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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.


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.

A conversation with country singer and film actor Trace Adkins

posted by Chad Bonham

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 shooting in Birmingham, Ala., and several key cast members were made available for interviews to talk about this family comedy slated for 2014 release via Provident Films and Sony Affirm.

Among the cast members present were Sarah Drew (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Abbie Cobb (“Suburgatory”), Patricia Heaton (“The Middle,” “Everybody Loves Raymond”) and country music star Trace Adkins (“Celebrity Apprentice”).

Whole Notes had a chance to sit down with Adkins who has become quite a popular cast selection these days with upcoming releases such as Saving SantaThe Virginian and Palominas. In Moms’ Night Out, he plays a gruff, but kindhearted biker named Bones who sets out on a crazy adventure with four moms whose night on the town goes wrong in every way imaginable.

In this video interview, Adkins talks about how he got into acting, why he was drawn to this film and what it was like starring alongside comedic veteran Patricia Heaton:

A conversation with Hawk Nelson lead singer Jonathan Steingard

posted by Chad Bonham

Hawk Nelson

It doesn’t seem like nearly a decade ago when pop punk band Hawk Nelson exploded onto the scene with the instant classic Letters To The President back in 2004. But it’s true. Hawk Nelson is officially one of Christian rock’s elder statesmen.

The band has undergone some changes during that time, yet its penchant for driving rhythms and catchy hooks has remained the same. And now that longtime front man Jason Dunn has left to pursue a solo career, Hawk Nelson is charging forward with its latest release Made.

In this Whole Notes interview, lead singer Jonathan Steingard talks about the band’s longevity, his transition into a new role, and the art of reinvention:

Chad Bonham: Is it hard to believe that you guys have been at it for almost 10 years now?

Jonathan Steingard: It catches up with you kind of fast.

Bonham: So it’s a weird concept to be considered music veterans?

Steingard: It is a bit of a weird concept. In some ways we feel like veterans in the sense that we know who we are now and where we fit in and what our calling is more than we did before. But in some ways, we still feel a little new, especially now with the changes in the band. This is the first record with me as the singer. There’s this weird dichotomy. We feel like we’ve been around for a while and we’ve been lucky enough to have people follow us for a while. At the same time, we’re experiencing a lot of firsts again with this record. It’s our first record on Fair Trade. It’s our first record as me as the singer.

Bonham: Take me through the process the band has gone through this past couple of years as you’ve tried to figure out your place in the music industry.

hawknelson-0304Steingard: That is really the source of a lot of the changes that happened in the last year. Internally, there was a lack of consensus of what we wanted to be as a band and who we wanted to reach and what our goals were. We’re all good friends and we still are. But we were all in this place where we were increasingly finding ourselves on different pages. That’s really what led to Jason (Dunn) moving on. He was the one that had a substantially different idea of what he wanted than the rest of us. He wanted the freedom to do what he wanted to do. So we released him to do those things. We wanted him to be fulfilled, and we wanted to be fulfilled. So instead of getting in each others’ way, we decided to support each other in those different goals. He went on to do his own thing and he released a solo record. The rest of us have focused on making music for believers and being encouragers. We wanted to make music that lifts up Jesus and that’s something we felt really strongly about and wanted to be unequivocal about. On our new record, that shows pretty clearly.

Bonham: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from your experiences over the past 10 years?

Steingard: As a believer, if you’re doing anything where you’re in front of people, it’s incumbent upon you to serve the people you’re in front of well. That might mean something different for different people. If you’re a businessman, serving your customers well is being Jesus in those situations. That’s where it starts. For us in a band, I’ve realized that if we’re in front of people on a regular basis, I want to be effective at serving them and meeting whatever needs we might be uniquely tooled to meet, whether that’s encouragement or providing them a night where they can connect with other believers and have a great time. We just want to be effective using the time we have and the stage we have to really be an encouragement and to serve people well. On a personal level, as a Christian musician and as the front man of a Christian band, if we’re going to be effective, there’s a pastoral element to what we do. It might different for different artists, but if you can play that role, I think that’s where you’re going to be the most effective.

Bonham: Has it been a natural progression going from backup vocals to lead vocals?

hawknelson-0367Steingard: From a singing point of view, it’s been natural. I’ve been singing alongside Jay for about 10 years. Live, we have so many harmonies and vocal arrangements going on and I was at the mic almost the entire time. But the front man aspect is definitely new to me. That was one of the things I was apprehensive about at first. I was worried that I would get compared to Jay. I was dreading the moment when someone would say, “Hey, you remember when Jay used to do this? Can you do that more?” But I’m not Jay. I approach it differently than Jay does. I have different strengths and different weaknesses. Justin and Dan released me to be myself and we gave ourselves permission to be a bit of a different band as a result. The DNA of the band is the same. It’s just being interpreted in a new way. That’s exactly what the record feels like. It’s an up-tempo record with lots of really fun songs, but we go deeper in to some topics that we haven’t really touched on before.

Bonham: How much did you guys enjoy the unique collaborations (Bart Millard, Blanca Callahan, etc.) you put together for the new album?

Steingard: We got a chance to redefine ourselves a little bit. Once we got the scary part of that, it got real exciting. How many bands get a chance to reinterpret itself in this kind of a way? It was really fun to get together with some people that have been key in our lives. We got to tap into a lot of our friendships. It’s three dimensional because of that. You have these people adding a little speck of their flair to the project.

Bart (Millard) was the actually the one that suggested I be the lead singer. We were going through the process of trying to figure out what we were going to do and while we were out on tour with Mercy Me, he pulled me into his dressing room one day and said “I think you need to be the guy.” We were in the middle of doing our last tour with Jason and Bart took some to encourage me and this ended up being the result of his intervention. We were considering bringing someone into the band from the outside. We ended going this route and I’m glad we did because it feels like it was the right decision. That was really the reason we asked Bart to sing on “Words.” He was the one who really embodied that whole idea for us—being intentional about speaking into the lives of those around us.

Bonham: As you were reinventing the band musically, how did that translate into the song writing?

HawkNelson_MadeSteingard: There are a few songs on the record like “Every Beat of My Broken Heart,” and “Faithful” and “Outside the Lines” and “Through the Fire,” that in various ways kind of deal with what happens when you don’t feel like God is close. You know in your head that God is real and that He loves us and cares about us and wants to be involved in our lives, but you don’t see that in your circumstances right in that moment. What do you do with that and those feelings? My family was going through a bit of that last year when my sister was going through chemo. She was 24 at the time and she was pregnant with her first child at the time. It was like, “God, where are you in this situation? I don’t see the purpose here.” In retrospect, I know that we’ll understand someday, whether that’s here on earth or in Heaven. I know that we’ll see that God was working the whole time in the background. When you don’t see Him directly in your circumstances, He’s behind the scenes already preparing a future for you.

We’ve seen that in the life of this band. God knew this was going to happen. He was preparing the way for this to happen even when we were praying that Jason wouldn’t leave or that we would be able to work things out in that previous version of the band. God just had a different plan. That’s helped us trust Him even more for our future.

Stay up on the latest news from Hawk Nelson by visiting the band’s official website HERE:

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