|Catching Up with Connie Hopper|
We recently caught up with singer and author Connie Hopper, known not only for her singing and songwriting, but also for her warmth, sincerity and insight. Here she shares what inspires her and how the Hoppers enjoyed their years with the Gaither Homecoming tour. You can also read all about the Hoppers' latest album, Count Me In, in the Sept/Oct 2012 issue of Homecoming. HOMECOMING: How do you stay motivated, after so many years in this business? After all, the life of a performing group is not only about what the fans see on stage. CONNIE HOPPER:What they see on stage - that's the shortest part! (laughing) I have to say, it's not only the music, because I've always loved music. I can sit down in the audience and listen to groups sing and just enjoy it, because I'm a fan of the music. Earlier on, I had a lot to do with arranging, and it was always great to take a song and see how you could get the best out of it . . . I love that part of it. And I love the stage, being able to sing for people. But I guess the thing that has always inspired me to keep going on is that we've have always had an altar service, and have shared the plan of salvation in some way or other, although we didn't preach. I've seen God do a lot of things! Years ago, I didn't know what I was getting into - I didn't know much about gospel music when I started to play piano for the brothers. I didn't know where it was going, and then after 50 years, look where we've been able to go; look at all the doors that God has opened! So it's been the combination of a love of music and a love for what God has done - there are just a lot of things that make me not ever want to quit. It's an interesting and spiritually rewarding thing. Of course, Kim added all the extra things that were needed vocally - she's an amazing vocalist. She can take a song to any level, and we all just hang on. I guess it takes all of us together to have a certain sound, and everybody has a part. And now, we just have fun on stage - we never know what Claude's going to say or do! We came off stage in California and someone said, "Y'all must have worked hours on working out this routine; that's the funniest thing I've ever seen." I wanted to say, "We didn't have a clue when we got on stage!" But it's just fun. Of course, it started out with the Hopper brothers, and they still sing together occasionally. But for [the current version of] our group to get together and sing for the last 22 years - that has to be God. HOMECOMING: Did you all enjoy your time on the Gaither Homecoming tour? CONNIE: It was a great thing for the Hoppers to be part of the Homecoming tour - I mean that from my heart. We didn't know Bill and Gloria; we just saw them from a distance. Claude and I went up for the first taping in 1991 or '92. Then when we went the next time, Gloria sought me out, and we had lunch together. And I found out that to be as brilliant as she is, she can just come right down to my level. So we have become friends, and I enjoy talking with her. It was a great experience for us, to be part of that tour - you learn from everything. One night we were singing somewhere on a Christmas tour, and I was walking down from the stage and some of the stagehands from the coliseum were coming out. One of them called out to another one and asked "What's going on?" and the other one replied, "Same stuff, just a different day." He just made nothing out of it, and I thought "Wasn't it a great day? When Christ was born, it was such a different day, and that's what we're celebrating." I got on stage that night and told what I'd heard them say, and I thought, "We're here to celebrate the birth of Christ, and that was a totally different day."
