'Third Day' doc to showcase days in their lives


Veteran rock band Third Day let the cameras and tape recorders roll freely on several dates of its recent tour, and the result is the documentary "Live Revelations: On Stage, Off Stage, Backstage," due out April 7. The 75-minute documentary offers glimpses of one-on-one interactions with both family and fans, the band's contagious sense of humor and even rare admission on its tour bus. The viewer will experience the delicate balance of life on the road and family commitments, and a bit of what it's like when they're off the road at home.

Fresh from his induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, Michael W. Smith will release "A New Hallelujah—The Live Worship DVD" on March 17. The DVD is the video companion to Smith's newest record, and third worship album, A New Hallelujah, and was recorded live in Houston last summer before 12,000 people. Smith was backed up by a 250-voice choir and several special guests including the African Children's Choir and 2008 Grammy Award-winner, Israel Houghton.

Hard to believe it's been more than 10 years since MercyMe shook the mainstream charts with "I Can Only Imagine." To mark the anniversary, MercyMe is releasing a CD/DVD set that showcases 12 No. 1 singles and videos spanning the band's career. The project, called 10, releases on April 7th

Lifeway Christian Resources, the research and publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, has introduced a new resource called SongMap that will allow users to customize songs and produce sheet music. SongMap allows users to transpose keys, change the order of the song's verses, choruses, introductions and transitions, download their new arrangement, and print out sheet music for various instruments. Registration for SongMap is free, and the cost to map a song ranges from $ 1.49 to $1.99 per part. For more information, visit www.lifewayworship.com.

Season 5 American Idol contestant Mandisa releases her sophomore album Freedom March 24. The album is the follow-up to her 2007 debut, True Beauty. Mandisa became a role model for thousands of women struggling with their identity when her weight became the target of criticism from Idol judge Simon Cowell. In her book "Idol Eyes: My Perspective on Faith, Fat and Fame," the singer admits that his words cut deeply and caused her a lot of immediate pain and embarrassment. She has since lost 70 pounds but, more importantly, explored the freedom she's found from food addiction. You can catch Mandisa on select dates on the Women of Faith tour throughout 2009.

The Grammys were handed out in February and Kirk Franklin took home two awards—Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album (The Fight of My Life) and Best Gospel Song ("Help Me Believe"). The Gaither Vocal Band's Lovin' Life was named Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album and TobyMac's Alive and Transported was named Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album. For a complete list of winners, visit www.grammy.com.

Southern Gospel fans, mark your calendars for March 16 to 21. That's when the 5th Annual Southern Gospel Music Fan Fair takes place at the Smoky Mountain Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. The event brings together more than 100 artists for a six-day event that includes worship services, performances, artist meet-and-greet time with fans, and the SGM Fan Awards and Talent Search. For more information, visit www.sgmfanfair.com.

The Juno Awards, Canada's equivalent of the Grammys, will be handed out this month, and Christian music artists Starfield, Downhere, Article One, NewWorldSon and Life Support are all nominated for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year. These artists —except for Life Support, who currently tours only in Canada—have found a solid fan base in the U.S., but it's nice to see their native country recognize their success. The awards take place March 20 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The numbers are in for Christian music record sales for 2008. According to the Gospel Music Association, overall sales of physical and digital albums was 32,483,500 units for 2008. That's down 9.7 percent from 2007. In comparison, mainstream album sales were down 8.5 percent and Country music was down 24.2 percent. When you factor in sales of digital singles, however, Christian music is up 5.7 percent to 56,698,000 units. While that's good, it's important to remember that revenue from the sales of singles is significantly less than the revenue from album sales. Which means that despite the increased total of units sold, when you factor in singles, Christian music is right in the fray with other formats who are experiencing declining revenue from music sales.

Casting Crowns announced recently that drummer Andy Williams is leaving the band to work full time with his wife Kelly in a ministry called Soul Sister Sally. Casting Crowns writes on their blog that they're happy for Andy and Kelly, and wish their band mate the best, praying that God will use him in this new adventure. Casting Crowns performed at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. in February.

Jars of Clay is back with a new album, The Long Fall BacktTo Earth, releasing in April. But a song from the album is already being used by NBC for promos for a new show, "Kings." This will be the 10th studio album for the artfully thoughtful, Grammy-winning band.

Marvin Sapp was the big winner at the 2009 Stellar awards, taking home seven awards, including Artist of the Year. Other winners included: Dorinda Clark-Cole, Female Vocalist of the Year; Jonathan Nelson featuring Purpose, Group/Duo of the Year; The Canton Spirituals, Traditional Group/Duo of the Year; The Clark Sisters; The Best of the Clark Sisters Encore, Special Event CD of the Year; Shekinah Glory Ministry, Praise and Worship CD of the Year; Ricky Dillard & New G, Choir of the Year; Bishop Paul Morton & The Full Gospel Baptist Church Choir, Traditional Choir of the Year; Jessica Greene, New Artist of the Year.

Ron McClelland, bassist for Gotee artist Storyside: B, died Jan. 18 while on a cruise with listeners of Jacksonville radio station 88.1, The Promise. In addition to his work with the band, the 33-year-old McClelland was a guest on-air personality for the station. It was believed that McClelland may have unknowingly suffered from cardiomyopathy. He leaves behind his wife, Rebecca.

Long time Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell died this past January at his condo in Florida. He had a history of heart problems and had missed an appointment with his cardiologist the day before. During Lynyrd Skynyrd's hiatus in the '80s, following the tragic plane crash that killed Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, his sister and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, Powell briefly joined a Christian rock band named Vision. He spoke during the concerts about his newly found faith in Jesus Christ. Upon hearing the news of Powell's death, guitarist Gary Rossington's wife, Dale, told the Florida Times Union that the band members had been worried about Powell's health. She added, "But he had such a big huge heart of gold, such a huge abiding faith in God and his Savior Jesus." Powell was 56.

Reba Rambo-McGuire, the daughter of gospel legend Dottie Rambo, is suing the driver who was behind the wheel of the bus that crashed last May, killing Dottie Rambo and injuring seven others. Also accused of negligence is DC Investments Leasing, a Vicksburg, Miss.-based subsidiary of Pyramid Coach that leased the bus to the entertainer. Dottie Rambo was killed May 11 after her tour bus ran off a Missouri highway while she was en route to meet Lulu Roman and Naomi Sego at a Golden Girls of Gospel concert in Texas on Mother's Day.