Growing up in St. Louis, southern gospel artist Matt Felts was most likely the only kid in town with posters of Don Mattingly, star first baseman for the New York Yankees, on his wall. Fast forward 30 years, and Don Mattingly is hitting a homerun of a different kind as a featured guest on Matt Felts’ project, Based On A True Story. “It’s a great song that combined the Gospel and baseball. How could I not record that?” stated Matt. “My mom is related to the Mattingly family, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that God crossed my path with Don. I was singing at a church in his hometown. The pastor and I were talking about him. Little did I know that this church was Don’s home church. The pastor left and came back a few minutes later and told me that he had just spoken to Don, and he wanted to invite me up to a game. We try to meet up at least once a season,” he added. When he began work on the album, Matt called Don to see if he would consider being a guest on this song. Mattingly agreed without hesitation. He is currently the manager of the Miami Marlins and recorded his part of the song at the Miami Marlins ballpark.
Two decades after the end of the Disney Channel's “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club” Jennifer McGill is stepping back into the spotlight with her upcoming debut full-length solo album, Unbreakable- to be released in August. It’s hard to believe that 20+ years have passed since the show launched the careers of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, JC Chasez, Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell. Performing professionally since the age of 10, McGill was one of the only cast members to appear in all 300+ episodes over seven seasons. But unlike some of her famous friends, the transition to a career beyond Disney didn’t happen quite the way she planned. “Most of the kids who stayed in the limelight went to New York or L.A. to pursue their careers wholeheartedly and I wound up going to college,” recalls McGill. “By the time I was 21 or 22 with a pending Capitol Records deal, I was told I sounded ‘too old’ or that I spoke ‘too well’ or didn’t resonate with the bubblegum pop movement that was going on at the time. No one ever said I was bad at singing, just that I didn’t look right or fit into categories that were completely out of my control.”
Those feelings of insecurity and inadequacy multiplied all the more after her unconditionally supportive mother suddenly died of a heart attack while the two were having lunch. “My mother passed away when I was 24, and when she was gone, I was super lost,” says McGill. “I became even more lost, angry and isolated to the point where I didn’t feel like anything mattered anymore without her being there. I lost my motivation, and by 30, I had dug myself into a really painful spiritual hole with bad relationships and lots of the typical ‘rock star’ trappings, only without the fame.”
In an unexpected dose of divine intervention, Disney came calling once again. McGill started performing in the Walt Disney World live show “American VYBE” at Epcot Center – under the direction of famed “Pitch Perfect” arranger Deke Sharon. She also was hired to perform at The Holy Land Experience theme park, only this time it was for a show centered around faith. Her time there served as the catalyst for helping her get back on course.
“We were there to present the message of God through music and dramatic ministry,” explains McGill. "Sure, I had sung for offertories, weddings and funerals at church, but this was a whole different type of situation of acting out scenes from the Bible and I quickly got wise enough in the spirit to understand it was an honor and responsibility.”
After her time there wrapped, McGill bounced between Nashville and New York, eventually settling in Music City and landing an equally unique role as a lead teacher and cast member in a faith-based live event called “Bravehearted Boys: The Superhero Experience” geared toward pre-teen boys and their families. It was there where she met future manager Ann-Riley Caldwell of Lifetime Impact Management who asked the entertainer to write a script for the companion program “Bravehearted Girls: The Warrior Princess Quest,” which naturally led to the pair’s collaboration on “Freedom Fighters: Live Fearless” geared towards the entire family.
“Originally I was writing songs for the show with themes of encouragement, inspiration and strength, but the songs started shaping up to be a cohesive solo album, even though that wasn’t the intention,” says McGill. “I never thought I’d have a chance to make a full-length album after it didn’t work out the first time around, let alone have it drop right after I turn 40!"
McGill hopes that "Unbreakable" will be able to inspire and encourage others because there’s an element in every song that reminds us we’re not battling alone. “So many of us put borders on ourselves and I think for women especially there’s this idea that you’re past your expiration date when you hit a certain age, which in my case was only compounded with the celebrity comparisons I used to put on myself. This album paints a picture of old hurts and old mistakes, but also coming out on the other side and not just surviving but thriving.”
