Teen fan creates stirring video tribute to Sanctus Real's 'Benjamin'


Sanctus Real's vocalist Matt Hammitt recently told me about a fan-created video available at YouTube.com that really touched the guys in the band. The video is for the song "Benjamin," from Sanctus Real's latest album, The Face of Love, and was created by a 15-year-old Illinois fan named Emily, who heard the song and wanted to understand the story behind the lyrics. "I searched online and eventually came across the story of (drummer Mark Graalman) losing his father but being blessed with a newborn son, Benjamin," Emily shared with me by e-mail. "Now that I had a story to go with the song, I decided to make a video to go along with it, using The Sims 2, my favorite computer game." Check out the video at You Tube by visiting tinyurl.com/glqq4. Make sure you have your tissues ready.

Latin pop rock group Salvador is joining forces with the American Bible Society for its national advocacy campaign, designed to promote Bible reading among Hispanics. "La Biblia Es Mi Guia" is focused on reaching Latinos in strategic cities (New York, Miami and Los Angeles) by partnering with prominent Latino figures. Additionally, the American Bible Society will use its "Bless a Bodega" campaign to distribute free Bible reading materials to neighborhood businesses in each of these key cities. Salvador's latest album, Dismiss the Mystery, was set for release Aug. 29. The album's first single, "Shine," is climbing the charts.

DecembeRadio bassist and vocalist Josh Reedy wed longtime girlfriend Rachel Throckmorton in July in Waynesburg, PA. Wedding bells will ring again in September when guitarist Brian Bunn marries fiancé Emily Nester.

On Sept. 11 and 12, Sanctus Real band members will team up with Total Axxess radio host Jayar to travel to one community to meet a specific need. National radio program Total Axxess, which is heard in more than 100 markets across the country, will host a two-week campaign encouraging its listeners to write in about a need that their community has and how that need can be met. After the specific need is chosen by the station and the band, listeners will also have the opportunity to participate in The Face of Love ONE STOP Tour by providing resources, time and encouragement. For more information, visit sanctusreal.com or totalaxxess.com.

Aaron Shust was featured last month on "CBS Evening News" and "NBC Nightly News" as part of his involvement with the first-ever "Faith Days" with the Atlanta Braves and Third Coast Sports. More than 4,000 people attended the event, which also featured Cy Young Award-winning Atlanta Braves' pitcher John Smoltz. At press time, Shust's debut album, Anything Worth Saying, is sitting at No. 2 on the Billboard Heatseeker's chart. Word on the street is that this could be a big year for the Christian singer/songwriter signed to mainstream independent Brash Records.

And speaking of the Billboard Heatseeker's chart, a quick glance of the Aug. 19 chart has new releases from Hillsong, Nicole C. Mullen, Mark Harris, Stellar Kart and FM Static in the Top 15.

American Suzuki Motor Corporation has announced a sponsorship with BEC/Tooth and Nail's Kutless to be the exclusive title sponsor of Kutless' upcoming "Hearts of the Innocent" tour. The tour sponsorship marks Suzuki's first foray into the music industry because, according to the press release, "the company sees an opportunity to connect its products with a like-minded consumer demographic of those who choose to live life instead of watch it go by."

Dove Award-winning and Grammy-nominated group NewSong has announced that worship artist Drew Cline has officially joined the group, replacing lead vocalist Michael O'Brien, who left the band earlier this year to pursue a solo career and focus on a family ministry.  

Rock group BarlowGirl headlines its first major U.S. tour, kicking off in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sept. 15 and visiting 30 cities. The "Don't Conform" tour also features Universal South's Matthew West, and Centricity Record's rock group, Downhere.  

Mat Kearney hits the road this fall for the first leg of a tour with John Mayer and Sheryl Crow. Kearney earned a 2006 GMA Music Award nomination for New Artist of the Year and took home a Dove for Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year for "Trainwreck," from his debut album, Nothing Left to Lose. Kearney recently appeared on the CBS Saturday Early Show's Second Cup Café. For tour dates, visit matkearney.com.

Seven dollars won't buy you much these days, a couple gallons of gas, lunch at a fast food restaurant, admission to a matinee. But for just $7 a month, you can feed nine orphans three meals in one day, give seven Africans clean water for a year, or provide a month's worth of life-saving drugs to someone living with AIDS through Mocha Club, part of African Leadership, a unique organization that lets you join forces with friends to support humanitarian aid to Africa. It works like this: bands or individuals form a team and then fans or friends pledge $7 a month—about the price of two mocha coffees, hence the name—to that specific club's charity. Artists like Randall Goodgame, Dave Barnes, Matthew Wertz and Sanctus Real already have clubs providing residents of the Darfur region of the Sudan with mosquito nets, tarps, food, and medication as well as medicine to those suffering from AIDS. Learn more at mochaclub.org.

Canadian rockers Manic Drive go into the studio this fall for a new album due out in the spring. The band heads out on a West Coast tour in October with Seventh Day Slumber.

CCM Magazine is sponsoring a four-city inspirational talent search to find the CCM IT Girl. Contestants will perform at one of four Girls of Grace Conferences—Charlotte, N.C. (Sept. 23 to 24), Minneapolis, Minn. (Sept. 29 to 30), Knoxville, Tenn. (Oct. 13 to 14) and Oklahoma City, O.K. (Nov. 3 to 4). CCM Magazine will select five girls from each of the conferences. Each girl will perform on stage for the conference participants, who will then vote on the winner. In addition to performing live on stage at Girls of Grace, each CCM IT Girl will be featured in CCM Magazine, take home a TiVo, receive a consultation from an industry professional, meet Point of Grace and win other prizes. For complete contest information, visit ccmmagazine.com.

Kingdom Bound festival at Six Flags Darien Lake turned 20 years old this year, celebrating two decades of ministry while mourning the death of founder Fred Caserta, who passed away this spring. The festival began in 1986 with a chilly October outdoor concert featuring Russ Taff, Mylon LeFevere and Sheila Walsh, and now sees more than 65,000 attendees over four days. The event now features artists ranging from Newsboys, Mercy Me, Casting Crowns, and Third Day to Pillar, Kutless, and Disciple. Although the size of the festival has grown over the years, its purpose has not changed. Ministering to families and sharing the gospel remains the focus of the Kingdom Bound ministry. For more information, visit kingdombound.org.