Listen to the album Birth of a King by Tommee Profitt!
Listen to the album Birth of a King by Tommee Profitt!

JFH Staff Blog | October 2020

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Birth Of A King by Tommee Profitt

I have dreamed of making this album for 15 years. 

“A King is being born, welcomed by Angels, that is coming to save the entire world” ...that is an EPIC story. And my dream was to make an equally epic soundtrack to accompany that story! 

In 2005, one of my class assignments in college was to “re-arrange a Christmas song and make it your own” … the result was “Joy to the World 2 (He Is Come)”. I had so much fun doing it, and immediately knew that someday I wanted to make a massive Christmas album, re-arranging, and writing choruses, and putting my spin on Christmas classics. But I also knew I had to keep it timeless and classic at the same time; People don’t like it when you mess with their precious Christmas carols TOO much, so I knew there needed to be balance. 

I actually intended to make this Christmas album every year for the past several years, but every year time got away from me, I had too many projects on my plate, and I said “i’ll do it next year”. Well, when COVID-19 hit earlier this year, and the world shut down in quarantine… my schedule finally opened up, and I began production in March 2020. 

The following 5 months, I spent 12-13 hours a day, scribbling on paper, writing ideas, producing tracks, like a crazy scientist in his lab… it had to be right. There was 15 years of pressure on myself, and I wanted to do this once, and once only! 

So I began the process of figuring out each song. What could I do a LITTLE bit different to make each one feel unique, and cohesive throughout. I wanted to make a project that my ‘20 year old video game audience’ would love, but also my ‘65 year old moms baking christmas cookies in the kitchen’ audience would love. How could I produce an album that sounds like a movie soundtrack, that is for EVERYBODY! ...that was the biggest challenge. 

However, throughout the process, things morphed - it became less about the “sound” and the “production” … and became more about the message. I started realizing that an album like this is something that the world needs at the end of 2020 - arguably the worst year in history. People need hope right now. They’re craving it. And God started reshaping my vision, while keeping intact the integrity of my original vision… and I believe the album turned out to be the exact thing it’s supposed to be. 

As I was arranging these songs, a specific artist would come to mind. So I ended up arranging the entire thing around their voice, and their range, and blending their sound with mine… all before I even asked them! And I’m so grateful, because every artist ended up saying YES and they were all super excited to be involved. And they crushed it.

The result was 17 tracks, with 17 different featured artists. All of them, giving everything they had into their vocal performances, and recording the most dynamic versions of some of the most beloved Christmas classics. It feels like one giant collaboration… all of these eclectic artists, with different backgrounds, all coming together to make the most epic Christmas album ever made! 

While it was the most challenging project I’ve ever immersed myself in… it was also the most fun I’ve ever had working on a project in my life. It was so exciting finally seeing this vision come to fruition, and hearing where each song organically led during the process. At times, it’s dark and urban, with hiphop drums and 808’s and a gospel choir. All the while being soft and beautiful with piano and strings when necessary.

The entire thing is a story, meant to be listened to the same way you would watch a movie. I want it to be an experience. A cinematic journey that takes people somewhere. My prayer is that people go in thinking the’re just going to listen to Christmas music, but through the process, get hit with powerful moments that impact them in ways they weren’t expecting. 

A story so beautiful and epic deserves the same kind of treatment. That was the main goal, and I hope people are reminded more than ever before, WHY we celebrate this time of year - to honor the greatest gift in history - “The Birth of a King.” 

by Tommee Profitt

Author, Write My Story - A Songwriter’s Journey Written by Denae Joy

Have you ever sat down to write something - a book report, a poem, a song - and felt totally uninspired? Most of us have felt that way many times. We have those wonderful moments when creativity is flowing through our veins, and then we have those other moments when it just isn’t there. Sometimes we look at what we’ve written, then crumple it up and throw it away, deeming it junk. How many of us have stopped to think of our lives as a work of art in progress: a book, or a song, that is still being composed? Every day we are adding another phrase, another sentence, another paragraph. How many of us have looked back at the day we just lived or the decision we just made and thought, “Well, that was stupid.” It happens! It especially happens when we try to write our story without God’s help. In Jeremiah 10:23, the prophet said, “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” We’re human, and we don’t know what the future holds. We’re living out our story without knowing its outcome. That’s why we need help - help from Someone Who sees not only where we are, but also sees every moment of our past and our future.

