MercyMe Celebrates Billboard Music Award And K-LOVE Fan Award Nominations
On the heels of wrapping “The Rock & Worship Roadshow” this spring, multi-platinum and award-winning band MercyMe is once again celebrating several nominations for the upcoming Billboard Music Award show and K-LOVE Fan Awards.
Airing on Sunday, May 19 on ABC (8/7 p.m. CT), the Billboard Music Awards will take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where MercyMe has been nominated in the Top Christian Artist and Top Christian Album (The Hurt & The Healer) categories.
Subsequently, MercyMe received nominations for Group of the Year and Artist of the Year for the first annual K-LOVE Fan Awards. K-LOVE, the leading Christian radio network with a weekly listenership of over 13 million people, is bringing the first ever fan-voted award show in Christian music history to Nashville. The K-LOVE Fan Awards will be held on Saturday, June 1st at 7:30 p.m. at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium. Starting today through May 31 fans can vote for their favorite nominees at www.klovefanawards.com or on
www.facebook.com/KLoveFanAwards in categories celebrating artists, athletes, authors and entertainers who, with excellence engage and impact popular culture for Jesus Christ.
“We are so honored to be recognized for the work we put into this last project, however it cannot go without saying we don't do this alone,” remarked MercyMe’s Mike Scheuchzer. “If we did anything worthy of praise it was due to an incredible team of humble & extremely talented people who surround, encourage & push us to be better. We and those who helped create this record hope it draws the listener further from their hurt & closer to the healer.”
The project spawning these nominations is the band’s 2012 release, The Hurt & The Healer, which has garnered them two #1 singles so far with its title track spending multiple weeks at #1 on the Billboard Christian AC chart, and “You Are I Am” also hitting #1 at Christian radio, currently holding a Top 5 position.
MercyMe will be performing at many fairs, festivals and major league baseball games this summer. For more details on the band and their touring schedule, please visit MercyMe.org.
Since their debut in 2001, Grammy-nominated, American Music Award and multiple GMA Dove Award winners MercyMe have sold over 6 million units in CD and DVD sales, while being one of few Contemporary Christian music groups to have had all of their recordings certified Gold or Platinum, as well as garner 25 No. 1 multi-format Christian radio singles, and four consecutive mainstream radio hits with “I Can Only Imagine,” (No. 4 AC/Top 25 on Top 40/Hot AC), “Here With Me” (No. 4 AC), “Homesick” (Top 10 AC), and “So Long Self.” In 2009, BILLBOARD named MercyMe's "Word Of God Speak" the No. 1 Song of The Decade and the group the #1 Christian Songs Artist of the Decade, with an additional No. 1 as the Christian AC Song Artist of The Decade as one of the industry's most notable talents. MercyMe made history as “I Can Only Imagine” surpassed 1 million digital downloads, making it the first song in Christian music to go platinum in the digital domain. The multi-platinum selling band has sold out venues including Radio City Music Hall and has been seen on The Tonight Show, CNN, Fox New Channel's Fox & Friends, ABC News, CBS' The Early Show, and in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, USA Today, Billboard, and more.
Since their inception, MercyMe’s music has fueled a continual dialog both among people of faith and those who are grasping for it. Whether offering up encouragement with their multi-format hit “I Can Only Imagine” or inciting random acts of kindness with their 2010 album, The Generous Mr. Lovewell, MercyMe creates music that enlightens, entertains and invites community among a broad spectrum of people.
The Texas-based band does so yet again on their seventh studio album, The Hurt & the Healer, a compelling collection of songs that rock with the authority of a seasoned band, yet also insinuate themselves into the souls of listeners through insightful, heartfelt lyrics. “We’ve been doing this for 17 years,” Bart Millard says of the group. “You still need a fresh perspective. You still need to have these moments where you are like, ‘Oh I totally get it. I see something new.’ That is what this album has been for us.”
Once written, the title track set the bar for the entire album. “Last fall I was sitting in an arena and I started writing these lyrics to ‘The Hurt & The Healer,’” Bart recalls. “It was one of those moments that happens once in a blue moon where you have something hit you it takes about 10 or 15 minutes to write. I was extremely emotional. I kept texting the lyrics to the guys and they were saying, ‘Oh man! This is incredible. This is totally a God thing.’”
The outpouring of emotion that led to “The Hurt & The Healer” was inspired by a tragedy very close to Bart and his family. “My cousin was a firefighter who was killed in the line of duty this past year in Dallas. Watching his wife and two kids go through the healing process, it’s been incredibly tough to say the least,” Bart says quietly. He and his cousin had grown up as close as brothers and the loss has been devastating. Yet he drew comfort from the community of firefighters. “Just seeing how the firefighters have surrounded his family and have been there for them . . . that kind of led me down this path of the whole idea that we can’t just have contact with God, we need a full blown collision with the healer to get through something like this. The idea of the song is to have this collision with the hurt and the healer to where we are changed, whether it’s painful or great or whatever, that we walk away closer to Christ than where we were before.”
“The Hurt & The Healer” became the foundation for the rest of the album. “We knew this song needed to be the title of the record,” he says. “It raised the bar for us because it’s hard to call an album The Hurt & The Healer and have a lot of light material, so it did challenge us to keep going down this road to what’s important in our lives, the idea of redemption and restoration.”
