The Same Love – Paul Baloche

The Same Love – Paul Baloche

I am a huge Paul Baloche fan, and I look forward to each new release from Paul, hoping to find many new songs to be used for our church.  His latest album, The Same Love, releases in stores today and digitally on April 3rd, and it is amazing!  I’ve had the chance to listen to the album for a few weeks now, as I was preparing to write a review of it for All About Worship.

Here’s just a short excerpt of my review:

“From the opening few bars of piano on the first track, the title song, you can tell this album is going to be an adventure into new territory for Baloche. Cowritten with Michael Rossback, “The Same Love” invites us with a fresh, new sound to remember that God is calling us all by name with “The same love that set the captives free/The same love that opened eyes to see”.    Paul says of the creative process behind this album, “You’re trying to go places you’ve never been, deeper into ancient truths, stirring up your modern soul, if you will.” The result of this exploration is a progressive, yet familiar sound for Baloche, mixing all of these different elements of harmony, chords, lyrics, melody and vibe.”

Please visit All About Worship to read the full review, and you’ll definitely want to pick up this CD today!

“I Have A Dream” – An Appropriate Song for Today

With today being Martin Luther King Day, I thought this would be an appropriate song to promote! It’s by The City Harmonic, recently named “New Artist of the Year” by GMA Canada, and source of other great songs like “Manifesto” and “I Am”.  This song was partially inspired by Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech! Quite interestingly, there were two other sources that provided inspiration for this powerful song. Can you guess? To find out, you should check out the interview with The City Harmonic on the latest All About Worship podcast, a great resource for worship leaders!!  Enjoy!

Upcoming Social Media Webinar for Christian Artists

I wanted to let you know about an upcoming webinar over at All About Worship, hosted by my friend and tech expert, Wisdom Moon.  “Using Social Media As An Artist” will  be held on Monday, September 12th,at 8:30 PM (CST). If you’re an artist looking for ways to utilize social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, blogs and more to grow your online following with a limited budget, then you’ll definitely want to check this webinar out!

Wisdom is the co-host of the All About Worship Podcast, a monthly podcast featuring interviews with Christian artists and worship leaders.  He is also the founder of Factor 7 Agency,  a company specializing in social media marketing for Christian artists and organizations.

So, grab your computer, a webcam (if you’d like to participate interactively, not required) and sign up! It’s only $10 if you sign up by August 31st ($15 after that).  That’s a very minimal price for all of the practical, helpful information you’ll receive from Wisdom during this webinar.

Wisdom Moon

“God Be Praised” by Gateway Worship

Gateway Worship releases their third live worship album today called “God Be Praised”, and I had the chance to give it a sneak peek to write a review for the All About Worship website. It’s really a great CD, and I’m looking forward to using several songs here at Bethel.

You can read my full review of the CD and even leave a comment there for your chance to win the CD! You can also watch some videos below about how some of the songs came to be.   Download the CD from iTunes beginning today! You can also purchase the charts for many of these songs at Praise Charts!

“Love God. Love People.” by Israel Houghton – A Review

I had the privilege of listening to “Love God. Love People.”, the new release by Israel Houghton set to release on August 31st, to review for All About Worship.  I have been anxiously awaiting his next release, following “The Power of One”, which was hugely successful, garnering a Grammy for the Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel album earlier this year.  This new album was such a joy to listen to! It did not disappoint in any way!

As the title indicates, this new project “is a return to a simple, foundational Gospel command: Love the Lord with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself,” says Israel. The album was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in  London, and features Israel and the New Breed along with a group of outstanding guest artists, including Kirk Franklin’s vocals on “Mercies”, Fred Hammond on the bass guitar and smooth vocals in “Surprises”, and half of the Take 6 group on the beautiful “Hosanna (Be Lifted Higher)”, one of my favorite tracks on the whole album!

It’s hard to describe the style of this new album, with much of it having the all-familiar Israel Houghton gospel style, which is so wonderful! But, there is also a mix of rock, funk, pop, reggae, and a few more surprises thrown in, including The London Session Orchestra, and Israel’s version of the the recent Passion song “Our God”.

