Hit Country Music Artists Come Together To Record Songs4Worship: Country
by Janelle Landauer
Combine some of the top artists in country music with two hit producers – and a handful of the best songs released in praise and worship music through the years – and you have the recipe for success. The Songs4Worship: Country CD blends in well-known artists who have been in the industry for awhile now like The Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Daniels and Diamond Rio with mainstream country bands Rascal Flatts and Emerson Drive and also introduces fresh faces – Rebecca Lynn Howard and The Wilsons among others.
Michael Curtis, who is one of the producers for this project, is also the mastermind behind the idea of mixing the country artists with the praise and worship songs. Curtis is a well-known songwriter and is also actively involved with the praise and worship music at this church is Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Curtis had become friends with Teddy Gentry (producer, songwriter and vocalist/bass player for the hit group Alabama) several years ago and he requested that Gentry come on board to co-produce this CD with him.
Gentry, although relatively new to praise and worship music – admits that he was raised in more traditional gospel. He gives full credit to his co-producer Curtis for bringing out a new side of him in the studio. “I have to give him credit for turning me on to praise and worship and really educating me over the past couple years on praise and worship,” recalls Gentry. “I think the whole project was a blessing for me personally – getting to work with a lot of people in the industry who I’m fans of. It was a lot of fun to work on and like I said, it was a real blessing to me personally.”
The Songs 4 Worship: Country project was released on October 2, 2007. The recording process was started around 6 months ago when Curtis and Gentry took all of the artists, with the exception of Rascal Flatts, into the studio to work on this project. "He Ain't The Leavin' Kind" – by Rascal Flatts originally appeared on the Flatts’ multi-platinum 2006 release, Me & My Gang and was produced by Dann Huff along with the trio.
Charlie Daniels’ steps in on probably the most recognizable praise song ever made – the popular classic “Awesome God” – penned and recorded by the late Rich Mullins. Daniels’ sticks with his trademark fiddle sound, but still adds a bit of twist to his version – giving it more of a southern rock edge. Daniels’ guitar player Chris Wormer put this arrangement together and it turned into a really unique cover song.
Rebecca Lynn Howard is spotlighted on two songs – one which she co-wrote with Curtis and the other which she co-wrote with both producers, Curtis and Gentry. “She’s probably one of the bright spots that are on horizon as far as new artists that are coming along,” says Gentry on newcomer Howard. “I think she has the vocal ability to sing almost any type of song and do it well. And, she is a great writer too. Me and Mike and her got together one day… I had that melody coming in that morning and it just kind of fell together in a couple hours. It’s a very special song and I think she did a great job on it.”
Diamond Rio has released many singles that could have easily been classified as christian-country releases including “In God We Still Trust,” “One More Day,” “I Believe” and others. They seem to be right at home on their contribution to this CD with "Open The Eyes Of My Heart." The instrumental opening on their version also adds a touch of bluegrass that is sure to be a hit with all of their fans.
Emerson Drive takes part on the highly popular MercyMe hit – “I Can Only Imagine.” The lead singer for MercyMe, Bart Millard wrote this song and it appears on their CD, 'Almost There' which has sold over 2 million copies to date. Emerson Drive does this song justice and although it is probably the most unexpected addition on the CD, it stands out as one of the favorites.
The Wilsons close out the project with a powerful and awe-inspiring a capella performance of “Doxology." “Doxology” is also a special song for Gentry, who notes it as his favorite. “That song is very personal to me,” confesses Gentry. “It meant a lot to me over the past few months and every time I listen to it, it’s inspiring.”
Songs4Worship: Country stands strong in both the country music and praise & worship formats and it really gives both genres something unique that they can take pleasure in. The country fans will be introduced to some of the best songs from an entirely different genre that they may not have heard before this. Plus, they get to see their favorite artists step out of their comfort zone and try something new. The fans of Christian and praise & worship music will hear songs they’re used to hearing, but maybe, by some artists that they’re not too familiar with yet. The best of both worlds collide and this project brings out a new side of each that fans will enjoy and cherish for years to come.
» For more information on the Songs 4 Worship: Country project, visit their official website at: www.timelife.com »