Whole Notes

Whole Notes

A conversation with recording artist and The Voice contestant Anthony Evans

posted by Chad Bonham

AEvans1Sustaining an eight-year music career under the radar is quite the impressive feat these days. It’s difficult to last in a cutthroat business where, even within the Christian industry, longevity is always hard to come by. But somehow, Anthony Evans managed to record six albums between 2004 and 2011 without the help of a major breakout hit.

For some, Evans might be known as the son of nationally recognized pastor Dr. Tony Evans. But until his appearance on season two of The Voice in 2012, he was an incredibly gifted singer-songwriter whose time to shine was just over the horizon. When Evans sang “If I Ain’t Got You” in a battle round with Jesse Campbell, not only did it go down as one of the show’s greatest performances, his part in the duet also launched his career into unchartered waters.

Earlier this month, Evans released his seventh album and first project since that fateful national television appearance. According to the soulful vocalist, Real Life, Real Worship is a testimony of God’s work in his life over the past two years.

In this Whole Notes interview, Evans talks about how he landed on The Voice, how a conversation with Grammy-Award winning artist Christina Aguilera changed his perspective and how he hopes both the Church and the general market embrace his latest collection of songs:

Chad Bonham: How has having a well-known minister for a father impacted your music career?

Anthony Evans: To me, he was always just my dad. I had to figure out my own faith. That was something I figured out a while ago when I was 18. But I can always stand on the fact that he’s been a great example for me. Beyond that, building my career hasn’t been attached to my dad. It’s been me figuring things out for myself.

Bonham: What was the process that led you to participate in The Voice?

Evans: Some friends of mine encouraged me to send a video way before the show even debuted. I got a phone call to meet with the production team. At that point, I had people telling me I should try it. I had my own thing going but they encouraged me that I was only going to achieve things if I took chances. I wasn’t trying to do something broader at that time, but there was something in my heart saying, “There’s got to be more.” It’s not like I was discontent with what I was doing, but I felt like God was calling me to step outside of the four church walls and do something different. The Voice was obviously that opportunity for me. I didn’t make it the first season, but then they called me back to do the second season. That’s how the doors were opened to all the opportunities I have right now. Being in LA inspired me to do this new record. I’ve been in sessions with some monster artists that I never thought I’d ever be around. It’s also shown me that you’ve always got to be on it. The best people in the world are in LA. You have to step it up.

Bonham: Did your battle round song with Jesse Campbell feel like a game changer for your career?

Evans: That was a game changer for me. That performance opened up the door for everything I’m doing now. That 90-second song with Jesse did that for me. I’ll be forever grateful to The Voice for giving me the opportunity. They called me after that battle and told me they were having a new thing called “The Steal” or what they called “The Anthony Evans Rule” because they were sorry I wasn’t there anymore. They had rules that they couldn’t change for my situation, but they changed them for the next season.

Bonham: What are you currently doing with the show?

Evans: I’m going on the road with the show. I’m on a team of talent producers and we whittle down this monstrous number of people to the ones that are going to be on the blind auditions. It’s fun to be a part of that. A lot of the contestants recognize me from the show so I get to coach them through the process.

Bonham: It seems like the new album is a combination of songs that reflect your upbringing and songs that convey some of the new things you’ve experienced in the last couple of years. Is that an accurate description?

Evans: That’s a hundred percent accurate.

Bonham: How did you balance the two concepts considering the fact that some people in the Church get nervous when Christian artists delve into topics outside of the traditional messages of faith and worship?

AEvans_CoverEvans: There’s nothing to get nervous about. All I’m doing is being authentic and real and singing about the emotions I go through as a human being. I don’t think we should be nervous about expressing who we really are when it comes to being a believer but also when it comes to being someone who goes through real life. You have to experience real life before you can understand what it means to really worship. That’s it. This whole concept started at Christina Aguilera’s house. She asked what a worship leader was. She wanted me to explain that to her. And I thought, “If I start talking to this girl in church terms, it’s going to freak her out.” If I wasn’t a Christian and I didn’t know about church and I started using worship terminology—if I started talking about “the Lamb that was slain” to Christina, she would think, “You’re in a cult.” It’s a weird thought. So in that moment, I knew I had to connect to her through real life issues. I told her about me going through a broken engagement. Then she talked about how she went through some hard things in her life. That was real life. But then when she started to talk about how I handled it, and I was able to talk about real worship. That’s how this record came together. It’s just me being honest about my emotions and writing songs that people outside of church can connect to. The creative director for the video was Cher’s creative director. I want those kind of people involved. I want them to hear the song and go get the record and hear the worship songs and go, “Oh this is what Anthony is all about.” That is the objective of this whole project. I’m not nervous about the church being anxious. I just want Christians to embrace the fact that music is made not just for the church, but it’s also for the people that need to hear about the love of God.

