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ABOUT ME

ABOUT ME

  • Jonathan Lee

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  • ”The music and heartbeat of Zealand is about stirring people’s hearts to be zealous for the land…the LIFE that God has for each of us!

     Zealand delivers energetic, powerful music that declares strong truth with confidence.

    The mission of Zealand is to zealously declare the goodness of God through energetic music, provocative lyrics and authentic experience.

    We feel it's after our times of corporate worship that the truer and deeper worship happens. It's when we leave the experience with our eyes wide open acknowledging and choosing God and His ways within the reality of our everyday lives. That's worship.

    We want to see authentic worship happen and have it continue after the music is over and the lights are down."

  • Meredith Andrews has always had a gift for writing honest, compelling songs that resonate powerfully with an audience. Over the course of her first two Word albums, people have come to appreciate the Dove Award-winning artist’s love for God and her heart for people. She’s formed a strong bond with her audience, and yet as open and vulnerable as Andrews has been before, the true heart of this gifted artist is best revealed on her new project Worth it All.

    “I never felt like I could write corporate worship songs, but that’s what I always wanted to do because I am a worship leader,” Andrews states. “So I just started asking the Lord for songs and I was like, ‘God I don’t just want songs to fill a record. I want to hear from heaven. I want to write your heart’ and I was just overwhelmed with the way the Lord answered and the songs that are on this record. This album, I feel, is the most authentic to who I am. I can’t believe the songs that we have and the way that God met us at every turn and the moments that we captured on this record.”

    Worth it All is a potent collection of songs that celebrate God’s sovereignty and share Andrews’ deep and unwavering faith. Listeners have already embraced the lead single “Not for a Moment.” Penned by Andrews, her husband Jacob Sooter and Mia Fieldes, the gorgeous ballad features a heart-stirring vocal performance. “I always feel like every record, God gives me a song about the fact that he’s not going to leave us,” Andrews says. “With my first record it was ‘You’re Not Alone.’ On the second record it was ‘Can Anybody Hear Me?’ and on this one it is ‘Not For A Moment.’”

    “When you watch the news and see all the stuff that’s happening in the world, a lot of it is really tragic,” Andrews continues. “[We ask] ‘Lord why does that happen? Why do bad things happen to good people?’ That’s the age-old question, but we live in a broken place. We live in a fallen place and we’re always going to come up against tragedy, but the thing is we have hope and that’s the message in ‘Not For A Moment.’ Even in the storms and the trials of life, even when we feel like God is far away, the truth is He’s always constant. He never changes. He’s always good. His heart for us is kind.”

    Worth it All begins with the exuberant “Open Up the Heavens.” “It’s one that we at our church open up the service with and just go ‘God have your way. Do what you want to do here and show us your glory,’” says Andrews, who leads worship at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago. “My pastor, James MacDonald, did a sermon series within the last year talking about the glory of God and how we were made for that. Sometimes we just get distracted when really it’s about seeking the Lord, seeing the arms of the Lord and then running after Him and wanting more of Him and His glory. ‘Lord show us your glory’ was a big theme in our church and it was a prayer in my own heart as well.”

    The album also includes reminders of God’s majesty and grace in songs like “Your Kingdom Reigns,” a powerful anthem that opens a door to the throne room as Andrews sings “’You are our portion, our promise forever, Your Kingdom reigns.’ When you get to the bridge, that’s my favorite part. It’s like that fist pump moment,” Andrews says with a smile.

    She cites “The Gospel Changes Everything” as her favorite song on the record. “It was a beautiful spring day and Benji Cowart, Paul Mabry and I and sat outside of Paul’s house just chillin’ in his backyard,” Andrew recalls. “We started telling stories about how we had seen just the purity of the gospel, the truth of the gospel transform people’s lives. Paul was telling the story about how this guy came up to him and said, ‘There’s something different about you’ and Paul was like, ‘It’s Jesus. That’s what it is. That’s the difference.’ The guy showed up in church and gave his life to the Lord. We were just telling story after story. The truth and the beauty of the gospel is enough. It doesn’t need any additions or subtractions. It just needs to be told as it is. The gospel changes everything. It is the turning point in history. Even now it’s changing me from who I was. When I sing it, I cry because it’s the simple truth and that’s all you need. It changes you forever. So that’s my favorite song.”

    “Start with Me” is a prayer to be used for God’s kingdom. “It’s saying, ‘Lord if you’re going to move again, would you do it in me first?’” Andrews explains. “We can always say, ‘Well that needs to always change’ and we can point fingers. We need to ask ‘Lord change me first. Start with me here and let it just kind of flow out. Use my life and help me to love people that you put in my path the way that you love them.’”

    Her love for people and servant’s heart are rooted in her childhood. A native of Wilson, NC, Meredith’s parents took in many foster children and adopted three boys who became her beloved brothers. Music was always an integral part of the Andrews home and little Meredith began singing in church at age six. While majoring in family and child development at Liberty University, Andrews felt God calling her into music ministry. After school, she relocated to Chicago and began leading worship at Harvest Bible Chapel.

