Grace Notes

By Chuck Jeter

Two of Christian music's most popular groups have lost key members, calling into doubts their future. Gotee Records' modern worship band Sonicflood and Interscope/Squint's rock band Burlap to Cashmere both experienced the loss of founding members. Last month, Dwayne Laring and Jason Halbert suddenly announced their departures from Sonicflood, according to Gotee President Joey Elwood, leaving bass player Rick Heil as the only remaining original member. Drummer Aaron Blanton resigned in July.

The band's first live album Sonicpraise was scheduled to street on September 26 but has now been pushed back to an uncertain release date. Jeff Deyo, the original frontman for the group, was "voted out" last May. It is stated that there was a differing vision concerning the future ministry focus of the group. Heil said he and a group of new musicians will fulfill the remainder of the fall's 35+-city tour.

The tour stopped here in Louisville last month at St. Matthews Baptist Church. The new lineup included former members of another CCM band experiencing lineup changes Big Tent Revival. The new lineup was met with a rousing reception. Jeff Deyo has started a Nashville-based, seven-member band, Worship City Praise.

Burlap to Cashmere is also in unfamiliar waters with the recent departure of Steven Delopoulous, lead vocalist, founder and chief songwriter. Delopoulous left, citing a change in chemistry after several recent departures of key members brought the seven-member band down to three. Delopoulous has stated a desire to go on with a solo project. The remaining members John Delopoulous, Mike Ernest and Teddy Pagano are definitely continuing as Burlap. They are finishing the remaining dates and will begin work on a new project slated for a February 2001 release on Interscope.

Sixpence None the Richer performed the group's new song, "Us", on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." The cut is part of the recently released CD; Today Presents The Best of the Summer Concert Series, Volume One. The studio version of the song, which is currently receiving pop radio airplay, is on Sixpence's upcoming album, slated to be released in early 2001.

Congrats to Mark Shultz who has the #1 song on 20 The Countdown Magazine with "He's My Son"! And don't forget Mark is concert October 13 at Northeast Christian Church. Tickets are $5 at the door,

Rebecca St. James is finishing up the final touches on her new CD TRANSFORM, which will be in stores October 24. She has been putting the last bits of work on her new CD while still doing a great amount of touring this fall. If the past is any indication of the future, this will be a project that will take the listener into the presence of God. According to my sources, Rebecca is toying with the idea of taking a break from music and just speaking to groups. If you have ever been to a Rebecca St, James show, you know very well of this woman's commitment to Jesus and how well she communicates it. Rebecca recently had the opportunity to perform at The Call DC, which had an estimated 300,000 people in attendance in our nations capital. Would you like to read the latest on St. James? You can now read her new official biography at http://www.forefrontrecords.com

Jaci Velasquez captured No. 1 on both airplay and sales charts this week. Scanning more than 25,000 albums, her critically acclaimed and third English language recording, Crystal Clear, released September 5 and garnered the No. 1 position on the SoundScan-compiled Top Christian Albums chart and No. 3 on the Top Mainstream Albums chart. The album also catapulted to No. 49 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart. To date this year, Crystal Clear has the highest scanning debut by a solo artist on the Top Christian Albums chart. Partly driving the retail success, the first radio single from Crystal Clear, "Imagine Me Without You," has become the tenth consecutive No. 1 Adult Contemporary (AC) Christian single for Velasquez. The Contemporary Hits (CHR) single, "Center of Your Love," broke into the Top 10 and was a "Highest Gainer" on the CRR/CCM Update CHR chart.

In addition to the radio and retail success, Velasquez has appeared on national television many times over the last couple of months. Nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Inc. In the first-ever Latin GRAMMY Awards, Velasquez was a featured presenter during the live CBS Television Network broadcast of the award ceremony. Velasquez's nomination was for the title cut of her Spanish language debut, Llegar A Ti.

Helping launch the third broadcast season of the hit syndicated television series "Hollywood Squares," Velasquez, along with Gloria Estefan, Whoopi Goldberg and other celebrities, appeared on this show last month. Immediately following the Latin Grammy Awards appearance, Velasquez launched her 60-city "Crystal Clear Tour" into major markets and featuring special guest, new Atlantic/143 recording group, Plus One. Beginning in York, PA, Sept. 14, the tour will cover 22 states coast-to-coast performing in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Washington (DC), Dallas, Miami, Seattle, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, Phoenix, etc. Complete tour information may be found at www.planetjaci.com.

As you know the tour made an early stop at the Kentucky State Fair last month to a great reception. As for me, I just hope she rethinks her on-stage wardrobe selection to help the teenage boys stay focused on the proper thing.