I spent most of my early childhood on the streets and in homeless shelters. Because of my living conditions, I was placed in foster care at the age of 7. During my adolescence, I started using and selling drugs, committing crimes and chasing the “dream” that I heard the rappers talk about in their songs. In the end, all this led me to be convicted and sent to jail at the age of 18. I was released on put on strict probation by the grace of God and given a second chance. I knew God was calling me to something greater.
On September 4, 2011, I entered a church with my now wife, and asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life. Reconciled with God and with a new path in life, I began to write music again.
My new songs were not about the chains that once held me prisoner, but about the One who had broken those chains, freeing me. Since then, I have traveled and ministered wherever there was an open door.
“A Very Rare Christmas” is an album that celebrates Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Under the surface of the typical sounds of the season, the eight tracks that form the album transmit a clean and powerful feeling, enlightening the ubiquitous Christmas paraphernalia of lights, trees and gifts.
This is how I put my artistic signature on Christmas: with a sound that envelops all the depth of my life and musical experiences. In addition to this, it is really worth mentioning that I included my children on the album, as one of my most important values is the family.
-Rare of Breed
**You can stream or purchase A Very Rare Christmas on Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, or Amazon Music: https://smarturl.it/RareChristmas
‘25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?’ Matthew 6:25-27 (NLT)
Do not worry… I don’t know about you but so often I find that my desire is to live out these words. To live free from worry, free from anxiety, and yet so often that freedom is not what I feel. But the words in this scripture are exactly that… freedom.
My song ‘Still Place’ was written at a time when there seemed to be a lot of reasons to worry, my brother and sister in law were waiting to hear whether a visa would be granted for my brother in law, the future seemed unclear. The worldly reasons to worry, to be anxious seemed high, and yet I was reminded of the beautiful words from Psalm 46:10 ‘Be still and know that I am God’. That truth felt so important to declare over that situation and the words “He is God and He’s on the move’ followed as I began to speak to my soul through this song. When the burden feels heavy on our shoulders and it seems like we are carrying the weight of the world, we can know that is not from God. It is in His power and His strength that we are called to live. He is after all the ‘Waymaker’ He is the one making our way, the weight is not on our shoulders, but rather on our God’s. HIs yoke is easy and His burden is light..
I have throughout my life had a tendency to fall into worry, to forget that I am a child of my Heavenly Father, that my life is of enormous value to Him. I take enormous encouragement from the Psalms, that David would acknowledge where he was at but speak to his own soul, bringing it into line with Gods truth.
‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.’ Psalm 43:5 (NIV)
‘Still Place’ is a song of myself speaking to my soul, telling it to come into alignment with what I know to be true, a song to be declared over the lives of others. We seem to be at a time when anxiety is prevelant in so many, yet we know that in His presence these things fade away. I pray that this song brings people into a place of stillness and trust in God similar to a great song that came before it…
‘Fix your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of the world will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace'
by Jamie Pritchard
We live in a world today where music is all around us and almost any possible song, album or tune is available at the drop of a hat. This is wonderfully convenient and we are lucky to have all of this digital technology around us, but isn't there something inherently organic about listening to tracks on vinyl? There is this warm energy and sense of rawness that vinyl records produce that is almost indescribable that digital ones just don't have.
I love seeing live music and going to shows. Whether it be a major star at an amphitheater, someone playing at a bar or smaller venue, or even local artists playing downtown on the sidewalks. I love seeing an artist portray his or her craft to the audience. There is a certain kind of closeness you feel when you see a musician perform live and in person. When I can't make it to shows or concerts, there is only one other place to feel this closeness, and that is on a vinyl record. I listen to vinyl records almost every day; it is my preferred method of listening to music.
Of course I still purchase CDs and do use iTunes for digital purchases--it is almost impossible not to. Digital music is a powerhouse in the industry today. Almost anyone with a computer can create music if they wanted to and I think this is fantastic. Music is the best way for an artist to express to listeners what they are going through. Their pain, bitterness, happiness, etc.; it is a perfect outlet and can be very therapeutic. However, digital recordings just seem to take away from the authenticity of these sentiments. If an artist is hurt, you can feel that hurt on vinyl. If an artist is smiling, you can feel that smile on vinyl. The feelings are just more genuine. Now I know not every single artist out there has the ability to produce vinyl records and that is okay, we are still listening! Keep doing what you are doing.
