#CGForever: @therealgrimmie proves that #allisvanity with brand new album

One year ago today, Christina Grimmie was taken from this Earth far too soon. Yet, her beautiful family and team have been keeping Christina’s beautiful legacy alive by continuing to release new music that she had worked on prior to her passing. And none of it disappoints. christina-grimmie-title-meaning

Her newest album was released a major record label, which was one of Grimmie’s life-long dreams, as well as to win a Grammy.

With this review, I am only trying to honor Christina and in no way trying to critique her or her absolutely powerful gift with music and inspiring people. As mentioned in previous posts, I only spoke to her briefly when I worked the Wildfire Tour for Rachel Platten but she definitely had a big heart, a beautiful smile, and a light that would help you through the darkest times in your life.  I also urge everyone to read this to get a copy of All is Vanity as a tribute to the singer.

Her new album is titled All is Vanity and is based off her favorite Bible verse that she ended up getting tattooed on her arm:

“All Is Vanity” is a bible verse, from Ecclesiastes 12:8, which reads: “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.”

Before her untimely passing, Christina would say that this verse was there to remind her that her success and fame where nothing without Christ, and only in Him does life have meaning.

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Song By Song Review

“Sublime”: 

This song opens the album and it is said this was Christina’s favorite of all her new songs, and you can hear it in her voice throughout the track. There is an enthusiasm that gives her voice that extra dose of perfection. 18839135_1582459721796616_5983707235376120846_n

The breakdown is my favorite part of the entire track:

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“Steady Love”:    

I absolutely love the musicality of this track. It reminds me of an anime love story, as it has a little bit of a Japanese sound to it.

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Invisible: 

The third track was one of the first new songs released by Team Grimmie, and 100% of proceeds from the sale of it went to starting the Christina Grimmie Foundation. A posthumous release from Christina Grimmie, who rips our hearts in two with her incredible talent, bright presence, and musical ear. The song is a little eery as Grimmie talks about no longer being invisible, singing:

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Source: Beat.Media

Crowded Room

My favorite track on the album that caused me to tear up at the first listen because it showcases Grimmie’s R&B vocal stylings and it shows a deeper side to her songwriting by discussing someone who chooses a crowded room to hide from themselves, possibly hinting at what Grimmie felt was an epidemic in Hollywood.

Crowded Room perfectly blends Alessia Cara’s “Here” and Sia’s “Chandelier” in song content, vocal stylings, and musicality.

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Everybody Lies

Producer and Christina’s boyfriend, Stephen Rezza, perfectly placed a clip from this Youtube video at the end of this song and it made me ball my eyes out.  This song is a perfect placard for Christina’s motivating and inspirational legacy.

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Pressure I woke up with this stuck in my head and cannot stop listening to it because this song is a serious bop, jam, hit, and it has these feel good dancy vibes that remind me of the power and caliber of a Michael Jackson song. It is similar to “Scream” but has the musicality of “Bad.”

Christina, I’m with you.

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Maybe I With this track, Christina’s vocal powerhouse shines here.

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Echo A badass “I deserve better” anthem about someone who continues to lie to you and you realize you need to get up and move on. 

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I Only Miss You When I Breathe

This song makes me miss this young beautiful talent. A beautiful arrangement similar to her single Invisible, EDM meets Grimmie’s R&B vocal stylings and incomparable vocal range. It’s my favorite off her Side B EP.

Source: Beat.Media

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The Game

This song reminds me “For You” by Demi Lovato in vocals and musicality. It’s the perfect way to end the album.

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We miss you, Christina! I know you are absolutely beaming in heaven.

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#MusicReview: @DNCE’s debut album will make you D-A-N-C-E

New album review I wrote about DNCE

They did happen to cut out my intro paragraph but do I really need to reiterate how much the Jonas Brothers mean to me, and how happy I am for each of them despite how much I was saddened when they parted ways as a musical act?

