Category Archives: Culture

News and reviews about Christian music, movies, books and theater on The Underground.

Hot Books Releases (August – September 2014)

“The Marketing Strategies of Jesus Christ” by Darren Shearer


If Jesus Christ taught a class on marketing, what might he say? That is the question explored in Darren Shearer’s new book, “Marketing Like Jesus: 25 Strategies to Change the World.”

A Christian business owner and military veteran entrepreneur, Darren Shearer is also the host of a new business podcast on iTunes titled, “Marketing Like Jesus,” where leaders in business, nonprofits, churches, education, and government share how they are changing the world for good by applying the same marketing strategies used by Jesus Christ.

Whether as a businessperson trying to sell more products or services, a non-profit leader trying to recruit more donors and volunteers, a pastor trying to get more members, a politician trying to win more votes, or as a thought leader trying to gain acceptance of an idea… Jesus has provided the greatest model for us to influence the world around us.

Considering that one out of every three people in the world claims to be a follower of Jesus, he is unquestionably the greatest marketer in history.

In “Marketing Like Jesus,” readers will discover 25 marketing strategies that Jesus used to change the world, including specific examples from the four Gospels of how he applied each one. Here are a few examples:

– Strategy #1 — “Transcend Dead Traditions”
– Strategy #6 — “Define Your Target Group”
– Strategy #12 — “Take Control of Your Brand”
– Strategy #18 — “Be Proud to Ask Big”

Readers will also learn how other people and organizations have successfully applied the “ marketing Like Jesus” strategies in business, nonprofits/churches, government, education, and entertainment.


“The True Love Project” by Clayton and Sharie King




Two decades ago, a nationwide phenomenon swept the country. Hundreds of thousands of young people took a stand for abstinence due to their Christian faith during the familiar True Love Waits movement. Now, critically acclaimed authors/speakers Clayton and Sharie King seek to reignite the movement with their book, the True Love Project, and two devotionals – 40 Days of Purity for Girls and 40 Days of Purity for Guys. Available September 1, the books biblically define love, sex, and romance. The books also explain why the Bible asks men and women to remain pure and highlight the promises of hope and restoration in God for those who have not.

Targeting teens between the ages of 13 and 18 and parents of teenagers, the True Love Project book and devotionals draw on the existing and trusted True Love Project curriculum, published by LifeWay’s Church Resource Division and also authored by the Kings.

“We’re excited to be partnering with Clayton and Lifeway’s Church Resource division on these books associated with the 20th anniversary of the True Love Waits brand and it’s re-launch as the True Love Project,” explains Dan Lynch, Publisher at B&H Kids. “Our goal was to build resources for teens, parents and church leaders to build upon the core message of purity and how to walk that out in today’s society.”

The True Love Project serves as a summons for the next generation of students to understand their sexuality in light of the gospel.

“When students realize how the gospel impacts their purity, their lives will be changed from the inside out. The world says that sex is everything and that there aren’t any boundaries. That’s just not true,” the Kings say. “God’s plan is different. Teens need to know that God loves them and that His plan for them is so much more than what this world has to offer.”

Clayton King, a pastor and professor born to an unwed fifteen-year-old girl, is on a mission to answer the defining question “What would today’s world look like if teens embraced love as the gospel defines it?” King sets out to prove that there is a way that is more pure, more satisfying, and more fulfilling than any “love” that society is selling. With the presentation of biblical relationships, scientific facts, and faith-building Scripture, the True Love Project is a call to embrace the true love that God has intended for everyone.


 “Need You Now – A Story Of Hope” by Plumb aka Tiffany Lee




NEED YOU NOW: A Story of Hope is the incredibly honest and hugely encouraging new book by recording artist, songwriter, and performer PLUMB aka Tiffany Lee. Both laugh-out-loud funny and deeply moving, it is the story of beautiful and embarrassing moments on stage, the joys and trials of motherhood and unbridled forgiveness. It is the story of soul mates, best friends and a marriage redeemed. And more than anything, Need You Now is the story of love, fresh starts and the relentless message that no matter who you are or what you have done…there is always HOPE.

Get an excerpt of the book HERE.


Hot New Movie Releases (August – September 2014)

We present to you some of the new Christian faith themed movies released in August and coming in September.

“The Song”

“The Song” is a music-driven love story. An aspiring singer-songwriter’s life and marriage suffer when the song he writes for his wife propels him into stardom. Inspired by the life of biblical King Solomon.

Aspiring singer—‐songwriter Jed King is struggling to catch a break and escape the long shadow of his famous father when he reluctantly agrees to a gig at a local vineyard harvest festival. Jed meets the vineyard owner’s daughter, Rose, and romance quickly blooms. Soon after their wedding, Jed writes Rose “The Song,” which becomes a breakout hit. Suddenly thrust into a life of stardom and a world of temptation, his life and marriage begin to fall apart.

Produced by a top-notch group of storytellers who believe in love, faith and family, “The Song” is opening nation-wide including resources to strengthen couples and families.


“The Perfect Wave”

Based on a true story, “The Perfect Wave” tells the journey of Ian McCormack’s search for real life in a world full of shadows.

Ian grew up surfing the waters of New Zealand’s eastern shore and with a searching heart caught glimpses of truth in the moment on a wave, when the world came together in perfection. Wanting to dive deeper, he sets out on a journey with his best friend that will change his life as they chase the perfect wave.

