Bright Ones debut album from Bethel Music Kids Shines a bright star from talent so young

Bethel Music is a household name in worship music but they also have a group of nine kids that write and produce worship music relaunching as Bright Ones but still with the same magnified amount of talent.

Hard to believe the kids featured are only between the ages of 12 and 16.

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Young or old, Bright Ones will remind you of the light within you, who you reflect, and cause to dance and sing in reverent worship.

 

Song by Song Review

Bright Ones:  EDM-musicality mixed with lyrics that remind the listener that God’s love shines from within us.

 

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Get Your Hopes Up:  Based on Psalm 30:5, reminding all who believe that they are living in the goodness that he brings

 

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You’re Gonna Be OK: A strong musical letter to all those going through various battles reminding those facing feelings of depression and anxiety who goes before them, and you’re gonna be ok.

No Longer Slaves: An EDM style to the popular acoustic Bethel Music worship song.

We Dance: My favorite song on the album because it’s got a dancy feel to it, and it creates an image of the worshipper dancing with the Lord instead of just dancing for our Great King.

Let My Life: A worship piano ballad that switches to an EDM dance jam that cries for the believer’s life always be a reflection of your love, Lord.

Never Gonna Stop: A worship song about God’s love chases after our hearts relentlessly, and even through the wild parts of our life story.

Spirit Move: A worship song making the listener aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the midst of their day to day life.

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Magnetic: An in-depth musical moment that uses imagery of God’s love being a magnet pulling us closer to him the more we believe in it

He Loves Me All The Time: A song that revels in the fact of God’s unconditional Romans 8:38-39 love for each of his children, and nothing can change that fact for all time.

Who You Are: Based on Isaiah 9:6, we can thank God for all he is in our lives through Jesus.

For The One: A song that reminds the believer they are a beacon of light pointing others to God & His relentless love for them.

Tell The Nations: A great conclusion to a strong debut from young people who are wholeheartedly passionate about spreading the good news about how Jesus saves.

 

#BookReview: After The Storm by Ava St. Pierre @wisebeautyqueen

Mental Illness carries much of a stigma even though it is 2018. Finally, people are deciding to be open about it whether they themselves struggle with it or someone they know and love.

I believe it should be openly discussed so that those who struggle with it can get the help and healing they deserve.

And so began the reason I couldn’t say no to reading Ava St. Pierre’s memoir.

She’s this prestigious beauty queen who was a pretty big deal in Texas as well as the ability to dapple in the VIP lifestyle because of her Mrs. Texas America title.

Yet, her story is definitely one for the books which is why I was glad her daughter Sheree sent it to me.

Growing up in a family of seven children, they lived a cool, calm, and collected existence. That was until the storm hit.

By storm, I am referring to her mother’s fits of rage that caused a severe accident with one of Ava’s younger brothers. These fits of rage were eventually diagnosed as amnesia, paranoia, and schizophrenia, and her father decided to raise the children as a single parent which left Ava’s birth mother to remain homeless for most of her life.

One thing I loved about the memoir is how easy it was to read despite the heaviness in topic and themes, and how Ava remained positive and used her story to showcase that no matter what anyone goes through in life, they can either sit and feel sorry for themselves or they can share their story to encourage others.

And Ava succeeds at the latter, and her story will provide hope that life gets better no matter the severity of the storm and the after effects that remain.

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#ATWT: Lecrae’s first major label release proves inspiration is in “All Things”

I don’t know about you but I’m…look what you made me do.

I’m not ashamed to admit it but I’m one of those chicks who likes to ride with my top down listening to Jesus music. It’s partly because of the way I was raised. I actually wasn’t allowed to listen to a lot of secular music growing up until I rebelled against Christian music for a few short years when I was trying my hand at being the female version of Slim Shady. I was obsessed with Eminem at 13 and still have yet to get over his Curtain Call album. Turns out, rapping isn’t my calling but at least I had fun figuring that out.