From the first few seconds of opening title track, I knew this album would be a lot of fun to listen to! I put on my headphones, turned up the volume, sat back and enjoyed a captivating musical journey filled with exciting moments of upbeat gospel praise, excellent tight vocal harmonies, outstanding musicians, and plenty of surprises along the way. I had to take off my “worship-leader-looking-for-new-songs” hat that I usually wear when listening to new albums, because although there are a couple songs I can see introducing to our church (“You Hold My World” and “Hosanna (Be Lifted Higher)”), I thoroughly enjoyed just listening to this album, appreciating all of the outstanding, excellent musicians using their amazing talents to praise God!

Some of the stand-out tracks for me I’ve already mentioned, including “You Hold My World”, a great song that could easily be adapted for churches; “You Won’t Let Go”, which fuses Reggae, Rock and that huge horn section into a contagious mix of sounds that I just had to play over and over again; and “Hosanna (Be Lifted Higher)”,  mixing the beautiful string sounds of the London Session Orchestra, a pure sound of a boys choir, the tight vocal harmonies of Take 6, and Israel and the New Breed’s vocals into a powerful worship song that builds and builds to an amazing climax of worship. The perfect way to close out this powerful project!

You will definitely want to pick this CD up when it comes out the end of August. You will not want to miss it!!

Barry Westman
All About Worship

(Note: You can also read this review on the All About Worship website.

Find Your Own Voice and Sing a New Song

It’s been over a week now, since we returned from the National Worship Leader Conference in Kansas City.  What a great week it was! As I’ve had time to ponder some of the themes that we encountered during the week, there seemed to be a recurring message that popped up in several places, and I’ve even encountered it in new places since the retreat. The theme is this – find your own voice and sing a new song!

The theme of the conference was “Sing a New Song”, based on Psalm 96:1. The week was filled with amazing new songs, sung by some of today’s newest artists such as Jonathan Lee, Matt Papa, Starfield, and Tenth Avenue North; as well as new songs by some of our favorite worship leaders – Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Israel Houghton and others.  I left with enough new songs to last me until next year (or at least until Christmas….)!

But, that wasn’t the only kind of new song that we heard about at the conference.  From Steve Berger, we heard about our new song that’s birthed through pain and suffering.  Using Psalm 40:1-3 as his text, Steve described his recent time in the pit after the tragic death of his son.   It’s easy to lose hope and give up on the thought of ever having a song of praise when you are going through a time in the pit, as David was describing in this Psalm.  But, Steve taught us that while we’re in the pit, we need to wait patiently, and realize that God has us there for a reason. God is still good, and He just has us there so He can conform us to be more like Him.

We just need to continue to lift our prayers and praises to him, not look to anyone or anything else for our salvation,  and realize that we will not stay in the pit forever.  You will not be there one second longer than you need to be.  Our hallelujah in the pit will lead to a new song of praise! Many will “see” our new song, as Psalm 40 says. Our new song is meant to be seen, not just heard. Our lifestyle may lead others to fear and put their trust in Him more than our songs. Our life should be a new song of praise!

We also heard about finding our own voice and singing a new song from Marcos Witt. Marcos is one of my favorite speakers, and this time was no exception! Using the story of the woman at the well from John 4, Marcos taught us what it means to be a proskuneo worshipper, willing to bow at the throne and be who we are.  Jesus said the Father is seeking true worshippers, and the word there for “worship” is proskuneo, or “to bow”, to lower your body, your attitude, humbling yourself in awe of the Lord.

We need to keep God on the throne in our lives, and let Him call the shots.  Marcos said when He’s on the throne, cool stuff can happen, and keeping His commands is no big deal.   He told some amazing stories of things God has asked him to lay down, or give up. Just like the elders in Revelation 4, we need to be willing to lay our crowns, or accomplishments, skill, down at the feet of Jesus.

The how of worship, this mountain or that mountain, isn’t so important. We try to copy the models of worship we hear and see. We try to be just like Chris Tomlin as we lead worship, or sound just like Matt Redman on his songs.  We can’t just instantly become as good as Lincoln Brewster is on the guitar via a one-time information download. It takes practice and skill to develop our own voice. We need to find our voice and stop trying to imitate others, and the only way we can do that is to be a proskuneo worshipper, willing to bow at the throne, to be who we are and sing a new song with our own voice.