Traveling through Australia, Southeast Asia and Africa they surf incredible breaks and swirl in the life of ongoing travel, party and adventure, looking for the force that drives the world. When he meets Annabel, a striking and kindred soul, he abandons his friend on a new quest of love and ecstasy. Jealousy overtakes their love and broken by his own soul, and he chases her to the island paradise of Mauritius to win her back.

He finds the perfect life in this surfer’s heaven until a diving accident, where he is stung by deadly box jellyfish, leaves him fighting for his life and forcing him to choose between the truth of life and permanent death.

It is a full-length, dramatic, theatrical feature film shot in South Africa, Australia, Bali, Mauritius, New Zealand and Java under the direction of internationally renowned commercial director Bruce Macdonald, and produced by seven-time Emmy winning US producer S Bryan Hickox.



Nationally acclaimed evangelist John Luther is the last obstacle in the way of sweeping religious reform in the States. When a U.S. Senator and Luther’s own supporters abduct and frame him in the murder of an innocent teenage girl, an unprecedented era of persecution is unleashed. Out on personal recognizance, Luther escapes police surveillance in search of the truth. And suddenly, a once-normal life is targeted by a team of ex-military operatives who wage a relentless campaign to eliminate the incriminating evidence. As evangelist turned fugitive, Luther vows to expose anyone involved with or profiting from the girl’s murder; a mission that brings him face-to-face with the coming storm of persecution that will threaten the entire Christian community in America.

“Persecuted” stars James Remar, Dean Stockwell, Raoul Trujillo and directed by Daniel Lusko.


“Holy Ghost”

“Holy Ghost” is a feature film documentary that follows filmmaker Darren Wilson as he travels the world attempting to make a movie that is completely led by the Holy Spirit. At times challenging, but always uplifting, Holy Ghost reveals a God far bigger and more active than previously thought.

Hot Single Releases (August – September 2014)

From Capital Kings to Trip Lee, we bring to you the hot new single/video releases.

“I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe

Kari Jobe dropped the single/ music video for her song “I Am Not Alone” which appeared on her critically acclaimed album “Majestic,” the video sees husband-to-be, Cody Carnes, assisting wife-to-be, Jobe in scoring the worship tune.

Congrats Kari Jobe. And well done Cody Carnes for putting a ring on it.


“Fireblazin’” by Capital Kings

Gotee Records’ Capital Kings released their new single, “Fireblazin,” available at all digital outlets. Along with the new single there a radio mix and two remixes, one of which is by Soul Glow Activatur, and a music video to go along with it.
“We’ve had the privilege of traveling all over the country and certain parts of the world this past year and what we’ve seen is people’s lives being changed,” shares Capital Kings. “We’ve learned to become part of something bigger than ourselves. ‘Fireblazin’ is a movement to tell the world exactly that and to tell the world of the hope we believe in.”

Since releasing their debut self-titled album in 2013, Capital Kings has been going non-stop, and 2014 hasn’t been any different. The duo started the year off with performances at the Passion Conference in Atlanta and Houston as well as TobyMac’s Hits Deep Tour, followed by the release of their first remix project titled REMIXD and were part of TobyMac’s Summer Shed Tour with Skillet & Lecrae. They will also be traveling internationally to Columbia, and Peru followed by a slot on the highly anticipated Neon Steeple Tour with Crowder and special guests All Sons & Daughters.
Capital Kings have become well-respected remixers with mixes for numerous artists including TobyMac, Britt Nicole, Colton Dixon but have added to that by co-writing/co-producing the No. 1 single from Royal Tailor “Ready Set Go,” which they were also featured on. This summer, Capital Kings contributed their version of the popular GRITS’s song “Ooh Ahh” to the Gotee 20th Anniversary compilation Twenty Years Brand New.


“Do Life Big” by Jamie Grace

Jamie Grace released a music video for the single “Do Life Big.” The song is from her latest release, titled “Ready To Fly,” and we spoke with Ms Grace about it HERE.


“You Are” by Erica Campbell
Erica Campbell of Mary Mary has a new single titled “You Are” from her Dove Award nominated album “Help.” Listen below.


“Untraveled Road” by Thousand Foot Krutch

The tune has already hit No. 2 on the iTunes Rock Song sales chart and racking up more than 108,000 YouTube views and 3,200 likes, TFK frontman Trevor McNevan says, “‘Untraveled Road’ is about standing up for what you believe in. It’s about not being afraid to take the first step, or be the first voice. It’s about having the courage to be unashamed, and the faith you need to take a step before you can see the ground. The ‘untraveled road’ is symbolism for being at a crossroads, and having to decide which path you’re going to take. Sometimes it takes everything.” It is indeed noteworthy.


“All I Need” Is You by Lecrae

The newest single off of Lecrae’s 7th studio album, to be released September 9th, skyrocketed towards the top of the iTunes Top Songs chart, eventually peaking at number 1. “All I Need Is You” (listen below) surpassed Nicki Minaj’s single “Anaconda” that dropped the same day, and Jessie J’s “Bang Bang” on its way to acquiring the honor of top song on iTunes. This marked the first time that a Christian Hip Hop artist has hit #1 on the iTunes Hip-Hop/Rap song chart, and the first time a Christian Hip Hop artist has hit #1 on the iTunes song chart overall!

Won’t you agree with me that Lecrae is unstoppable?


“Light Me Up” by Kevin Max

Former DC Talk and Audio Adrenaline singer recently dropped a new song following news of his departure from Audio Adrenaline.

