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O Come All Ye Faithful

Jeremy Camp


Big Daddy Weave

Truly compelling music makes the personal universal. Few artists have done that more consistently or more movingly than Big Daddy Weave. Through more than a decade of hits like "In  Christ," "Audience of One," "You're Worthy Of My Praise," "Every Time I Breathe," "What Life Would Be Like," and "You Found Me," they have shared the journey in a way that has won the ongoing respect of fans, press and industry alike. Their musical journey began with a Dove Awards nomination as New Artist of the Year in 2002 and includes a 2010 Dove Award for the album Christ Has Come. They have been honored at ASCAP's Christian Music Awards, were chosen for the WOW Hits compilations in five of the last six years and are one of the 10 most played artists at Christian radio over the past decade.

Most recently, they hit the top of the Christian AC chart—the fourth time they've done so—with "Love Come To Life," a song about the desire to have the love that Christ put in our hearts be more than words that we say, but a love that comes to life in actions. A song filled with passion and intimacy, and with the musical hooks and majestic sound that have marked so much of their work, it is the perfect introduction to Love Come To Life, their first studio album in more than three years.

Love Comes To Life demonstrates once again the passion and energy that have made Big Daddy Weave one of Christian music's most compelling acts for nearly a dozen years. True to form, the project teems with real life and emotion, from longing and struggle to breakthrough and gratitude, with front man Mike Weaver's forthright songwriting and intimate and unmistakable vocals backed by powerful arrangements and stellar musicianship. It derives its power from the fact that life and music intertwine so fully."

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Group 1 Crew

If there's one word to aptly describe both Group 1 Crew's artistic ingenuity and personal growth since we last heard from the five-time Dove Award-winning troupe, it's certainly Fearless as the title to their fourth studio CD so boldly proclaims. Besides pushing the musical envelope towards an endlessly infectious stream of hip-hop, rap, pop, rock and inspirational confections, it's impossible not to notice the exponential personal growth for co-vocalists Manwell Reyes and Blanca Reyes Callahan.

"One of the main changes personally is balancing being married with going on the road, and professionally, that we went from a trio to a duo," explains Blanca, citing long time collaborator Pablo Villatoro returning to full-time family life. "That was a very scary transition as we waited to see what God had in store for Group 1 Crew after, plus right around that time, I also lost my father. So there were certainly some big tribulations and hurdles we went through, but also some really great things like marriage, all of which really added to the record and gave Fearless a lot of heart."

Continues Manwell: "Throughout all the soul searching, we found a sense of purpose, realizing the group wasn't just a group of convenience, but of necessity. We've been on the road playing music and filling voids for a lot of people. We've had so many people tell us that they found us to be a breath of fresh air, which made us feel like we have a sense of duty to continue."

After a mere spin of Fearless, it's immediately apparent Group 1 Crew didn't continue on cruise control, but turned in their most full-throttled disc to date that's sure to signal their arrival to the world at large. In fact, the duo's already being heralded as one of the most preeminent entertainers regardless of genre (as evidenced during 2012's mostly sold out Winter Jam arena tour) with additional momentum coming from the new disc's lead single "He Said" (Feat Chris August) already topping Billboard's Christian CHR chart with equally impressive Top 10 status on both the Billboard Christian AC and Hot Christian Songs charts.

"One of the things I love about the group is our vast musical inspirations, which range from Manwell's '90s rock and hip-hop to my love for ballads, divas and old school funk," notices Blanca in wake of the group becoming a core Christian radio act across literally all formats. "On this record, we're able to incorporate all the different styles of music that we love and it's a fun thing that a lot of bands don't get to do. We'll go from hip-hop to an inspirational ballad, but that's just how we think, kind of like an iPod shuffle."

While the ambitious sonic potpourri that could easily find a home alongside Rihanna, Drake, Katy Perry or Wiz Khalifa is certainly nothing short of Fearless, the project also exposes members' hearts to such vulnerable degrees that fans from any walk of life can't help but relate. Though Blanca's married to the group's drummer, Ben Callahan, which affords them the opportunity to be on the road together, she still can't believe how fast the two years since tying the knot have flown amidst their feverish schedules. Manwell's also learning that delicate balancing act, especially considering his wife, actress/comedienne Anjelah Johnson (MADtv), has her own work-related travel commitments.