There were so many other great speakers and ways to sing a new song; too many to describe here! But, the great part is that you can watch all of the main session speakers on your own online! The folks at Worship Leader magazine have provided video from the WorshipCast live streaming that was done during the conference. Just go to video on-demand section for the NWLC ’10 General Sessions to view all of these great speakers!!

You have to hear Louie Giglio tell his story of the “dead grandpa”, and hear Lisa Harper talk about her first experience twirling a banner! But, above all, find your own voice, and Sing A New Song!!

Barry Westman
All About Worship

Resources abound at the National Worship Leader Conference!

We had a wonderful time at the National Worship Leader Conference in Kansas City this past week! The All About Worship Team was there throughout the week, both as attendees and workshop leaders.  If you missed it, I’ll try to give you a quick recap and plenty of links to some great resources made available at the conference.

Conference attendees not only had the the chance to worship, learn, and build relationships, but also participate. Songwriters could bring in original songs and have a panel of experts give them feedback on their songs at the Song DISCovery Listening Panels. Singing in the conference choir was another great way to participate. There were about 80 people in the choir, under the direction of Stan Endicott. I had the privilege to sing in the choir this year, along with 10 others from our church.  Stan has such wonderful insights about worship, music and life. On Monday night, we sang with Keith and Kristyn Getty, and on Thursday evening we sang two of the Odes.  Stay tuned to the All About Worship Podcast for an upcoming  interview with the Gettys!

On Monday morning, before the actual conference began, I attended a pre-conference seminar on being a “Steward of Technology in the Service of Worship”. You can read more about that in an earlier blog post here.  It was a topic that I believe will become increasingly relevant as the use of technology in worship is skyrocketing! Ben Abu Saada did a great job as part of a panel discussion on this topic, as well!

One of the pre-conference leaders was D.J. Chaung, the network developer for Worship Leader Magazine. D.J. has put together an excellent website on this topic. TechSteward.net is an excellent resource for worship leaders who are interested in learning more about technology stewardship. All About Worship co-hosts Wisdom Moon and Ben Abu Saada did an excellent job leading their workshop called “Leading Your Team Through Technology”.  It was filled with great tips and links.

But, besides the great workshops on a variety of topics, dealing both with the heart and the art, some of my best memories were the times of corporate worship and the speakers who challenged us from God’s Word.  To be led in worship by Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Israel Houghton, Phil Wickham, Tenth Avenue North, Starfield, Pocket Full of Rocks, the list goes on… was truly an experience I will not forget.  Also, to hear 3,000 worship leaders singing at the top of their lungs (in tune!) was a sound that will not be forgotten.  All of the speakers did an excellent job, but I especially enjoyed hearing from from Louie Giglio, Marcos Witt, and Lisa Harper.

Michael Farren, from Pocket Full of Rocks, was one of the worship leaders. I actually was privileged to have a surprise lunch with Michael and Meredith Andrews during the conference! Twitter paid off once again, and 4 of the team from our church, along with a few others won a contest and were treated to lunch, thanks to Praise Charts.com! Here are a few pics:

If you weren’t able to be at the conference, or if you would just like to relive some of the main sessions, you can using the video on-demand feature of the Worship Stream site. The people at Worship Stream were busy all week live streaming the main sessions, but you can now go back and watch them again. Just go to the NWLC Worship Stream site to view all the speakers and even the worship set with Jonathan Lee!

Another really cool part of the conference was connecting with other worship leaders from around the country! I met so many people face-to-face who I had previously only known through Twitter.  There were several All About Worship listeners there this week, and it was great to meet some of you face to face!

I have to mention what a wonderful job Suzie Goodwin Stablein did organizing this event, along with her team at Worship Leader Magazine. It was a well-oiled machine! I’m already excited about next year’s conference! I hope you can make it as well.

If you attended the conference, why don’t you share some of your best memories, or some of the things you learned here in the comment section. We’d love to hear and learn from you!

Barry Westman
All About Worship