From the summer 2013 issue of Redlands Magazine
The Packinghouse has hosted several high profile Christian music artists in the past, but Casting Crowns' debut at the Redlands church on June 28 tops the list.
"This is the biggest one we've had," said Jason Dean, youth pastor and concert coordinator at The Packinghouse, adding that it is "absolutely an honor" to have the band play here. "I definitely respect what they do and what they bring. I've heard nothing but phenomenal things.
"They have an appreciation for the musicianship and what they're singing about," Dean continued. "I just can't help but love and fall right into it and be a fan."
Lead singer/songwriter Mark Hall and other members of the Christian pop/rock group are youth ministers at Eagle's Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, GA. The musicians work their tour schedules around church responsibilities.
"I'm excited to see some of the things that (Hall will) be sharing and saying and glean from them," Dean said. "When somebody is able to travel the country and see so many people, they tend to have a larger scope and perspective. Some of the simple phrases they communicate go a long way."
Formed in Florida in 1999, Casting Crowns initially came to the attention of country music vet and Sawyer Brown vocalist Mark A. Miller, who signed the band to his record label and became their regular producer. Over the past decade, all the albums have resonated on a national level.
Hall, plus guitarist Juan DeVevo, bassist Chris Huffman, drummer Brian Scoggin, keyboardist Megan Garrett, violinist Melodee DeVevo and new lead guitarist Josh Mix, can claim plenty of impressive achievements.
These include more than a dozen top 10 Christian singles (chart- toppers such as "Who Am I," "Voice of Truth," "Praise You in This Storm" and "East to West"), five gold or platinum-certified studio releases, 15 Dove Awards, a pair of American Music Awards and a Grammy.
Crowns songs often stem from Bible studies, devotions or talks during worship time. 2011's "Come to the Well" album was inspired by the way people can serve as a well and how we draw from the opinions of others. No. 1 single "Courageous" sprung from an idea in Robert Lewis' book about fathers and sons, "Raising a Modern Day Knight."
Matthew West, Steven Curtis Chapman and Tom Douglas co-wrote some tunes with Hall for "Well." The latter collaborator is an award- winning country tunesmith whose credits include hits by Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum.
Hall has said he believes there's always a need for music that encourages people through psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
A few months ago, the band did shows in South America as well as a short, stripped-down U.S. tour in support of live album "The Acoustic Sessions: Vol. 1."
The sold out Redlands gig (a headline appearance at Fishfest follows the next day at Irvine's Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre) is expected to be a regular electric performance though, with lyrics projected on screens.
Additionally, the septet is featured in the spiritual independent film "Ring the Bell," co-starring Chapman (now available on DVD) and a new CD, "Jesus Firm Foundation: Hymns of Worship," alongside Chapman, Chris Tomlin, Michael W. Smith, Matt Redman and others.
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