Artists in the Spotlight         Cross & Flame

Well, they used to be...

October, 1998

Michael W. Smith - Live In Concert!

Rock The Universe 98 - Michael W. Smith In Concert. Have you ever wondered what the "W." in Michael W. Smith stands for? Or maybe you've asked yourself why Michael got into Christian music. And what might his favorite song be? (Read this and I'll answer all that, and much, much more!)

Coming through a cloud of smoke towards a crowd of screaming fans, was one of the greatest Christian musicians in history, Michael W. Smith. With his back up band, Wilshire, and an occasional appearance by Chris Rice, it was an awesome show! He performed twice, with a different snazzy outfit for each show. (Even though it's not that important what he wears, I happened to have noticed I like his style: a yellow and blue Hilfiger shirt paired with nice khaki shorts; and then a baby blue button down shirt with rolled up sleeves paired with navy blue pants and nice black shoes.) The show started out with a bang, my new favorite song, "Missing Person". Everyone around was into the song and four measures after it started, everyone was dancing. The huge park was filled to the brim with excitement for the Lord. It was awesome! Next came "Secret Ambition". "I Believe in You Now" followed with it's jazzy keyboard chorus and lyrics that inspire. He slowed it down after that with the first of many tear jerking songs, that have their own special meaning to everyone, "Place In This World". With hands in the air, it seemed the whole park was singing along. All the songs off "Live the Life" are great, but it's hard to chose a favorite. I finally decided a few weeks ago it was "Let Me Show You The Way". I found out that night that it was his too. He sang it in the most comforting way. The song that was written for Titanic, "In My Arms Again", was given the funniest intro: "No, Ladies, Leo's not here!" It's a great song about true love. Why wasn't "In My Arms Again" in the movie instead of that annoying Celine Dion song?!?! Then it was "group song time"! Have you ever heard around two thousand people sing a praise song? It's a beautiful thing. We sang "Lord I Lift Your Name On High" and "Awesome God". We then got a preview of a song off his upcoming Christmas album, complete with Michael's interpretation of a boy choir. It sounded really neat, it comes out the 13th of this month. How many MWS songs can you sing in 5 minutes? He did the coolest medley of the choruses of all his really big songs: "Pray for Me"/"For You"/"Rocket Town"/ "I Will Be Here For You"/ "Seed To Sow"/ "Emily"/ "Love Crusade"/ "How Long Will Be To Long". "Friends" is a song that seems to touch everybody somehow. It's one of the most beautiful, meaningful melodies ever written. He said he had written it 17 years ago, and little did he know he would have to sing it forever. On that night I think a lot of people realized they had a friend for life. I did. Next was a song packed with life lessons "Live the Life". Then a faster paced "Love Me Good" that had the kids moshing and the adults bobbing their heads to the music. He then gave what he dubbed a "mini-smitty sermon". He talked about what "putzes" we all can be and how forgiving Jesus Christ is. "Don't Give Up" followed with it's encouraging message. Then "Cross of Gold" which challenges us to think about our mindset as a Christian. He closed with an awesome song written by Rich Mullins that is on Exodus, "I See You". The whole crowd was singing and with hands in the air, we thanked God for not having to look far to see him. So, you've read this WHOLE thing looking for the answers, haven't you? Well, thank you for doing so! In a radio interview a few people got to ask MWS the above questions and these were his answers: 1.The "W." stands for Whitaker, an old family name. 2.He told us he got into Christian music because he felt he was called. He was saved when he was 10, and didn't want to be a professional baseball player anymore. 3. He told ME (yes, me, I got to talk to him briefly :-) that his most memoarble/favorite song is "All Is Well" off the 1989 Michael W. Smith Christmas album.

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September, 1998

Jaci Velasquez

She's back and better than ever, with a few more years of experience and the same great voice. The theme throughout seems to be love. And I LOVE it! If you likes the first one you'll LOVE this one. (See what I mean?) There are a bunch of great songs: "God So Loved," "You," "Child of Mine," "Glory," "Sweet Surrender" and "Made My World," but the best song is "Show You Love." It descibes the way witnessing should be, different from the way a lot of people witness today. The lyrics are great and the tune is another one of those that you just can't get out of your head. The depth of her voice gives the song the extra little something it needs to go from good to spectacular! "God So Loved" is based on John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have ever lasting life." It has a soft melody that makes you think about what the verse really means. "You" is my other favorite. The melody flows and you get wrapped up in the beauty of everything that God has done. You know what's really neat about her voice? She has so many different styles. She goes from a soft lullaby type song (like "God So Loved" and "Sweet Surrender") to an upbeat song (like "Show You Love") to a gospel inspired song (like "Glory") and it all sounds great! She makes it look easy!