It was while thinking on these things that I began to feel an urge to write a song called, Author, Write My Story. It took a while (didn’t all come in one burst of inspiration!), but finally came together. I was able to record it earlier this year. More than just a lyric, this song has become my heartbeat. I have a sign with the words hanging in my room. I speak them to God when I pray. I felt this song as I wrote it, and it taught me some very important lessons. In fact, it’s still teaching me.

“Born into this world, my life a book filled with empty pages...” We all come into this world with a clean canvas. The future is an endless road before us, our stories are not yet written.

“As I began to live, the void was filled with written lines and phrases...” As we grow, we begin filling the pages with our story. Tales of carefree childhood and echoes of laughter punctuate those early chapters. But also, the general direction of our life begins to take shape. The Bible says that “Even a child is known by his doings...” Prov 20:11. These are the formative years - our character and personality begin to speak to others of who we really are.

“But, it didn’t take that long to see that it would never be in me to write a story beautiful and true. Mistakes were made and lines scratched out, there were things I could not figure out...” Because we are born with the fallen nature of Adam, it doesn’t take long for us to start messing up. The problem is that unlike an article or a poem, you can’t press backspace 32 times and erase the wrong decisions, or words, or attitudes. This is real life, happening in real time, and there’s no going back for re-dos. Sounds kind of depressing, right? Well, for a lot of people, life is depressing. They feel in over their heads. Their story is not what they wanted it to be. But, we were never meant to write this on our own.

This song applies to more than just those who are broken and in a messed up place in their lives. I’m a preacher’s kid. I’m known as a good girl who loves God. And I do! But, I still don’t have the ability to write my life’s story. I’ve made mistakes, made decisions based on my own understanding, stressed about things I had no power to control or change. But, around the time of the writing of this song, a realization began to take shape in my mind: if I want my life to be beautiful, I’m going to have to climb to a higher place of trust in God. I can’t do this on my own. I don’t have the understanding or the expertise to write the story of my life. Oh, but, here is the good part: I have a Friend!

“’Til I began anew, and gave the pen to You...” Every single one of us has the option to ask for help in the writing of our story. You see, the One Who made us truly knows us. He sees where we’re at, and where we’re going. He sees the messes and mistakes, and only He knows how to bring beauty out of the ashes. He sees our confusion, wondering why things happen the way they do. He sees our frustrations at not knowing how things will unfold, or when the answers to our prayers will be provided. He knows it all - His understanding and power are infinite. He has a plan. And the best part is, He loves us! Everything

He does is for our good. He has only our best intentions in mind, and He proved it once and for all when He allowed rusty spikes to be driven into His sinless hands.

He alone can turn our stories into something beautiful...and He wants to. Oh, how He wants to! We make the smartest decision of our lives when we let go, and in sweet surrender, give God the pen.

“Author, write my story for Your glory, for Your good. May it be a testimony to a world in need of You. You alone see beginning to the end. Let every line and every chapter be according to Your plan. I know You love me, so write my story with Your nail-scarred hand.”

-Denae Joy

JoySoundProductions.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

1995 in Christian Music: 25 Albums 25 Years Later

 

I might be weirder than I thought you guys. I keep asking people what their favorite year is, and mostly I get blank stares. Is this not a thing? Do people not have a favorite year? Well, I do...and it’s highly likely that as a deeply nostalgia person who has loved music as long as he can remember that music may be the culprit. So here goes... another 90s music post. And yes, this was one of my formative years...let’s go all the way back to 1995. Also, in case you enjoy this post check out a few others like it here: 100 Greatest Christian Albums of the 90s, 100 Greatest Albums of Christian Music 1969-2019 Full List!!!, Every dc Talk Song Ranked