The song is entitled “Light Me Up,” and is off of his forthcoming “Broken Temples” album. The tune is an excellent one that reminds me of Coldplay with some bits of U2.


“Overwhelmed” by Big Daddy Wave

Big Daddy Weave announces the release of the music video for their current single “Overwhelmed.” Filmed on a trip to Tanzania with World Vision, the video captures the stunning landscapes of Africa and the children whose lives are impacted through the Christian organization. The video includes images of Big Daddy Weave members meeting the children they personally sponsor through World Vision for the first time, as well as documenting the recording in a World Vision school of the Maasai children’s choir heard on “Overwhelmed.” “Overwhelmed” is the fourth radio single from Big Daddy Weave’s latest album, Love Come To Life: The Redeemed Edition, an album containing three consecutive Billboard Christian AC No. 1 radio hits – “Love Come To Life,” “Redeemed,” and “The Only Name (Yours Will Be)” – a career first for the band.

“Shweet” by Trip Lee
Reach Records have released Trip Lee’s new single “Shweet”. The rapper’s new album,”Rise,” will release on October 28th. This album is coming a month after fellow label-mate Lecrae drops his, I don’t know if this move is a good one. However, I am excited about both projects.

Hot Album Releases (August-September 2014)

We present to you the hottest new album releases between the month of August and September. Tell us did we miss any of your favorite records?


“Anomaly” by Lecrae

Lecrae is probably the biggest act in Christian rap, and he isn’t slowing down anytime soon. His new project “Anomaly” has been gathering momentum for a while now, and we have been following it heads on. The album that was postponed is finally getting a September release.

This album has already spawned three hot joints including the latest one called “All I Need Is You” which peaked at iTunes number 1. “All I Need Is You” surpassed Nicki Minaj’s single “Anaconda” that dropped the same day, and Jessie J’s “Bang Bang.” This marked the first time that a Christian Hip Hop artist made it to #1 on the iTunes Hip-Hop/Rap song chart, and the first time a Christian Hip Hop artist has hit #1 on the iTunes song chart overall! The two other released singles “Nuthin” and “Fear” also made the cut on the highly anticipated 7th album, “Anomaly.”


“The Moment” by Manafest

manafest the moment
This album follows his highly popular and best-selling 2012 album Fighter. An artist and author, Manafest continues to evolve while not abandoning his rap-rock roots. “The Moment” features 12 new songs, including the track “Diamonds” with Thousand Foot Krutch’s Trevor McNevan. The new radio single, “Edge of My Life” is currently at radio, and be sure to check out this incredibly creative lyric video here .

“The Moment” gets back to Manafest’s roots of rhyming and infusing a singing style that is his own making this his strongest and most creative effort yet. Incorporating his fans with this project, Manafest has utilized Pledge Music to help fund this album while giving fans exclusive access inside the album-making process. “Life is made up of many moments – some big some small –and you want to be present for all of them,” shares Manafest on the topic of his upcoming release. “The Moment is a transparent look behind the curtain of my thoughts, beliefs and outlook on life.”


“Just Worship” by Earnest Pugh


“Just Worship” by Earnest Pugh

Dove and Stellar Award nominated gospel crooner Earnest Pugh has just polished off his latest work of art “Just Worship” a collection of praise and worship songs that released on August 26, 2014. The set will be propelled by Pugh’s new radio single, a dynamic re-arrangement of Israel & New Breed’s classic tune “Alpha & Omega.” The soul-stirring paean is now making its way up the playlists of the leading gospel radio stations around the globe.
Boasting production from Keith Williams, Michael Bereal, Cedric Thompson, Robert Ellis and Steve McCoy, this live set of seven songs flows as a continuous worship service that listeners can use to create an atmosphere of divine reverence wherever they may find themselves during the day. The set closes with a bonus recording of Pugh’s recent Top 20 radio smash “All Things Through Christ” featuring Bishop Rance Allen.

“Journey To Freedom” by Michelle Williams 

Michelle Williams Journey To Freedom

Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and actress Michelle Williams will release her upcoming fourth studio album, Journey to Freedom, in stores Tuesday September 9th. “Journey to Freedom” much-anticipated songs reveal one of Williams’ most personal and inspirational journeys yet, in a 12-track album that showcase her striking vocal range coupled with a lush musical soundscape.

In addition to “Say Yes,” “Fire,” “If We Had Your Eyes,” Michelle Williams continues to break musical boundaries on tracks such as “Need Your Help,” “Free,” Believe in Me,” and “Fall” (feat. Lecrae and Tye Tribbett). Teaming up with superstar producer Harmony Samuels, Williams has created a deftly-crafted album of reflective and rousing lyrics, empowering listeners to find strength and freedom through life trials, against a backdrop of gorgeous sonic grooves mixing African-influenced and dance beats, pop, R&B and more.


“Time Stands Still” by Family Force 5

family force 5

The first studio album in three years from Alternative Pop/Rock band Family Force 5, “Time Stands Still,” was recently released, and it made its debut at No. 1 as the best-selling album on the Christian/Gospel Overall and Digital Album, Current Contemporary Christian and Christian Rock/Alternative/Rap overall SoundScan charts. It also hit No. 17 on the Overall Digital Albums chart and No. 30 on the Billboard Top 200.