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Newsboys

WooHoo!! This is an awesome CD!! "Entertaining Angels" is so real. It's almost comparable to "Shine". Something about the words and the tune makes you wanna stop what you're doing and listen. It's intriguing. The old sounding music in the beginning draws you in and then the electric guitar starts, and makes it an unforgettable song. John James stepped back from the microphone last year and left the space open for Peter Furler. Without producer Steve Taylor, I didn't expect the CD to turn out this awesome! Peter Furler has done an amazing job of becoming lead singer and producer in one step. You'll hardly notice a change in the voice behind the microphone. Some of the songs sound muddled like they are missing something, but there are others that are up in your face, get the point across and leave you wanting more. "WooHoo" is a great song to start out with. It one of those exciting jump up and down songs! "Step Up..." reminds me of "Going Public". I think it's in the meaning of spreading the message of God's way. "Believe" has an awesome intro, complete with strings followed by a song that describes the way God tugs at out hearts and is our little voice inside. Two other outstanding songs are "Always" and "Tide". The words fade in and out like the tides. It's peaceful. "No one's ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it -- what God has arranged for those who love Him." (St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 2)

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July, 1998

Exodus

Including: DC Talk, Jars of Clay, Sixpence None the Richer, Cindy Morgan, Chris Rice, The Katinas, Third Day, Crystal Lewis, and Michael W. Smith

I don't know where to begin! Each new song by these artists is one of their best. The CD starts out with this musical introduction that is very powerful. It sounds like a song for a Christian army going off to war. Next is the DC Talk song "My Will." It talks about your will being God's will and the strength you get from that. At the end they sing "We've got to be children of peace" over and over again. It's one of those awesome songs that would be a good theme to the Olympics. Then there is a new one by Jars of Clay - "Needful Hands." It's a typical awesome Jars song starting out soft and building into a dynamic song about how much we need God. The lyrics of "Brighten My Heart" by Sixpence are taken from a book of Celtic devotions. It's an earthly song relating the soul to the wonders of God's creation. "Nothin' " by Chris Rice is the simplest song with the sweetest melody. "Nothin' can wash away sin, make the devil run, bring you peace with God, lead you to his throne and make people one. Nothin' but the blood of Jesus." "Make Us One" by Cindy Morgan reminds me of an Enya song, soft and flowing. Third Day re-did the old Michael W. Smith song "Agnus Dei." It's not the same "boy choir" song, it's loud rock. But it's just as powerful and you can scream your praises to this one. :-) The album was produced by Michael W. Smith and he has done a terrific job with it! The last song is sung by the producer himself. It's "I See You" by Rich Mullins. Now all I need to do is get all these artists to go on tour together. (Then I can sing with them!!!)

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June, 1998

 
Michael W. Smith - Live the Life

"Preach the Gospel to all the world and if necessary, use words."

While listening to this CD for the first time I sang 'til my sister got a headache. cried and sort of discovered something about myself. It's weird how you can think that no one understands you and what you are going through. But there's this forty year old man that has written tons of songs that speak to you. My favorite songs are: "Missing Person," "Live the Life," "Love Me Good," "I Believe In You Now," "Let Me Show You the Way" and "Hello, Good-bye." "Missing Person," besides having a tune that blows you away, has a great message. It's about all the faith that children have and all the doubt that overwhelms you when you grow up. You end up searching for the missing part of yourself that had all the faith when you were little. "Love Me Good" is the type of song you listen to on a sunny day and it makes you smile. This is the one that I can't stop singing. I like the verses; they accurately describe the way I think everyone feels about life. It gets hectic but God's live makes everything turn out okay. "Live the Life" is, you guessed it, about living the life you talk about. In the CD cover there is a quote by St. Francis of Assisi: "Preach the Gospel to all the world and if necessary, use words." The last song on the CD, "Hello, Good-bye" is the one that made me cry. It was written for a little boy named Noah who only lived for two and one half days. It talks about ho they had only met and he couldn't wait to get to know Noah on the other side. There is no other way to describe this CD besides saying it's the bomb!

Lemming Windsurfer!