Someone who is a natural lyricist is Lecrae. He was the first Christian hip hop artist to have a #1 album on the Billboard Hot 100 but he didn’t just walk out of the gate and into overnight success. His first album Real Talk was released via the independent label he co-founded in 2004 and it started the 116 clique movement. He refers to his music as “hip-hop that he uses to share his Christian faith,” and it is this outsider attitude that has taken him from rapper to anomaly with a Grammy win, a BET win, and now a signed contract with Columbia Records. Lecrae Moore has quite the life story, and is definitely real life proof that all things do work together.

Song by Song Review

Always Knew: The perfect track to break the glass ceiling as a major label artist. The musicality of the entire album is a definite head nod to all of Lecrae’s “day ones and the crew” with elements from Real Talk and his Church Clothes mixtapes. Lyrically, this track discusses his Reach Records days to transitioning to a major label artist with his album displayed in Times Square.

Understanding me ain’t for the simple& elementary

Facts: Emulating Church Clothes style and musicality  discussing current themes about racial divisions and stereotypes

Just know if you rock the boat you better have a life raft

Broke: A song about how the struggle makes you stronger, it boasts how God takes all the broken pieces & makes you the righteousness of God through Christ. Also is about wealth in character being far more valuable than any and all material wealth

Hard times made for a good life

Blessings: A song of thanksgiving and praise, gospel gone ghetto, about being grateful & counting all God’s blessings.

Whatchu Mean: With a catchy backbeat, it discusses someone who’s words and actions don’t balance out. On this track featuring new Reach Records artist, Aha Gazelle we find them blocking out haters and pursuing dreams.

Hammertime:  Lecrae tells the listener to work hard at what they want to achieve in life. Musically, it samples the 90’s hit “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.

If we living what we talk about, you don’t talk a lot

Come and Get Me: Favorite track on the record because it’s the perfect mix of righteous and ratchet, and it is unapologetic rebel music, with sleigh bells carrying the back beat.

Tweet: #ATWT is the perfect mix of righteous and ratchet with a substantial testimony @lecrae https://ctt.ec/OHePu+ via @tscphiles

Lucked Up: Another reason I respect Lecrae as an artist is because unlike other hip-hop artists that get on hit song charts by bragging about how many women they get with, he always has a song that boasts his life for his wife and showcases his softer side, and that’s what this track is for this album.

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Wish You The Best: A song about the power of forgiveness despite how the relationship came to an end.

Can’t Stop Me Now: As I am a white female who was born in the 90’s, the first thing that came to mind when I heard this track was that it reminded me of Sailing by ‘NSYNC in musicality and style but a Caribbean element creates a song about letting go of depression and doubt.

I’ll Find You: Featuring Tori Kelly, this dream collaboration talks about God finding you in the midst of the pain or trial

8_28: Based on Romans 8:28, the title track is a lyrical tale about how all things work together for those who love God & are called according to his purpose.

Cry For You: It was originally written as a journal entry and not going to be used for the album, and Lecrae recorded it in one take with authentic emotions and tears in the corners of his eyes, it discusses having weaknesses, flaws, and a thorn in the flesh. Almost a letter to God about the fight of faith.

Worth It: Gospel Baptist Church musicality sets the scene for this track about how God looks at us with unconditional love even in the midst of our sin and mistakes because “the price paid determines the value.”

Overall, Lecrae’s major label debut knocks it out of the park and has all the original reach of his past projects with a new testimony: all things do work together.

Team ’91 is represented with Jamie Grace’s long overdue autobiographical album

Okay, I’ll just come out and say it. I am a huge fan of Jamie Grace. And what’s weird is that it took me forever to discover her because although she was always played on Christian radio stations nationwide. I didn’t actually get bit by the fan bug until I seen her on a livestream for 2015’s Night of Joy.