"My wife is just as busy, which makes it harder for us initially, but it's that much sweeter whenever we come home," he admits. "I've been born and bred to be this road warrior, and though my wife feels a little different and it's harder on her, she believes in us and is a complete supporter of Group 1 Crew. Not a lot of couples can say they're smack dab in the middle of living their dream and it's quite a miracle that we're able to do what we love to do and honor God." Besides the joys (and adjustments) that come with marriage, Fearless also addresses the heartbreak of Blanca losing her father. But rather than dwelling on the sorrow, she seeks to share his extraordinary journey towards faith and the healing of their previously fractured relationship as part of the group's ministry.

"I can honestly say I never understood the pain of what people encounter losing someone close to them and going through this experience really opened my eyes in that area," she empathetically offers. "My father is one of the biggest parts of my story because his complete 180 degree change is the reason I came to Christ. Growing up, he was a drug dealer who wasn't around at all, but after he gave his life to the Lord, he became a pastor who even went back to the town where he was a dealer and showed people his new life. I could've lost my dad to drugs or gangs, but he stayed around long enough to restore his relationship with his daughter. Seeing God's faithfulness in that really gets me through." Despite those growing pains, Group 1 Crew sounds absolutely reinvigorated throughout Fearless, while having an even greater grasp on how to use each other's strengths to the benefit of the band. "When you think of people that are genuine, that would be Blanca," notices Manwell before she continues. "I'm not much of a business woman and part of me loves to be a homebody where I'm hanging with my mom, my husband and my dog, but I'm definitely really passionate about Group 1 Crew and what we do on the road. I love seeing music inspire people and sharing my testimony. Just don't let me miss eating or sleeping!"

As for Manwell, he's responsible for making Group 1 Crew one of the most digitally innovative acts in all of Christian music, from clever social media campaigns, to unbeatable music/merchandise bundles and consistent fan interaction. Group 1 Crew has even partnered with a company called Q-ItUp™ to develop an app where fans can scan the Fearless album cover with their smartphone and their album cover will come to "life." The app holds exclusive content, a free download that isn't available elsewhere, tour dates and a preview of the entire album. "I will say Manwell is a huge dreamer and he's always thinking of amazing ideas to keep surpassing what we're doing," observes Blanca before Manwell continues. "I just don't stop…I'm a robot! It's a good thing and a bad thing because I don't know when to shut off, but I just love to write and create and work on anything related to the group for the sake of the call."

While Fearless is certainly poised to take Group 1 Crew to the next stratosphere of success, it's that calling that still serves as members' primary priority. However, it goes beyond simply conveying their spiritually-centered message, but presenting it within a creative framework that assures the utmost of social relevance (further evidenced by appearances on "The Mo'Nique Show," NBC's "America's Got Talent," FOX's "The Simple Life," Style Network's "Kimora Lee Simmons: Life in the Fab Lane," MTV's "Run's House and The CW's "One Tree Hill"). "This is music a Christian can play in front of their unchurched friends and we can be a bridge in the conversation," sums up Manwell before Blanca reveals the group's impact goals on believers. "Even in the face of craziness or the hurricane of emotions going on in your life, you need to always remain Fearless. When God's called you to something great, don't ever be afraid to step out in faith and don't ever give up."

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Tim Timmons

Ask anyone sitting in a church pew on a Sunday morning if they believe in Jesus and the response is most always ‘yes.’ But ask them if they follow Jesus, REALLY follow him, and the question becomes tougher to answer. On his Reunion Records debut, Cast My Cares, singer/songwriter, blogger and worship leader Tim Timmons takes a look at what it means to not only believe in Jesus, but to change the world by truly following Him.

“Following Jesus versus being a believer in Him is revolutionary,” Timmons says with a smile spreading across his face and his voice teeming with infectious energy. “I actually believe it will revolutionize the power of the Kingdom. What if the people who fill our weekend church services actually saw themselves as the church in the name, the power and the authority of Jesus as we walked out of that building? I get really excited just thinking about it.”

Timmons has poured that enthusiasm into a really unique passion. Avoiding the usual trappings of music industry success, he’s focused not on his own music career, but on a singular mission.

“If there’s a word for me it’s ‘inviting,’ “says the happily married father of four. “I want to invite people into a conversation about Jesus.”

He admits it hasn’t always been easy. “Dying to my kingdom has been really hard,” he confesses. “Everyday I’m reminded, ‘it’s not about your kingdom Timmons. Your kingdom is worthless compared to the great Kingdom of God.’ I don’t care about being the next Christian rock star, but I do care about influencing Christians to lean into Jesus--that’s the revolution--and it’s the only reason why I’m doing this. I think I’ve been commissioned to be a missionary to Christians. We do American Christianity so well, as we do church week after week. But do we know how to be the church, and enact the principles of Jesus daily?”