Bonham: How would you describe the evolution of your music since 2004?

Evans: Over the last 10 years, stylistically I’ve gotten to the point where I want to explore and do things with excellence. I want to write songs that resonate with me and will resonate with a live audience. I’m exploring fresh sounds. This is the first Christian record that my producer (Max Stark) has ever done. He naturally brought sounds that were not normal for Christian music. On the show, Christina Aguilera and Jewel taught me something important. They both told me that I didn’t have to fit into a mold. You make the mold. People can smell a rat. If you’re doing thing for marketing and for a record label, you’re going to set yourself up to be called a phony. As long as it’s true to you, you do it. If you make great music, you can become a mold breaker or a trailblazer. It’s a little scary to do that because you can’t always see what’s in front of you, but you’re clearing out a path for people behind you to follow.

Bonham: Do you feel like your experience on The Voice and the subsequent successes have breathed new life into your career?

Evans: I know artists that have tried for a long time in the Christian industry and then they were on a TV show and all of the sudden the doors swing wide open. Christians want to connect with things that are mainstream. So for me, people see that Christina Aguilera thinks I’ve got something to offer and all of the sudden they think maybe they should give my music a shot. I have a producer friend from the show who came to me and said, “How is it that you’re 28 years old and I’ve never heard of you before?” It made no sense to her that she had didn’t know anything about my music. That changed my mindset. I realized that I had been operating within a box. So now, there is no box. If you want to do it, you can do it.

Stay up on Anthony’s latest news and tour dates by visiting his official website HERE.

Exclusive video interview with Dove Award winning artist Francesca Battistelli

posted by Chad Bonham

On Tuesday, April 22nd, Dove Award winning artist Francesca Battistelli releases her third studio album If We’re Honest. In preparation for the upcoming project, Whole Notes is exclusively premiering a video interview as the Grammy-nominated artist talks about her new music.

Battistelli is fresh off the heels of a hugely successful Son of God tour where she appeared alongside Natalie Grant, Meredith Andrews, Jason Gray, Chris August and Sidewalk Prophets. She also performed the lead single “Write Your Story” on ABC’s “Good Morning America” back in February.

Check out what she has to say about the new music in this video that can only be seen on Whole Notes through Sunday, April 20th:

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Fans can pre-order the new album by visiting her official website HERE.

Fans can also check out If We’re Honest this week via iTunes “First Play” program by clicking HERE.

Documentary to feature American Idol songwriter Regie Hamm

posted by Chad Bonham

new oms cover pixMusic video director and veteran celebrity photographer Devin Pense is embarking on a unique journey as he attempts to tell the story of his good friend Regie Hamm in the documentary One More Song. For the average music fan, Hamm’s name may not be terribly familiar. But to those within the industry, he has been a consistent hit songwriter and at one time was an up-and-coming pop star.

By 2003, Hamm had written over 400 recorded songs including cuts by Christian artists such as Bob Carlisle, Jaci Velasquez and Clay Crosse. He also found his way into the general market with songs recorded by the likes of Kenny Loggins and Maxi Priest. That year, however, turned out to be a trying time for Hamm and his family. Hamm’s solo career stalled out and his wife Yolanda lost her job as a record label executive. To make matters worse, their daughter Isabella (aka Bella), adopted from China, was diagnosed with a rare disorder known as Angelman Syndrome and challenged the family as they never imagined.

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Yolanda and Regie Hamm

During the spring of 2008, Hamm was on the verge of walking away from the music business. But when his wife saw a songwriting contest advertised on American Idol, she encouraged him to write one more song. His decision to take her up on the challenge turned out to be a life-changing one. “Time Of My Life” won the contest and became a huge hit for that year’s American Idol winner David Cook.

Ironically, the song was featured during the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Bejiing. Before Bella was diagnosed with Angleman Disorder, Hamm and his wife had planned to take her back to China for the Games. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out, but more importantly, the song Bella inspired reached over a billion people in one night.

According to Pense the documentary “is a story of deep redemption in the midst of great heartbreak and hardship…Our hope is to connect with people all over the world on a heart level and be an inspiration to anyone who may be in the midst of a life crisis, encouraging them to write one more song.”

Pense is currently raising funds for the documentary via Kickstarter. You can check it out by clicking the link below:

One More Song

Shane Barnard talks about songwriting and Shane & Shane’s latest album Bring Your Nothing

posted by Chad Bonham
Shane Barnard (left) and Shane Everett (right).

Shane Barnard (left) and Shane Everett (right).

For Shane Barnard, writing songs isn’t just about producing material for a new Shane & Shane album. In fact, that’s usually the last on his mind and in his heart. Instead, the creative process is birthed out of a desire to draw closer to God and remind himself of the gripping nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In this Whole Notes interview, Barnard talks about the latest news from the Shane & Shane camp, the theme behind the band’s latest album Bring Your Nothing, and the inspiration for the album’s opening track:

Chad Bonham: Tell me about how things are going these days with the songwriting class, local ministry and family life in general.