Produced by Riley Friesen (Vota, Staggerford) and Seth Mosley (Newsboys, for KING & COUNTRY), “Time Stands Still” also features “Glow In The Dark,” “Sweep The Leg” and the lead radio single, “Let It Be Love,” set for a May 30 add date.


“20” by Jars of Clay


Jars of Clay - 20 cover art
Jars of Clay celebrates 20 years of music, releasing a uniquely distinctive, fan-curated retrospective double-album of re-recorded favorites and two new songs, appropriately named “20.”

In the 20 years since Dan Haseltine, Stephen Mason, Charlie Lowell and Matthew Odmark released their debut album Frail, Jars of Clay sold millions of albums and received GRAMMY, American Music and Dove Awards and nominations, 16 No. 1 songs and major television and film song placements, while also appearing on all the major late night talk shows and entertainment magazines. During the journey, the band has always leaned forward and focused on what their next creative endeavor could be. Each new album has pushed off in a new direction from the previous one, showing a trend of transformation that has become a calling card of the band. With 20, they now have taken a moment to look back over what they’ve created.


“Sinema” by Swoope


“Sinema” threads together tracks like movie scenes, to communicate an audio picture of desire. Desire is harmless, but like a small bacteria, it grows into an uncontrollable beast. “Sinema” through Swoope’s imagination tells this story from several perspectives––vantage points––this beast of a progression.

Influenced by the wisdom of his failures and life experiences, Swoope tells this story about being drawn away by his own desire––a desire in us all, and what this ‘innocent’ luring away will lead to. Listen as Swoope lyrically directs the listener through this picture of how this audio movie ends for all flirting with this path.


“#Faster” by Group 1 Crew


Group 1 Crew - Faster cover art

The all ‘new’ Group 1 Crew released its “#FASTER” digital EPs a teaser of what is to come in the near future.

The EP features special guest vocalists Moriah Peters, Jonathan Thulin and Rachel Lampa, the new recording is the first of two EP’s to be released from Group 1 Crew in the coming months. #STRONGER is set to release November 4, 2014 while the double EP, #FASTER/#STRONGER, will be a physical CD sold exclusively at retail through Family Christian Stores beginning Sept. 16, as well as sold on Group 1 Crew’s fall tour with Big Daddy Weave. There will be another full-length record coming from Group 1 Crew Spring 2015.


“Oxygen” by Lincoln Brewster

lincoln brewster oxygen

Lincoln Brewster makes a comeback with Oxygen, his ninth recording and first non-seasonal studio project in more than four years.

The record is produced by Brewster and longtime collaborator Colby Wedgeworth, “Oxygen” offers 11 new selections, 10 of which Brewster co-wrote. Songs including the title-cut, “Live To Praise You,” “Shout It Out” and the album’s debut single, “Made New,” showcase the guitar virtuosity for which the artist is renowned. “I played more guitar on this record than on any album I’ve made before,” Brewster says.

“Oxygen” is also highlighted by several deeply personal tracks written and recorded as Brewster’s wife successfully battled a rare form of cancer. The vulnerable “Sinking Ships (Rescue Has Come)” and “On Our Side,” penned at his wife’s hospital bedside, articulate worship in the midst of challenge.


“Raising A Banner” by Desperation Band

Desperation Band - Banner cover art
Desperation Band, formed in 2001 as a youth worship band at Colorado Springs-based New Life Church is back. Thirteen years down the road, leading worship for hundreds of thousands of high school and college students at the annual Desperation Conference, their reach has expanded exponentially. Now known around the globe for songs like “I Am Free,” “Overcome,” “Yahweh,” and “Strong God,” this modern worship band—led by worship pastor Jon Egan—has never lost sight of their target or the limitless potential of students to impact their world for Christ.

Set for release in September, the all-new live recording from the July 2014 Desperation Conference captures the spirit and energy of youth at worship while firmly establishing for all who listen that we share a deep-rooted history. The God of ages past is alive and well and moving mightily among people who are desperately committed to Him.

fellowship  creative

Interview with Fellowship Creative


fellowship creative
Fellowship Creative is the musical arm to Fellowship Church based in Grapevine, Texas.

The band is truly a movement, and a unique one at that, where a core group of like-minded people decided to collaborate their music, all of which was organically grown out of Scriptural teaching and the grit of everyday life. Simply put, the music of Fellowship Creative begins and ends with the Church.


A few months ago, the band released an album titled “Running to Follow.” “Running To Follow” was produced by CJ Eiriksson (U2, Matchbox Twenty), who, with a limited background in Christian music, helped form the album to a cohesive unit.

They are as diverse as you can get, with members from different backgrounds and different cultures, and they have successfully infused this into their sound, therefore, making their sound a thing of beauty, and this is one of the many unique aspects of Fellowship Creative.

Which is why while recording the album, it wasn’t uncommon to find a high school student playing alongside a hip-hop artist or a 16-year-old laying down drum tracks while a 20-something father of young children played bass accompanied on piano by a middle-aged man. This is a group with a wide range of backgrounds, ages, skills, and levels of spiritual maturity, and the result is an album full of eclectic styles.

Derric Bonnot the leader of Fellowship Creative with The Underground about the band, their sound, and Church.

Is a tour in the books for the band?

“Our main thing is our local church and hosting all the people we are reaching out to during the weeks. Although touring would be a lot of fun, we gotta keep the main thing the main thing. That being said; we will hit certain dates here and there that don’t conflict with that. You can catch us every weekend at Fellowship Church!”