Instantly, I felt like I was looking in a metaphorical mirror. At 25, Jamie Grace has had the typical experiences of a young artist: being bullied, outcasted, and moved across the country and back over her young life, all while still being single in a world that ridicules you for having higher standards than the heels on your shoes. Yet, she’s extraordinary in that at only 25, she managed to already be nominated for a Grammy, win a Dove award, star in a major motion picture, and deal with a whole heck of a lot health-wise. Her mother was diagnosed with pudendal neuralgia which makes walking and especially sitting extremely uncomfortable. For more on this battle, please read this personal essay by Jamie herself.

Despite leaving Gotee Records in August 2016 and relocating to California later in the year, Jamie Grace Harper finally released her long-awaited third studio album ’91. Influenced by the Christian music she and I both grew up with, Superchic[K] and ZoeGirl, among others it is her first independent album release as an artist with a bold, strong, and autobiographical message. The album was released on September 1, 2017.

Song by Song Review

Different: A song about realizing you are different and that’s okay featuring heavy guitar musicality and bass drum.

The Happy Song: An acoustic jam that reminds you that the joy of the Lord is your strength no matter what trials life brings.

One of a Kind:  A song about all those crazy thoughts we have on a daily basis and how God doesn’t think we are crazy in spite of them.  Heavy use of percussion creates a playfulness to the musicality.

Here: A track featuring her older sister Morgan Harper-Nichols, it has country ballad musicality while discussing the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Spotlight: Heavy use of guitar chords and static make this interlude track have a radio wave effect on the vocals.

Dance On: One of two favorites off the album, it’s a dance party anthem with rock n roll musicality.

Bella: An acoustic song with soft vocals about being a daughter of the king.

Party Like A Princess:  My other favorite off the album with elements of Superchic[K]-like sound (no surprise there, it was produced from the band’s own Matt Dally), comes this single girl anthem about loving who you are regardless of who you walk into a party with or without.

Reverb This second interlude track which has a definite Superchic[K]-like sound and influenced by ZoeGirl as well, it boasts a theme of being God’s echo, as a reverb is defined as an effect whereby the sound produced by an amplifier or an amplified musical instrument is made to reverberate slightly.

Games: A song about the lines drawn in the invisible sand to outcast one girl from social groups.

Sixteen: A fast-paced rhythm mirrors the fast-paced life of a sixteen year old with this track about struggling with a journey of faith in your teen years.

Daughter of the King: An acoustic ballad about who God made you is ENOUGH

Bella(Acoustic): The acoustic version of the daddy-daughter guitar ballad

Heaven (Fix Things): A piano ballad about God’s mighty power and sometimes not understanding his process.

I love when I learn new things about an artist that I very much love and I just found out that Jamie Grace was actually asked up on stage by Adele where she sang “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” and Adele said she had a great voice. Well she totally does but what a HUGE compliment coming from such a vocal powerhouse and equally versatile artist.

No matter if you were born in ’91 or 2001, you will find pieces of yourself while listening to Jamie Grace’s third studio album, and feel free to dance on!

#BookReview: How Jesus Saves The World From Us by Morgan Guyton

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As I started to read this book, I was five pages in when I found it on Goodreads and read the reviews there. Many people did not sit well with this book. I was gearing up to toss it in the trash on my tablet when I really started to identify with the ideas Guyton was discussing.

It was a gripping read that opened my eyes to some truths while still allowed for objective perspective in regards of what Guyton believes versus what I believe.

Overall, I believe anyone looking to keep your focus on Jesus and emulate him in life should read it because it will give poetic thought to some of the beliefs that are part of the Christian faith.

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#MusicMonday: ‘Starlight’ is an appropriate light in a dark world

Worship focuses on Who God is. His character, His goodness, faithfulness, grace, love, and many other wonderful things. Worship creates an atmosphere in which God can work. Worship transforms us. By starting to worship God for the changes He is already working in us, we find that those changes start manifesting more and more, and we experience new levels of God’s presence, power, and goodness in our lives. As we worship, we remain in position to receive these things and everything else God has for us.

