Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 06/28/21

Songs of faith, hope and gratitude. As I take off for the Fourth of July holiday (I’ll be back on 7/7), I leave you with four songs that will, hopefully, bring a smile to your day and lift your spirits as we all regroup to carry on the gift of freedom that has been gifted to us. No more shame, no more anger. No more being manipulated and demoralized by those who would divide us. To paraphrase Lee Greenwood “God Bless…U.S. All.”

1. Hymn Of Heaven, Phil Wickham’s eighth album dropped Friday, debuting strong on both the iTunes Christian and overall album charts. Encompassing 13 songs, including his multiple-week No. 1 hit Battle Belongs, the release is the follow-up to his 2018 recording Living Hope.

2. Also dropping Friday, singer-songwriter Ryan Ellis’ new single Heart of the Father. Sharing about how he came to write the song, Ellis says “This song was written in a season where I was really discovering the grace of God and His kindness, patience, and mercy…I was a worship pastor living in a city called Isla Vista, California. The goal behind our ministry was to show the people in the party city that it doesn’t matter where you are or what stage of life you’re in — there’s always going to be the grace and love of God waiting for you. He always accepts us exactly where we’re at, and walks alongside us. I feel like this song shows what it is to be a believer and how we’re called to walk and love people. I hope this song blesses you.” 

3. As Independence Day approaches, the all-vocal group Home Free is releasing a special salute to the red, white, and blue via their new patriotic album Land of the Free which includes their memorable duet version of American Pie with the guy who wrote and first performed it, Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee Don McLean. The album is available on all streaming services today via Home Free Records.

About the collaboration, McLean says “I am really excited about this version of American Pie…You know, everyone that has heard it just loves it. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it because I have always performed with a guitar. I felt I was going to lose my security blanket when I didn’t play guitar on this version. Then, all of a sudden, I started to hear it and it just blew me away. The harmonies that Home Free produce with their vocals reminds me so much of the Jordanaires.”

The Home Free + Don McLean version of the song was recorded in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Nashville, Tennessee, with a video being produced remotely. Check it out.

4. Land of the Free also features harmonious renditions of Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, Tim McGraw + Tyler Hubbard’s (of Florida Georgia Line) Undivided, Brooks & Dunn’s Only in America and, perhaps my favorite patriotic song, God Bless the U.S.A. (in collaboration with singer-songwriter Lee Greenwood and The United States Air Force Band. I’ll leave you with that one. Happy Fourth, everybody!

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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