Dads create animated band to reinforce Scripture memorization

Tyson Paoletti is the general manager of BEC Recordings, a partner label of Tooth & Nail Records. As Tyson worked to reinforce what his children were learning in Awana, the international evangelical Bible memory program, he contemplated ways to keep the challenge fun. 

The record label executive shared ideas for a musical memory tool with his friend Greg Lutze, a Colorado graphic artist. With the help of former Tooth & Nail producer Zach Hodges, the three friends created The Rizers for youngsters.

Designed for ages 4 to 10, this pop rock band is comprised of animated "memorizers," young children who sing Scripture verses set to high-energy music. Dialogue by the different characters helps listeners connect with the highlighted Scripture.

Internet collaboration facilitated The Rizers' early development, although the two fathers met with new dad Hodges to complete the five-month project.

"It's been a really fun experience to do something a little different, which is kids' music," Paoletti said.

A Kickstarter campaign raised more than $6,000 to fund a second Rizers album slated for release this summer. 

Paoletti emphasized that the focus of The Rizers is Scripture memorization, not denominational doctrine. "Who can argue about Scripture, you know?"

For more information on The Rizers, visit www.therizers.com


Crisscrossing America
The Canadians known as The City Harmonic are crisscrossing America this summer as their hit single "Manifesto" from their Kingsway debut, Introducing the City Harmonic, receives heavy radio rotation.

For more information, visit www.jesusu.org.


Night owl scores with electric genre
Once upon a time, 2007 to be exact, a young man composed electronic music late at night in his parents' basement. Adam Young, a professed insomniac, posted his compositions online as Owl City; ultimately becoming a controversial multi-platinum wonder.

After Young signed with Universal Republic and released his second album, Ocean Eyes, Adam Dawson of Jesusfreakhideout.com declared the album a "masterpiece in electronic pop music."

Owl City is touring through July in support of its latest album, All Things Bright and Beautiful; with opener Mat Kearney and the instrumental rock band known as Unwed Sailor.

Details at www.owlcitymusic.com/events.


The Grascals honor 'The Andy Griffith Show'
Last winter the Bluegrass band known as The Grascals released "I Am Strong," an inspirational music video for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. The band's encounters with young St. Jude's patients produced the song's message.

"I have no mask, I have no hair, I may be sick, I may be scared, but I know God, He answers prayers, and I am strong."

Bluegrass music has a rich faith tradition. Many songs in The Grascal's repertoire reflect this heritage, from "Jesus Knew My Grandma Best" to the hymn "Give Me Jesus."

Formerly Dolly Parton's back-up band, The Grascals have just released Dance Til Your Stockings Are Hot and Ravelin': A Tribute To The Music of The Andy Griffith Show. The album features seven songs that were an integral part of the show's eight-year run.


Christian celebrities "pranked"
Corporate communications expert Durwood Fincher has verbally tripped many folks over the last 25 years with his infamous "double talk" routine. The glib comedian was hired by Premier Christian Cruises to tag along on its previous Music Boat Cruise. Posing as a video interviewer, Fincher "pranked" onboard celebrity guests, asking fast-paced nonsensical questions with a somber and sincere tone of voice.

Southern California native and WAY-FM radio executive Bret Bremberg grabbed the word "excitement" from Fincher's blathering and expounded on the cruise's networking opportunities for industry professionals. American Family Radio's Jim Stanley grabbed the mic and launched into a polished explanation of the "eclectic" on-board crowd.

Mark Harris of the now defunct 4Him was on board for a reunion concert. He cheerfully responded to the phrase "look forward to" by describing the group's enthusiasm for Christian-oriented music cruises. Bandmates Kirk Sullivan and Andy Chrisman took the same professional high road, talking positively to the camera about the mix of music and fans while ignoring the wacky interviewer.

Plain-speaking David Crowder, however, was stumped. "Say again?" The ever-smiling Mandisa asked for clarification. "Has it what now? I'm sorry!" Oklahoma pastor Sean Algaier, a season 8 contestant from NBC's "Biggest Loser," admitted,  "I'm not totally sure what I heard is real."

Josh Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP from the Texas Rangers, whacked at "unite," the only intelligible word within Fincher's gibberish. "Unite with Jesus—that's it!"

Mr. Doubletalk laughed.

"I ain't gonna argue there!"  This time Fincher seemed to genuinely struggle for words. "That's good. Josh, that's the best response I've gotten in about 26 years!"

Another music boat cruise is set for Nov. 7 to 11 from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico and Key West, Fla. Early acts that are booked include Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, Israel Houghton and Brandon Heath.

For more information, visit about any of the upcoming Premier Christian cruises go to www.premierchristiancruises.com.


Future looking hopeful for Crowns' violinist
Psoriatic arthritis is a crippling autoimmune disease that resembles rheumatoid arthritis. There is no cure. At its worst, psoriatic arthritis ravages joints, causing incapacitating pain.

This is what Casting Crowns violinist and vocalist Melodee DeVevo has endured for more than five years. Chronic pain caused her to consider leaving one of the world's most influential praise and worship bands. Ultimately, damage to the right wrist and left elbow threatened her ability to continue playing the violin.

DeVevo blogged in April, just before the first of two surgeries, that her doctor was shocked by the extent of the damage in just five years. Despite this bleak assessment, she is reportedly making remarkable post-operative progress. The good news bodes well for the artist and the band as they face new creative challenges.


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