About Bethel Music
Bethel Music is a worship ministry that formed as an organic extension of Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Over the last seven years, Bethel Music has grown from being a local church music ministry to becoming a global outreach featuring a cadre of songwriters and worship leaders, with both online and on-campus worship schools. The Bethel Music Artist Collective includes Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, Jonathan David and Melissa Helser, Leeland, Hunter Thompson, Paul and Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, Josh Baldwin, Cory Asbury and Kristene DiMarco. Together these artists have six acclaimed albums that all went to the top of Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart, in addition to four GMA Dove Awards and a GMA Covenant Award. Bethel Music’s multi-artist double-disc live recording Have It All (2016) hit No. 1 on the overall iTunes Albums chart and No. 6 on Billboard’s Top Albums chart, becoming Bethel Music’s highest retail debut on the charts ever. Starlight, Bethel Music’s first full-length album recorded live on tour, is available April 7.

The heart of Bethel Music is to be a steward of the worship being created and released at Bethel Church, making it a resource available to the world. In addition to thousands of people that attend Bethel’s weekly worship services, another 350,000 plus people subscribe to the online stream of the services at www.ibethel.tvWorshipU, Bethel Church’s online school of worship, features ongoing training programs underneath seasoned instructors, with tracks including worship leader, songwriter, sound engineer, team essentials, producing a song and worship fundamentals, available at www.worshipu.com. More about Bethel Music can be found at www.bethelmusic.com.

Get Connected With Bethel Music
Website // www.bethelmusic.com

Facebook // www.facebook.com/bethelmusic

Twitter // www.twitter.com/bethelmusic

Instagram // www.instagram.com/bethelmusic

YouTube // www.youtube.com/ibethelmusic

Starlight is the first full-length album recorded live on tour by Bethel Music. Featuring songs led by an all-female worship leader team, including Bethel Music artists Jenn Johnson, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, Kristene DiMarco, Kalley Heiligenthal, Melissa Helser, Hannah McClure, and Grammy-award winning guest worship leader and songwriter, Francesca Battistelli.

Starlight is anchored in the message that our lives, our world, and all eternity are held together in Jesus. Like His stars placed in the universe, no distance separates us from our Creator and we are handcrafted and deeply known as children of God.

Notable Tracks

Most tracks on this record have a wonderful musicality that boasts a soft acoustic feel.

“Starlight”: Vocalist Amanda Cook begins, “You’re like starlight in the dark.” “You’re like summer in the night, even when the sun goes down, I still feel you.”

“Breathe”: Vocalist Amanda Cook sings, “You are here right now/ I can see your smiling face/pride in your eyes.”

You Came (Lazarus): A piano medley breaks up the soft, acoustic feel while vocalist Amanda Cook breaks it down: “You are a God of miracles.”

There’s No Other Name: Vocalist Francesca Batistelli sets the scene for a worship song centered around the Name of Jesus.

God, I Look To You: Batistelli wows once again with a song about looking to God for wisdom: “You know just what to do.”

Old For New: A break from the acoustic musicality with a more pop rock sound, this song builds much the same as our excitement in Christ and becoming a new creation in Him.

For The One: “Help Me to love with open arms the way you do,” sings Vocalist Jen Johnson.

The War is Over: “He made a way for us/Born from glory out of dust.”

I See The Light: “I’m your delight; you chose me.”

Take Courage: “Take courage, my heart. He’s in the waiting.”

Catch The Wind: My favorite because the musicality reminds me of Colors of The Wind from Pocahontas, and is an incredibly beautiful worship song on this album.

Starlight debuts everywhere April 7.

#MusicLove: @MercyMe’s Newest Album is Pro-Life

From the first note, I was into this new album from my introduction to Christian music growing up in the nineties, Mercy Me. It’s relevant, dancy, jazzy, classy, and full of Jesus. There isn’t a song on the ten track album that will have you eager to skip to the next track. It’s perfect for long car rides, daily worship, or sporadic dance parties in your living room.

