Bill Gaither once told me, “A good song is written, but a GREAT song is rewritten.” Well, that means I’ve heard a lot of “rewritten” songs during my 45-year career! There are so many great songs. In fact, that was the hardest part of creating the “We Will Stand” event and DVD. We had 2 hours for a program that would include the best songs of 40 years of music. Quite a task!

One song that simply HAD to make the list was “Praise the Lord.” In this clip, you’ll get to see Brown Bannister (who co-wrote “Praise the Lord” with Michael Hudson) talk with The Imperials and Russ Taff who took and still take that song to the world.

You will enjoy this behind the scenes look at the actual recording of that song, but more than that, pay close attention to the stories that Russ and Armond Morales tell about how “Praise the Lord” has impacted so many lives.

Possibly you are one of those who heard “Praise the Lord” at just the right time in your life. Or maybe you’re facing some very serious “reality” in your life right now. If you are “up against the struggle that has shattered all your dreams”, don’t hesitate! Get a version of that song and put it on your stereo, iPad, or phone and let this amazing gift from God do what it has done for nearly 40 years.

Undoubtedly, you have made a “road trip” at some point in your life. Maybe it was a drive to the beach or mountains with the family as a kid…or a parent. You started with a plan, a vehicle and a map, and of course there was always a surprise or two along the way.

That’s a pretty good description of just about every week for many of your favorite CCM artists over the years. They are always headed for the next big concert, and then the unexpected happens!

In this video clip our friend Bill Gaither tells one of those stories about a time when Russ Taff was part of the Gaither Vocal Band. As one who has known Russ for many years, I wish I had been there!

You may have watched Bill Gaither’s Southern Gospel Homecoming videos over the years, but I assure you: Bill Gaither is a CCM icon. He had a huge impact on Don Francisco, Carman, Amy, Sandi, Steve Green, White Heart, and Michael English early in their careers (to name a few).

As a CCM fan, I hope you will read the “We Will Stand” book. It is filled with behind the scenes stories straight from many of the artists and songwriters who have touched your life. And I’m confident you will enjoy the dozens of pictures there as well.

 

 

 

We all have to start somewhere and for most of us that usually includes “humble beginnings.” The great CCM artists that shared the “We Will Stand” stage for our event weren’t always household names either.

For example, Steven Curtis Chapman started his Nashville career by playing banjo in the Opryland Theme Park (and I hear he was a clogger as well!). Michael W. Smith worked for a landscaper, and Cindy Morgan sold clothing at the Green Hills Mall here in Nashville.

This video clip captures Russ Taff’s story of his “humble beginnings” AFTER he was part of The Imperials, one of the most successful CCM groups of all time.

I had the privilege of telling much more of Russ’ story in the “We Will Stand” book, including my own story about the night I surrendered my life to Christ at an Imperials concert while Russ was in the group.

Needless to say, I am very grateful for ministry of The Imperials. Maybe you have a story to tell as well. Don’t hold back—someone needs to hear how God has changed your life.

 

Some CCM groups are “planned” through years of hard work, and others clearly happen according to God’s PLAN! Randy Phillips, Dan Dean, and Shawn Craig (Phillips, Craig & Dean) are a perfect example of an “unplanned” CCM success story.

It all began when my friends Darrell Harris, Jeff Moseley, and I were running a label called Star Song. But I’ll let PC&D tell the story in today’s video clip.

However, as you watch this clip, I hope you will keep in mind two very basic truths:

  • When God calls you to do something, don’t let a detour or roadblock stop you, and
  • When God decides to use a godly friend (Jackie Patillo in this case) to help get you where He wants you to go, be sure you pay attention!

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with about every style of music you can imagine (Gospel, Southern Gospel, Country Gospel, Rap/HipHop, Metal, Rock, Hymns). But when I listen to music myself, PC&D is one of my all time favorites.

Great men. Great music. Great hearts for God, and fulltime senior pastors in their local churches at the same time. And it all began with an unexpected song!

