Peanuts and Popcorn

Peanuts and Popcorn

Boy Choir, Libera, Presents New CD and DVD

posted by jtotey
Libera (Warner Classics)

Libera (Warner Classics)

In January of this year, the boy choir, Libera, recorded a live concert at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. for the upcoming PBS special, Angels Sing: Libera in America. The soundtrack of the special is now available on DVD as well as CD.

Like Charlotte Church and The American Boychoir (who have sung with Michael W. Smith), Libera is, as the press release describes, a “celestial-sounding, chart-topping boy choir.” However, despite their polished performances and their angelic voices, they look more like Dennis the Menace in a choir robe. The cover of the both the DVD and CD feature the boys being boys with messy hair and dirty shoes. The DVD features both the television special as well as a “behind the scenes” short, which was a disappointment as it missed the opportunity to really show who these boys are when they are not performing. Instead, we just get a glimpse.


As for the performance itself, the guys are a bit stiff. Of course, this has a lot to do with reverence of the material of what they are singing and where they are singing it. However, in-between numbers, a few of the boys introduce themselves and share a little bit about the songs they sing. The delivery is so scripted and the mild jokes so forced that it doesn’t sound genuine. Fortunately, it doesn’t take anything away from their performance.

The DVD and CD both feature the same song line up, so there really isn’t any reason to purchase the DVD over the CD if you are just interested in the music itself. Not every song is religious in nature either. In addition to hymns, the boys pay tribute to the USA with “America the Beautiful,” sing the Louis Armstrong classic, “What a Wonderful World” and even Cat Stevens, “Morning has Broken.”


LiberaCDThe full list of song selections include:

  • Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
  • How Can I Keep from Singing
  • Morning has Broken
  • America the Beautiful
  • Wayfaring Stranger
  • Amazing Grace
  • What a Wonderful World
  • The Prayer
  • Be Still My Soul
  • How Great Thou Art
  • Rest in Peace
  • Sanctus
  • Song of Life
  • Ave Maria
  • Voca Me
  • How Shall I Sing that Majesty


Amy Grant’s Latest will Appeal to Country Fans

posted by jtotey
Universal Music Group

(Universal Music Group)

After years of being relatively quiet, Christian music star, Amy Grant, has made up for it. In 2013, she released “How Mercy Looks from Here” that featured special duos with Vince Gill, James Taylor, Sheryl Crow and others. Last year came “Amy Grant in Motion: The Remixes,” which featured new dance music spins on some of her more popular music including “Baby, Baby” and “Every Heartbeat.” This month comes “Be Still and Know…Hymns & Faith.”


“Hymns & Faith” features many tracks from previous albums including “Legacy…Hymns & Faith,” “Rock of Ages…Hymns & Faith” and “How Mercy Looks from Here.” Grant is not usually considered a country singer, but when you put all of these tracks together, including two new ones produced by her husband, Vince Gill, this is definitely a country album. However, with that said, Grant does some nice contemporary touches including a slightly faster tempo to the music making the “old” hymns sound new. The best example of this is “This is My Father’s World.”

“Power in the Blood” and “Be Still and Know” are the two new tracks. “Power” will no doubt be favorite as it is fast-paced and has a bluegrass sound to it. Just about impossible not to slap your knee while listening to it. “Be Still” is a peaceful reminder that sometimes it is best to just sit, be quiet and let God do his thing.


The best song on the album by far is “Deep as it is Wide” which features Sheryl Crow and Eric Paslay. The three voices harmonize beautifully. The album also features the Grant standard, “El Shaddai.”

While most Amy Grant fans will be able to appreciate this album, it is a safe bet that only those truly fond of hymns and country music will enjoy it the most.

This collection features these 15 songs:
1. Power In The Blood
2. Be Still And Know
3. Jesus Take All of Me (Just As I Am)
4. Rock Of Ages
5. Carry You
6. This Is My Father’s World
7. El Shaddai
8. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
9. It Is Well With My Soul/The River’s Gonna Keep On Rolling
10. My Jesus, I Love Thee
11. Deep As It Is Wide
12. What A Friend We Have In Jesus/Old Rugged Cross/How Great Thou Art
13. ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus
14. Softly And Tenderly
15. Holy, Holy, Holy


‘Book of Yeezus’ is a Mockery Gone Too Far

posted by jtotey


In what seems like a late April Fool’s Day joke, a new “version” of the Bible is making headlines: “The Book of Yeezus.” That’s right, Kanye West has his own Bible that you can own for just $20.

The only good news about this story is that West had nothing to do with the novelty item. It was created by “three entrepreneurial brothers with a special interest in mass-society and its effects on our worldview and imagination” and offered through Why Etsy, known for selling artsy and crafty items, would like to be associated with the book is mystery.


