Phil Stacey | Phil Stacey
Chris Sligh | Running Back to You
Like the Chris Daughtreys and Clay Aikens in mainstream pop, an increasing number of American Idol finalists who didn't win the big prize are finding homes on Christian music labels, charts and concert tours. Mandisa, who rolled through here a few months ago as part of Winter Jam is probably the highest profile example, but in the past month, a pair of season six veterans released promising debut discs: Chris Sligh and Richmond-native Phil Stacey.
Sligh certainly hinted this was a way he might go, singing tunes by dc talk and MuteMath on Idol. Running Back to You certainly is the most Idol of the two albums -- take that as you like. From the opening track, Arise, Sligh is showing his powerful pipes. A lot of the album is like this, very radio-friendly, emotional soaring songs that could be completely plausible in the mouths of future Idol competitors. There's also soul and groove in tunes such as Something Beautiful, the album's best cut. It's a superior debut in performance and production.
Stacey is also very true to his Idol self, which was a whole lot country. His voice is at ease in the country format and, though not as spectacular as Sligh's, just as expressive. The thing that marks this album as indelibly country though is the songwriting. The leadoff track, It's Who You Know, is pure Nashville scene-setting and hook that makes Stacey seem like a legitimate two-genre artist. The songwriting credits include several top Christian and country tunesmiths, and the album was made under the direction of veteran Christian artist and songwriter Wayne Kirkpatrick.
Given their Idol notoriety, both artists could cross-over, but for the Christian community, both deliver strong messages of faith. Clearly, the singers are not just seeing the Christian market as a place where they can cash in. They contribute.
Chistianity Today's Christian Music Today website has a great interview with Sligh, Stacey and Mandisa.
Idol Switch: If he doesn't win on Idol tomorrow tonight, could a Christian market contract be in David Cook's future. Last week in on Idol, he uncorked a cover of Switchfoot's Dare You to Move, and got the band a shout out from Randy. Here's the video, if you want to compare Cook to Jon Foreman:
Yahoo!, new Casting Crowns video: Yahoo! Music's video premiers site will be featuring Slow Fade, the new single from Casting Crowns, starting at midnight tonight/tomorrow (May 21).
New FF5: Family Force 5's new EP, Dance or Die, drops on June 3. It will be available at iTunes and at tour dates during the summer, presumably including the Ichthus Festival , where they play June 14. They're also releasing Blingin' Blogs , Vol. 1 on iTunes with, according to their press release, "12 blogs with over 70 minutes of the world according to Family Force 5." O-K.
Concerts: If you are into the Southern Gospel Music, The Gold City Quartet is playing Tates Creek Christian Church, 3150 Tates Creek Road, at 7:30 p.m. May 30. Admission is free, and an offering will be taken to cover expenses.
And to bring this post full circle, Phil Stacey performs at 7 p.m. May 22 in the Bell County High School gym as part of the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival in Pineville.