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I was fourteen, barely into my music collecting years and all of the sudden my CCM pop listening palate expanded rapidly. Like many a teen in the 90s it was two particular albums that were largely responsible for that. They along with twenty-three albums are present on this list on what I am calling my overall favorite year in Christian music...1995. Hard to believe these are all celebrating 25 years this year, but here we are and boy do I feel old! Some have stood up better than others as far as sounding dated to their time but I’d be willing to hold these twenty-five up to almost any other year. I think it would stand toe-to-toe with any other contender. So without further delay here is a ranked list (because I must) of what I believe to be the strongest year in Christian music during the 90s, if not it’s entire history. But that’s a blog for another time...here we go!

 

25. Super Deluxe - Morella’s Forest

Never listened to this one at the time but it’s got a high reputation. Noise pop musically in the vein of Starflyer 59.

 

24. Arms Around the World - Code of Ethics

Perhaps the most dated sound of the bunch I also first heard these guys via radio, and it was probably the pop song “Well Done.”

 

23. Self-Titled - Tony Vincent

Radio played the heck out of “Out of My Hands” and “Simple Things” and they were my introduction to Vincent. I would later love his song “One Deed” as a top song of the decade.

 

22. No Doubt - Petra

Not much of a Petra fan, but I think this album when I think of them. “Right Place” and “No Doubt” are my go-to tunes.

 

21. Brothers Keeper - Rich Mullins

Title track and “Let Mercy Lead” are my favorites though “Quoting Deuteronomy To The Devil” is up there too.

 

20. Strip Cycle - Michael Knott

I’ve listened to this one a few times due to its reputation but it hasn’t clicked with me yet. Need to revisit.

 

19. Happily Ever After - Hoi Polloi

Aggressive and moody female rock.

 

18. Unplugged - The Kry

The Kry was a truly underrated band in my opinion. This live and unplugged album is one of the few exceptions to my no live albums rule.

 

17. Extra*Ordinary - Johnny Q. Public

Strong alt rock with the standout track “Body Be” the most well-known of the tracklist.

 

16. I’ll Lead You Home - Michael W. Smith

I still know the words to most of these and love to sing along at the top of my lungs.

 

15. Love Education - Jon Gibson

Love this dude’s voice, this is probably my overall favorite of his non-hits albums. Solid from top-to-bottom blue-Eyed Soul.

 

14. Lonely HouseGrammatrain

Grungy Rock with growling baritone vocals from Pete Stewart. Excellent.

 

13. The Spark - Plankeye

College Alt-Rock with top notch lyrics.

 

12. Perfecta - Adam Again

Many would argue this as their best, and though I still think that album is Dig, this one is top-notch as well.

 

11. Self-Titled - Big Tent Revival

A bit of storytelling, country, pop/rock, ballads, alternative. All well done.

 

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10. Delusions of Grandeur - Fleming & John

Man, that voice! “I’m Not Afraid” is worth inclusion alone, but listen to the whole album for sure. Vocally operatic and musically alt/rock at its finest.

 

9. Blue Belly Sky - The Waiting

Quirky, charming pop/rock that should have been huge. “Look at Me” is a top 25 song of the 90s Christian Music scene if you ask me.

 

8. Gold - Starflyer 59

Its predecessor has a bigger reputation but I prefer Gold as an entire album. Hazy, Shoe-gaze rock.

  

7. Way Before The Flood - Blackeyed Sceva

If you love 90s alt/rock like I do then this one is a must. Lyrically challenging and willing to go places much of CCM in the era was not.

  

6. Love Is Against The Grain - Dimestore Prophets

Speaking of terrific alt/rock with top notch lyrics here’s another lesser known band and album of the era that should have gotten more love.

 

5. Teenage Politics - MxPx

Iconic punk rock. Fast, fun, and loud.

 

4. Mercury - The Prayer Chain

As weird of an album as you’ll find in the alt/rock “Chrindie” music scene, this one lives up to its reputation as one of the finest bands and albums that the more underground Christian music of the decade has to offer

 

3. This Beautiful Mess - Sixpence None The Richer

An album of contrasts I can hardly ever decide if I love this Sixpence album more than their self-titled. This one is raw and rough musically in all the right ways, and contrasted by Leigh’s angelic lilting voice. “Wishing A Room Somewhere” is their best song and it’s here.

