New Single and Album from Michael W Smith

Multi-Platinum artist, best-selling author and acclaimed actor MICHAEL W SMITH announces his new album, A Million Lights, will release Feb. 16, 2018 from Rocketown Records and The Fuel Music.

Michael has been releasing new music regularly and performing around the world to sold-out crowds for the last 30+ years. During his storied career, he’s written 32 No. 1 singles, been honoured with three Grammy Awards and 45 Dove Awards, was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and has sold more than 15 million albums.

He’s also given back to the global community. Michael has raised funds to battle AIDS in Africa alongside longtime friend Bono; started Rocketown, a safe haven for young people in Tennessee to meet and find hope; and has helped more than 70,000 children through Compassion International.

A Million Lights was fueled by the divisive national sentiment of 2017 and the mean-spirited banter on social media. “About half the album was written in response to where we are as a nation,” says Michael. “In the age of social media, people have forgotten how to talk with one another, to be civil.”

Eager to experiment with new sounds, Michael enlisted multi-platinum producer and songwriter Brian Todd (Miley Cyrus and Rascal Flatts) and songsmith Kyle Lee to help flesh out his vision for the new songs. “I called a bunch of people I’d never written with because I wanted to push myself and experiment.”

The result is a beautiful collection of sweeping, epic new songs that sees Michael exploring new ground with music created to enlighten, mesmerize and touch the soul of listeners.

“Until the world ends, music is the most powerful language there is. It can transform your life on every level, not just the spiritual. It can help people reconnect with why they’re here. That’s what I’m doing with A Million Lights.” Watch the video of the title track here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZAhrMhVfxs

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Big Band Sound from Reta Watkins

Worship leader, recording artist and vocal stylist RETA WATKINS is thrilled to announce the release date of her debut solo CD, That Christmas Feeling. The project is slated to impact retail on Friday, November 17, 2017, from Suite 28 Records through Naxos of America, Inc., the nation’s leading independent classical music distributor.

“I’ve waited my whole life to do this record,” says Reta. “My father passed away 10 years ago. I loved my dad so much, and one of my fondest memories was of us singing Christmas carols together. Dad was an outstanding tenor who grew up in the heyday of the big band/jazz era. We would sit together, listening to and singing along with the greats–Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Bing Crosby. In particular, he loved all things Christmas, and I loved what he loved, so I fell in love with the Christmas carols. I would listen to Christmas music all year long if I could.”

The gifted vocalist, who cut her musical teeth singing with her ‘musicianary’ family band, and later with the contemporary Christian band, Pilgrim’s Progress, breaks new ground with her debut solo project, That Christmas Feeling. On the new CD, Reta revisits the rich repertoire of timeless holiday standards that have become the Christmas soundtrack for generations of Americans. The 10 lushly orchestrated tracks on the album were produced by Scott Williamson (Point of Grace, Lincoln Brewster) and showcase Reta’s compelling vocal stylings. Tracks include the best of the big band era, along with a few more recent additions to the Christmas music lexicon.

The Review Zone – IRON BELL MUSIC : God That Saves. (Essential)

From Louisville, Kentucky, come Iron Bell Music. The movement began in 2009 with a small home gathering, and now hosts many hundreds of worshippers in the Iron Bell Barn. If you’re expecting this album to be just another Hillsong or Planetshakers clone, then you would be sadly mistaken.  Iron Bell’s mission is to “cultivate a heart of adoration.” Songs on this album are quite intense, but full of easy to understand lyrics. The sleeve notes credit three people as lead vocalists, but fail to name the singer for each song. The opening vocals on “God That Saves” sound very gravely. It’s a pedestrian paced number that builds in power as it goes along. Production of these songs is huge. What I mean, is that, each song consist of a wall of sound that occasionally gets rather overbearing. Certainly, “Belong to You” and “Burn For You” fall into that category. However, that sound still sounded fresh, when compared to some worship albums. “Faithfulness” is a stirring song. “Great is your faithfulness, your goodness never changes.” Fabulous words of truth, encompassed into a great chorus. The pick of the album has to be “Sons and Daughters.” The song tells how much God loves us all as a Father, and it swings along majestically, in an anthemic sort of way. If this is a taste of what happens during Iron Bell Barn Worship, I can only begin to guess what attending a live event must be like!   9/10.

 

10 Years of Hits for Francesca Battistelli

GRAMMY Award winning artist FRANCESCA BATTISTELLI celebrates ten years of her artistry with the release of Greatest Hits: the first ten years. The 15-track album, which spans her decade long career and features six No. 1 radio hits, three top 5 hits, three top 10’s and two new studio recordings, is available from Fervent Records.

