor, Bill Monroe.  Big Mon received much critical acclaim, including a Grammy nomination for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.  The album was re-released by Lyric Street Records in 2002 under a new name, Ricky Skaggs and Friends Sing the Songs of Bill Monroe.  His fifth bluegrass album,History of the Future (2001), a timeless collection of both traditional bluegrass standards and newly conceived acoustic gems received rave reviews and industry accolades, including a Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album and an IBMA nomination for Album of the Year, once again placing Skaggs among the leading innovators in the genre.

Skaggs’ first all-live album with Kentucky Thunder, Live at the Charleston Music Hall (2003), led to an IBMA Award for Instrumental Group of the Year – an award Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder has taken home 8 times in the last decade.  The decision to record a live album was an obvious one for Skaggs.  From a string of high-profile tour dates with the Dixie Chicks in 2000, to his position as host of the unprecedented “All*Star Bluegrass Celebration” which aired nationwide on PBS in 2002, to his participation in the wildly successful 41-city ‘Down from the Mountain’ tour – Ricky has become one of bluegrass’ most dynamic and sought-after live performers.

He counts the current configuration of Kentucky Thunder among the best group of musicians he has ever worked with.  “This group of guys meets my approval every night,” Ricky says.  “Each and every one of the pickers in Kentucky Thunder totally amazes me in every show…and that, to me, outweighs any award we could ever win.”  The all-star lineup of Kentucky Thunder includes Andy Leftwich (fiddle), Cody Kilby (lead guitar), Paul Brewster (tenor vocals, rhythm guitar), Eddie Faris (baritone vocals, rhythm guitar) and Scott Mulvahill (bass, bass vocals).  Live at the Charleston Music Hall was honored in 2004 with a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group for the Harley Allen-penned track, “A Simple Life.”
In 2005, Ricky earned his 10th career Grammy (Best Bluegrass Album) for Brand New Strings – a beautiful collection of music featuring four Skaggs originals as well as several tunes by some of his most admired contemporaries, including Harley Allen, Guy Clark, and Shawn Camp.  In 2006, Skaggs was honored with a Grammy Award – this time in the Best Musical Album for Children category – for his contribution to Songs from the Neighborhood: the Music of Mister Rogers.  Greater success followed with the release of Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder Instrumentals, an album of all-original, all-instrumental material in Fall 2006.  Praised by fans and critics alike as a landmark album for Skaggs, Instrumentalsdebuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s bluegrass album chart and earned Ricky his 12thcareer Grammy Award (Best Bluegrass Album).
Cross pollination has been a mainstay throughout Ricky’s career, from his weekly collaborations with various artists as host of The Nashville Network’s Monday Night Concerts in the 1990’s to his recent pairings with Bruce Hornsby and The Whites.  Released in March of 2007, Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby(Sony/Legacy) drew from the deep roots in mountain music – adding piano and Hornsby’s inimitable songwriting to the core bluegrass lineup of mandolin, guitar, bass, fiddle, and banjo.  A major CMT Crossroads special coincided with the album’s release.
His next recorded project, released in September of 2007 on Skaggs Family Records, was a literal family affair.  After years of blending their voices from the living room to the stage, Ricky Skaggs and The Whites teamed up for their first collaborative gospel album, Salt of the Earth, which resulted in a 13th career Grammy Award for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album, followed by a Gospel Music Association Dove Award for Bluegrass Recorded Album of the Year and Inspirational Country Music Awards for Musician of the Year as well as Mainstream Country Artist of the Year and Inspirational Bluegrass Artist of the Year (with The Whites).
In 2008, Skaggs paid tribute to the man he has often referred to as his “musical father”, Bill Monroe, and the original lineup of the Bluegrass Boys (Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Chubby Wise and Howard Watts) with the release of Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947, earning a 14th career Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.
A musical father in his own right, Skaggs continues on the full circle path with the addition of a ReIssue Series of his groundbreaking country music masterworks to the Skaggs Family Records catalog in 2009.  Beginning with 1982’s Highways & Heartaches, and followed by 1981’s Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine and 1983’s Don’t Cheat in Our Hometown, the ReIssue Series will include nine albums total and includes bonus retrospectives with each release, which feature Ricky, in his own words, sharing never-before-told stories about the making of each project.
Skaggs’ first-ever solo album, Ricky Skaggs Solo: Songs My Dad Loved (2009), celebrated the man that caused him to fall in love with music – his father, Hobert Skaggs.  He elaborates, “If I could’ve gotten my dad into the studio, this is how I would’ve wanted him to sound.”  Playing every instrument and singing every note on the album, Ricky brought raw, emotional honesty to the songs.  By coming home to the music that meant so much to him as a child, Ricky tapped into a wellspring of passion that he channeled into every tune, as though he willed himself back to his family’s house in Kentucky.  Solo was honored in the American roots field with a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2010.
Ricky Skaggs’ album, Mosaic (2010), marked a return to a full band sound that mixed elements of Country music with Beatles-esque melody and lyrics that spoke to Skaggs’ faith, making “music that is in my head and in my heart,” as Ricky said.  Grammy winning songwriter/producer Gordon Kennedy, who co-wrote Eric Clapton’s “Change the World,” was instrumental as co-producer and writer.  This most special album hooks the heart, as the sounds invite you in to take notice and come closer.  They have blended their talents and love of music with their love for the Lord to create this distinctive collaboration of writing and talent, unparalleled in strength of genius.  The song, “Return to Sender” from Mosaic was nominated for a Grammy for Best Gospel Song, and the album was a contender for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards, receiving major critical acclaim.
Marking Ricky’s 50th year in music was the release of Country Hits Bluegrass Style(2011), a compilation of many of Skaggs’ #1 country hits and fan favorites, played in a bluegrass style.  Combining his country and bluegrass roots along with Ricky’s impeccable tenor voice, his eight time IBMA Instrumental Band of the Year, Kentucky Thunder, and some of Ricky’s original award-winning country band alumni together with special friends added to the magic of this album.