 

2. Self-Titled - Jars of Clay

First in my heart, but second on this list of a incomparable year in CCM. Acoustic-based alt/rock with stirring string sections and poetic lyrics.

 

1. Jesus Freak - Dctalk

Buck it all you want, but this album cannot be equaled in its impact on CCM...it’s simply the best. Hit singles galore from the supergroup still on “intermission.”

 

What a year right?! Happy 25th to some of my all-time favorite albums in my all-time favorite year! What about you...what’s your favorite 1995 album? Why do you love it? Leave a comment and share if you think you know someone who’d enjoy the read!

Also, check out my other 90s Christian Music related posts for further reading here: Every Jars of Clay Song Ranked, 100 Greatest Christian Albums of the 90s, Every PFR Song Ranked

Happy listening friends! – Josh Balogh

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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Believe Again: From Salesman to Worship Album Producer by Gus Nunes

What happens when God calls you to quit your job, sell what you have, and begin on a new journey making an album with Him?

… Let’s rewind.

Being the son of a Pastor, I’ve been playing music in the church since I was 3 years old. At 16, I studied music technology in Sixth Form and University but always felt that I wasn’t the best. Recording and producing my own music felt like an unachievable and distant dream.

After getting married, I continued to lead music in the church but outside of it, I was working as a salesman in a successful job. My wife and I had our own place, work provided me with new cars, and we could enjoy different luxuries. For years, I focused on working and spending time with the woman I love. Recording music was something that I no longer had the time or energy for.

Little did I know that God had other plans.

In February last year, God told me and my wife, Barbara to quit our jobs and give away what we had because He had something else planned for us. He didn’t tell us what but He did tell us where – California.  So after prayer and confirmation, getting a three-month visa and tickets to LAX, we found ourselves living in LA. We found a local church and started to help with outreach, events, and anything else that was needed. He did a lot with us during our time there and used it to develop our character.

After the three months were up, we returned to England keen to know from God what was next. While we were waiting, I decided to reach out to a friend of mine who is a talented songwriter/musician about recording his song. I asked him if we could record ‘Faithful Friend’ in the church studio as I was a big fan of the song. Now that I had the time, I was happy to use some of my music tech knowledge to record a simple guitar track and video.

Once we released the song, I concluded that if God still hadn’t spoken about what to do, I will continue to make more music. Six years ago, I wrote ‘Hear My Devotion’ and I knew we had more songs. I called together the worship team and we wrote ‘Saved Me From Myself’. What was supposed to be a simple guitar recording was turning into a full production album.

The whole time, I was keeping an open mind in case God told me to get a job. I wanted to be obedient and as a married man, I felt the pressure to provide for my family.

Sometimes, I think of the Holy Spirit like a sat nav. When I am headed in the right direction, the sat nav doesn’t say anything. It’s only when I need to take a turn or go another way that I believe God will direct. So, I continued to make the album.

One year and ten incredible tracks later, the album Believe Again by Sunrise Worship has been released.

I now realise that God gave me an opportunity that I had never had before. I always wanted to record music but time and energy was always my excuse. During this time, God provided for us in unimaginable ways. While working on the album, He blessed my wife with an amazing job, we were able to pay rent and get a car.

Believe Again is an album from God to God.

All of the songs are different points of a journey walking with Christ. If your love is growing cold or if you are looking for love and hope – it’s for you. We hope that when people listen to it, they will experience God in the same way that we did.

I had every excuse but God created a way. I have now spent the past year without an income and every penny we earn goes straight back into promotion.

 I don’t know what is next (maybe another album!), but what I do know is that I will continue to listen for His instruction and be obedient. There is no journey like a journey with God leading you.

“Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” – Matthew 19:26

Believe Again is available on all streaming platforms here. To keep up with the latest news and releases, please follow us on Instagram or visit our website.

By Gus Nunes