    Her incredible vocal gift and intuitive songwriting abilities caught the attention of Word Record executives who signed her to a deal. Her label debut, The Invitation, released in April 2009 and the stirring single “You’re Not Alone” helped propel Andrews into the national spotlight. Her sophomore album, As Long As it Takes, bowed in March 2010 and the following spring, it was named “Worship Album of the Year” at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards. “How Great is the Love” earned the Dove Award for “Worship Song of the Year.”

    While such affirmation from her peers is appreciated, Andrews’ focus remains on her growing family, serving her church and creating music that lifts the body of Christ to a closer relationship with the Lord. “I was at home giving my kid a bath and getting ready to go to church for Good Friday rehearsal, I did not expect that at all,” she says of winning the Doves.

    Meredith and Jacob have one son, Maverick, and another baby on the way, yet she found time to contribute songs to Harvest Bible’s Live Worship From Vertical Church and participated on the tour with her fellow worship leaders. Balancing music and family can sometimes be a challenge, yet motherhood has impacted her art in unexpected ways.

    “I was always a people pleaser and I feel like now that I’m a mom, I’m not anymore. I’m just over it,” she says with a smile. “I’m not trying to please anybody. I just want to please the Lord and love people.”

    “I know my relationship with the Lord has changed since I had Maverick,” she continues. “If he’s throwing food at me or laughing and talking to me, my love for him doesn’t change. How much greater is God’s love for us? It’s not based on our performance. God doesn’t love us more on our good days and less on our bad, and that was revolutionary for me. There’s freedom in knowing that God just loves me and that’s changed me. I’m so overwhelmed by the way the Lord loves me and it’s come out in the way that I’ve written these songs. When I think of other moms listening to these songs, I just hope that whether they are at home with their kids or in the car driving to soccer practice or whatever that even just for three minutes, they can sense the presence of the Lord and God’s love for them. We need that recharge. We need to get plugged into the source and have that time with the Lord. That’s my prayer in all this.” 

  • Benji and Jenna Cowart have been leading worship for almost 16 years and are both originally from the Nashville, TN area. After graduating from Belmont University, they were married in 1997, and their journey in ministry began. In the beginning, they led for various camps and youth groups, and various conferences. Over the past 15 years, they have added three incredible children, and adopted a little girl from Africa.  Through this time they have served in churches in Florida, Las Vegas, Georgia and seven years in Buffalo, NY.. Benji and Jenna are both signed as songwriters with Word Publishing in Nashville and have recently moved to Franklin, TN where they are continuing to write songs for the church and other artists.

    Together Benji and Jenna have cut their own songs independently on their albums, as well as having cuts on albums by Meredith Andrews, The Isaacs and Selah. Benji also has songs on various albums recorded by Ben Cantelon, Karen Peck, Aaron Shust, Josh Wilson, City Harmonic, and Big Daddy Weave. At the 2013 Dove Awards this year, the song “Redeemed”, co-written with Mike Weaver, was nominated in four different categories. “Redeemed”  had reached #1 on Billboard Christian Charts for several weeks and was certified Gold in 2015  and can be found on Big Daddy Weave’s  album Love Come To Life,  along with their second radio single written by Benji, “The Only Name(Yours Will Be) ” which also reached #1 on Billboard charts.

    Aside from awards or any type of recognition, it is their first desire to write songs that bring encouragement and hope to people through song.  Songs written with the “Church” in mind so the people in that congregation can keep singing new songs.

     

     

  • Truly compelling music makes the personal universal. Few artists have done that more consistently or more movingly than Big Daddy Weave. Through more than a decade of hits like "In Christ,” “Audience of One,” "You're Worthy Of My Praise," “Every Time I Breathe,” What Life Would Be Like,” and “You Found Me,” they have shared the journey in a way that has won the ongoing respect of fans, press and industry alike. Their musical journey began with a Dove Awards nomination as New Artist of the Year in 2002 and includes a 2010 Dove Award for the album Christ Has Come. They have been honored at ASCAP's Christian Music Awards, were chosen for the WOW Hits compilations in five of the last six years and are one of the 10 most played artists at Christian radio over the past decade.

    Most recently, they hit the top of the Christian AC chart - the fourth time they've done so - with "Love Come To Life," a song about the desire to have the love that Christ put in our hearts be more than words that we say, but a love that comes to life in actions. A song filled with passion and intimacy, and with the musical hooks and majestic sound that have marked so much of their work, it is the perfect introduction to Love Come To Life, their first studio album in more than three years.

    Love Come To Life demonstrates once again the passion and energy that have made Big Daddy Weave one of Christian music's most compelling acts for nearly a dozen years. True to form, the project teems with real life and emotion, from longing and struggle to breakthrough and gratitude, with front man Mike Weaver's forthright songwriting and intimate and unmistakable vocals backed by powerful arrangements and stellar musicianship. It derives its power from the fact that life and music intertwine so fully.