For all the fangirl features, check out my review above.DNCE-Kissing-Strangers-Lyric-Video.jpg

#MusicMonday: ‘Starlight’ is an appropriate light in a dark world

Worship focuses on Who God is. His character, His goodness, faithfulness, grace, love, and many other wonderful things. Worship creates an atmosphere in which God can work. Worship transforms us. By starting to worship God for the changes He is already working in us, we find that those changes start manifesting more and more, and we experience new levels of God’s presence, power, and goodness in our lives. As we worship, we remain in position to receive these things and everything else God has for us.

About Bethel Music
Bethel Music is a worship ministry that formed as an organic extension of Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Over the last seven years, Bethel Music has grown from being a local church music ministry to becoming a global outreach featuring a cadre of songwriters and worship leaders, with both online and on-campus worship schools. The Bethel Music Artist Collective includes Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, Jonathan David and Melissa Helser, Leeland, Hunter Thompson, Paul and Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, Josh Baldwin, Cory Asbury and Kristene DiMarco. Together these artists have six acclaimed albums that all went to the top of Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart, in addition to four GMA Dove Awards and a GMA Covenant Award. Bethel Music’s multi-artist double-disc live recording Have It All (2016) hit No. 1 on the overall iTunes Albums chart and No. 6 on Billboard’s Top Albums chart, becoming Bethel Music’s highest retail debut on the charts ever. Starlight, Bethel Music’s first full-length album recorded live on tour, is available April 7.

The heart of Bethel Music is to be a steward of the worship being created and released at Bethel Church, making it a resource available to the world. In addition to thousands of people that attend Bethel’s weekly worship services, another 350,000 plus people subscribe to the online stream of the services at www.ibethel.tvWorshipU, Bethel Church’s online school of worship, features ongoing training programs underneath seasoned instructors, with tracks including worship leader, songwriter, sound engineer, team essentials, producing a song and worship fundamentals, available at www.worshipu.com. More about Bethel Music can be found at www.bethelmusic.com.

Get Connected With Bethel Music
Website // www.bethelmusic.com

Facebook // www.facebook.com/bethelmusic

Twitter // www.twitter.com/bethelmusic

Instagram // www.instagram.com/bethelmusic

YouTube // www.youtube.com/ibethelmusic

Starlight is the first full-length album recorded live on tour by Bethel Music. Featuring songs led by an all-female worship leader team, including Bethel Music artists Jenn Johnson, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, Kristene DiMarco, Kalley Heiligenthal, Melissa Helser, Hannah McClure, and Grammy-award winning guest worship leader and songwriter, Francesca Battistelli.

Starlight is anchored in the message that our lives, our world, and all eternity are held together in Jesus. Like His stars placed in the universe, no distance separates us from our Creator and we are handcrafted and deeply known as children of God.

Notable Tracks

Most tracks on this record have a wonderful musicality that boasts a soft acoustic feel.

“Starlight”: Vocalist Amanda Cook begins, “You’re like starlight in the dark.” “You’re like summer in the night, even when the sun goes down, I still feel you.”

“Breathe”: Vocalist Amanda Cook sings, “You are here right now/ I can see your smiling face/pride in your eyes.”

You Came (Lazarus): A piano medley breaks up the soft, acoustic feel while vocalist Amanda Cook breaks it down: “You are a God of miracles.”

There’s No Other Name: Vocalist Francesca Batistelli sets the scene for a worship song centered around the Name of Jesus.

God, I Look To You: Batistelli wows once again with a song about looking to God for wisdom: “You know just what to do.”

Old For New: A break from the acoustic musicality with a more pop rock sound, this song builds much the same as our excitement in Christ and becoming a new creation in Him.

For The One: “Help Me to love with open arms the way you do,” sings Vocalist Jen Johnson.

The War is Over: “He made a way for us/Born from glory out of dust.”

I See The Light: “I’m your delight; you chose me.”

Take Courage: “Take courage, my heart. He’s in the waiting.”

