Big Daddy Weave's lead singer and guitarist, Mike Weaver, is resolving to lose 90 pounds this year by launching the "90 in '09 Challenge." In addition to following Weaver's progress online, where he posts honest, humorous videos talking about his weight and working out, fans can also join the health initiative by sending in their own photos and tracking their successes. Participants will have access to healthy food recipes, exercise techniques and more wellness information. Individuals can further meet the 90 in '09 support team, which includes renowned wellness leaders Dr. Asa Andrew, known as "America's Health Coach," and Scott Reall, YMCA Restore Ministries' founder and executive director. For more information, visit www.90in09.com.
Alternative rockers The Fray were set to release their self-titled sophomore effort to the Christian market on Feb. 3. The band, which sold 3.2 million copies of their debut album How To Save A Life in mainstream music, opted to release this second album in both markets. That's kind of unusual in an industry where a lot of Christian bands are trying to break free from the Christian music label so they can find success in the mainstream. According to one of their publicists, the guys in The Fray are all believers. How nice to find a mainstream band willingly taking on the Jesus Fish tag.
On Feb. 2, Dolly Parton, Michael W. Smith, Dr. Bobby Jones, the Dixie Hummingbirds and producer Lari Goss are expected to be named the newest members of the Gospel Music Association Foundation's Gospel Music Hall of Fame. John W. Styll, president and CEO of the Gospel Music Association Foundation, said in a news release, "This year's class of GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductees have all achieved great professional and personal success in many different areas of the music and entertainment industries, but each shares a common heritage of the Gospel's powerful impact on their lives." The GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame was established in 1971 and has inducted more than 150 members since its inception.
Radio & Records released its lists of the most-played songs of 2008, and at the top of the Gospel chart was "Never Would Have Made It," by Marvin Sapp, which got 50,503 plays. Matthew West's "You Are Everything" topped the Christian Adult Contemporary chart, with 47,006 plays and Skillet's "Whispers in the Dark" topped the Christian Rock chart with 4,505. For a complete list of songs that topped the Christian music charts, visit www.radioandrecords.com and click "Charts."
In other year-end news, melodic pop rock band Tenth Avenue North finished 2008 as the best-selling new Christian artist, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The band had nearly 60,000 in physical sales and was the only new artist to break the 100,000 digital download mark with their debut album, Over and Underneath, which released in May. The band is also the only new artist to have claimed two No. 1 radio singles in 2008, with "Love Is Here" and "By Your Side."
The Newsboys have announced that former guitarist Jody Davis is returning to the band after a five-year hiatus. Davis will replace Paul Colman, who has played with the band for the last three years. He was a member of the band from 1993 to 2003 and contributed to many of Newsboys' greatest hits, like "Shine," "Entertaining Angels," and "It Is You." Davis took time off in 2003 to care for his daughter, Bethany, who has cerebral palsy. Paul Colman will continue to pursue his solo career. The band is currently on their "Join the Tribe" tour, with special guests DecembeRadio, Vota and Bread of Stone.
With the help of the band's international community, rockers Mae have embarked on a yearlong journey to help those less fortunate and raise awareness about important humanitarian issues. Every month in 2009, the band will release a new song exclusively on their Web site. Fans can download the song for a minimum donation of $1, and the profits from the digital downloads will fund humanitarian projects that the band and their fans will be a part of all year long. Mae's January song was "The House That Fire Built," and the charity was Habitat for Humanity International. For more about this month's free download, visit Mae's Web site, www.whatismae.com.
Southern Gospel fans are being asked to nominate their favorite artists for the 2009 Diamond Awards. The Diamond Awards, which honor the best in Southern Gospel music, will be handed out in July during the inaugural Branson Gospel Music Convention. Categories include Living Legend, Group of the Year, Trio of the Year, Bluegrass Gospel Artist of the Year, Christian Comedian of the Year, Male and Female Vocalists of the Year, and more. You can find the ballot at the Diamond Awards Web site. Deadline for voting is Feb. 20. For more information, visit www.diamondawardsonline.com.
In what could be the most fun tour of the spring, the Rock and Worship Roadshow kicks off in March, with MercyMe, Jeremy Camp and Hawk Nelson, along with new and burgeoning bands Tenth Avenue North and Addison Road. The show boasts a $10 admission price, and hits cities including Seattle, Wash., Ontario, Calif. and Springfield, Mo. For more information and complete tour dates, visit www.therockandworshiproadshow.com.
For more Christian music news, visit Joanne's Gospel Soundcheck blog at Beliefnet.com www.blog.beliefnet.com/gospelsoundcheck.