Grace Notes
By Chris Crain

Arguably the hottest band in Christian music comes to Frankfort on the November 25. Casting Crowns, along with Building 429, Josh Bates and Tony Nolan will play at the Frankfort Civic Center.

The "American Music Awards"-nominated Crowns secured its fourth consecutive radio No. 1 song with "Lifesong," the first single and title track from its top-selling sophomore album release. The hit song takes top honors across multiple formats, including Billboard's Hot Christian Adult Contemporary, R&R's Christian AC Monitored and both CRW's AC and Inspirational charts, while maintaining its second week at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Christian Singles and Tracks chart and R&R's Inspirational chart.

"Lifesong" marks the band's fourth consecutive career No.1 following mega hits "If We Are the Body," "Who Am I," and "Voice of Truth," all from the band's platinum-selling debut record.

Lifesong was released on August 30 to record-setting debut sales of 71,472, enough to lift the project into the No. 9 spot on Billboard's Top 200 album chart, marking the highest first-week sales for a Christian act since November 2003. This week, the album holds the No.2 position on both Soundscan's Top Christian and Combined album charts with sales of more than 134,000 in only three weeks of release.

The Crowns were announced as a nominee for the annual "American Music Awards" in the Favorite Artist in the "Contemporary Inspirational" category. The awards will be presented during a three-hour special on ABC, Tuesday, November 22 from 8-11 p.m. (Eastern).

In 2004, Casting Crowns' debut album quickly earned the highest first-week sales of any debut artist on Nielsen SoundScan Christian market sales chart for the year, eventually selling over 1.3 million units. The project's three radio singles, "If We Are the Body," "Who Am I," and "Voice of Truth," all spent multiple weeks at No. 1 on numerous charts, including a record-breaking 13 weeks at number one for their hit, "Voice of Truth." For the year 2004, Casting Crowns was the most played artist on all Christian radio formats combined and performed to more than one million people in concert.

This will mark Building 429's third trip to the area in the last year-and-a-half. Did you get a chance to see them at Youthfest in Louisville? To say that show "rocked" is an understatement. Just be ready - these North Carolina boys will be shaking the foundations of the Civic Center for sure. I've been to some loud shows over the years, but this one was unbelievable. Get ready to rock (in a nice, wholesome way of course).

New artist Josh Bates has been out on tour with country artist Sawyer Brown and I think this will mark his first concert appearance in the area since his debut CD released. I've heard one song and it sounds decent.

Tickets are available through itickets.com. See you there!

Project Restore (www.projectrestore.org), the gospel music industry's official crisis response vehicle I told you about last month, has launched a campaign called "Music to Restore Hope." The campaign will engage the gospel music industry in the collection of gospel music CDs and portable CD players to be distributed to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"Many organizations are helping in the Gulf Coast region to recover from the hurricanes by providing the basic needs such as water, food and clothing. When we considered what we could do as a community, we determined that the gospel music industry is in a unique position to bring restoration to the victims of the hurricanes by giving them music that will inspire their hearts and souls. We hope the message of hope and redemption in gospel music will encourage our fellow citizens on the Gulf as they begin to rebuild their lives," said John W. Styll, president of the Gospel Music Association (GMA).

Project Restore has partnered with PRC Compassion (www.prccompassion.org), a charitable coalition of churches and pastors trying to coordinate national, state and local faith and community-based organizations to meet all needs of people impacted by Hurricane Katrina. They will act as the distributor of the CDs and portable CD players, first to the Gulfport, Mississippi area in October. A second distribution is planned for the New Orleans area.

"We are grateful that GMA and Project Restore have created the Music to Restore Hope campaign. I have seen the people of this community looking for something to hold on to during this time. They are looking for a hope that is found only in Jesus. I can promise that the gifts of music and CD players provided by the gospel music community will help to give that hope to the people here," said Aaron Gates, Organizer of Operations for PRC Compassion.

In October, GMA's Project Restore reached out to both the gospel music record companies and the individual members of the GMA to participate in the Music to Restore Hope campaign. While the gospel music distributors and record labels are in the best position to provide quantities of new CDs, GMA members were an integral part of the campaign by donating new portable CD players and batteries that make it possible for the recipients to play their new CDs.

PRC Compassion has been one of the key ministries working in the Gulf Coast. It was created by the Pastor's Resource Council, a coalition of Louisiana churches and pastors formed several years ago to address specific community needs. The council established PRC Compassion to coordinate long-term relief efforts in the Gulf Coast and is supported by pastors, churches and ministries nationwide. Some of PRC Compassion's accomplishments in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina include:

· 82 church-run shelters or PRC serviced shelters,

· 400 semi trucks to 18 relief distribution points through out coastal LA,

· 600 out of state volunteers have been housed, fed and deployed,

· 1500 doctor/client encounters have been facilitated by PRC Compassion resident physician,

· 2500 in-state volunteers have loaned their energies to assist our neighbors in need; and

· 10,512 displaced citizens have been housed, fed and received ministry.

The Music to Restore Hope campaign is not the gospel music industry's first involvement with PRC Compassion. Last month, The Newsboys constructed 20 tents for the temporary housing of PRC Compassion relief workers in Gulfport.

Project Restore's other Katrina-related effort was the "Gospel Angels" benefit concert, held in Atlanta. "Gospel Angels: A Concert to Restore Hope," raised more than $120,000 in donations during the two-hour broadcast on September 22 in the Eastern and Central time zones, with additional donations still being counted, according to the Gospel Music Channel. Broadcast on the Gospel Music Channel, Paxson Communications Corporation's i (formerly PAX TV), the Worship Network as well as on XM Radio, the concert drew a 0.6 rating, meaning approximately 600,000 households tuned in. All proceeds from the concert will be divided between World Vision and Feed the Children, to assist each organization in their respective hurricane relief efforts.

Additionally, Project Restore has been chronicling the individual artists and music industry contributions to hurricane relief on the Project Restore website.