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On the heels of their RIAA Certified Gold and GRAMMY® acclaimed Welcome To The New (2014), at the core of their newest is the question of what it looks like to live as followers of Christ.

“This new record is the logical next chapter after our last album, and it carries a new perspective,” MercyMe’s Bart Millard remarked. “Welcome To The New was all about grace and identity in Christ; a welcoming to the life of being a new creation by grace. And it’s such an exciting truth to grasp, but then life continues to go on and eventually the newness of that wears off and we need encouragement and support to sustain us. For me personally, I sing about being new every night on tour and I don’t always feel so new. So the album title LIFER and the theme of the record is all about reminding ourselves and others about the victory we have in the end through Christ. We are all in this for life – even on the days when we don’t feel like doing any of it. We want these songs to be a morale boost to remind people of who they are and what Christ has done.”

Filled with positive, uplifting lyrics, along with energetic beats and soaring melodies, this latest offering delivers the massive hits that MercyMe is known for. The debut single “Even If” will serve as a follow-up to the band’s four hit singles found on their previous album. Lifer debuts March 31 wherever music is sold. 

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Song by Song Review

Lifer: An announcer greets the listener with, “And now, ladies and gentlemen,” before big band musicality opens the track discussing faith in Christ becoming as simple as vital as breathing to live. My favorite line:

“Because it ain’t what happens to me, yeah that don’t define me. It’s what I got inside me. Before I was created, you already knew yeah. Ain’t nothing gonna separate us, hallelujah.”

You Found Me: Has musicality that reminds me of an eighties movie, or the outro to The Breakfast Club. Lyrically, it tells the upbeat story of Christ finding those who believe in Him in our dark corners of guilt, shame, and condemnation, and claims us as His own.

Grace Got You: With a modern take on mo-town musicality, this song will get you on your feet in danceful worship of God’s grace. My favorite line:

Smile like you just got away with something. Why? 

‘Cause you just got away with something ever since grace got you

Best News Ever: An encouraging song that quiets the noise of all the ideals people quote about life, and reminds us of our victory in Christ. You just got the best news ever!

Even If: A ballad that is for those struggling with doubts and questions in the midst of the darkest circumstances.

Hello Beautiful: My favorite off the album because of the usage of real life sounds that bring the track to life.

We Win: With a song that could be used for the Body of Christ’s pep rally, this is an encouraging pop rock anthem with the main message being, “We won.”

Happy Dance: You will not be able to stop the joy or the groove that hits you during this song. Totally a shake-it-for-Jesus anthem in lyrical content and pop rock musicality. A great follow-up to the previous track.

Heavens Here: The opening reminds me of “Circle of Life” from The Lion King but it reminds us of the line from the Lord’s Prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Ghost: A haunting musical element creates an old hymn musicality calling out for the Holy Spirit to lead us to hope and peace instead of being like the images painted in campfire stories, horror movies, or Halloween ideals.

Enter my giveaway to win a copy of Lauren Fricke’s YA debut SIGNED

 

#MusicLove: Laura Story’s newest album gives you ‘open hands’ before the Lord

Laura Story has just that, quite a story, but in the church world, we call it a testimony. The Grammy winner’s fifth album already holds a number one single with the title track, featuring a collaboration with her friend and fellow GRAMMY® winner Mac Powell of Third Day. PR 1 Laura Story 2016.jpg

GRAMMY® award winning artist, speaker, songwriter, author and worship leader Laura Story has a gift for penning songs that connect with people all around the world. Among her successes as a solo artist with her smash hits “Mighty To Save” and “Blessings,” Laura has also penned hit songs for other renowned artists including Chris Tomlin’s “Indescribable.” Her solo artist music debut in 2008 with Great God Who Saves led to four Dove nominations and the award for “Inspirational Album of the Year.”