The result is perhaps MercyMe’s most personal record. “Instead of trying to write what we thought the church needed to hear about, we basically wrote what Christ had been showing us this past year,” Bart says. “If no one can relate to this, I’m sorry, but I feel like people will. It’s just where we’ve been and what we’ve seen. It was a different kind of challenge to write 10 or 11 songs that go along this line. God called us to write songs that help people through the healing process, so why not embrace that and do it to the best of our ability? The more we got into it, we started having almost too much to say. It was like how do we narrow this down?”
Working again with producers Brown Bannister and Dan Muckala, MercyMe recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studio in Ashville, NC. Together they crafted a potent collection of songs that are as musically adventurous as they are lyrically substantive. “Dan and Brown took me aside and said, ‘Let’s just be honest. With a title this heavy, you’ve got to be careful not to write 10 ballads and 10 moments and just bring people down to this somber place. It would be easy to go there,’” Bart says recalling their conversation as the album took shape. “It was a challenge for me as a writer because if I have a really good lyric, I have a tendency to lean towards an emotional ballad and not so much on a fast song.”
Yet working with his bandmates and producers, the songs began taking on a different life. “As a whole this album by far is our biggest rock album,” Bart says proudly. “To approach somebody that’s going through a difficult time with all these ballads of hurt and pain could be detrimental, but the idea to have a song that makes you want to get up and start your day and still tackle something that has such substance, that was the challenge. I would write lyrics and go, ‘Oh my gosh, this would make a great ballad,’ and they wouldn’t let me do it. They were like, ‘No, it needs to be up tempo. Don’t make your fast songs fluff and slow songs solid. Everything needs to be solid. So it was an interesting challenge for me and when the record was done, it is by far our biggest rock and roll album.”
“Best of Me” is a pulsating rocker with an infectious melody that reels the listener in. “The First Time” is a poignant piano-laced ballad that showcases Millard’s warm, evocative vocals as he revels in the wonder of God’s mercies and grace feeling new again, while “Take the Time” is a rootsy alternative number featuring Bear Rinehart from NEEDTOBREATHE. Bart describes “To Whom It May Concern” as a “real quirky song about accountability. It’s about the idea that you’re not the first person to fall on their face. Instead of us throwing stones, we’re not going away. We’re going to stay right by your side and prove to you that you’re not your shame.”
“You Are I Am” finds the band paying homage to some of their ‘80s musical influences. “It’s a straight Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, 80’s kind of song that I absolutely love,” says Bart. “Every once in a while you can get what’s in your head and it turns out in the song exactly the way you thought it should. This is one of those songs. It talks about what we used to be. I used to doubt who you are and I used to question everything, but then the chorus comes in and says, ‘You’re the one who conquers giants! You’re the one who calls out kings! You shut the mouths of lions!’ It’s just a very inspirational thing, so that’s the song I’m most excited about.”
After nearly 20 years together, the members of MercyMe remain as excited as ever about connecting people through music. Long before signing with INO Records (now Fair Trade) in 2001, the band had amassed a devoted following. That fan base has continually grown over the years as the band has sold over 6 million units and served up such memorable songs as “I Can Only Imagine,” (the first song in Christian music to go platinum in the digital domain) “Here With Me,” “So Long Self,” and “Word of God Speak,” which was named the No. 1 Christian Song of the Decade by Billboard magazine. MercyMe has scored 23 number 1 multi-format Christian radio singles and four consecutive mainstream radio hits, along with Grammy nominations, numerous Dove Awards, an American Music Award, and appearances on The Tonight Show, ABC News, The New York Times, USA Today, Fox & Friends, the CBS Early Show and more. In addition to selling out venues like Radio City Music Hall, hundreds of thousands have flocked to their Rock & Worship Roadshow, one of the most successful tours in the Christian music industry.
Yet it has never been about chart numbers or music industry accolades. It has always been about sharing what God has placed on their hearts. On The Hurt & the Healer, hope, truth and grace collide in a powerful way. “There is definitely a huge theme on the album of we’ve all messed up, but Christ isn’t getting back on the cross. He died for our sins once and for all and it’s enough,” Bart says. “If people know Christ---regardless of what they’ve done---they are still redeemed. If we choose to look at people as redeemed and not based on their sin, then the mentality has to change. . . That is a huge part of the healing process. It’s not only about the hurt of losing a loved one. It’s the people who have been hurt in the church. One thing that we all have in common is that we all go through pain and hurt. There are a billion ways that we get hurt, but there truly is one way that we get healed and that’s a pretty novel concept.”
It’s a powerful message for a world that’s hurting, and the band hopes it will impact lives. “I’m hoping that people walk away saying, ‘You know what? I was tied down by the loss of my husband or by the cancer that wouldn’t go away, or the loss of my job or the addiction or whatever,” says Bart, “but you’ve made me realize that I have that same spirit that rose Christ living in me and I won’t be defined by this. This is not who I am. Whether it’s addiction or a broken marriage, this is not who I am. This is an attack, but my identity is in Christ, which means I can overcome this!’ It’s this spiritual empowerment that I think people desperately need. I still feel like I have something to say and I do love being in a band. It’s the greatest job ever. I love that God uses us to minister to people. I love making music that counts.”
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