 Steven Curtis Chapman - Greatest Hits 

Finally! No more hours of standing in the Steven Curtis Chapman aisle at the local Christian bookstore and wondering which of his awesome CD's to buy with your barely there allowance. You just gotta buy one. (Well, eventually you need to get them all, but save that for when you have a good paying job!) It has every HUGE song by Mr. Chapman and an added bonus. The CD starts off with a bang - a brand new song entitled "Not Home Yet!" It has some great guitar music and a soft melody. It's one of that I will be humming for countless days to come. The words are a great reminder that we aren't home yet and this place is just a stop along our journey. I love every song on this CD and could talk about each of them for a month, but I don't think that you would want to read it all AND I don't want to type it all. So, I'll just mention my favorites, then talk about a few: "Not Home Yet," "The Great Adventure," "His Eyes," "For the Sake of the Call," "I am Found in You," "Heaven in the Real World" and "No Better Place." (I told you I liked them all.) And it's neat to hear the original versions of "Lord of the Dance" and "The Walk." "The Great Adventure" is one of my all-time favorite songs because it describes the way I feel about God's amazing grace and this great adventure and it has a catchy tune. The other new song "I am Found in You" is incredible! It talks about how lost we are without God and how he is a part of us. Where do you turn when you are hurting? Maybe next time you should think about turning to the one who gave you life. Instide the cover of this CD, Steven Curtis Chapman explains where some of his songs came from and why he wrote them. The explaination for "His Eyes" is: "I started writing this one on a road trip with my family. It was a dark night on a desolate interstate with everyone else asleep in the car when the comforting thought came that inspired this song." He is right, it is very comforting to know that God's always with you and understands it all.

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May, 1998

Check out this month the RealAudio
links provided for some of the Jars' songs!

Much Afraid Album Jars of Clay in Concert at The Jars
the Orlando Fairgrounds

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this power is from God and not from us."

Can you picture thousands of screaming kids and adults at a concert praising God? It's an unbelievable sight! There was this energy flowing through everyone, the night was beautiful and the breeze was perfect. God was in everyone there and everyone there was into God. We sang our hearts out to our old favorite Jars of Clay songs and jumped around to some new ones. They opened with "Liquid," one of their most powerful songs, which makes you realize how much God loves you. They sang a few more songs and then "Love Song for a Savior." That song really touches my heart. It brought tears to my eyes. I was surrounded by people I love and realized how much I appreciate all that God has done for me. "Boy on a String" was an awesome fast song, but it is even awesomer (Excuse my bad english.) as a slow song. It took me a minute to figure out that they were singing "Boy on a String" but when I did, I loved it. Now they HAVE to cut a live album! They sang "Truce" slower then normal but I didn't like it as much as before. Towards the end of the concert they sang "Flood" and then left. But then they ran back on stage and sang "Frail" (the hidden track on their first album.) It was really cool to hear a little more than just the 45 seconds that's on the CD. Today when I was coming home from school I heard "Five Candles (You Were There)" on the radio! I was really surprised but totally excited to hear that they are becoming a HUGE success. Jars of Clay put on quite a show for us and I hope that they keep on getting bigger and bigger and I can say "I saw them in concert when..."

Lemming Windsurfer!

Rebecca St. James Rebecca St. James - God All About God

God. Rebecca St. James has an interesting way of describing our Heavenly Father... God. I like it. Clear, plain, and simple. I was reading a concert review someone else wrote and they said she was very down to earth and personable. You can tell by her songs. It's almost as if she's speaking to you. Like she goes to your school and sees the problems and gives you a way to fix them. I like the her way of praising God, it's very loud. It's the kind of music you can scream at the top of your lungs, but your parents can't tell you to turn the "unappropriate music" off because it's Christian. My favorite songs are: "God," "You Are the Voice," and "Me Without You." "God" talks about nature and what God has created and done. The message of "You Are the Voice" has to do with the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and how, while everyone was bowing down to an idol, that Nebechanezzer had set up, they chose to serve God and would not bow. They chose to stand up and be the voice. "Me Without You" is about what we'd be like without God. We'd be like "a band without a drummer" or "a story with no ending." The song also has an awesome harmonica solo, played by Rebecca herself. I also really like the message in "That's What Matters." It's about what REALLY matters in life. God.

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April, 1998

Jaci Velaquez - Heavenly Place

Jaci Velaquez is one talented young lady. Her Cd is crammed packed with a variety of sounds and songs. There are fun songs with lots of na-na's and doo- doot's, like "If this World" and "We can Make a Difference", and then there are songs with serious, touching testimonies, like "I Promise", "Baptize Me", and "Thief of Always". And some songs make you want to go out and do some good like "We can Make a Difference" and "We will Overcome". The best songs are: "If This World", "Flower in the Rain", "We can Make a Difference", "Baptize Me", and "Thief of Always". "Thief of Always" (my favorite song) is about committing to God before it's too late. "I Promise" is the old 'true loves waits' message. But, it means more to me as a promise coming from a real, live person who's close to my age and has to make some of the same choices I do. "On my Knees" is a beautiful song about the power of prayer and how it can help you get through tough times. All in all it's a great Cd that just might inspire you.

Lemming Windsurfer!