What does an average recording/writing session with Fellowship Creative look like?

We have an ever-changing process, I would say. Initially, someone brings a voice memo of a song, with just a vocal and guitar or piano. Sometimes someone on our team has already poured a lot already into programming a synth or sequence, and we tailor that with some lyrics. Other times we carve out time to be in a room together and write from scratch in the moment.

The fun part is sharing an idea with everyone else, once it is kind of been incubated. We have a great balance of nurture and critique when it comes to our songs. Passing each song along to each other to hear, add, subtract, change, give feedback… And by the end, all of us have had some kind of input, whether it’s an encouragement or a major change. It brings some great accountability to what we’re trying to communicate to the listener.

How would you describe Fellowship Creative’s sound?

It’s a really eclectic mix. Each of us has a variety of influences, which you can identify as you listen. Overall, I would say Fellowship Creative sounds like who we are, and what we’re doing. That is; artists coming together and sharing their creativity. As far as genre goes, I think we dip into many different styles depending on the songs themselves. We’re still growing and challenging ourselves to venture into uncharted areas.

 Your sound is organic, yet sometimes electronic — what inspired this sound?

We have some really talented people included in Fellowship Creative. Some are great players, but others are great with programming and the electronic side of things. The blend of the two, collaborating I think is what we get. We got inspired by this kind of cross-pollination and ended up trying to make the electronic sounds feel more organic in places and vice versa. Using computers has been really flexible for us, to be creative and do things on the fly. That’s the sound manipulation you can hear throughout the album.

fellowship  creative
Would you agree that “Running To Follow” shares similarities with the trailblazing “Zion” album by Hillsong United?

I think it’s so exciting to see the global Church doing things outside of the box. Realizing that we’re made in the image of a creative God, who inspired and created life. We believe the local church should be the most creative entity on the planet. So that being said, on that level I think there are some absolute similarities–pushing the envelope. When we see that happen, and it’s definitely what Zion is doing, it inspires and challenges us to keep going.

The band is diverse with members from different backgrounds, culture, and ages — how does this change the dynamics in your music?

Considering our writing process is very inclusive by nature, it definitely adds to the diversity of our sound. When you listen to our album, you’ll hear a variety of styles which, of course, is a reflection of our teams diversity.

Which is your favorite song on the album?

I’ve always loved “Never Be Without It.” Some might say it’s because my wife sings on it. But really it’s a song that makes you want to roll down the windows and turn up the stereo!

fellowship creative running to follow
Unlike many bands and acts Fellowship Creative’s music is firmly rooted and affiliated to the music ministry of your church — how does this change your approach as musicians?

Well, first and foremost, we are a part of the church, the body of Christ. So everything we do is a byproduct to serve and build the local church. We’re not out to make it as a music group; we’re out to reach the lost and share the message of Jesus. It’s hard to say how it changes our approach because we haven’t changed who we are or how we do what we do. Simply, we want to create music that you can worship to and be pointed to Jesus through.

Any chance Fellowship Creative will have an acoustic or live record in the near future?

Our team is continually writing new songs that are inspired by all that God is doing in and through the life of our church so, it’s definitely a possibility.

  Any last words for the fans and listeners?

Thanks so much for listening! Hope you enjoy the album and share it with others.

What do you hope listeners get out of the album “Running To Follow?”

Our hope and desire is that this album will fuel people’s relationship with Jesus. We also hope that our listeners will use it as a tool to help others get connected with Him. The songs on this album are full of life and hope, and no matter who you are, everyone is looking for that. So hopefully people listen, enjoy and then share!



Staff Playlist (September 2014)

We love music, and because we love you as much, we decided to share with you what has been enjoying heavy rotation on our media players.

“Forever” by Kari Jobe

Just because I love Kari Jobe, just because I love Spoken Word, just because I love Bethel Music.


“Can’t Stop Me” by Andy Mineo

Not crazy about the video, but love the song. A good work-out song I must add.


“Guns/ Napoleon” by John Mark McMillian

Only one man can make a worship song called Guns and Napoleon. The metaphorical songwriting is flat-out genius.


“Through It All” by Colton Dixon

My favorite song off Dixon’s sophomore album ‘Anchor.” This song resonates with me a whole lot.

And the original song


“Beautiful” by Mali Music

Yes, I don’t care if he went ’secular’ I love this tune.


“Come As You Are” by Crowder

Crowder crowder crowder. This tune touches me to the core every single time.


“Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)” by Hillsong Worship

I guess Hillsong found their new Darlene Zschech. Taya Smith’s vocal is pure, innocent and edgy all in one. She performed “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” so beautifully and here she continues soaring.


“Love Takes Over” by Beth Croft

One question – World, are you ready for Beth Croft? Love her sound – the new sound of worship music. I hope you all caught my review of Beth Croft’s album!

And since I am a sucker for unplugged version of songs.


“Unstoppable Love” by Jesus Culture

I love both versions of this song. Kim Walker Smith does justice to it on both Jesus Culture style.


“You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music

This song has been my declaration for a while now.


“Preacher” by One Republic

I singalong loud every single time.

Get Familiar With Justin Kintzel

Justin Kintzel
Justin Kintzel may just be Christian music’s best kept secret, but I intend to let that cat out of the bag. I recently stumbled upon Justin Kintzel’s music and after listening I was perplexed at why I never heard of him or his music up until that moment. Needless to say, this guy is good. It took one song for the attention to be caught, and by the time I listened to three songs I was impressed enough to reach the worship Pastor.