Battistelli released her debut album, My Paper Heart, in 2008 which included “Free To Be Me,” her first of many hits. Along with three RIAA Gold Certifications, a GRAMMY Award win (four total nominations), a Billboard Music nomination, six Dove Awards (and 28 nominations) and two KLOVE Fan Awards, she’s achieved nearly two million in sales and her music has been featured across multiple television and movie outlets.

The Review Zone – THE LITTLE ROY & LIZZY SHOW : Going Home. (Stow Town Records : STR 3187)

Having roots in the heart of the south, Elizabeth Long, or Lizzy as her friends and fans know her was born on a farm in Lincolnton, Georgia. She began her music accomplishment at an early age. Little Roy has won awards as Entertainer as well as for his banjo playing. He has also been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, This new album is a breath of fresh air, mixing southern and bluegrass gospel. If you like your banjo and fiddle playing, then you’ll love this release. Lizzy has a great vocal quality, and I was hooked, the minute she began singing the title track. I challenge anyone not to find themselves tapping their feet along  to “Today Is Gonna Be a Brighter Day.” It’s a super song and well delivered. On the slower side, “That’s the Power of the Blood” tells that Jesus died for everyone, and that all can be saved. Little Roy’s banjo playing is exceptional, and it’s a real highlight of “In A Whirlwind” and  “Feels Like Rain.” Late on in the track listing, listeners are treat to some nice slice guitar on the closing “Traveling On.” The music is bright and breezy throughout, and well worth a listen.   8/10.

Last month, the Gospel Music Association (GMA) handed out honours in 39 categories at the 48th Annual GMA Dove Awards plus special industry recognitions at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville. The main winners were as follows:

ARTIST OF THE YEAR:

MercyMe, Fair Trade Services

 

NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR:

Zach Williams, Provident Label Group

 

SONG OF THE YEAR:

“What A Beautiful Name” (writers) Ben Fielding, Brooke Ligertwood, (publisher) Hillsong Music Publishing

 

CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN ARTIST OF THE YEAR:

Casting Crowns, Provident Label Group

 

GOSPEL ARTIST OF THE YEAR:

CeCe Winans, Pure Springs Gospel

 

SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR (ARTIST):

Bart Millard

 

BLUEGRASS/COUNTRY/ROOTS ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope: Reba McEntire (producer) Reba McEntire, Jay DeMarcus, Doug Sisemore

 

RAP/HIP HOP ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

The Waiting Room: Trip Lee, (producers) Gabriel Azucena, James Foye III, John McNeil, Joel McNeil, Alex Median, Allen Swoope, Almondo Cresso, Chris Mackey, Joseph Prielozny, Tyshane Thompson

 

ROCK/CONTEMPORARY ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

HARDLOVE – NEEDTOBREATHE, (producers) NEEDTOBREATHE, Joe Levine, Dave Tozer, Ed Cash, Ido Zmishlany

 

POP/CONTEMPORARY ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

Lifer – MercyMe (producers) Ben Glover, David Garcia

 

SOUTHERN GOSPEL ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

Resurrection – Joseph Habedank, (producer) Wayne Haun

 

CONTEMPORARY GOSPEL/URBAN ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

Let Them Fall In Love – CeCe Winans, (producers) Alvin Love III, Tommy Sims

 

WORSHIP ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

Never Lose Sight – Chris Tomlin.

 

The Review Zone – CHLOE REYNOLDS : I Am Brave. (www.chloereynoldsmusic.com)

Here’s Chloe’s follow up to her 2016 debut “Broken Beautiful.” Once more, Chloe’s piano is at the centre of this collection of songs, providing the perfect backdrop to her lovely vocals. She cites Alicia Keyes as one of her main influences, and that really sits well with her style of music. The song, “Quicksand” was an instant favourite of mine. If you’re sinking in the turmoil of what life has thrown at you, remember that Jesus promised you a lifeline to cling to. There’s a nice pace to “Alive.” It’s the feeling of freedom when you give your life to Christ, and become “Alive.” The title song is more of a ballad and I like Chloe’s vocals even more on the slower songs. Rob Townley’s succulent guitar playing is also worth a mention here. Like her previous album, I found that it took me a few listens to really enjoy the songs to their full potential. Once or twice, the stripped back acoustic tracks didn’t quite work for me, but the flowing melody of “It’s Time” was excellent. “Let’s Talk About It” has a the feel of a live recording, while the closing “Pass It On” is an infectious little ditty. Chloe’s not rested on her laurels in writing this new album and I think that she can be well pleased with the result,   8/10.