Catch The Wind: My favorite because the musicality reminds me of Colors of The Wind from Pocahontas, and is an incredibly beautiful worship song on this album.

Starlight debuts everywhere April 7.

#MusicLove: @MercyMe’s Newest Album is Pro-Life

From the first note, I was into this new album from my introduction to Christian music growing up in the nineties, Mercy Me. It’s relevant, dancy, jazzy, classy, and full of Jesus. There isn’t a song on the ten track album that will have you eager to skip to the next track. It’s perfect for long car rides, daily worship, or sporadic dance parties in your living room.

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On the heels of their RIAA Certified Gold and GRAMMY® acclaimed Welcome To The New (2014), at the core of their newest is the question of what it looks like to live as followers of Christ.

“This new record is the logical next chapter after our last album, and it carries a new perspective,” MercyMe’s Bart Millard remarked. “Welcome To The New was all about grace and identity in Christ; a welcoming to the life of being a new creation by grace. And it’s such an exciting truth to grasp, but then life continues to go on and eventually the newness of that wears off and we need encouragement and support to sustain us. For me personally, I sing about being new every night on tour and I don’t always feel so new. So the album title LIFER and the theme of the record is all about reminding ourselves and others about the victory we have in the end through Christ. We are all in this for life – even on the days when we don’t feel like doing any of it. We want these songs to be a morale boost to remind people of who they are and what Christ has done.”

Filled with positive, uplifting lyrics, along with energetic beats and soaring melodies, this latest offering delivers the massive hits that MercyMe is known for. The debut single “Even If” will serve as a follow-up to the band’s four hit singles found on their previous album. Lifer debuts March 31 wherever music is sold. 

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Song by Song Review

Lifer: An announcer greets the listener with, “And now, ladies and gentlemen,” before big band musicality opens the track discussing faith in Christ becoming as simple as vital as breathing to live. My favorite line:

“Because it ain’t what happens to me, yeah that don’t define me. It’s what I got inside me. Before I was created, you already knew yeah. Ain’t nothing gonna separate us, hallelujah.”

You Found Me: Has musicality that reminds me of an eighties movie, or the outro to The Breakfast Club. Lyrically, it tells the upbeat story of Christ finding those who believe in Him in our dark corners of guilt, shame, and condemnation, and claims us as His own.

Grace Got You: With a modern take on mo-town musicality, this song will get you on your feet in danceful worship of God’s grace. My favorite line:

Smile like you just got away with something. Why? 

‘Cause you just got away with something ever since grace got you

Best News Ever: An encouraging song that quiets the noise of all the ideals people quote about life, and reminds us of our victory in Christ. You just got the best news ever!

Even If: A ballad that is for those struggling with doubts and questions in the midst of the darkest circumstances.

Hello Beautiful: My favorite off the album because of the usage of real life sounds that bring the track to life.

We Win: With a song that could be used for the Body of Christ’s pep rally, this is an encouraging pop rock anthem with the main message being, “We won.”

Happy Dance: You will not be able to stop the joy or the groove that hits you during this song. Totally a shake-it-for-Jesus anthem in lyrical content and pop rock musicality. A great follow-up to the previous track.

Heavens Here: The opening reminds me of “Circle of Life” from The Lion King but it reminds us of the line from the Lord’s Prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Ghost: A haunting musical element creates an old hymn musicality calling out for the Holy Spirit to lead us to hope and peace instead of being like the images painted in campfire stories, horror movies, or Halloween ideals.

Enter my giveaway to win a copy of Lauren Fricke’s YA debut SIGNED

 

#MusicLove:@ColtonDixon ‘s latest #Identity reinstates what we believe

I’ve admitted this before but I’ll say it again. I cried my eyes out when Colton Dixon got voted off American Idol and shortly after that, I stopped watching it at all. I was like how in the world could someone so handsome and talented not get farther, especially with God on his side. The good news is I wasn’t the only one who thought that. God heard my thought and obviously had a greater plan in mind for Colton. In a way, you could see that anyone who had that same thought in that moment was praying in agreement according to God and God grants the secret petitions of the heart.

