Groves combines music, justice causes for fall tour

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Sara Groves has gathered fellow-acclaimed artists and friends Brandon Heath, Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken and author/artist Charlie Peacock for her fall Art*Music*Justice Tour, which will benefit both the International Justice Mission and Food for the Hungry. With the concert tour, Groves hopes to further educate the church about God's heart for justice, gain advocates for the oppressed, and show evidence of a God at work in this world. The tour kicks off Sept. 19 in Wheaton, Ill. and ends Oct. 26 in Springs, Texas. For complete tour dates, visit www.myspace.com/artmusicjustice.

One new release you don't want to miss is Jimmy Needham's "Not Without Love," which hit stores in August. The album is filled with bluesy piano ballads and rocking guitar tunes. Needham explains that the album was inspired by the realization that he "had shared the gospel with so many people in the flesh but all they knew was the Bible beater … There is something so appealing when we love like Jesus did. I missed out on that for so long. No more." This is great music and so refreshingly different than the typical Christian fare. To learn more about Jimmy Needham, visit www.jimmyneedham.com.

The Wrecking has found a warm welcome to their national debut album, "A New Abolition." Music from the album was licensed by MTV networks for use on MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and Spike TV, and the single "Sights and Sounds" has been selected for use by ChildVoice International. The Wrecking spent the summer on the One Shot tour with hip-hop artist Bobby Bishop. The multimedia event featured a docudrama directed by Jeffrey Kubach, whose credits include CBS's hit reality show "Survivor," that has been described as "MTV with Jesus at the center." During the tour, more than 450 people made decisions to follow Christ. To learn more about The Wrecking, visit www.thewrecking.net.

Worship artist Phil Wickham recently invited listeners to sing along with him and other fans in his first-ever live worship album, aptly titled "Singalong." The album was recorded at Solid Rock Church in Portland, Ore. where 3,000 fans gathered to watch Wickham perform 15 songs from his self-titled debut album and sophomore release, "Cannons." The entire Singalong album is available as a free download but only at his Web site, www.philwickham.com.

Point of Grace will embark on its fourth annual 14-city Christmastime Tour in support of their new Christmas project, which combines songs from their two previous holiday collections—1999's "A Christmas Story" and 2005's "Winter Wonderland"—along with a new version of the classic "Tennessee Christmas." The tour will happen without long time member Heather Payne, who left the group in July to spend more time with her family. The Christmastime Tour launches Dec. 3 and runs through Dec. 20, and includes special guest Ronnie Freeman. For a list of tour dates, visit www.pointofgrace.net.

Armond Morales and the group The Imperials, which includes his son Jason, have settled their legal dispute over the use of the name "Imperials." Last September, the group filed a lawsuit against the elder Morales when he began performing again under the name The Classic Imperials, claiming that he had turned over rights to the name and logo to the band in 2005. Well, the dispute is over. In August, Armond Morales agreed that he had in fact given up rights to use the name back in 2005. By all accounts, everyone is glad the disagreement is over and they can focus on strengthening family relationships.

In 2005, MercyMe frontman Bart Millard fulfilled a promise he made to his late grandmother to record the church songs she'd taught him as a boy. The result was his solo album, "Hymned." Well, Millard is back, this time at the request of his three children, who enjoyed their dad's first record so much they wanted another one. "Hymned Again" was released in August. The album runs the gamut stylistically, from New Orleans style horn-driven jazz and Texas blues-rock guitar to country bluegrass and banjo-driven Dixieland. The song "Jesus Cares for Me" features a duet with country superstar Vince Gill. MercyMe is currently on tour in support of their latest hit project, "All That Is Within Me." For complete tour dates, visit www.mercyme.org.

If you watched Season 5 of NBC's reality show "The Biggest Loser" you saw Dan Evans and his mom, Jackie, battle other contestants to lose the most weight and take home a big cash prize. During the show, Dan not only lost 136 pounds, but he also shared with America his childhood dream of being a country music artist. He might not have been the biggest loser, but this September Dan Evans releases his debut album, "Going All Out." The album is an upbeat collection of catchy pop country songs, wrapping up with a couple of very nice (albeit lightly veiled) inspirational tunes. The clear theme of the album? Love. For more about Dan Evans, you can visit his Web site (which at press time is still being updated), www.danevansmusic.com.

New Zealand-based modern worshipers Parachute Band offer up a dozen fresh new worship songs with the release of their latest project, "Technicolor," on Sept. 30. Band member Sam de Jong explains, "As we were preparing for this album, we noticed that quite a few of the songs had an underlying theme of water, or God's living water. For us this living water is God's love, grace and mercy flooding and cleansing our lives as we worship Him." The album also reflects their heart for social justice issues and their work in Rwanda with World Vision. Parachute Band was first created a decade ago to host New Zealand's annual Parachute Festival.


Entertainment notes compiled from artist interviews and press releases. For more Christian music news, visit Joanne's Gospel Soundcheck blog at www.blog.beliefnet.com/gospelsoundcheck.