Providing raw commentary on the destructive state of the world today, CONVEYER releases No Future. With an amplified sound and in your face aggression, No Future oversteps the trends in today’s hardcore underground. Front-man Danny Adams divulges, “You’re going to experience life in a way that both affirms and challenges your understanding of loss and heartache, and I want you to know that the times where your certainty is threatened by new shades of tragedy, it doesn’t mean your entire world is unraveling. Even when I don’t understand what’s happening, I choose to have hope and faith that I’m going to be okay, just as I am convinced that the sun will rise tomorrow.”
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver bring unparalleled storytelling to fans on August 25 with the 12-track wonder LIFE IS A STORY. Described by Lawson as a mix of Bluegrass styles "from the middle of the road to the very traditional," the album never strays from the heart of the genre. "So much of what makes good Bluegrass and Country music compelling comes down to great songwriters - and the stories told in their songs," Lawson observes. "Life itself is really a continuous story that embraces the beginning, the middle and inevitable ending." LIFE IS A STORY, and here it is sweetly sung.
Todd Agnew has unveiled his latest project, a 16-track collection of new songs, as well as unreleased, remixed, and favorite tracks from the vault. The new collection, From Grace to Glory: The Music of Todd Agnew, released on May 26 Serving as a scrapbook of sorts, From Grace to Glory is a musical chronicle of Agnew's journey of faith and ministry. It is a time capsule of moments, both profoundly intimate and exuberantly bold, that captures the essence of walking out the gospel hand-in-hand with friends and family, through good times and hard times. It is the journal of one man's transformation from a young singer/songwriter to troubadour theologian.
Family and friendship have always played a huge role in Agnew's life, music and ministry, and those relationships run like a thread throughout From Grace to Glory. Agnew collaborated with his long-time friend Chris Collins (Agnew's co-wrter on "Grace Like Rain") on one of the two new songs on this project, "Nearer Home." But it was Agnew's studies at Dallas Theological Seminary (where he is nearing completion of his Masters degree) that led him to pen the first of a new generation of worship songs--the potent, reverential contemporary hymn, "Glory to Our Great Redeemer.""The song talks about ransom, redemption, adoption and more," Agnew explains. "Our worship grows deeper as we understand more fully all God has done on our behalf."
The song reflects Agnew's deepening maturity. The process has included getting married, embracing fatherhood, moving to Texas and delving deeper into the formal study of God's Word
at seminary. Along the way, he has emerged as a seasoned scholar and mentor in the fields of worship theology and worship leadership. Adding "college professor" to his list of titles, Agnew joined the faculty of Visible Music College's Dallas campus in 2015 and was recently tapped by Dallas Theological Seminary as a guest lecturer for its 2017 Shaped by the Future conference. He is increasingly sought after as a guest speaker at churches and conferences across the country.
Chris Anthony tells the story of when he was 15 and his best friend died in an abrupt and tragic car accident. Chris's life instantly went into a downward spiral turning into an alcoholic and pill addict. "Another Loser" reflects on those feelings and dark moments that he battled with in that time in his life. Foure wrote and sung the captivating hook, which instantly draws you in and summarizes the songs crying out for another way. Angie Rose adds the perfect touch on top of the record drawing inspiration from her own past life of drug & alcohol use and crying out for redemption.
Rock band Mad at the World, brothers Randy and Roger Rose, is reuniting to record and release their first new album in 22 years. The band released seven albums together between 1987 and 1995. To help fund their return to music, the duo have taken to Kickstarter to help make their new project a reality. "This Kickstarter campaign is the start of something wonderful," the Rose brothers announced on their campaign page. "I convinced my brother Roger (with help of the success of my new Rose record) to do this record with me as Mad At The World."
Before Mattie Montgomery was the vocalist in For Today, he fronted Michigan's Besieged. The band released a album, Atlantis, before he moved on to For Today. The album was released 10 years ago, June 26. In celebration, the band are releasing a remastered version of their song "INRI," which is taken from Atlantis. The song was given a studio update by the band's drummer, Josh Schroeder, who has produced albums for A Plea For Purging, For The Fallen Dreams and many others.
When asked whether or not he was embarrassed about this album (as that's how many artists feel in regard to their older material), Montgomery responded, "[I'm] totally not embarrassed about this. This album is so much better than the first For Today album. The second too, honestly." [Laughs]