Wow!!!!! What a whirlwind this particular season of my life has been! In addition to graduating from Fuller Theological Seminary tomorrow with a master of arts in worship and music ministry this weekend (FINALLY!), applying for jobs and trying to rekindle something akin to a social life with Phoenix-based friends who I've scarcely seen over the past year-and-a-half, online critical reception of my latest album, The Whole Spirit: Redemption Songs, was surprisingly abundant and favorable last week! Here are a few examples, for all of which I profusely thank the triune God:
1. Fame Factor -- a pretty cool multimedia website that is free to use for musicians of any genre and conviction -- chose me as one of its "featured artists" on Tuesday, May 29.
2. The Worship Community -- a great online resource for those involved in music ministry -- included The Whole Spirit: Redemption Songs among its "great music available this week" on the aforementioned date.
3. Christian Originals Radio -- an online station that focuses exclusively on unsigned artists -- officially added an edited version of my song "Weaklings" to its playlist. Please go listen and, if you feel so compelled, "like" my song whenever it plays -- doing so will increase its airplay and lengthen its stay on this particular station!
4. Faronheit -- a Chicago-based indie music blog that, as far as I know, doesn't feature spiritually informed music all that often -- shared my song "If You're the Same God" in the same breath as other "gems" from indie artists like Balam Acab, Friends, Parakeet and Ty Segall Band. I have always tried to write music that could appeal just as much to so-called "secular" listeners as it would to overt disciples of Christ, so inclusion on a blog of this nature is very exciting indeed. And for the record, I never in my life thought I would see one of my song titles coupled with a dubstep track called "A#! Pop." Go figure.
5. Worship leader, songwriter and blogger Zac Hicks described me as one of "a growing number of young church musicians ... embracing different values as compared to the industry (speaking both musically and theologically, and perhaps even financially) for the songs they write and produce." More specifically, he commended The Whole Spirit: Redemption Songs as a suite of "(t)asteful, musical, liturgically-oriented, congregation-friendly songs, thoughtfully wedding old worship forms and songs with new settings," while also categorizing it as "(f)olk-indie, while more classically-oriented in singing and some instrumentation" (well, THAT makes marketing significantly easier). I've come to discover that Hicks is a fervent advocate for what he calls the Rehymn Movement, identifying numerous artists and organizations who are recognizing "contemporary worship" as an increasingly old-hat phenomenon and consequently delving into the rich yet oft-overlooked abundance of musically powerful, theologically informed hymnody that Christendom has accumulated over the past two millennia. Though I cannot claim to have written The Whole Spirit: Redemption Songs with any explicit hopes to revive hymnody -- or any particular style, for that matter -- I definitely composed this liturgy with long-simmering intentions of circumventing the biblical vapidness, aesthetic gloss and utter lack of risk-taking that contaminates the vast majority of today's worship music. I am deeply honored that Hicks took the time to not only listen to my album, but also to identify me as an inadvertent participant in what sounds like an absolutely necessary music ministry initiative.
With this in mind, I've decided to share some of my latest liturgical discoveries with you. This may or may not become a regular feature on this here blog -- assuming that the former situation will be the case, I'm going to call this section 10 Christian Songs That Don't Suck:
1. The Sing Band, "Satisfied in You (Psalm 42)"
2. Edbrooke Collective, "Risen Today"
3. Bruce Benedict, "Jesus, My All to Heav'n Has Come"
4. Kristen Gilles, "Bold Before God's Throne"
5. Flo Paris, "God Saved Daniel"
6. Daniel Zott, "How Great Thou Art"
7. Dunn & Wilt, "Hear Oh Hear" (the link will take you to this artist's entire album, which available for free download from Noisetrade)
8. Todd Berger, "Here in Earth" (ditto for this one)
9. David Wimbish and the Collection, "Stones"
10. At the Snow, "Fool to Try"
HONORABLE MENTION: Beta Radio, "Darden Road" (OK, perhaps this one's not as explicitly spiritual, but several Christian music fans seem to enjoy this group for reasons that I have yet to adequately investigate and -- in my perpetually humble opinion -- the sheer melodic force of this thing is nothing short of Godly)
ATTN. ARTISTS: In the event that you are reading this blog post and want me to remove any of these streaming links for whatever reason, please e-mail me at tohoover(at)gmail(dot)com and I will gladly, immediately do so.
And with that, I'm off to bed, as it's very late in Phoenix, Ariz. and I have to leave early tomorrow for graduation and such in Pasadena, Calif. ... thank you and the One who created you for all of your past, present and future love and support. Please be good and stay faithful within your respective corners.