But I think part of it is that there is just a simplicity to analog recording that makes it so beautiful. When an artist or band records an album meant for vinyl--generally this happens in a recording studio--the sound produced in the studio is transferred to a tape called the master recording. It is then ready to be transferred to a lacquer. A lacquer is placed on a special machine designed to take electric signals from the master recording and engrave a channel or groove into the lacquer as it rotates on the special record cutting machine -- hence the spiral-looking design on a vinyl LP. This lacquer is then sent to the production company for mass pressings of the vinyl record. A metal stamp is made from the lacquer by taking a mold from the grooves on the lacquer and then used in a hydraulic press to create the finished product. Now you can stick the finished record on a record player, drop the needle and enjoy!
Digital recording is a bit different. In digital recording, you are basically converting a sound wave into numbers to create a replica of the played sound. The sound waves travel through an analog to digital converter to convert the soundwaves into a number sequence and is then sent through a digital-to-analog converter to change the number sequence back into a soundwave for listening purposes. Seems tricky right? It is. Though digital recording makes it easier for any musician with a laptop and recording software to make music, it is easy to lose the music's sincerity with all of the conversions. Digital music is great because it makes it easier to store, transfer and listen to music, it is however a tad inorganic.
If you have not listened to a song or artist you enjoy on vinyl before reading this, I urge you to do so. Find a cheap record player or ask around if you do not have one and drop that needle. Whether you are a huge music guru or not, it will transcend you. It will be like listening to your favorite song for the first time but better. You will hear the songs in a way that will make you think differently and it may inspire you make your own art. No mater how you look at it, digital music and technology will continue to advance and that is a good thing. However, vinyl is still being produced for a reason and I strongly encourage you to do your ears a favor and listen to a vinyl record.
- Jessica Kane is a writer for SoundStage Direct, the number online source for the best vinyl records and turntables.
From the album "Your Grace Finds Me" - Matt Redman
Over the years I've had the privilege of visiting some very impacting places around this globe. I've been to townships in South Africa, a leper colony in India and shown around NASA by an astronaut. I've been to Buckingham Palace, and toured the White House. I've had the joy of leading worship in grand old venues like the Royal Albert Hall in London or the Ryman in Nashville. But there's one space I've been to which far outshines all of these other places and has had agreater impact on me than any other location ever could. It is Calvary, the place of the cross.
"I will kneel in the dust at the foot of the cross
Where mercy paid for me."
I've lost count of how many songs I've written about the cross of Christ over the years - but the reason is simple. It is the difference between life and death, between inescapable chains and eternal freedom. It's where love and justice kiss, and holiness and mercy meet. It happened over two thousand years ago, yet the event of the cross is standing just as strong and tall over history as it ever was. And take a look into the throne room of heaven, as described in the book of Revelation, and we're reminded that we shall be singing about it for all eternity:
"Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In aloud voice they sang:
'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!"
The cross, and to be specific, what our awesome Savior accomplished in that place, will forever lead us into wonder and mystery. How quickly we seem to lose the wonder of things in our lives. When man first set foot upon the moon it was athing of wonder. Everyone sat glued to their television screens, completely wowed by the marvel of what was occurring - for here was ahuman-being treading where we never dreamed could be possible. Now, several decades on, it's still an interesting and impactful historical moment - but you could argue that the sense of wonder has diminished a little with time. There may be several reasons for that - for one thing, we've got used to knowing about it. And perhaps another reason is that technology has advanced even further, so that humans are now living out there in the cosmos for extended periods of time, on the International Space Station.
