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NewSong Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and NewSong lyrics)
In the three years since Reunion Records recording artist NewSong released their last pop album, life has been one explosive surprise after another, something they could never have predicted.
Those surprises came in the form of an unprecedented, nation-wide reaction to the 2000 release of NewSong's poignant Christmas song, "The Christmas Shoes," originally recorded on the group's Sheltering Tree album. Co-written by Carswell, the song tied the record for garnering the No. 1 spot on Billboard's AC chart in just three weeks. The song continued to build momentum in 2001 when NewSong released a beautifully-crafted holiday album titled The Christmas Shoes. A novella based on the song was written by Nashville author Donna VanLiere, and appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list two years in a row. That was followed by a nationally-televised made-for-TV movie, "The Christmas Shoes," produced by CBS and starring actors Rob Lowe ("The West Wing") and Kimberley Williams (Father of the Bride). The television special surpassed its other network competitors and brought in 17 million viewers. In early 2003, the album's success was capped by a Grammy nomination for "Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album" and garnered a 2003 Dove Award.
With success on such a large scale, it would have been easy to get caught up in the momentum and bask a little in the glow of the spotlight. "But it really wasn't about us," says NewSong's Eddie Carswell. "It was pretty amazing to see how God orchestrated it all, and it took us completely by surprise. I've always been a big fan of Bob Briner (famed sports agent, television executive and author of Roaring Lambs, a book focusing on the element of excellence for the Christian in the secular business world) and the idea behind Roaring Lambs, so it was nice to see something like this happen, and to feel like we were somehow able to make an impact."
Coming off a whirlwind year of phenomenal success, NewSong-comprised of Carswell, Billy Goodwin, Michael O'Brien, Matt Butler and returning member Scotty Wilbanks-have garnered a total of 17 No. 1 songs and received a 2003 Dove Award. The next phase begins with the release of More Life, a stunning collection of 12 energetic, pop-flavored melodies and powerful ballads that showcase the group's signature vocal harmonies and lyrical prowess. This career-defining album captures the sound and the passion that has made NewSong a Christian music favorite for more than 20 years.
Produced by Brian Tankersley (Sawyer Brown, Carman), Bill Baumgart (4Him, Al Denson), Bryan Lenox (Michael W. Smith, The Katinas) and NewSong's own O'Brien, More Life is NewSong's 15th album, and promises to be another master achievement that will resonate with both listeners and radio stations across the country. Songwriters Carswell and O'Brien collaborated on each of the album's 10 original tracks, something O'Brien was eager to do. "When you write with Eddie Carswell, it totally changes everything," O'Brien explains. "He is a genius at coming up with hooks and ideas. He's such a talented guy who has a great heart for God and for the music. I would just look over at him and say, 'Man, thank you for letting me be a part of this.'"
The fast-paced, contagious title cut, "Life in My Day," thematically represents the album's heartbeat: "We're always on the go, telling God how we need more time and more days in our life," says O'Brien. "But what we really need more than anything is more life in our days, more Christ in our days." That pursuit of passionate life in Christ is what NewSong is all about.
Other album standouts include "When God Made You," an inspirational love song Carswell wrote for his daughter's wedding-destined to be a perennial wedding classic-and "For the Glory of Christ," a powerful song that celebrates life as it was meant to be. "That's one of those songs," Carswell shares, "that when you hear it, it makes you take a deep breath and say, 'Okay, this is what it's all about.'"
At the suggestion of a close friend, St. Louis-based radio personality DC Chymes, NewSong also chose to record a soulful rendition of the Keith Green classic, "Your Love Broke Through." Chymes, who played a big role in the mainstream radio success of "The Christmas Shoes," played the Keith Green song to several pop radio programmers and received an overwhelming response. He knew that NewSong would be the perfect vocal band to reawaken this incredible standard of faith.
"Like 'The Christmas Shoes,' this is a song that has a great story to tell, and I'd love for us to be able to share it with a wider audience," says Carswell.
"I've always loved Keith Green's music and have always thought of him as a pioneer in our industry, so it's an honor to be able to sing this song now," adds Goodwin, who's gritty, soulful vocal adds an impressive texture to the song.
Returning to the group after three years, Scotty Wilbanks joins NewSong, adding an irreplaceable musical dimension to the group's amazingly energetic live shows. A talented, multi-instrument musician, Wilbanks' return will no doubt thrill NewSong fans of all ages. On any given concert night, you're likely to see him on the keyboards and organ, or roaming through the audience with his saxophone, bagpipes, accordion or melodica.
"I feel like NewSong is an experience," Wilbanks says, "and you don't really get the full vibe until you've seen the group perform live. If I'm up there having a great time, it's contagious and people in the audience are having a great time."
"There's always something to look at on stage," says Matt Butler, who is not only a vocalist in the group, but also plays keyboards, violin and cello. "It's never boring - there is always something going on. There's no doubt we have fun together. These guys are literally some of my best friends, and being on stage with them is kind of just an extension of our friendship. We just have a blast doing what we're doing."
NewSong's unparalleled live shows have become a mainstay on the Christian music touring circuit. For the past eight years, the group has pioneered the Summer Jam and Winter Jam Tours, featuring a diverse, multi-artist lineup that has included such acts as Rebecca St. James, Tait, Audio Adrenaline, Newsboys, Plus One, and many more. The group also continues its role each year as hosts of the summer and winter Xtreme Youth Conferences.
"We get credit for being mentors to some of the artists we take out on the road with us, but at the same time we're always watching and taking stuff in," Carswell shares. "We've been out with just about everybody, and we've been able to make some lasting friendships with one another. Iron sharpens iron, and we just love getting to see how God is using them." All modesty aside, the bottom line for NewSong is always going to be the importance of sharing their faith through everything they do. That has remained the vital core of this group since the beginning.
"I think what keeps us going is not necessarily the fun we have with the music, but it's that time at the end of the evening when we see people respond," Goodwin explains. "It's like a shot of adrenaline. It's amazing to see God use what little bit we're doing to reach people. That's really our motivation."
"We still love what we're doing and it's always incredible to hear how God has used our music to touch someone's life," Carswell concludes. "God's the one orchestrating this whole thing, and he's blessed us more and more as the years have gone by. It's a remarkable thing to see how it all works out, and we'll just keep riding the waves to see what God wants to do next."