|What Makes Kim Hopper Tick|
Kim Hopper has one of the most powerful voices in Southern Gospel music today, and she performs with one of the genre's best-loved groups, the Hoppers. Here she gives an inside look at some of the things that make her smile, both on and off stage. HOMECOMING: What kind of music do you like to listen to, to inspire you or just for enjoyment? KIM HOPPER: Everything. I love all types of music. When we're traveling, we're usually listening to a Christian station. I love country music and some of the pop that's '80s music, the Bee Gees, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand. And through the years, I listened to the Rambos. And actually, I grew up on some Hopper music, which is kind of funny, because I never thought about being part of the family or part of the group, but it worked out that way. As I said, I like a lot of country music, but it has to speak to me. I think there are a lot of great country songs out there with a good moral message, and there are a lot that have the Lord in them. Like the Randy Travis song, "Three Wooden Crosses" - that has really spoken to me, and my mind goes back to that song every time I see three crosses. The preacher died, but he left that blood-stained Bible in that prostitute's hand, and it changed her life, and then her son became a preacher. You know, it doesn't matter what kind of music it is; if it speaks to people and has the truth in it like that and can change somebody's life, then sing it! HOMECOMING: What keeps you motivated in this career path, after being in the music business for so long? KIM: Well, if I didn't believe that I was called to do this and it was what I was supposed to do in life, I'd go home. I've got two kids, and they're on the road a lot with me, but they don't go all the time. And I'm a real homebody - I love to be a homemaker and cook for my family, and I don't get to do that as much as I would like. So if I didn't really feel like this is what God has called me to do, then the motivation would not stay there, because I would love to be at home more than I am. But I know that this is His will. The strange thing is that when I was about 10 years old, I knew then what I was supposed to do. I went to school to be a cosmetologist, and I have kept that license up, but I knew for the most part that what I was supposed to do was sing. I did some hair on the side, but I haven't worked in a salon since Dean and I married. Now there are mornings when I get up and say "You know what? I just want to stay here at home today; I don't want to get on the bus." But I think this is what God's called me to do, and I think that's vital. I wouldn't want to do anything against His will. And we don't always know how we're being used - I get confirmation all the time, but part of it, we won't know until we get to heaven. But it sure means a lot to me when people come up and say, "You sang this song and it changed my life." And to me, that's my motivation. HOMECOMING: When you're not working, what are some hobbies that you enjoy? KIM: You know, I love to decorate - one of my passions is my home. I'm a very organized person and, for me, cleaning out the closets and cabinets cleans out my mind. I feel like when I get rid of stuff I don't need, I'm getting rid of the cobwebs in my mind . . . it's very much therapy for me. I also like to work outside, with my flowers and plants. It's mostly the stuff that I can do at home. We just built a new house, and I'm trying to work on a room at a time. I'm working on the curtains in a couple of rooms, and I'm drawing out things on paper that I think I'd like and trying to explain that to the lady who will make them for me. I get a lot of materials and bring them home and just work with them myself until I kind of get the look that I want on this or that. I love to shop for home decor-to me, I think the home is a woman's little palace. Dean says, "You want it to look like we don't live here." (laughing) I say, "Well, I want it to look like nobody lives here, but I want it to be comfortable too." HOMECOMING: Any exciting projects coming up? KIM: I'm in the process of getting started on another solo album, so that's always exciting to me; I've done two in my life. That's the time when I get to just concentrate on what's in my heart and the songs that really speak to me. It's just a fun thing to be able to pick the music and know that when I'm done, to feel the pride that it's something that I have accomplished, and to be able to sing those songs. I usually do one solo song a night. And again, I love when people come up and tell us that this song or that song changed their life. I sang a song one night about peace, and a lady came out who had been battling depression, and she said that a couple of weeks prior to that, she had tried to commit suicide. And her husband said to me, "I didn't think she would be here today." And she said that there was a line in the song that said "Let my enemy know that I will not be afraid, and I will not be lost at sea." She said, "That spoke to me. I'm making it - I've got another day today. I will be here tomorrow to face another day." I just love knowing that something I sang spoke to somebody like that.
|New Single, Jesus In Disguise, Now Available New Album Coming Oct.9|
Brandon Heaths new radio single, Jesus In Disguise, is now available for purchase on iTunes, AmazonMP3, and everywhere digital music is sold.
You can also listen to Jesus In Disguise on Christian radio stations nationwide and YouTube.
Jesus In Disguise is the first single from Brandons upcoming album, Blue Mountain, which will be available October 9, 2012. For more about the new album, visit BrandonHeath.net and stay tuned for pre order options.
The Blue Mountain Tour
with special guest Matt Maher
Brandon will take his new album, Blue Mountain, on the road this fall to 24 cities on The Blue Mountain Tour with special guest & label mate, Matt Maher (Your Grace Is Enough, Christ Is Risen & Hold Us Together).
The tour is presented by Food for the Hungry.
The itinerary is still being finalized, but preliminary details are below. For more information on the tour, visit BrandonHeath.net.