 

As my wife Sue and I look back on the entire experience of helping to create the “We Will Stand” event and products, we are constantly reminded of the vision the Lord gave us that is summarized with the CCM United tagline: “one Message, many voices.”

During this interview with our friends at CBN during the event, my friend of more than 40 years, Evie, provided an inside look at what the artists experienced during their time together at the event.

I hope you have watched the entire DVD of our event. If you have, I’m confident you noticed the very real sense of friendship and evidence of personal relationship among the artists on stage. That was not a “made for television” moment! This was a special time for these great recording artists, and as Evie explains, their personal support is an ongoing thing.

As you walk through your days, please remember: You are a part of CCM United as well. Add YOUR voice to the chorus of life. Join all of us in declaring the same MESSAGE: Jesus is alive, and He is still available, no matter what those around you are facing.

No matter how “big” your favorite CCM artist has become, they all had some humble beginnings. If you are a 4Him fan, you’re going to love this clip!

As you likely know, 4Him began with 4 guys who were a part of a group called Truth—the ultimate ‘road warrior’ CCM artist. Truth performed more than 300 concerts EVERY year and became the launching pad for so many of your favorites. For instance, Dick and Mel Tunney (First Call), Natalie Grant, Steve Green, and so many more). But, as the 4Him guys will tell you, being a part of Truth was not glamorous.

By the way, if you haven’t heard the name, Roger Breland, look him up on Google. He was the driving behind Truth. I still remember the absolute joy on Roger’s face as he invited concert goers to surrender their lives to Jesus, night after night.

Working with the 4Him guys on this event was a career highlight for me personally. I know you’ll get a great look at the personality of these 4 amazing men of God, and you’ll really enjoy hearing about how the name 4Him came to be. That’s a story I’d never heard before.

One of the very best moments from our “We Will Stand” event is this “behind the scenes” clip. I don’t think there is any other footage anywhere that captures Amy Grant, Evie, and Sandi Patty sitting together and talking about how their lives and careers impacted each other.

I’m confident you will enjoy the three of them singing a very brief moment of Evie’s huge hit song, “Mirror,” and I know you will enjoy the love and respect they have for each other.

We all have seen iconic CCM artists on stage and marveled at their talent and hearts for ministry. Now, you will hear directly from the three most popular (based on album and ticket sales) female artists of all time!

 

I began writing the “We Will Stand” book (the real story behind the artists and songs of the early CCM era), by interviewing more than 60 of my friends, colleagues and former competitors who built the CCM industry. One of my long time friends named Chris Christian was at the top of that list.

 

Chris and I began our friendship in 1975 and that relationship opened the door to some great CCM music including The Imperials best-selling albums, “Sail On” and “Heed The Call”), Amy Grant’s early albums, AND the very first Christian albums from BJ Thomas.

As Chris and Brown explain in this clip, we were all just getting started in the world of music and frankly, we “made it up as we went along” more than most people could imagine!

Be sure and listen for names like Pat Boone and Dogwood (which BTW included Steve Chapman of “Steve and Annie Chapman” fame) in this clip. As fans of CCM, you and I have been blessed by great producers like Brown and Chris, and I trust you will enjoy this amazing inside look at how BJ’s first CCM album, “Home Where I Belong,” was made.

 

BFF #1 "Friends Forever"

September 25, 2015

1 comment

 

One of the real highlights of the We Will Stand video is Michael W. Smith leading more than 60 of your favorite singers as they deliver his hit song “Friends” at the close of the evening. That iconic song clearly articulates the reason CCM United exists—friends who come together with one mind and one voice to glorify God! In fact, here’s the Bible passage that has provided the vision for CCM United:

 “Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice. Romans 15:5-6 HCSB

In this video clip, we’ll start with Amy and her friends Brown Bannister (her long time album producer), along with Dan Harrell, and Michael Blanton (of Blanton Harrell Management fame) as she talks about their friendship of more than 30 years that set the foundation for her amazing career.

Then we’ll add Michael W. Smith to the group and let him talk about how the song “Friends” was written and ultimately impacted literally millions of CCM fans.

After watching this clip, you may want to give an old friend a call! I know I will.