When it comes to the cross of Jesus, it's an altogether different story. It's unlike any other moment in the unfolding of the years. Here is the very Son of God laying down His life in love, obedience and sacrifice. He who gave us first breath, breathing His last breath for our salvation. It's the most meaningful, costly and substantial act in all of history. The cross of Christ shall never lose its power, and never cease to be the most relevant and life-changing act mankind has ever seen. It can never be outdone, added to, or improved upon. Let us never cease to be awed by the sheer scale of grace and love that we discover in that place. As this song 'Mercy' prays:
"May I never lose the wonder, 0 the wonder of Your mercy. "
-- Matt Redman
Behind the song video:
The Power of One
by Jeremy Vanderloop
When I was eighteen I spent some time in Mozambique, Africa living with three hundred orphans. While sitting with some of the poorest people on the planet, I learned about the portion of God’s heart that is about individuality. Christ’s heart is to stop for the one, the proof is in scripture. In Matthew 18:12-14 Jesus tells a parable of a man who has a hundred sheep and one gets lost. He states that the man leaves the ninety-nine in search for the one that went astray. When the man finds the lost sheep, he rejoices over it more than his ninety-nine that had never gone astray.
Some might say that it seems unfair for God to love the one who went astray more than the ninety-nine that stayed faithful. The truth is, we are all the one that went astray. There is none of us that have not strayed from God’s heart. In fact, we are born astray, desperately needing his tender touch to draw us back to His heart.
As a Christian recording artist and minister, it is very easy to get caught up in numbers. To be transparent, I have to make a continually conscious effort to remind myself to stop for the one. The reality is that ninety-eight percent of my ministry is off-stage. The core of ministry is not about playing or speaking in front of thousands of people, but how well we stop for individuals. A common practice with my ministry is to sit and talk with people--whether it is with the front desk attendant at our hotel, the barista at my local Starbucks, people at the merchandise table, or a homeless guy on the street, everyone has a story and everyone is crying and craving for attention and love. We, as people, simply want others to stop and listen, even if we do not know or admit it to ourselves.
There is a story that comes to mind that is a beautiful example of this in play. I was recently on a tour with some other artists when our bus broke down. We were on an extremely tight schedule, quite frankly, it was a major inconvenience in which we could not afford to lose time. Yet, we were stuck none the less. Instead of complaining, I asked God for the purpose of the bus breaking down. After no response was given, we walked to a BBQ joint to grab some dinner. When we finished eating, another artist and I began to speak with the waitress. It is quite amazing when you lend an ear how people begin to open up and tell you the struggles of their life. We were conversing with the young women for quite some time, then out of curiosity, her manager walked up.
The manager and I began to have a simple conversation, one thing lead to another and he was spilling his life story to my lent ear. An important fact to take note, when ministering to people, it is more valuable to listen than to speak. This man was what I would describe a manly guy, tatted from wrist to neck, and could clearly hold his own if he were ever threatened or challenged. I quickly perceived that he did not make it a common practice to open up to people, let alone a complete stranger wearing skinny jeans and Toms. But God had a desire to reveal Himself to this manager and to let him know that He was listening.
The condensed version of the story was that his wife had just left him and taken his kids to another state. The man was heartbroken and felt completely helpless. He had just finished praying to God and asking Him if He was even listening, or real. The Holy Spirit gave me the proper words to encourage him with and had me pray for him. After the prayer, he felt God’s indescribable peace and love. I felt an impression from God to tell him that the sole purpose of our bus breaking down was for me to be there at that time to prove to him that God was listening and is in fact real.
Shortly after saying this, we began to walk back inside and were met by the other artist and waitress who had just finished their conversation. Come to find out, God had spoken the same thing about the bus breaking down to my friend who was speaking with the waitress. Consequently, God was glorified, and these two people were intimately touched by God and were met in the middle of their questioning.
The sole purpose of this blog post and the stories within are for you to be inspired and encouraged to live each and every day for the glory of God. Take value in every circumstance and situation in which you have the opportunity to be the light and love of Jesus. I have been blessed to have played and ministered in front of thousands, as well as spent time with broken individuals. Both are rewarding but, in my opinion, you have to learn how to minister to individuals before you can effectively minister to the thousands.
-- Jeremy Vanderloop
Singer/songwriter Jeremy Vanderloop's latest album "All Creation Sings" released October 2, 2012 and is available on Amazon and iTunes