As Kintzel makes it to his fourth year as a worship Pastor, he recounts.

“I just entered my fourth year as a Worship Pastor!”

“About 12 years now! Started when I was a junior in high,” he answers when I ask how long he has been leading worship.

Although the zeal to lead worship didn’t come until high school, Kintzel has always been the musical kind.

“ I’ve actually been singing in church ever since I was a kid, but my passion for leading worship didn’t begin until high school when I felt a calling on my life and had a friend show me a few chords on the guitar – A, D, and E. He actually showed me the wrong finger placement on A and E, and even though the notes are correct, I still play them wrong to this day. The first song I ever led for a group was “Better is One Day” in the key of E, complete with wrong finger placement.” he recounts

For independent artist exposure and getting the word (music) out is always a challenge. Kintzel shares on the journey so far.

“The journey has been great so far! It’s been very challenging, sometimes even very discouraging and difficult, but overall, I trust the Lord. He has been very very good.”

Kintzel’s experiences and life stories most certain reflects in his songwriting and music.

“They typically come out of things that either I’m personally fascinated by (i.e. “You Saved Me”) or truths that I really feel the worship community could / should be singing together (i.e. “Love Displayed”).” he shares

It so happens that the first song of Kintzel I heard was “Love Displayed,” and like aforementioned the tune was outstanding enough to leave an impression that permitted me to listen to more tracks (as I have a low threshold for mediocre music regardless of the genre).

In February 2012 Kintzel, together with co-producers Keith Everette Smith and Kyle Smith, released his first full-length album “Death Is Overcome.” In April of 2013, the Liberty Campus Band released a live album and DVD that Kintzel led and produced. For now, the singer is just content with leading worship and being part of a community pending when funds are available for a new record.

“Well for now, the plan is just to continue leading worship, writing songs, recording, and enjoying it! Being in the studio is one of my favorite things to do. It’s a blast. If I can get a new record funded, we’re a go for another full-length!”

love_displayedApparently, “Love Displayed” is a worship anthem amongst the students of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia where the songwriter is the worship Pastor.

I asked him if he thinks worship services in Campuses are different from off campus churches.

“Over the years, my views on this have changed, but the thought I keep landing on are that these kinds of services aren’t really a church, they’re simply worship gatherings. I believe they still hold value and can absolutely add to the spiritual life of a person, but it’s not the same as getting plugged into a church community. One of the main things that separate this is simply the school schedule. There usually aren’t services when school isn’t in session.” He comments.

Part of Kintzel’s job is reaching out to young people and bringing them to God.

“I think young people today are desperately wanting what is authentic and real, and they just want to be leveled with. I think lofty arrogance or holier- than-thou appearances are a major turn off to today’s younger generation. As in previous generations, that kind of thing represented authority and truth, but now it resembles a false-ness and somebody with anterior motives. The Word tells us in Romans that it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. If we are just kind and down-to-earth with people, I think we’ll earn a voice to be listened to. Being right doesn’t always allow the privilege to be heard.”

In 2009, he earned a degree in graphic design and became the Creative Arts Director and Convocation Coordinator for the university. He infers how one can share the message of Jesus regardless of profession.

“I think sharing the message of Jesus comes in with how you work with others. Being easy to work with, having integrity – things like that. Since a designer doesn’t necessarily get to choose the spiritual elements of the projects they work on, I think photoshopping crosses into every design or something might be a mistake. I think just being a genuine follower of Christ with how you conduct yourself in business can lead to opportunities to share Christ.”

Justin Kintzel has a good sense of humor, and that is evident when he speaks on things he sees on campus he wishes he could change.
“I think if there was anything I could change, it would just be that people would get away from facebook and spend time with others more in a genuine way. I think genuine human relationships are starting to become devalued in our culture. Also, while we’re wishing for things, I notice a lack of hover boards on campus and wish I had one of those and also a DeLorean with time-travel capability.” he jokes

kintzel family sept13

As a worship pastor, husband and father to three daughters the singer explains how he balances things.

“It’s definitely one of those things that I have to plan and think about! I think it just comes down to making proper priorities and making sure things are balanced. It also helps having a wife who is super supportive like mine is!”

The students of Liberty University have successfully kept Kintzel a secret from the rest of the world, but no more!

You can download three songs by the Justin Kintzel below.

About A Mile

Artist Spotlight: About A Mile

About A Mile

Brothers Adam, Levi, and Luke Klutinoty are nothing short of a blessing to many. Not every day does one get to see a band of three brothers with the mission of lifting God through music. The brothers from the blue collar town of Pittsburgh together make up the group About A Mile. Together, their rock-sensibilities with rollicking hooks and thought provoking lyrics has won lots of hearts. After recording with Grammy-award winner Howard Benson and renowned Grammy-nominated and Dove Award-winning Producer and songwriter Ian Eskelin, the band released their debut self-titled album which has since gained a good amount of traction.

The band spoke with The Underground about everything from their name to the journey so far, and the making of their acclaimed self titled album that we reviewed HERE.

One of the first things that stand out about any band is usually their name. The moniker ‘About A Mile’ was inspired by Jesus Christs’ journey to Calvary where He carried the cross that man deserved to for About A Mile so he could die for us.

The band of brothers led by Adam gave further insight on the name About A Mile stating that where it came from.

