For the Fatherless
“Every day we have a choice to remain in the shadows and let our pasts define us, or we can trust God to raise us to life,” Brian Yak says, his words grounded in the weight of personal reality. But living in the shadows simply isn’t an option for Brian and his wife Christa—singer/songwriters together known as For The Fatherless. Though heartache has profoundly touched each of their lives, listening to the joyful harmonies and strong, memorable pop hooks of their self-titled debut, it’s obvious grace and hope have triumphed in a new season.
Christa and Brian have very different stories, but a common denominator resonates. As a child, she lost her father—a musician and worship leader—to a brain tumor, while a drug and alcohol addiction led Brian’s dad to abandon his family. Although he never knew his biological father, Brian was adopted by his mother's husband and raised in a loving home. Despite the affection Christa and Brian always knew in their families, a sense of emptiness lingered in each of their hearts.
“We both know the feeling of growing up fatherless,” Christa says. “It's something that needs to be addressed in the Church. We all share the same Father who loves us more than we can understand, regardless of our experiences with our earthly fathers."
Music became therapeutic passions as both Brian—raised in Pennsylvania—and New York native Christa, grew into accomplished singers and songwriters in their own right. Their noteworthy talents landed them at one of the country’s top music schools. Meeting as students in the selective vocal program at Nashville’s prestigious Belmont University, Brian and Christa began collaborating musically as their relationship grew, and following their marriage last year, For The Fatherless was officially birthed.
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The Gray Havens
There have always been those artists who blurr the lines between mediums, drawing inspiration from one creative form and translating it into another. What sets narrative-folk-pop husband & wife duo The Gray Havens apart from other artists in that stream, is that they seem to deftly meld fantasy stories, lyric poetry, theology and song. That, and the level of obvious delight David & Licia Radford take in creating, recording, and performing their richly textured compositions paired with unexpected, imaginative lyrics.
The Gray Havens’ first full-length project, Fire & Stone, doesn’t so much ignore musical boundaries as it simply views them as a vast playground, mixing the complex musical changes one might expect of a band like Queen, with the winsome, folksy sensibilities and beautiful, sparse harmonies of current roots artists such as The Oh Hellos. There’s even a strong dramatic undercurrent to the project that wouldn’t be altogether out of place on a Broadway stage.
“It’s fictional world-building we’re trying to do in our songs,” David says, “not just recounting events. The music reflects that. A lot of these songs don’t fit neatly into a formulaic writing approach. There are meter changes, key changes, compound measures—basically more paints on the palette to work with in conveying the story, idea, or emotion. I get bored easily, so I find myself intentionally writing songs that will keep me on my toes.”
Recorded and produced in Nashville by industry veteran Mitch Dane (Jars Of Clay, Brandon Heath), Fire & Stone is an exuberant and joyful declaration. The theme of joy and its counterfeits weaves through the 10-song project, readily visible in selections like the Celtic stomp-flavored “The Stone.”
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You may not recognize the name, but you'll recognize his music. Randall Goodgame, a singer/songwriter, has recorded 8 solo albums and is the creative force behind the family music brand, Slugs & Bugs. He has recorded 8 solo albums with numerous contributions on other albums. You'll find his name on the music scores for Veggie Tales, Caedmon’s Call, Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, Jill Phillips, Eric Peters to name just a few. He is a dad, a husband, a decent racquetball player and is brilliant at ping pong.
His newest project, Slugs & Bugs, marks the fourth installment in Randall’s wildly funny and creative, theologically substantial, and infectiously singable Slugs & Bugs series. The stratospheric level of artistry on the Slugs & Bugs recordings is changing the game for children and family music.
“These songs were written to help parents talk with their kids about the Gospel,” Randall explains. “The lyrics on Sing the Bible are all word-for-word Scripture. When families absorb the words to all these songs they will have memorized 63 Bible verses, plus the names of all the books of the Old and New Testaments. I hope they memorize the whole CD, but my grand hope is that Slugs & Bugs songs will help parents embrace and even celebrate their own moment by moment need for Jesus in front of their kids, so that they can have real, honest conversations about what a life of faith looks like: loving, listening, following, failing, repenting, and returning—often all in the same day.”
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Millions of contemporary Christian music fans have heard Matthew Ward’s inspirational message of hope…first as the male vocalist for the legendary contemporary Christian music group the 2nd Chapter of Acts and then through his solo music albums. Matthew has also performed with numerous Christian music artists ranging from Twila Paris to Ron Kenoly.
Throughout his recent projects, the recurring themes of God’s power and presence give a worshipful quality to the music that transports and lifts our weary spirits from whatever challenges we are facing and then sets us down gently at the feet of the Savior for an intimate visit. We feel through Matthew’s music how much God wants us to talk with Him and be in right relationship with Him.
Matthew Ward is a man who has faced death and now savors every moment of life that God grants him. Matthew Ward’s music is a complex reflection of God’s message filtered through the life of a person who struggles daily as we all do. Witty and entertaining, Matthew in concert breathes a welcome gust of fresh air through the Christian experience.
Matthew will close the 2015 convention with classic songs from his extensive discography.
David Zach of Remedy Drive
David Zach is the founding member and lead vocalist of Remedy Drive. The band’s latest recording, “Commodity,” released last year to widespread critical acclaim and featured the #1 Christian rock single, “Commodity.” The project includes 12 songs written or co-written by Zach, inspired by his work in Southeast Asia to combat human trafficking. Since their inception in 1998, Remedy Drive has garnered 10 Top 20 singles and released 10 recordings. “Resuscitate Me,” from the band’s 2012 release, Resuscitate, spent five weeks atop the Christian Rock chart and was nominated for a 2013 GMA Dove Award for Rock Song of the Year. In addition, “Daylight” was featured in the motion picture “The Perfect Summer,” while music from Remedy Drive has been utilized on NBC, SpeedTV and VH1.
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