What if the Bible, the most singularly significant publication in the ancient canon of Western tradition, were updated to reflect our modern society?,” says the website. “What would it look like? What we came up with was an interventionist art, coffee-table novelty, that will appeal to both Kanye fans everywhere and those made curious by this enormous cultural phenomenon.” The website continues to explain what the book is all about: “At it’s simplest, it is the book of Genesis, modified to feature “Kanye” or “Yeezus” in the place of God or Y—A. ‘In the beginning Kanye created the heaven and the earth… And Kanye said, Let there be light: and there was light.’”


West may be disappointed that he didn’t think up the idea of himself since he sings “I Am a God” on his current “Yeezus” album. Here is a clip from an interview where he explains to the interviewer what he means:YouTube Preview Image

Though obviously a joke, for Christians believing that the Bible is the inspired word of God, it is an offensive one. Not only that, but spiritually, it seems a little dangerous to try to make money by mocking God. Not that people don’t do it every day, but this is pretty bold. But the books are popular and the makers even branched out with their own website to sell their wares. Apparently, the handmade books are in demand. “We’ve gotten a helluva lotta orders. Actually, we sold more books than we have sitting in the kitchen,” says the brothers on Etsy. “Please understand that from your time of purchase, there will be an extra delay in delivery time as we wait for more books. Moses walked through the desert for 40 years. A few extra days ain’t much. Thanks.”

Perhaps the saddest thing about this story is the others will be sure to get on the band wagon and create their own bible “translations” as humor.


TV: This Easter, it’s all About Jesus

posted by jtotey
"Killing Jesus" (National Geographic Channel)

“Killing Jesus” (National Geographic Channel)

In a time where some Christian publications remind us on a daily basis that our world is going to hell in a hand basket, the rest of the world surprises us. While some fight for freedom FROM religion, others are embracing it. And who better to take advantage of this trend? TV.


This week’s schedule is full of Easter and religious-themed programing all around the dial, a rare occurrence indeed. But will people watch? If last night’s ratings of Killing Jesus are any indication, then yes.

Last night, the National Geographic Channel brought in 3.7 million viewers to watch the adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Jesus. This is the channel’s biggest audience ever and much of the audience fell into the 25-54 age range. Later this week, the film will be shown on the Fox News Channel and will air globally in 171 countries.


This week, just before Passover, CBS is bringing (albeit with very little fanfare) the TV mini-series The Dovekeepers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Based on Alice Hoffman novel of the same name, the made-for-TV movie is yet another project of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey who are getting a lot more attention for the NBC limited series, A.D.: The Bible Continues which begins on Easter. This is sort of a sequel of their History Channel project, The Bible and takes place right after the crucifiction of Christ. (Side Note: Have you seen pictures of Burnett lately? He is growing his own Bible-sized beard.) Also on Easter Sunday, ABC will air its umpteenth presentation of the classic Cecile B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments.


On the UP channel, they are celebrating Easter (or Bible stories) all week long including a newer version of the Ten Commandments. They are also featuring the classic 1961 King of Kings and Mel Giblson’s The Passion of the Christ. Also on Easter, TCM will featured Easter-themed movies all day.


Here is a listing of evening presentations for this week:

"The Dove Keepers" (CBS)

“The Dove Keepers” (CBS)

Monday, March 30
– Jesus – UP – 8:00 pm
– Killing Jesus – National Geographic Channel – 11:00 pm


Tuesday, March 31
– The Dovekeepers – CBS – 8:00 pm
– The Ten Commandments – UP- 9:00 pm


Wednesday, April 1
– The Dovekeepers – CBS – 8:00 pm
– King of Kings – UP – 9:00 pm


Thursday, April 2
– The Dovekeepers – CBS – 8:00 pm
– Mary, Mother of Jesus – UP – 9:00 pm
– Apostle Peter and the Last Supper – UP – 11:00 pm


"A.D.: The Bible Continues" (NBC)

“A.D.: The Bible Continues” (NBC)

Friday, April 3
– Judas – UP – 7:00 pm
– Killing Jesus – Fox News Channel – 8:00 pm
– The Passion of the Christ – UP – 9:00 pm
– Jesus – UP – 11:00 pm


Saturday, April 4
– Noah’s Ark – UP – 5:0o pm
– The Passion of Christ – UP – 7:00 pm
– Noah’s Ark – UP – 9:00 pm
– King of Kings – UP – 11:00 pm


Sunday, April 5
– The Ten Commandments – ABC – 7 pm
– Killing Jesus – Fox News Channel – 8 pm
– A.D.: The Bible Continues – NBC – 9 pm

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