March, 1998



Audio Adrenaline: Some Kind of Zombie

Some Kind of Zombie is a good CD with happy, upbeat music and powerful messages but it is lacking something. On most of their CD's there is one song that stands out, like "Big House" or "As Big As Jesus" but on this one there isn't. Audio Adrenaline is a group with a distinct sound and an interesting way of telling God's word. They relate Christianity to peculiar objects like cars ("Chevette"), zombies ("Some Kind of Zombie") and holes ("God Shaped Hole"). If you haven't listened to the CD yet you're probably thinking how in the world can you relate Christianity to a car, a zombie and a hole? Well, these guys do a pretty nice job of it! The song "Some Kind of Zombie" talks about the change Jesus makes in all of us and realizing what zombies we were before that change. Another awesome song is "Blitz." It's about a bunch of excited kids riding around in one of their church vans telling people about God. They got a flat tire, their radiator was leaking and they break down. (Surprise, surprise! Those church vans are so efficient!) But they don't give up. The rest of the songs you will have to hear for yourself! I will spare you this time with the "I want to sing with them" stuff even though that would be awesome.Lemming Windsurfer


Smalltown Poets

The first thing I have to say is that they should've won a grammy!!!! Smalltown Poets were awesome in concert and definitely are the best newcomers to Christian Music. The songs talk about what they thought God was. And then, when they got to know him better, what he really is. On their cd case they explain some of their songs: " 'Everything I hate' - This song is about a dilemma that we all face. We all have a desire to do evil. (The apostle Paul explains this in Romans 7:15-25.) Acknowledging our sin is the first step to a right relationship with God. " " 'Anymore' - The voice that keeps beckoning us to break our silence toward God, confess our sin, and surrender our pride is the Holy Spirit." There are a bunch more explanations but you gotta buy the cd to read them... My favorite songs are "Who You Are," "I'll Give," "If You Let Me Love You" and "Trust." In the song "Prophet, Priest, and King" one of the lines says "Elvis commemoratives just for effect." That line will make no sense to you until you see the lead singer's guitar. There is an Elvis sticker on it. Elvis was 'The King' and the song is all about (you guessed it!) prophets, priests, and kings. Another awesome song is "Inside the Bubble." It kind of reminds me of the song "Shine" by the Newsboys. It is about being "inside" the love of God and others wondering what it's like.
Lemming Windsurfer

February, 1998

Jars of Clay
Jars of Clay - Who is This?

That was my first reaction after listening to the new Jars of Clay CD, "Much Afraid." There's a totally new sound to my favorite old group, and I'm not sure I like it. I thought they had just gotten haircuts but I guess they cut some of the feelings from their songs along with their manes. The first few songs aren't stupendous but they are okay. The first release, "Crazy Times," is one of the few songs you can listen to more then once without asking yourself why you spent twelve bucks on the CD. The others, "Fade to Grey" and "Frail" (which is my favorite) can't even compare to songs off their self- titled album like "Love Song for a Savior," "Sinking," and "Flood." The new album is more about themselves instead of us, making it harder to relate to the songs. The last album had songs with story-like lyrics with happy endings. This one had difficult to follow lyrics. I know I'm not the brightest person on the face of this earth but I had no clue what "...missing the me from you, you gave to me..." meant (that's from "Overjoyed"). The songs jump around alot (which isn't bad) but, it's not the style of the band I thought I knew. Even after all of this I think they are still a really GREAT band with a lot of talent. Oh yeah and another thing, I think theywould be a lot better with a girls voice in there (Hint, Hint). Say a thirteen year old girl living in Florida willing to travel?

Lemming Windsurfer

Signs of LifeSteven Curtis ChapmanSigns of Life

Signs of Life: Steven Curtis Chapman

The album is full of the kinds of songs you can't stop singing... and humming and whistling and... Well, you get the picture. It has lessons we all need to learn and messages in songs like "Free," that make you cry. I can't even tell you my favorite song because I have five of them: "Lord of the Dance," "Children of the Buring Heart," "Signs of Life," "Let us Pray," and "Free." If you listen to the lyrics and the stories Mr. Chapman tells in his songs, you feel like you get to know a part of him. And you have a better understanding of his love for the music and for Jesus Christ. Songs like "The Walk" and "Let us Pray" convey messages that parents, Sunday school teachers, and preachers have tries to teach us. But instead of preaching to you, the songs draw you in with their beat and help you to better understand the meaning of the messages. The lyrics to all of the songs are these incredible tales of people and God touching people's lives. They give metaphors that help you understand why you need God in your life. And man, does that guy have a voice! It's really cool that he uses his talent to serve the one who gave it to him... Someone told me to buy this cd because it's really great. What an understatement!! I hope I get to see him in concert! I'm going to buy all the rest of his cd's. Oh yeah, if you ever meet him would you mention for me that there's a girl that lives in Florida who loves to sing and thinks he's the best and really wants to tour with him?!?

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