Grace Notes
By Chris Crain

This month I've got a couple of free events to tell you about. One features the second Louisville appearance in as many years for one of Christian music's most popular groups. The other features a local guy and some of the "biggest" men in Christian music.

First off: Avalon will headline this year's Kentucky State Fair free Christian concert, August 23 at "old" Cardinal Stadium. This will mark Avalon's return to Louisville almost a day to the year since they were here for UnityFest 2003 at Broadbent Arena. New member Greg Long sang at that event, but the State Fair concert marks Long's debut in Louisville as an official member of the group. For more info on Avalon and their new CD The Creed, check out the Grace Notes column in the February 2004 LMN available at louisvillemusicnews.com.

Also appearing that night will be Rebecca St. James. The Grammy winner has had an incredible spring as part of the "Adoration" tour with Newsboys and Jeremy Camp as well as some major media appearances. She was in Washington recently to speak to members of the Bush Administration, amidst one of the highest profile weeks of her career. A strong advocate of the abstinence message, whose book on the subject "Wait For Me," has become an international best seller, St. James visited in the West Wing with senior administration advisors as well as fulfilling an invitation to speak to a lunchtime gathering of Bush staffers on the subject of her views of the spiritual and morals issues facing America.

Fox News Channel's Fox Magazine also profiled the 26-year-old Australian-born singer. Her "Cinderella" rise from cleaning houses as a teenager to help support her family newly arrived in America in the early Nineties to becoming a singer whose voice and influence have driven international career record sales into the millions, will offered viewers a fascinating glimpse of St. James.

St. James, who openly talks about sexual abstinence from her concert stages, has reportedly raised eyebrows internationally for her outspoken declarations. She was quoted during a national morning guest appearance on Fox Friends First on the subject of the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake media firestorm: "It gave the message to the millions of kids and young people that were watching that what happened was cool. Abuse is never cool," commented Rebecca.

So, yes, she's outspoken, but it really comes down to the message and the music. Rebecca has fans everywhere who love that. I'm sure we'll see many of them on hand in August for the big event. This will be Rebecca's first Louisville concert appearance since Summer Jam back in 2000.

On June 5, another free concert rolls into the area. Big Daddy Weave and Across The Sky (featuring Louisville's Ben Kolarcik) will perform at the Bullitt County Youthfest at the Paroquet Springs Conference Center in Shepherdsville.

The event is free, with wristbands being given to the first 2,000 in the door. Last year's Youthfest with Sonicflood with a "sellout," with over 3,000 on hand. The show kicks off early at 2 p.m. with local bands. Big Daddy Weave will hit the stage early in the day as well so don't be late! I'll have more on this event next month in LMN.

Across The Sky is also part of a big release that just hit the streets. Word Records released Dove Hits 2004, a collection of this year's Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Award-nominated artists and songs, on April 20. The eighteen-song project is the third in the annual Dove Hits series and will feature last year's top songs from 2004 Dove nominees Third Day, Mark Schultz, MercyMe, Michael W. Smith, Randy Travis and more. Across The Sky's "Found By You" is group's featured song.

And in still more Across The Sky news, the guys are also scheduled to appear on national television this month. They were nominated for Best New Artist at this year's Dove Awards, a category whose nominees typically get to perform on the show. Former NFL great and current CBS Sports personality Deion Sanders and gospel music singer Yolanda Adams served as the hosts for the GMA's 35th Annual Music Awards April 28th in Nashville.

UPN has also been announced as the award show's national broadcast outlet. UPN will televise the music show, on May 28th at 8-10 p.m.

The Gospel Music Association say the Music Awards is gospel music's biggest night of the year, where top artists from every style of gospel music come together for a national night of music and celebration as the GMA bestows gospel music's highest honor - the Dove Award.

"We're thrilled to have Deion and Yolanda as our hosts for this year's show," said Styll. "Both are great entertainers in their own right. Deion is one of the all-time great professional athletes and an entertaining TV personality and Yolanda is truly a gospel music treasure. They have achieved the highest honors in their fields and are respected for their professional accomplishments and personal integrity. I look forward to working with Deion and Yolanda to put on a rousing and entertaining evening for the live audience in the Regal theatres and for the UPN television audience."

UPN is "Great 58" in Louisville. Check your local listings for info on watching the Doves on TV this month.

With so many our relatives serving in the armed forces I thought you might find this interesting: Jaci Velasquez recently spent her morning in Fort Campbell, KY entertaining President Bush and the troops of the 101st. President Bush came to Fort Campbell to welcome home the heroes as all of the troops from the 101st have returned home. This momentous visit brought out roughly 20,000 people as it marks the one year anniversary of the War in Iraq.

Velasquez started her portion of the event by singing "God Bless America" and continued with two of her own songs "God Loves You" and "Con Tu Amor ." Joining Velasquez was country star Darryl Worley and others. This is the sixth White House function that Velasquez has performed. The first was President George Bush Sr. when she was 12 years of age and today was the fifth time for President George W. Bush. Velasquez states, "It was an honor once again to sing for President Bush and the troops of the 101st. Their fight against terrorism and for America's freedom makes me proud to be an American!"