Living legend Andraé Crouch continues his journey with his 18th record

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After 17 albums, Gospel legend and Grammy-Award winner Andraé Crouch is still going strong with the release of yet another project, aptly named The Journey.

The album is produced by Luther "Mano" Hanes, president and CEO of Riverphlo Entertainment.

"I am playing music today because of him," Hanes said. "I learned how to play piano by imitating him when I was 6 years old. I studied all of his records, all day long."

The 15-song disc includes "The Promise," written by Crouch and Hanes, an award-winning producer. Although impressed with Crouch's progressive approach to music, Hanes said the musician's success runs much deeper than solid air time or strong record sales.

"What made him great was how his songs exploded and took deep root inside the church—no matter what color or denomination," the producer said. "His songs were made great by the churches all over the world."

Hanes, who signed Crouch to his new label last year, said he believes the timing of the project, especially the lead song, "Somebody Told Me About Jesus," will minister to society at a time of immense need.

"When I thought of this project, it was very important that we start off with a song that spoke to the state of the world today, the times we are living in and how we really need to hear from God," Hanes said. "The body of Christ needs to be reassured of God's promise to His people. I felt this song was the perfect song for the body of Christ in this hour."

When Crouch is not in the studio he spends most of his time in Southern California, where he serves as senior pastor at the New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in San Fernando, the church founded by his parents. A prolific songwriter, Crouch said he pens 20 to 30 songs each week.


Hillsong USA tour to feature Christmas tunes
Fresh on the heels of its European tour, Hillsong is heading to the United States with tour which begins Nov. 18 in Minneapolis, Minn.

The tour will travel to 13 cities for worship nights in churches, theaters and arenas before wrapping up December 6 at the Rock Church in San Diego, Calif.

In addition to numbers from its "God Is Able," the band is expected to showcase some of the songs from its Christmas EP, Born Is the King, which was set for release Nov. 8.  This studio recording includes two new songs, "Born Is the King (It's Christmas)," written by Matt Crocker and Scott Ligertwood, and "Emmanuel," written by Reuben Morgan.  The album also includes "The Westward Procession," "Joy to The World," "We Three Kings," "Come Let Us Adore Him," "Holy Night" and "Silent Night."


'The Story' Bible releases musical narrative
"The Story," the best-selling Bible from Max Lucado and Randy Freeze, is taking on another dimension with a two-album companion work featuring 18 new songs from some of America's most popular Christian artists.

Like its namesake "(Music Inspired by) The Story' is a retelling of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in a musical narrative. Dove Award winners Nichole Nordeman and Bernie Herms penned the musical version.

The line-up includes Matthew West, Leigh Nash, Mark Hall and Megan Garrett, Brandon Heath, Bart Millard, Michael Tait, Blanca Callahan, Lecrae, Nichole Nordeman, Amy Grant, Chris Tomlin, Peter Furler, Mandisa, Todd Smith, Francesca Battistelli, Mac Powell, Steven Curtis Chapman, Natalie Grant, Dan Haseltine, Matt Hammitt, Jeremy Camp, Michael W. Smith and Darlene Zschech.

Kevin Davis, of New Release Tuesday, said the 18 featured songs were "soul-piercing."

"This is a five-star compilation that needs to be heard and experienced until He comes back," Davis said.

To promote the project, The Story Tour, featuring Chapman, the Newsboys, Battistelli, Natalie Grant, Selah, Anthem Lights, with special guests Max Lucado and Randy Frazee, begins in December.


Nash singing a different tune
Leigh Nash, lead singer of platinum-selling pop group Sixpence None the Richer, is going back to her roots as she releases her first solo album in five years with Hymns & Sacred Songs on Nov. 15.

"I was really excited by the idea of making a record of hymns," Nash said. "I grew up loving singing in the congregation at my church, always wishing to have the courage to sing solos in the church choir. I finally got my solos in the form of this record!"

The album is the first of three to be produced by Kingsway and will include the timeless lyrics of hymns by Charles Wesley, Fanny Crosby, and others. Produced by John Hartley, whose work history includes projects with Rebecca St. James, Matt Redman and Stuart Townend, includes newly inspired melodies.

Derri Daugherty, who worked on the 2008 Sixpence reunion holiday album Dawn of Grace, provided his recording and mixing expertise.

"The songs were basically chosen because of their lyrics," says Nash. "These words are so poetic and beautiful, the perfect inspiration to write new melodies."

In addition to the old hymns, the album offers several newly written songs by Nash, Graham Kendrick, Keith Getty, Stuart Townend, Aaron Keyes and Katie Gustafson.


Breaking up sin in song
Benjamin "Benjah" Thom, who was nominated for a Grammy award for his co-producing skills on Lecrae's newest album, Rehab, continues to make a name for himself with the release of his second album, The Break Up. The newest album boasts Benjah's signature pop and reggae sound, complimented by his Scripture-infused lyrics.

According to his record label, the album, released in September, uses a relationship metaphor to paint a picture of the Christian's fight against the flesh, adding that it feels like love at first sight, but when the deception of sin is revealed, a 'Break-up' is essential. The album's song list includes "Sinking Ship," "Jezebel," "On Grace," "Read Me" and "Orphan."

One track, "Not Alone," features Rachel Lampa.

Benjah is also part of this fall's inaugural Music with a Mission tour, a new annual concert series that will promote various Christian organizations in an effort to expand giving opportunities for those missions groups.

In addition to his production work and solo career, Benjah was one of the original members of Group 1 Crew where he had the opportunity to produce and write for five songs on their self-titled freshmen project with Word/Warner Records, which won a Dove Award.


Hearing Slumbering angels
Seventh Day Slumber, which has tackled such tough topics as suicide, is not holding back as they release their eighth studio album, The Anthem of Angels, on Nov. 15.

The group's frontman Joseph Rojas calls the BEC Recording product one of the band's most honest records they've made.

"We've opened ourselves up more, and been vulnerable," he said. "On this record, we pull no punches."

Described as a "full rock worship experience," the songs take flight, rooted in good measure from the personal trials of the band, including Rojas, who has openly discussed his own struggles with substance abuse that led to a "cocaine-fueled suicide attempt." He's also shared the victories including his "miraculous salvation in the back of an ambulance."

"I've struggled in my own life with feeling like I couldn't hear the voice of God clearly, especially in the middle of stressful situations," Rojas said. "You may not be able to hear God as clearly as you would like to at times but you should take confidence in the fact that Your God is always in control!"  

The single, "Love Came Down," for instance, was written about trusting God even in the middle of overwhelming circumstances. The group is currently on the road with their "Small Town America Tour."


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