Releasing March 24, The 17-track deluxe record presents three personal and artistically unique sides to his music in MIND, BODY and SPIRIT, blending his traditional alternative-rock sound with newer pop elements. Dixon more closely examines the elements that make us who we are, from MIND – upbeat, high energy pop to BODY – edgier, rockier to SPIRIT – a calming chance to rest. Each of the three sections of the album varies sonically and is divided by cinematic-like instrumental tracks to prepare the listener for what’s to come. Echoing all sides of Dixon, Identity offers a musical escape from reality, reminding listeners to look towards what really matters – their identity in Christ.

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Song by Song Review

The Mind: An instrumental track where a robotic voice (reminds me of the voice overheard on the Transit Authority ride at Walt Disney World), repeats Romans 12:2 and Philippians 4:8.

Identity A great song to build faith in the times we live in, specifically the issues that plaque the United States of America in 2017.

We are the chosen

We are royalty

We are your children

You set us free to roam

in my identity.

All That Matters: Anthemic with rock music elements, this song portrays God’s love for us: “all that matters is that I matter to you,” My favorite song because it has the heart of a worshiper.

Brand New Life: Based off Matthew 11:28-30 which says, “Come to me, all you heavy-laden, for I will give you rest.” It is another favorite because it has great potential and was recently announced as the next single for the album.

Technicolor:  This track talks about how walking by faith and not sight actually creates a brightness and beauty to the world around us because of our third eye, or spiritual sight. It has musicality that is EDM meets rock music vibes

The Body: This instrumental track with the same Google assistant voice reads the verses from 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 regarding the Body of Christ as a whole and a whole is the sum of its parts.

In My Veins: In classic Colton Dixon style, we are reminded with this song that we as believers live because of the redeeming blood of Jesus.

Down: With musicality that reminds me of a movie soundtrack and a little of EDM meets rock vibes, it is another favorite of mine because it’s like a remixed or new take on Love Has Come For Me.

I Would Choose You: Fun-loving vibes make this song an original, genuine in choosing God no matter what road life takes you on.

Warriors: My absolute favorite off the album because of the ancient warrior soundbite and overall war song vibes. A good reminder that the battle is the lord’s always and our victory  ,even our faith.

Human: Sounding like a 2017 pop song with electronic dance elements, it shares the story of how God’s strength is shown best through and in our human weaknesses.

The Spirit: This instrumental track reads Galatians 5:22-23 and Isaiah 41:10.

No Greater Love: I’m calling it now but this is going to be a single and climb up the Christian charts likened only to God’s mad love for each one of us.

Breathe: A ballad with electronic elements based on Psalm 46:10, which highlights Dixon’s amazing vocal range.

High: Almost like the Colton Dixon song version of Peter Pan. My favorite line:

Hold my hand, you hold my heart, while I’m holding onto you.

The Other Side: A piano ballad that reminisces Colton’s American Idol days talking about those who leave us behind when they pass away. A hopeful bright look at death. Beautiful piece where Dixon has outdone himself.

Autopsy: A bit of a creep factor created by minor chords on a piano as Dixon’s vocals whisper the words,

“We all are one heart beat from heaven,”

This track creates a visual image of a cadaver in a morgue and asks the eternal question regarding afterlife, “Where you gonna go?”

A gorgeous haunting finale to an exquisite musical masterpiece.

Enter my giveaway to win a signed YA book, Corrupting Darkness!

#MusicLove: Laura Story’s newest album gives you ‘open hands’ before the Lord

Laura Story has just that, quite a story, but in the church world, we call it a testimony. The Grammy winner’s fifth album already holds a number one single with the title track, featuring a collaboration with her friend and fellow GRAMMY® winner Mac Powell of Third Day. PR 1 Laura Story 2016.jpg

GRAMMY® award winning artist, speaker, songwriter, author and worship leader Laura Story has a gift for penning songs that connect with people all around the world. Among her successes as a solo artist with her smash hits “Mighty To Save” and “Blessings,” Laura has also penned hit songs for other renowned artists including Chris Tomlin’s “Indescribable.” Her solo artist music debut in 2008 with Great God Who Saves led to four Dove nominations and the award for “Inspirational Album of the Year.”