Long awaited by country and bluegrass music fans alike, Music To My Ears (2012) includes fresh new bluegrass tunes co-written by Skaggs along with a brand new instrumental.  Many bluegrass standards are incorporated and add to its charm.  The album features a duet with Ricky Skaggs and Barry Gibb (of Bee Gees fame) on deeply moving “Soldier’s Son,” along with new bluegrass treasure “You Can’t Hurt Ham,” inspired by a true story of Mr. Bill Monroe.

In 2013, music legends Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby have come together again for a live album, titled Cluck Ol’ Hen.   Bluegrass treasures and lively expanded hits wait to be discovered on this fresh collection of songs from the masterful duo of Skaggs and Hornsby.  These live songs were originally recorded when the two music icons first hit the tour circuit together.  Hornsby’s spirited piano brings a new dimension to these songs, with electrifying solos and improvisation thrown in the mix of Skaggs, Hornsby and Skaggs’ band, Kentucky Thunder.
Ricky Skaggs has often said that he is “just trying to make a living” playing the music he loves.  But it’s clear that his passion for it puts him in the position to bring his lively, distinctively American form of music out of isolation and into the ears and hearts of audiences across the country and around the world.  Ricky Skaggs is always forging ahead with cross-cultural, genre-bending musical ideas and inspirations.

Mark Lowry

https://marklowry.com

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Mark Lowry is known and loved around the world as a trusted voice in the realm of gospel music and beyond. He started making music at age 11 and now, more than four decades later, his legacy is forever sealed as an innately entertaining communicator who can, at once, make audiences laugh, cry, and think.
Mark is a singer, storyteller, humorist, author and songwriter, whose lyric to “Mary Did You Know?” resulted in one of the most loved modern Christmas songs of this century. This captivating song, which he co-wrote with Buddy Greene, has been recorded more than 400 times by artists from every genre including: Reba McEntire, Cee Lo Green, Clay Aiken, Michael English, Kenny Rogers, Wynonna Judd, The Gaither Vocal Band, and a long list of others.
Mark has spent more than 20 collective years as the baritone singer for the Grammy-award-winning Gaither Vocal Band and serves as the sidesplitting comedic sidekick for Bill Gaither through live concert tours and the best-selling Gaither Homecoming video series and television airings (now more than 150 volumes strong).
A deep thinker and student of theology with an outrageous sense of humor (for which he often credits his diagnosis with Attention Deficit Disorder), Mark’s life work includes a long list of recordings and DVDs reflecting a wide range of influences, including: Mark Lowry On Broadway, Mark Lowry Goes To Hollywood, Life Gets Loud, I Love To Tell the Story (his first all-hymns recording), Unplugged and Unplanned, Whatcha Need, Unforgettable Classics, How We Love, and most recently … DOGS GO TO HEAVEN.
In spite of the broad range of musical inspiration found in Mark’s discography, there is one element that never changes: his gift for communicating profound truths through music and storytelling that keeps audiences of all ages on the edge of their seats. Mark maintains a full schedule of solo concerts with special friends such as Stan Whitmire, The Martins, and Cana’s Voice as well as a few Gaither Homecoming tour dates across North America.