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In 2011, Laura released her sophomore project Blessings. The album and the emotionally powerful title was inspired by her real life trials and adversities, primarily her husband Martin’s diagnosis of a brain tumor. The album resonated with a huge audience and led to whirlwind career highlights for Laura, peaking at the No. 1 album spot for three consecutive weeks on Billboard’s Contemporary Christian Overall chart, topping the iTunes® Christian/Gospel Top Songs chart and holding the No. 1 spot for an impressive 28 consecutive weeks on the Christian charts. The success of the single “Blessings,” which was certified RIAA Gold, includes the GRAMMY® Award for Best Contemporary Christian Song, the Billboard Music Award for Top Christian Song and the Dove Awards for Song of the Year, Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year, Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. The song inspired Laura’s first book, “What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops?” in 2012. A follow-up book, “When God Doesn’t Fix It, Lessons You Never Wanted to Learn; Truths You Can’t Live Without” and companion bible study DVD and study guide, released last year. God Of Every Story released in 2013 to much acclaim, and her first ever Christmas project God With Us, debuted in October 2015.

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Open Hands will debut on Mar. 3, 2017 (although the pre-order began Feb.3). Laura is a worship leader at Perimeter Church outside of Atlanta, GA and lives with her husband Martin and three children.

Open Hands

Laura Story

Rating: Five Out of Five Cookies

Song by Song Review

Awake My Soul (1000 Tongues): A strong percussive musicality carry this worship song along with emphasis on God’s worthiness of all the praise “forever you are worthy.” It reminds me of one of my favorite worship singers, Sarah Pearsons, who has a song of the same name but has different lyrical content.

Open Hands: Featuring Third day lead singer Mac Powell, it is based off Psalm 51. Easy to see why this is the title track because it is gorgeous and definitely puts the listener’s focus on Jesus.

Take it all
Every hope, every dream, every plan
Take it all
Every weight, all the shame and brokenness
Jesus, I surrender all
Every victory and loss
Take it all, take it all
Till all I have is open hands

You Came Running: My favorite off the album, this third track reminds me of another great singer-songwriter in Christian music, Francesca Batistelli. It is my favorite because my personal testimony of faith is God chasing me down with relentless mercy, love, loyalty, and goodness. It’s what makes God’s love unfathomable to the human mind.

Give You Faith: Written to her child, it’s a faith dedication song that is an act of prayer in intercession for the child who is still a newborn. It’s beautifully both lyrically and musically. The piano backtrack carries the song nicely.

For The Love of My King: Soft guitar introduce the ear to this love letter to the King of Kings. It’s another favorite off the album because my love for Jesus knows no bounds.

Death Was Arrested: A song worshipping Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice and based on 1 Corinthians 15:55-56, we know life begins with Him.

 

Whisper: Psalm 46:10 is the foundation of this praise song because it is about the still, small voice of our Almighty Creater. Soft musicality creates the atmospheric element of a “whisper” throughout the track.

Every Word You Breathe: Taking us back to the Garden of Eden, we visualize God breathing life into Adam and Eve, and with the same notion, God’s word brings life, breathes life.

Extraordinary: Another favorite of mine because it talks about God’s great love being “extraordinary.” Exquisite musicality and vocal usage throughout this praise song.

Grace Abounds: Perfect conclusion to the album, it’s a great song for the times we are living in. It reminds us that no matter the fear-inducing news headlines, we stand on the rock of God’s love for us and how it carries us when we can no longer walk, move, or stand.

Need another music review? Look no further.

#BookReview: Live Forever by reading a book (Live Long, Finish Strong by Gloria Copeland review)

Title: Live Long, Finish Strong

Author: Gloria Copeland

Rating: Five Out of Five Cookies

Buy the Kindle version for $9.99

This book came out forever ago but I was an immature Christian then. I didn’t want to face the truth. In Christ, I can live forever and never die.

Did you know God intends for the lifespan of all who believe in Jesus to live 120 years?

Did you know that God doesn’t appoint a day for anyone to die?

You can learn more about this based on biblical knowledge by reading Live Long, Finish Strong.