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In 2011, Laura released her sophomore project Blessings. The album and the emotionally powerful title was inspired by her real life trials and adversities, primarily her husband Martin’s diagnosis of a brain tumor. The album resonated with a huge audience and led to whirlwind career highlights for Laura, peaking at the No. 1 album spot for three consecutive weeks on Billboard’s Contemporary Christian Overall chart, topping the iTunes® Christian/Gospel Top Songs chart and holding the No. 1 spot for an impressive 28 consecutive weeks on the Christian charts. The success of the single “Blessings,” which was certified RIAA Gold, includes the GRAMMY® Award for Best Contemporary Christian Song, the Billboard Music Award for Top Christian Song and the Dove Awards for Song of the Year, Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year, Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. The song inspired Laura’s first book, “What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops?” in 2012. A follow-up book, “When God Doesn’t Fix It, Lessons You Never Wanted to Learn; Truths You Can’t Live Without” and companion bible study DVD and study guide, released last year. God Of Every Story released in 2013 to much acclaim, and her first ever Christmas project God With Us, debuted in October 2015.

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Open Hands will debut on Mar. 3, 2017 (although the pre-order began Feb.3). Laura is a worship leader at Perimeter Church outside of Atlanta, GA and lives with her husband Martin and three children.

Open Hands

Laura Story

Rating: Five Out of Five Cookies

Song by Song Review

Awake My Soul (1000 Tongues): A strong percussive musicality carry this worship song along with emphasis on God’s worthiness of all the praise “forever you are worthy.” It reminds me of one of my favorite worship singers, Sarah Pearsons, who has a song of the same name but has different lyrical content.

Open Hands: Featuring Third day lead singer Mac Powell, it is based off Psalm 51. Easy to see why this is the title track because it is gorgeous and definitely puts the listener’s focus on Jesus.

Take it all
Every hope, every dream, every plan
Take it all
Every weight, all the shame and brokenness
Jesus, I surrender all
Every victory and loss
Take it all, take it all
Till all I have is open hands

You Came Running: My favorite off the album, this third track reminds me of another great singer-songwriter in Christian music, Francesca Batistelli. It is my favorite because my personal testimony of faith is God chasing me down with relentless mercy, love, loyalty, and goodness. It’s what makes God’s love unfathomable to the human mind.

Give You Faith: Written to her child, it’s a faith dedication song that is an act of prayer in intercession for the child who is still a newborn. It’s beautifully both lyrically and musically. The piano backtrack carries the song nicely.

For The Love of My King: Soft guitar introduce the ear to this love letter to the King of Kings. It’s another favorite off the album because my love for Jesus knows no bounds.

Death Was Arrested: A song worshipping Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice and based on 1 Corinthians 15:55-56, we know life begins with Him.

 

Whisper: Psalm 46:10 is the foundation of this praise song because it is about the still, small voice of our Almighty Creater. Soft musicality creates the atmospheric element of a “whisper” throughout the track.

Every Word You Breathe: Taking us back to the Garden of Eden, we visualize God breathing life into Adam and Eve, and with the same notion, God’s word brings life, breathes life.

Extraordinary: Another favorite of mine because it talks about God’s great love being “extraordinary.” Exquisite musicality and vocal usage throughout this praise song.

Grace Abounds: Perfect conclusion to the album, it’s a great song for the times we are living in. It reminds us that no matter the fear-inducing news headlines, we stand on the rock of God’s love for us and how it carries us when we can no longer walk, move, or stand.

Need another music review? Look no further.