“The Via Dolorosa (Latin, ‘Way of Grief, ‘Way of Sorrows,’ ‘Way of Suffering’ or simply, ‘Painful Way’) is a street, in two parts, within the Old City of Jerusalem, held to be the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion.”

They love their name and its representation so much that they went the route of having a self-titled album.

“We did that because we love what our name stands for, we’re new on the scene and trying to introduce ourselves and because naming it after one song on the album might make the rest feel bad! That sounds funny, but these songs are really important to me. I feel a million different emotions when I listen to them, and my mind goes back to where I was when they were written. I wanna throw up when I hear the idea of a filler song. We believe in all 12 of these tracks and the message they carry that’s why we recorded them!”

About A Mile describes their sound as “Unique, bold, passionate music with a message.” Their music is also personal at times, and they hope the message of their songs resonates with people. An example is their lead single “Satisfied” which one can easily relate to at any point in time.

about a mile

“‘Satisfied’ resonates with me the most right now. I read a story today about a girl whose dad lost her job, and the song reminded her that our God is always faithful.”
“We are also driving and sleeping in Vandisa ALOT on tour these days! We named our van that because it’s overcome a lot throughout the last few years! Dreaming about how much we want a pizza and a bed to sleep in has been halted by “ Satisfied” coming on the radio” Adam added with amusement.

The conversation took a rather theological turn when Adam discussed the most significant moment in Jesus’ journey.

“Jesus was on a journey to the cross ever since the day he was born! The moment in his life that stands out to me right now is mentioned in Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” he highlighted

“First he told us what to do, then not long after he led by example.”

Adam, Luke and Levi have been playing music for as long as they can all remember, but the formation of the band came right high school. They all knew music was in the book at a pretty young age speaking on the journey so far.

“The journey so far has been a great adventure as Steven Curtis Chapman would say.” Adam laughs. “We never really thought about it when we were kids, we just had as much fun as possible figuring it would come to an end after high school. When Ian Eskelin discovered us and brought us to WORD, we knew our dream to make an amazing record would come true.”

Adam added how grateful they are for this road they are on.

“We’re just thankful for the opportunity and excited because we know the journey’s just begun.”

For the band, it is ecstatic to see all this come alive, to see dreams start coming true.

“As a band we put everything we have into this album! Holding the finished product in our hands for the first time was indescribable!”

As far as challenges of being a new artist goes exposure is rated number one.

“One of the biggest challenges is getting the word out” Adam stated.

For Adam, some of the high points so far has been his music reaching people and touching lives.

“For me personally it’s been having random people hearing our first single “ satisfied” on the radio and telling us how it’s affected them. It’s very humbling! We pray and are thankful for those people and the radio stations that reach them.” Adam shared.

No member of About A Mile is married, and they can relate to a lot of challenges single people go through.


“It’s not always easy to be patient.” Adam pointed out.

While talking about the challenges of the single live Adam dished out some advice.

“Don’t settle for less or cast your pearls to swine! DON’T play with or break the hearts of God’s princesses! Rely on God’s grace.”

“I see marriages like my parents’ and it’s a no brainer… that’s why I’m looking for a girl that loves God more than she loves me! You can’t be in a hurry to find a diamond in the rough” He continued.

Adam humorously credited some of his good dating choices on music.

“At times staying home and playing guitar all night has kept me from going out with girls I shouldn’t…But then again playing guitar is probably the only reason they wanted to go out with me anyway. I guess my advice would be to play keyboard!”

About A Mile hinted that they were already writing music for their next album and three years from now they hope to be celebrating the release of a new record.

The brothers of for King and Country who have been here for a while now is one of the band’s inspiration.

“We look up to For KING & COUNTRY – they are extremely tall guys. We also love their music! Sidewalk Prophets and Francesca Battistelli are also our label mates, and we look up to them a lot.”

However in terms of collaboration they are eyeing some names we didn’t see coming.

“SRV, P.O.D., King David, All Star United and many more.”

About A Mile has been on the road, and they look forward to playing bigger venues and more gigs.

When it is all said and done About A Mile is a band whose main core is pushing the gospel of Christ through music.

“Soli Deo Gloria, which means glory to God alone! Let our music help you fix your eyes on him and not us.” Adam concluded.

Beth Croft

Album Review: ‘Rule In My Heart’ by Beth Croft

Beth Croft


I first heard of Beth Croft a few months ago when A&R Les Moir hinted that her upcoming record would be one to reckon with. The name stuck not just because Mr. Moir told me to look out for new music coming from her, but also because the name ‘Croft’ reminded me of Sherlock Holmes’ fictional brother Mycroft Holmes. Long story short, I now see what Les saw in Beth Croft.

The British Christian singer is said to have started leading worship since she was 18. She became part of Soul Survivor a collection of worship singers in Britain. In 2012, Soul Survivor released an album titled “ The Flood,” Croft in this project delivered an outstanding rendition of Hillsong’s “Cornerstone.” With the release of her new worship album “Rule My Heart” the singer has won my heart, and her name is one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
It may be Beth Croft’s first solo effort, but it feels like she has done this over and over again. “Rule My Heart” is effortlessly delivered, and if proof was needed that people ought to give a new artist a chance, Beth Croft is that proof.

Croft opens the album with the danceable-catchy ‘Love Takes Over,” which sort of sets the tone and theme of the album. The vertical lyrics represent God’s love “His love takes over, I can feel You here with me as love takes over there’s no place I’d rather be.” This tune has hit written all over it from the memorably sing-along (meaningful) lyrics to the infectious rhythm.