*all dates subject to change
October 11 Westbrook Church Hartland, WI (Milwaukee)
October 12 Lincoln Berean Church Lincoln, NE
October 13 Westside Church Omaha, NE
October 14 Medinah Baptist Church Medinah, IL (Chicago)
October 18 Remingtons Springfield, MO
October 19 Evangel Temple Wichita Falls, TX
October 20 Clifford Hope Auditorium Garden City, KS
October 21 First Baptist Church Broken Arrow Broken Arrow, OK (Tulsa)
October 25 Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church Knoxville, TN
October 26 Calvary Church Chattanooga, TN
October 27 Capshaw Baptisth Church Harvest, AL (Huntsville)
October 28 Christ City Church Birmingham, AL
November 2 Abundant Church Gainesville, FL
November 4 Sebastian River High School Sebastian, FL
November 8 GracePoint Church Wise, VA
November 9 Mountain Christian Church Joppa, MD (Baltimore)
November 10 Northwest Presbyterian Church Dublin, OH (Columbus)
November 11 Grand Horizon Center Elkhart, IN
November 15 Northview Church Carmel, IN (Indianapolis)
November 16 St. John Church Ellisville, MO (St. Louis)
November 17 The Underground Cincinnati, OH
November 18 Marion Cultural & Civic Center Marion, IL
The Media Collective PR
|Five Time Grammy Award Winner TobyMac Releases Eye on It Album Aug. 28|
Five Time Grammy Award winner and multi platinum selling artist TobyMac will release his fifth solo studio project, EYE ON IT on August 28. To kick off the release, TobyMac will make his national television debut of the project's latest single, Me Without You on the hit cable morning show, FOX & FRIENDS live on Saturday, August 25. The pre sale for EYE ON IT is now live at multiple music retailers including iTunes, Family Christian Stores, Lifeway Christian Stores and Amazon. In support of EYE ON IT, TobyMac will be hosting promotional events in conjunction with key radio stations in select markets.
Along with TobyMacs first three solo projects, his 2009 release, TONIGHT, was recently certified Gold by the R.I.A.A. Written by TobyMac and David Garcia, Me Without You is the first track to be released from the five time Grammy award winners upcoming album. The 12 track project, EYE ON IT, pulls from TobyMacs personal influences with songs Made For You and Family as well as a nod to his ascension into music with Thankful For You. EYE ON IT features musical guests from reigning New Artist of the Year Jamie Grace (Favorite Song), Blanca from Group1Crew (UnStoppable) and Lecrae (Forgiveness).
I want my music to depict what I am going through. I want to write about the things that upset me, move me, hurt me and haunt me. The things that are real, says TobyMac. With TONIGHT, I was determined to live more passionately with God. I was laying down the gauntlet. EYE ON IT is a continuation of that. It's saying, This is the person I want to be and I'm going to keep my eye on it, God willing!
This fall, TobyMac is set to headline the Winter Jam West Coast Tour and his own EYE ON IT tour with Jamie Grace and Chris August and the HITS DEEP tour. The HITS DEEP tour features TobyMac and friends Chris August, Jamie Grace, Group1Crew, Brandon Heath, Mandisa and Britt Nicole as they perform some of their hit songs in an exciting night of music. For more information on his upcoming schedule, visit http://www.tobymac.com/tour/.
Track Listing for EYE ON IT
1. Me Without You
2. Steal My Show
3. Eye On It
4. Forgiveness (feat. Lecrae)
5. Speak Life
6. UnStoppable (feat. Blanca of Group1Crew)
7. Lose Myself
9. Thankful For You
10. Made For Me
11. Mac Daddy (Trus Reality)
12. Favorite Song (feat. Jamie Grace)
13. Me Without You (Capital Kings Remix)
14. Steal My Show (Jack Shocklee Remix)
15. Lose Myself (Capital Kings Remix)
16. Family (Jamie Moore Remix)
17. LoudNClear Tru (Telemitry Remix)
18. Me Without You (Telemitry Remix)
*Tracks 13 to 18 are only available on the Deluxe Edition of the album
With over 11 million units in career sales, each of TobyMacs four solo projects have received RIAA Gold certification and his live DVD, Alive & Transported, is certified platinum by the RIAA and received a GRAMMY award. In 2012 the much celebrated and acclaimed artist celebrated his eighth consecutive GRAMMY nomination, this time for his songwriting contribution to rising star (and recording artist on his label, Gotee Records) Jamie Graces No. 1 hit Hold Me. His latest album Tonight received GRAMMY nods for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album and "Best Contemporary Christian Song with City On Our Knees the track that topped the sales and radio charts faster than any of his previous singles, spending 8 weeks at No. 1 on the Christian Audience Chart. Tonight also garnered him the highest sales debut of his solo career with over 78,000 units and a No. 6 Billboard Top 200 debut. The album was also named as iTunes Best Christian Album of 2010 and recently took home the Dove Award for Best Rock Contemporary Album of the Year.