#MusicLove Love @alessiacara? Then, you’ll enjoy my review of #Knowitall

I usually write here but the fact is, I don’t get paid for the writing I do here other than the little commission I get from advertisers and donations from kind souls.

Therefore, I ventured out and wrote a review for Beat Media which you can read here.

#MusicLove: ‘The Shack’ soundtrack builds a fort of encouraging uplifting sounds

Recently, I was in the movies and a trailer came on that really shook me in an inspirational way.  Starring a cast of big names and with Octavia Spencer in the lead, I knew I couldn’t wait to see that movie. Based on the best-selling novel, The Shack takes us on a father’s uplifting spiritual journey. After suffering a family tragedy, Mack Phillips spirals into a deep depression causing him to question his innermost beliefs. Facing a crisis of faith, he receives a mysterious letter urging him to an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Despite his doubts, Mack journeys to the shack and encounters an enigmatic trio of strangers led by a woman named Papa. Through this meeting, Mack finds important truths that will transform his understanding of his tragedy and change his life forever.

“The Shack: Music From And Inspired By The Original Motion Picture,” the companion to the film based on The New York Times best-seller, starring Sam Worthington and Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer with Grammy Award-winner Tim McGraw.

The album features music from top Christian artists Skillet, We Are Messengers, Hillsong UNITED, NEEDTOBREATHE, Lauren Daigle, for KING & Country, Francesca Battistelli and Lecrae, plus other A-list acts including Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Brett Eldredge, Kelly Clarkson, Aloe Blacc, Dan + Shay and Devin Dawson.

“THE SHACK: MUSIC FROM AND INSPIRED BY THE ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE” is out February 24th, and “The Shack” opens in theatres nationwide Friday, March 3.

We hope this music serves as a reminder of the truths in Romans 8 – that nothing can separate us from God’s extraordinary love.

Song by Song Review

When I Pray For You: Performed by country duo and expert lyricists Dan and Shay, this track has country style musicality with the vocal stylings of Rascal Flatts. It puts to music praying for your child even before he or she is born.

Keep Your Eyes On Me: The song heard in the movie trailer to promote “The Shack,” performed by Faith and Tim McGraw, it’s a beautiful ballad performed by the star of the film and his infamous wife. It’s about having something to focus on or someone to call “home” in times of trial and tribulation.

Lay Our Flowers Down: Performed by powerhouse country group Lady Antebellum, it shares the simple message: “Lift our voices up, lay our flowers down.” The track boasts country musicality throughout.

Heaven Knows: Christian group Hillsong United greets us with a slow tempo worship ballad about love based on Romans 8.

Where Were You: Christian music solace Francesca Batistelli inspires the listener with a musical track based off the famous Christian poem “Footprints.”

Love Goes On: Bluesy ballad performed by vocal powerhouse Kelly Clarkson & Aloe Blacc that boasts “nothings really gone, we bring the past along, and love goes on.”

River of Jordan: Christian hip-hop anomaly Lecrae raps a track rejecting the religious idea of God to pursue a genuine relationship with God.

Hard Love: Christian band NEEDTOBREATHE and female singer-songwriter Lauren Daigle offer a musical message about God’s unfailing love. This is my favorite off the album because of the pop musicality and inspirational lyrics.

Days of Dark: Banjo backtrack keeps the rhythm of this country-style track by Dierks Bentley, making this another favorite of mine off the album.

Phone Call To God: Country singer-songwriter Brett Elridge has a slow-tempo song that sounds similar in musicality to “Hallelujah,” and may be inspired musically by it.

Honest To God: Devin Dawson performs another slow tempo song about being honest with yourself that we all need someone to lean on, and it’s best when that’s God.

Amazing Grace: Note-worthy is my favorite Christian band For King & Country’s of old church hymn “Amazing Grace,” because of it’s percussive musicality and vocal blendings.

The Smart Cookie rates it: Five Out of Five Cookies because It is an incredible musical compilation of so many of my favorite artists both Christian and secular.

Enter my YA Giveaway. Ends 3.15 at midnight