Grace Notes
By Chris Crain

The Girls of Grace Conference returns to Louisville on the 28th and 29th at Southeast Christian Church. It's a conference for teenage girls hosted by Point of Grace. Rebecca St. James, new artist Ana Laura and other speakers and guests will be on hand. Tickets and more info is available at girlsofgrace.com.

The Gospel Music Association announced the mobilization of Project Restore, the gospel music industry's official crisis response vehicle, to engage in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The GMA, through Project Restore, will partner with Atlanta-based Gospel Music Channel (GMC) for a multi-network (including confirmed PAX TV, which airs in Louisville on Channel 21), were set to broadcast a benefit concert late last month.

Additionally, Project Restore's Web site, www.ProjectRestore.org, will serve as the industry's unified communication channel for raising awareness of how the gospel music community and its fans are and can be involved in hurricane relief, including encouraging financial donations to Project Restore's partner World Vision (www.worldvision.orgwww.fema.gov).

"The scope of the tragedy in the Gulf Coast is unimaginable and grows more desperate every day. To see this sort of tragedy happening in our own country is especially difficult, but we must view this as an opportunity to rally the GMA community to offer our prayers and resources as a reflection of the grace and goodness of the Gospel," said GMA President John W. Styll. "As citizens of this country and as followers of Christ, we must help to bring restoration to the people whose lives have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina."

World Vision has begun shipping emergency supplies and other essential items to children and families devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Truckloads of supplies from World Vision sites in Dallas, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh and Denver are being sent to stricken areas. The goods will be distributed through a network of local churches, faith-based organizations and other partners such as the American Red Cross.

Many in the gospel music community themselves are doing what they can to offer immediate help to the Gulf Coast region. Included among those are artists who reside in the affected areas and have been personally impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

Also, GMA and Project Restore will provide regular updates on industry and artist response. Anyone with additional information may send an email to projectrestore@gospelmusic.org.

"We are not surprised by the immediate rush of activity from our artist community. Their individual efforts will make a great difference in many lives. In addition to their efforts and Project Restore's industry-wide efforts, we would ask that every person in this music community join in prayer for city, state and federal leaders and agencies and for every individual affected by Hurricane Katrina. When the voices of God's people are raised in prayer, amazing things will happen," said Styll.

Just announced: Steven Curtis Chapman and Mercy Me are bringing their Christmas tour up the road to Rupp Arena. Tickets went on sale the first of this month.

Chapman is ready to spread the holiday cheer this season with his Christmas CD, All I Really Want For Christmas, which was released on September 27 on Sparrow Records. In addition, bookshelves will be stocked this fall with Shaoey and Dot: A Christmas Miracle (Tommy Nelson Publishing), the second installment of the Shaoey and Dot picture book series penned by Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth.

With more than one million of his Christmas titles sold to date, Chapman's All I Really Want For Christmas is his fifteenth studio project with Sparrow Records. This collection of twelve original and traditional holiday favorites includes new Chapman originals, including "The Night Before Christmas," "The Miracle of Christmas," and "All I Really Want" as well a new version of the hymn "Angels From The Realm of Glory." Also included are Chapman's renditions, previously recorded for his 2003 Hallmark release Christmas Is All In The Heart, of "Silver Bells," "Go Tell It On The Mountain," and "Home For Christmas." Ed Cash produced the new songs while Brown Bannister produced the songs from Christmas Is All In The Heart.

Rounding out the holiday project are a couple of special appearances, notably Vince Gill sharing his voice on a new version of "Christmas Is All In The Heart." Another guest is Chapman's first adopted daughter, Shaohannah Hope. Shaoey starts the CD off with her touching narration of "The Christmas Story," taken from the Book of Luke. She closes out the project, joined by her dad, singing her rendition of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas," a special hidden track at the end of the CD. Shaohannah, now age 6, also appears with her dad on the CD cover. All I Really Want For Christmas' first single is "All I Really Want." The song focuses on a topic dear to Chapman's heart - adoption. "All I Really Want" shares the story of a little boy's one item wish list to Santa, asking not for toys at Christmastime but for a family.

To promote the single, Chapman will be filming a music video in Los Angeles at the end of the month. Brandon Dickerson of Merge Productions, based in San Francisco, will direct the video. Dickerson will also be filming him in another music video for Chapman's song, "Remembering You," the first radio single from Songs Inspired By The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Shaoey and Dot: A Christmas Miracle will be released by publisher Tommy Nelson this November, in time for National Adoption Awareness Month and the Christmas season. This story is a wonderful reminder of the miraculous love that makes every Christmas a special one while sharing with its readers the many joys of adoption.

"Shaoey and Dot are a charming duo in fun-to-read, rhyming stories with big, big messages," said Vice President and Associate Publisher Dee Ann Grand. "Like the kid in all of us, Shaoey and Dot give and receive all the joy and fun of the giving season, but in the end, they learn the true, real miracle of Christmas."

The Shaoey and Dot series, named after the Chapman's first adopted daughter, Shaohannah (Shaoey) Hope, was launched with the Chapman's first picture book, Bug Meets Bundle, in November 2004.

According to Mercy Me's record label, nearly every member of the band would tell you that Christmas is their favorite time of year, which is why - after selling nearly four million units - the band puts their stamp on the holidays with The Christmas Sessions, which also released this September 27th.

In order to represent the Christmas spirit on this project, Mercy Me recorded the majority of The Christmas Sessions last Christmas and wrapped it up this summer. Produced by Brown Bannister, the project features classic titles and contemporary yet recognizable melodies with "Winter Wonderland," the swingin' "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Silent Night," "White Christmas" and a Mercy Me original with the emotional "Joseph's Lullabye."

A band favorite is the track "I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day," because, says guitarist Mike Scheuchzer, "The story behind the writing of that song is amazing ... the war and hardships that Longfellow had endured and to still be able to find hope ... that's what Christmas is all about ... hope."

Tickets for the show, set for December 12 at Rupp Arena, are on sale through Ticketmaster.