Along with sold out tour dates, back to back radio hits and being named the GMA Dove Awards 2008 Artist of the Year, he was also nominated for "Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist at the 2010 American Music Awards and was up for three Billboard Music Awards in 2011 including Top Christian Artist. The hit song Tonight was also chosen as the theme song for MLBs 30 Clubs in 30 Days Spring Training Series and featured on the Golf Channel. Additionally, his music has been heard in major motion pictures such as Hancock, TRANSPORTER 2, while also being featured on Fox sports, The NFL network, being selected as the theme song for Fox College Football and WWEs Fatal 4 Way Pay Per View. Showstopper, from the chart topping album Tonight, was featured in ESPN's ESPY Award Show and used to launch the last season of CBS hit television show CSI NY.
|EMI CMG Distribution And Dream Records Enter Long Term Agreement|
13 August 2012, Nashville, Tenn, EMI CMG Distribution announces a new long term distribution agreement with Los Angeles based Dream Records. The new agreement will see EMI CMG Distribution represent exclusive worldwide rights to the Christian, general market and digital retail distribution of Dream Records' artists and products. Dream Records brings with it a distinguished roster of talent, such as Press Play, Darrell Evans, Cindy Cruse Ratcliff, Shake The Nation and Warr Acres.
Founder and President of Dream Records, David Hanley, shares, Dream Records goal is not only to develop and release remarkable artists and songs but more importantly to mentor, train and release music missionaries. Dreams mission is to release the heart of an artist who is passionately and sincerely in tune with their Creator and recognizes that it's Christ who is on stage.
We believe in the vision of Dream Records, says Greg Bays, EMI CMG Distribution's Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. EMI CMG Distribution is excited to partner with Dream and to help share their passion in supporting the ministry of their artists.
Dream Records is anticipating a strong release schedule this Fall, such as sophomore projects from rock group Submission Red coming in October, and a Spanish language worship album from Evan Craft in September. More information about these new releases may be found at emicmgdistribution.com.
We are very excited about our new relationship with EMI CMG, adds Lance Brown, General Manager of Dream Records. As we move forward together, Dream Records will continue to bring great music with the sheer focus of delivering the Gospel to encourage other Christians, as well as help others, discover the power of Jesus Christ for the first time in their lives. We are hopeful for the future.
ABOUT EMI CMG DISTRIBUTION
EMI CMG Distribution was founded in 1994 to serve as the main distribution outlet for EMI CMG's owned and distributed labels to the US Christian and general retail marketplace, and the international Christian marketplace. Since this distribution division was launched, EMI CMG has had more charting titles annually on Billboards Top Christian charts than any other Christian distributor and has been named Billboard Magazines Top Christian Music Distributor 11 times since 1995. In addition to distributing EMI Christian Music Groups fully owned labels, which include Sparrow, ForeFront, and Credential imprints, as well as EMI Gospel and Worship Together, EMI CMG Distribution has exclusive distribution agreements with BEC/Tooth & Nail, Centricity Records, Gaither Music Group, Green Hill Productions, Hal Leonard, Inpop, Isaiah 61, Hillsong, Kingsway Music, sixsteps records, Sonoma Music, Maranatha! Music, North Point Music, Spring Hill Music Group, Troubadour for the Lord, Universal Music Group, VSR Music Group, Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz, Creative Trust Media, Family Movie Night, Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment, Guardian Studios/Bananas, Jellyfish Labs, Millennium Media Services, Pure Flix Entertainment, Whitestone Media, Worthy Publishing, Authentic Publishers, and many more. EMI CMG Distribution is a division of EMI Christian Music Group, a unit of EMI Music (www.emi.com), one of the world's leading music companies. www.emicmgdistribution.com.