Shane Barnard: Every Monday night during the college semester, I still do the songwriting class at Oaks School of Leadership. This new record is a collection of songs I wrote out of this class. We do that through a church called Oaks but we are on staff at a church called Watermark Community Church in Dallas. This year, we started to lead worship every week, which is a new thing for us. We’ve involved in leading worship at the church periodically but we lead every Tuesday night and it’s been awesome. The Lord just continues to open up doors through local ministry and also our platform outside of that. We’re just grateful for that. We’re also doing a conference in February on Valentine’s weekend. It’s been on my heart for over a decade. It’s called the Linger Conference. For a couple of days, we’re going to sprawl out and get into the Word and have a lot of opportunity to just linger in the presence of the Lord. We’ve brought a lot of projects to our studio. Our families are growing like crazy. The Everetts had their third girl this year and we have our two girls. It’s all kinds of craziness.

Bonham: How would you describe the running theme behind Bring Your Nothing?

Bring Your NothingBarnard: The thought of Bring Your Nothing came from Isaiah 65 and how we have nothing to offer Jesus. That’s the Gospel message. If you bring anything other than nothing, than Jesus has no part of it. He says, bring nothing and in return, I’m going to give you everything, forever. That concept continues to wreck me because I grew up in a good deal of religion. I didn’t know the world. It’s polar opposite of what I see in the world and what I grew up with. At the same time, it does require a supernatural amount of humility to admit you have nothing. In my greatest day, in the day I’m playing in front of 50 thousand people and God used me in the most powerful way and I was floating on a spiritual cloud all day and I was the perfect husband, there was still so much sin going on because the Bible says the heart is deceptive above all things. In my most righteous deed, I’m still called a dirty rag when measured up to the holiness of God. The only thing I have to give is what put Jesus on the cross. He takes that and He trades that in for everything—for life in Him and for life in eternity. As the old timers call it, it’s the great exchange.

Bonham: Talk about the song “The One You’ll Find” and the scripture, 2 Chronicles 16:9, that inspired it.

Barnard: That concept co-exists, somewhat, with what we just talked about. Even in my most righteous deed, I’ve got nothing. That’s why in that song, it’s really a prayer song asking the Lord to create that heart in me and to find in me that heart that is fully committed to me. It’s a big, huge thought that the Lord is searching for the heart that is fully committed to Him. I don’t think that heart exists. The only heart that has been fully committed to God has been Christ’s heart. But if we cling to His righteousness, He then calls us the righteousness of God. It’s not about being perfect, because no one is perfect. The ones that are fully committed to Him are the ones that are clinging to Him, seeking Him, pursuing Him and going after Him. Even if it’s messy and sloppy, the Lord sees the desire of our heart to love Him. It’s a big prayer of mine that God would find me doing that. I want to fix my eyes on Him and not on my own works.

Keep up with the latest from Shane & Shane by visiting the band’s official website HERE.

Previous Posts

A conversation with recording artist and The Voice contestant Anthony Evans
Sustaining an eight-year music career under the radar is quite the impressive feat these days. It’s difficult to last in a cutthroat business where, even within the Christian industry, longevity is always hard to come by. But somehow, Anthony Evans managed to record six albums between 2004 and 201

posted 2:00:55am May. 07, 2014 | read full post »

Exclusive video interview with Dove Award winning artist Francesca Battistelli
On Tuesday, April 22nd, Dove Award winning artist Francesca Battistelli releases her third studio album If We're Honest. In preparation for the upcoming project, Whole Notes is exclusively premiering a video interview as the Grammy-nominated artist talks about her new music. Battistelli is fresh

posted 11:15:09am Apr. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Documentary to feature American Idol songwriter Regie Hamm
Music video director and veteran celebrity photographer Devin Pense is embarking on a unique journey as he attempts to tell the story of his good friend Regie Hamm in the documentary One More Song. For the average music fan, Hamm's name may not be terribly familiar. But to those within the industry,

posted 7:00:49pm Nov. 22, 2013 | read full post »

Shane Barnard talks about songwriting and Shane & Shane's latest album Bring Your Nothing
For Shane Barnard, writing songs isn't just about producing material for a new Shane & Shane album. In fact, that's usually the last on his mind and in his heart. Instead, th

posted 8:00:41am Aug. 30, 2013 | read full post »

A conversation with country singer and film actor Trace Adkins
This entry is somewhat of a departure from the Q&A's with Christian artists that are usually found here. That's because Whole Notes was recently given the unique opportunity to visit a movie set during two of its final days of filming. Moms' Night Out was just about to wrap up several weeks of s

posted 5:00:53am Jun. 24, 2013 | read full post »


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