Russ Taff

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Russ Taff was born the fourth of five sons to a fire-breathing Pentecostal preacher father and a gospel music-loving mother. He learned early on that when he sang, people responded. Some of his earliest memories are of being balanced on the church altar by his mother’s strong arms while he belted out a gospel chorus to the rollicking encouragement of the tiny congregation. His trademark rich, emotion-drenched vocals were formed in that fertile environment.

His mother’s extensive collection of gospel records was the only form of entertainment their strict upbringing allowed, so after school Russ would rush home to listen to his favorites. Lying on the floor between two old stereo speakers, the plaintive, powerful sounds of artists like Mahalia Jackson and the Five Blind Boys From Alabama literally filled his head with music. “It really spoke to me,” Taff says. “I would close my eyes and just float away with those voices.” A natural harmony singer, Russ often teamed with his brothers to perform songs by the great quartets of the day—The Statesmen, The Gospel Echoes, and The Blackwood Brothers. “Those guys were like the Beatles or Elvis to me,” Russ laughs.

When Taff moved to Arkansas in his teens, he began listening to popular music for the first time in his life, and found inspiration there, too. Contemporary Christian music was gaining prominence and the traditional lines between ‘secular’ and ‘sacred’ were starting to blur. Russ formed a local band called Sounds of Joy, and began writing songs that combined the spiritual truths of his childhood with the music of his generation.

Two years after his band served as an opening act for the legendary Imperials, Taff was invited to join them as lead vocalist. “I was so green,” he remembers fondly. “But Joe Moscheo and the Imperials handed me the opportunity of a lifetime, and I was thrilled to be able to do what I loved to do and have it count as a real job!” With the Imperials he toured extensively and gained recognition as ‘the voice’ behind the award-winning songs such as “Praise the Lord,” “Trumpet of Jesus” and “I’m Forgiven.” These pivotal recordings successfully completed the group’s transition from traditional to contemporary Christian.

Eager to experience and explore all aspects of music, Taff left the Imperials after four and a half years to pursue a solo career. He captured the imagination of the industry by successfully releasing a series of innovative works that delved into his musical heritage while pushing the boundaries of contemporary Christian music. Taff’s lyrics, often co-written with his wife Tori, chronicled his personal spiritual path. Soaring, aching, raucous or tender, the songs Russ chose to wrap his one-of-a-kind voice around were unflinchingly honest.

Artistically, Taff was always authentic but never predictable. His eclectic taste was reflected in his recordings and live concerts, as he drew from all genres– rock, pop, blues, Southern gospel, Black gospel, country, even big band. “I guess I’m just not a right-down-the-middle kind of guy,” he cheerfully admits. “I’ve been influenced by so many styles that I try to never place restrictions on myself. If it moves me, I figure it will probably move other people too.”

In 1991, Russ was invited by his long-time friend Bill Gaither to be part of one of the fledgling Homecoming videos, which honored and celebrated the Southern gospel part of Taff’s musical roots. He eventually became a regular artist on the Homecoming Tour, and in a surprise move, joined the famed Gaither Vocal Band as a baritone in 2001. He was a member of the group for almost three years, and the two projects recorded during his tenure earned unprecedented back-to-back Grammy nominations. Early in 2004, Russ decided to step down from the Vocal Band and return to his solo artist status. A perennial favorite, he is still featured in Gaither videos and makes frequent guest appearances on the Homecoming tour.  His solo concerts literally take him all over the world—his latest CD, the multiple Dove Award-nominated “Faroe Islands” project was actually recorded in that mysterious, remote country of islands located in the North Atlantic between Norway and Iceland.

However you choose to label it, Russ Taff’s music has won him a wide audience and critical acclaim, as well as a total of six Grammy awards and eighteen Gospel Music Association Dove awards. He has been hailed by Billboard Magazine as “the single most electrifying voice in Christian music,” and cited as a musical influence by artists as diverse as Bart Millard of Mercy Me, Jason Crabb, Michael Tait and the Kings of Leon. He’s been inducted into the Arkansas Hall of Fame, Christian Music Hall of Fame, and was honored for his lifetime achievements in the industry at the 2012 GMA Dove Awards. Of equal importance, he is quick to add, is the title bestowed on him this year at the annual Moon Pie festival in his tiny new hometown of Bell Buckle, TN. “I’ll have you know that you are talking to the 2013 RC Cola King,” he says with great satisfaction.

Taff’s musical journey is far from over. Whether looking back at a career that spans three decades, or excitedly looking forward to his upcoming recording project, Russ Taff is the picture of a man filled with gratitude and grace. ”God called me to sing when I was just a little preacher’s kid in Farmersville, California,” Taff says with a smile. “And He’s still calling.”