After a difficult pregnancy, Sarah Hammitt, wife of Matt, Sanctus Real's lead singer, gave birth to Bowen Matthew, whose name means "small victorious one." He was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a congenital heart disease. The Children's Hospital Boston website says the syndrome "occurs in up to four out of every 10,000 live births." Just a few days after his birth Sept. 9, Bowen underwent his first open heart surgery.
The infant struggled for 10 weeks at the University of Michigan Woman's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich, where he endured invasive medical procedures and battled numerous infections.
Bowen was finally discharged (with a feeding tube) on Nov. 17 until his second surgery, which is scheduled for February 2011. His third surgery will take place when he is 2-3 years old.
"Adding to the flurry of excitement was the presence of a three-person TV crew from ABC News, filming Bowen's homecoming for a segment to be broadcast by Diane Sawyer at an as-yet undetermined date," reported The Toledo Blade. Readers can follow Bowen's progress at www.bowensheart.com.
For Sanctus Real's bass player Dan Gartley, the holidays arrive early.
"The Christmas season starts at Thanksgiving with my dad's family on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan." He calls this arrangement the "result of my own parents' diplomatic solution ... Thanksgiving in Michigan, Christmas in Ohio."
During holiday family gatherings, Gartley, 28, watches "five baby boomer siblings joke and bicker with the same level of maturity as my younger brother and I. They transport to an older, wonderful world that I can only imagine; a world before computers…where fast-food is a new invention where people write checks for groceries and pay cash for big purchases."
Matt Brouwer weds
Award-winning singer/songwriter Matt Brouwer married Hannah Flicker at the 10,000-member Houston church where Brouwer serves as worship leader. The intimate August ceremony was a small family gathering at The Woodlands United Methodist Church. Matt, a Nova Scotia native, met his bride, a physician assistant, during a mission trip to Guatemala where Hannah's family serves in medical missions.
The couple enjoyed a Hawaiian honeymoon.
"They call Kauai the 'honeymoon island' because it's very sparsely populated and a great getaway from it all," explained Matt. "We basically had the whole beach to ourselves," exploring the island by hiking and a helicopter tour.
As for their first Christmas as a married couple, it could be hectic.
"Both Hannah and I come from really big families, so there are lots of traditions that we have both picked up from my family in Canada and her family in Guatemala," he said. "We are going to be visiting both sides as my tour schedule permits, but Dec. 24 and 25 we are going to be just the two of us at home in Houston. We are excited to make some of our own Christmas traditions."
Myriad drummer loses cancer battle
Randy Miller, drummer for The Myriad, lost a two-year battle with chondrosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, Nov. 5. Miller, 39, leaves behind wife Kristyn and children Conor, 11, and Gillian, 9. The Long Beach, Calif, native moved to Redding in 1985 and founded Metolius Construction with business partner Tommy Carlson.
"Randy was a rare gem," said Tim Taber of Floodgate Records and Transparent Productions. "A totally humble man, but an amazing drummer and confident musician who owned his craft. He was a man who loved Jesus, his family, and any chance he could get to play the drums."
Myriad vocalist Jeremy Edwardson recalled that hospital visitors intending to encourage Randy were instead uplifted when "he began to…tell people to do everything that's in their heart." Myriad guitarist Steven Tracy added, "Randy never had anything handed to him. He faced challenges throughout his life that would make most buckle. I am honored to have seen how a godly man lives; with strength, kindness, compassion, and heart."
In lieu of flowers, friends request donations for medical and funeral expenses. Like many musicians, the Millers do not have health or life insurance. Send tax-deductible donations to the "Miller Family Mercy Fund" at www.thestirring.org.
The Christian Music Hall of Fame held its 2010 Visionary Awards last month at Trinity Broadcast Network's Trinity Music City in Hendersonville, Tennessee. The Best New Artist of the Year was country-rock singer/songwriter Nathan Lee Jackson. Adel Meisenheimer, president of Meis Music Group, indicated that TBN intends a national broadcast of the evening; TBN has not confirmed a date. A complete list of award winners is available at www.hallmuseum.com.
Taking on change
Visionary Awards performer worship leader Aaron Crider sang his title song from his new album The Change. The CD is the result of his observations during the 2008 presidential race. "No one person should we put our faith and trust in. That is just beyond earthly power."
Once December performances are completed, Crider and his family will spend Christmas in Colorado. His wife Holly's birthday is Dec. 25, so their family tradition is to open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. Holly will open her birthday presents on Christmas Day!
Change is also the theme of Fresh, the fourth album by Gospel artist Tye Tribbett. "God is doing a new thing in my life, marriage, ministry, and business. This theme came last year while seeking God after committing adultery." He is grateful to his pastors who facilitated restoration. Tribbett notes that he has changed personal habits. "I try not to lend myself to 'idle time' where I'm just sitting doing nothing, because I know what an empty 'Tye mind' can lead to."
In contrast to the career damage sustained by gospel stars Sandy Patty and Michael English after adulterous affairs, fans have embraced Tribbett's journey of marital restoration on Fresh. The album occupied the No. 1 position on Billboard's Gospel Album chart after the first week of its release.
Scoring a movie
Integrity Music recording artist Ken Reynolds is writing the theme song and additional music for the movie "All You Can Dream." Directed by Italian Valerio Zanoli ("Hopeful Notes"), the spring 2011 release stars Anastacia, an American R&B/pop singer who has found more success abroad than in the U.S. This "family comedy" addresses a serious subject: obesity and eating disorders. After filming mostly on location around Grand Rapids, the estimated $3 million movie is in post-production.
Reynolds serves as worship pastor at the 8,000-member Resurrection Life Church in Grandville, Mich.; his recording work has earned "Best of the Best" recognition by Worship Leader magazine and "Worship Project of the Year" by Christianity Today.
Stamping the passport
Members of the worship band Jesus Culture are quickly filling their passports with new stamps. They recently completed an 18-day tour of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Germany. Next is a 10-day January trip for concerts in the Australian cities of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
The worship band grew out of a youth movement birthed at Redding's Bethel Church. Founding Pastor Bill Johnson is a native of Minnesota and member of the Northern California Revival Fellowship.
Come Away, the fifth Jesus Culture album, distinguished itself with a simultaneous release in November as a CD/DVD Digipak combo to both physical and digital retailers. Kingsway is distributing Jesus Culture Music in the U.S. market, through both Christian and general market stores with distribution by EMI CMG.