    "We've faced a lot of personal challenges and adversity during the past couple of years," says Mike, "Coming to the other side of that leaves us with fresh things to share, and in a place where we can share even more deeply than ever before." Those challenges, from the fatigue faced at times by musicians who spend much of their time on the road, to a devastating fire that swept through guitarist/producer Jeremy Redmon's house and studio, and health issues faced by some band members, produced a record that reflects two sides of the Christian life.

    "You've got the ones I term the belly-achers," says Mike with a laugh. "Those are the hurting songs, which are way outnumbered by what came after that, the songs that say, 'We can't wait to worship God because we see even in tragedy, God, You are triumphant.'"

    The bridge between the two was a spiritual breakthrough Mike felt about a year into the process of writing for the project.

    "I was really at a low point," he says, "struggling with my imperfections. I was in my garage; my man cave where I work out. I felt like God said to my spirit, 'Why don't you let me tell you what I think about you and what I like about you?' He started with, 'I love your heart for people,' and went from there. I was like a broken heap on the floor of my garage. The things he was talking about are not future tense things like a lot of people, the I think 'If I could get to this point and look like this and achieve that I would be all right.' He has this 'I love who you are right now' mentality. 'I accept you right now. You need to accept you right now.' At that point, I couldn't write from that hurting place anymore. I thought, 'I've got to worship now.'"

    The result is that songs like the title track and "Save My Life," a song Mike describes as "gut-level honesty," give way to others like "Magnificent God," whose spirit of worship is set amid a sound both intimate and majestic; "Jesus Move," a passionate call for Jesus' power to flow into believers written with Phil Wickham; "Different Light," a rocker that celebrates the way faith rewrites even the most troubled past; and "If You Died Tonight," a tenderly insistent request to a friend to consider ultimate truths.

    "This is a record that's a lot more transparent," says drummer Jeff Jones. "It's one that all of us are super excited about. We can give it to people and say, 'This is what God has been doing in our lives."

    In fact, the band's own breakthrough, born of a renewed emphasis on personal ministry at their concerts, is part in the record's feel.

    "God has a plan with all of this stuff," says Jeremy, "and maybe it took that extra time and our journey as a band to really bring these songs to life. There have been big changes over the last couple of tours as we've allowed more time for ministry. It's been a season of growth and change for all of us, and the fact that Mike was able to write with worship leaders like Phil, Carl Cartee and Paul Baloche really helped bring all of that into focus for the record."

    As always, Jeremy's production is key in bringing the songs to life.

    "We approached each song with a question," he says. "'Where can we take this that will make this sonically a new experience, something we haven't done before.' And I hope the way we did that will open up new ears to our music.”

    That meeting of life and music has been part and parcel of Big Daddy Weave's appeal since their days. Formed at the University of Mobile, the quintet - Mike, his brother Jay, who plays bass, Jeremy, Jeff, and keyboardist/saxophonist Joe Shirk - released an independent album in 2001 and then landed a deal with Fervent Records, their label home ever since. "One and Only," the title track from their first Fervent album, debuted in SoundScan's Christian Top 5 and remained in the Top 20 for six weeks. "In Christ" peaked at #2, stayed for 24 weeks on R&R's AC chart, earned a spot on the Dove Hits album, and became one of ASCAP's most-performed songs of 2002 - a milestone also achieved by "Audience of One" in 2003. Then, Hurricane Ivan in 2004 damaged several band members' Florida homes and led to Mike's relocation to Nashville. The fact that the move led to Mike's marriage to a Fervent staffer still leaves him shaking his head.

    "Even in the bad times, he's working it out," he says with a laugh.

    The band has always kept a busy touring schedule and in fact often recorded parts of their early albums in hotel rooms, "literally using the turned-up mattress and box springs as sound baffles to record vocals," Mike says. The fact that those records touched lives and earned chart success is evident in their recent hits package, The Ultimate Collection.

    "That was some closure in a way," says Mike. "We are thankful for those years, but in as much as we're seeing the things God has done, we are very full of vision for the future and in so many ways it just feels brand new to us right now."

    Which is something reflected as the band hits the road with songs from Love Come To Life.

    "We can go forward united as a band," says Jay. "We had been struggling to find balance as family men, touring musicians, and people following the Lord. But the Lord has given us healing and blessed us with being able to find the balance in him. It's been amazing to see God do that in us."

    "We are excited about the album," adds Joe, "and I think fans are going to love it. It's an opportunity to point to something way bigger than the band, to the body of believers working together, bringing glory to the Lord. I tell pastors that Big Daddy Weave is the best church I've ever been a part of. When they raise their eyebrows, I say, 'Yeah, I spend more time in fellowship with these guys than any church members spend together. This is the church of the 45-foot bus going down whatever road it is today. It's the fellowship of my Christian brothers."

    "This is as much a real family as anything else," says Mike. "The work that God has done in our band makes it all new again because of our sense of purpose, not just to make music but to be used of God. And that's the bottom line--what God wants us to do with this."

    Big Daddy Weave is:
    Mike - Songwriter/Lead Vocals/Guitar
    Jeff - Drums
    Jay - Bass/Vocals
    Joe - Saxophone/Keyboards
    Jeremy - Guitars/Vocals

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