Timmons fulfills his mission by writing and recording songs that challenge and inspire. Produced by Paul Mabury, Cast My Cares, is filled with tender ballads and powerful worship anthems that speak profoundly to this generation. “It’s Your Revolution” reminds believers that it’s not about our agenda, but instead Jesus is the architect of the most ambitious revolution the world has ever seen. In a voice both earnest and compelling, Timmons stimulates the intellect and tugs at the heartstrings with songs such as “Starts with Me,” a call to action that boasts a bold lyric and percolating melody. The title track is a potent ballad that reminds us how much God loves us and is always there for us in times of need. “You Remain” is a study in transparency as he confesses in the opening lines “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tired of trying/And now I’m down to my last excuse/ So here I am waiting for you.”

Timmons talks to God as if he’s baring his soul to his best friend and it’s hard not to be disarmed by his honesty. It’s a dialogue that began early in his life, but has definitely varied in intensity during his journey. He found himself pulled toward a life of music, a vocation God had been preparing him for all along. He started playing drums at age seven and picked up the guitar at 11, the same age he wrote his first song. “Then I taught myself piano and other stuff,” he says. “Music has just been something that I’ve always wanted to do and be about.”

For 15 years, Timmons served as worship leader at Mariners Church in Irvine, Ca. while performing at conferences and churches across the country. He would also visit Nashville periodically to co-write with Tenth Avenue North’s Mike Donehey, Michael Farron, Jason Walker, Phillip LaRue, Alli Rogers and other Nashville-based songwriters.

At one point, he considered pursuing a general market record deal, but everywhere he turned he was confronted with Philippians 1:21: For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. “Everywhere I’d go, it was there. I’d listen to the radio and it was there. I’d be leading a study and that’s what it was, or a pastor would teach on it. I remember just having the sense that, ‘This is your new life. I (Jesus) am who you are to be about. You live for me.’”

And a month later, Timmons was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. “Cancer sucks,” he says bluntly. “So, I know it sounds crazy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Yes, I’m ready to be healed and I’m asking Jesus for that daily... I actually live as though I will be healed at some point, but in all of the craziness of cancer there is a gift. The gift through an incurable cancer, or any other sorrow we face, is perspective. And perspective is the gift that keeps on giving.”

Fearlessly facing his mortality for more than a decade now, Timmons is consumed with the desire to talk to a Christ-seeking audience through music and his blogs with a new sense of urgency. “I write songs that are simply prayers that I need to hear,” he admits. “I live for the presence of God in my life now, today. I’m learning to not obsess about the future. This posture starts for me at the beginning of each day, on my knees asking Jesus to reveal what He has for me. All I have to do is follow Him.” About three years ago, Timmons felt God’s invitation to change. “I was journaling and in my soul I heard, ‘You’re in the preface of the second book in the trilogy of your life. I immediately thought about how absurd this was and how I’ve made plenty of things up and called them Jesus,’” Timmons recalls. “I kept hearing it all week and I told my wife about it. In the next weeks, I got emails from all over the country from random people saying, ‘You don’t know me Tim, but God told me to tell you that you’re starting a new season, follow Jesus and he will walk with you.’ Everybody said the same thing. I was looking around going, ‘Who’s reading my journal?’”

Timmons left his post at Mariners and embarked on an exciting new season. He completed the songs on his debut album and joined his first national tour as part of the 2013 Rock and Worship Roadshow. And Timmons’ songs are already resonating strongly with audiences. “Holy Unafraid” is a rallying cry to serve Jesus boldly and without fear. “Let’s Be Beautiful” invites the church to reflect with thought-provoking lines such as “Everybody’s watching what are we all about/When we open up the doors is religion all that walks out?”

Timmons isn’t afraid to rattle the status quo and encourage those in the church to examine themselves and their posture with Jesus. “I want to spend my time talking to believers, and inviting them to a place where they can own their response to Jesus,” he profoundly states. “Most times when we stand and sing worship songs to God, we honestly don’t connect with the emotion of words. But, if we stop and think of three things we are grateful for, or a make a mental list of our worries and then cast it all on Jesus as we worship Him, we can own our response to Him. And it is within this simple exercise, that the power of the Spirit lies.”

Timmons concludes, “Instead of me just putting out more “cool” Christian music, I want to draw people into the movement of Jesus. There’s an awakening, a revolution that I want to spend my one and only life committed to.”

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