[pullquote_right]Beth Croft has successfully delivered a sound that transcends today’s (2014) worship sound. [/pullquote_right]

The next song “Say the Word” doesn’t fail to impress as it grips one’s attention with a prayerful call for God to say the word because at His word “ Mountains are moved, seas that are raging will calm…”

The album’s title-track “Rule In My Heart” feels like a modernized hymn. This worship tune is warm with soothing vocals which will take listeners on a worshipful, spiritual journey. The tune written by Croft alongside Jorge Mhondera, Matt Redman & Willie Weekschorus will move one to that place of worship and surrender. “Rule in my heart, forever Come and take Your place.”

She then gives a beautiful rendition of label mate Rend Collective’s “Boldly I Approach (The Art Of Celebration). The song on its own is a captivating tune, and she doesn’t do much in her rendition, however, just hearing her vocals over those profound lyrics does it for me.

Lyrically “Purify” doesn’t break new grounds. A big plus though for Croft’s vocal over the mystical instrumentation.

“Hold On” is a gorgeous ballad. It will serve as encouragement to listeners to hold on to Christ. “My hopes and fears laid down, hold on; I’ll hold on to the cross, Hold on, hold on to the cross, Love so amazing, love so divine, Hold on, I’ll hold on to the cross.”

“You Make The World Dance” is an electronic dance tune akin Hillsong Young & Free. It sits well on this record.

“Your Kingdom” which appeared on Soul Survivor album is present on this album. This tune serves as a corporate worship kind of sound.

The last track of the album is one of the most spectacular tunes I have heard this year. Why? It is different. The tune is heavy on synthesizers; a sound audiophiles and sound geeks will eat up. The lyrics are resonance to one of the many David’s prayers to God.

Beth Croft has successfully delivered a sound that transcends today’s (2014) worship sound. Although she incorporates good ol’ sounds, her music is the future of worship. Thematically, the album depicts the heart cry and hope of believers in a worship meet brit-rock tingled way.

For a debut album, this is a solid effort, I love that “ Rule My Heart” also focuses around worship in a mild contemporary way while offering slight heritage/musical tastes.



Kierra Sheard

Album Review: ‘Graceland’ by Kierra Sheard

Kierra Sheard

Kierra Sheard’s ingenuity comes as no surprise being that the singer is from a musical family. Her mother is Karen Clark Sheard (of the iconic Clark Sisters), and she is also the granddaughter of the late Mattie Moss Clark and the cousin of producer & singer J. Moss. I will however overtly state that the singer (especially with her latest project) has successfully managed to carve out her unique sound. A sound that a lot of young people will appreciate, a sound that isn’t shy of talking about her vulnerabilities, flaws, and struggles.
I believe it is one of the reasons why the 27 year old singer landed the gig to be a judge on BET gospel hit singing show “Sunday Best.”

Kierra Sheard’s (aka Kiki) new album “Graceland” is one album that will get steady rotation on urban gospel radio, a very convenient substitute to secular R&B. You can agree with me that the title “Graceland” is self-explanatory – not because it is reminiscent of Elvis Presley’s condo – because as Christians, and broken people we are constantly thriving in God’s grace.


Production and Composition 9/10

Production from “Graceland” is top notch, and this can be credited to her team of impeccable producers. The album sees production from industry specialists like Aaron Lindsey (Israel and New Breed), Harmony Samuels (Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande), Diane Warren (Beyonce, Cher), and her brother J. Drew, who has worked on her previously released projects.
Little surprise why the production is nothing short of impressive.

“Graceland” takes a very contemporary view and angle. The album flows accordingly. She puts her vocal cap on and does a stupendous job with it. “Graceland” houses ballads, pop, R&B tunes, but with a hip twist. I like that she is moving away from what every single gospel artist is doing in terms of cliched sounding gospel tunes with mass choir and stuff (not that I have any issues with that). I just appreciate that one can get the same infusion of sound folks like Hillsong United, Beckah Shae, Capital Kings, etc. have incorporated in Christian music, but this time in the urban gospel music front.


Lyrics: 7/10

If you are looking for “deep” lyrics then look elsewhere. Kierra penned lyrics for this album in such a way that you don’t have to pull out a dictionary to get it, or you don’t have to pull out your intellectuals guns to understand it. For the purpose of this record, I think it does the job. She writes easily understandable and relatable lyrics. The most lyrical profound song in the album is undoubtedly “Kill The Dragon.”
Message: 7.5/10

Young people can relate to the message in Graceland. Thematically, it explores struggles, flaws, insecurities and how hope/grace is found in God. The singer also explicitly highlights the unchanging nature of God. She also does a good job convincing listeners – through her sound and in songs like “Repin My God” which features Canton Jones – that they can be Christians and fly, that they shouldn’t settle inside the box that the outside world puts Christians.


Overall: 8/10

“Graceland” is undeniably Kierra Sheard’s best work yet. She bridges the gap between secular music and gospel music. She brought secular sound and energy and Christianized it.
She is among those ushering in a new wave of gospel music. As aforementioned, ‘Graceland” is a gospel alternative to what’s hot today. No need for young Christians to quest for other forms of music (secular) because Sheard has created something they can vibe to.
Stand Outs

The stand out tracks are

“No Graceland”
“Kill The Dragon”
“Into You”
“Repin My God” featuring Canton Jones