ABOUT DREAM MUSIC GROUP DREAM RECORDS
Dream Music Group, the umbrella company for Dream Records, DMG Productions, Dream Publicity, Dream Merchandise and One Moment Management, is quickly making a name for itself providing its artists with a genuine approach to how real artist development should be done. By providing a partnership as a business model, Dreams artists empower themselves to develop and carry out a real vision for their lives as they affect other peoples lives with their music and message. Incorporating social media, press, radio and touring it is allowing its artists grow together as a family. www.DreamMusicGroup.com.
Hoganson Media Relations
|Jesus Culture Musics Emerging Voices CD Hits No. 1 On Sales Charts|
Emerging Voices, the seventh new full length recording from Jesus Culture Music, released last week amidst acclaim. In its first week at retail, it has become the No. 1 best selling album on the SoundScan Praise & Worship chart, spent most of last week at No. 1 on the iTunes Christian & Gospel chart and peaked at No. 11 on the overall iTunes Top Albums chart. The highly anticipated new album follows last years critically acclaimed, No. 1 selling double CD, Jesus Culture Awakening Live From Chicago, and features four rising worship leaders, Derek Johnson, Mary Kat Ehrenzeller, Nate Ward and Justin Jarvis.
With all new original worship songs that range from the moving Mighty Fortress to the message of surrender in Where You Are and the soulful anthem I Belong To You, here is what the critics are saying about Emerging Voices.
Derek Johnson, Mary Kat Ehrenzeller, Nate Ward, and Justin Jarvis deliver the message of grace and love with inspiring lyrics and a moving sound using inventive lead synth and guitar lines, heart thumping bass drum, and beautiful melodies that are unforgettable, Worship Leader.
If this is where Jesus Culture is headed, I, for one, want in, All About Worship>
The album is a must listen for worship leaders. It is no surprise as it features four of todays brightest new worship leaders, Derek Johnson, Mary Kat Ehrenzeller, Nate Ward and Justin Jarvis, GotWorship.net.
Jesus Culture is more than just a recording band; they are a Holy influence that has permeated into souls of millions of young people, Jesus Culture does not just record albums. They invite us into the worship of God on God's own turf. This means that these songs are insatiably God centered and Spirit anointed, Breathecast.com.
Emerging Voices brings four new worship leaders to the stage, an excellent next step for the ministry, Sunday Magazine.
Jesus Culture has grown from strength to strength over the last few years. Emerging Voices is exactly what this album is about, and those voices are making great worship to God that you just want to join in with them. LouderThanTheMusic.com (5 star review).
More information on the heart behind Emerging Voices from Jesus Culture director, Banning Liebscher, can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=274n_p8hnZM. Jesus Culture also released a promotional video for the album at http://youtu.be/daG31EqVaBM, an acoustic version of I Belong To You sung by Derek Johnson (http://youtu.be/jbeHqTpYs4U) and get to know you videos from Johnson (http://youtu.be/N2qxelS1s-I), Mary Kat Ehrenzeller (http://youtu.be/4MTpjeRo_ZA), Nate Ward (http://youtu.be/vuSTNEKoUeY) and Justin Jarvis (http://youtu.be/UjaHXXQR2qE).
Additional detail on Emerging Voices, including five questions with each of the new Jesus Culture Music artists, can be found at www.jesusculture.com/emergingvoices.
About Jesus Culture Music
Known as one of the most influential youth movements around the world, Jesus Culture has ignited a generation with energetic, passionate and authentic worship music organically birthed through the momentum of a movement whose focus is to equip a generation to transform society by bringing people into an encounter with God love through worship and discipleship. Their albums capture the heart of this movement of young people who are passionate for God and seeking an encounter with His presence.