MAY 2014 Issue • 404
P E E BL
WE TALK BBQ WITH SPRING/SUMMER FASHIONS FROM ALL ROADHOUSE L.A. CHEF KYLE SCHUTTE OVER THE WORLD
the faces & sounds of today’s
GOSPEL MUSIC featuring
Olympic Ice Dancing Duo
Sara Hurtado & Adrià Díaz RENT original cast member & star of If/Then on Broadway
TOBY MAC NATALIE GRANT MICHAEL W. SMITH MERCY ME SKILLET ANOINTED PHIL WICKHAM CAPITAL KINGS
AND 11 MORE ARTISTS WHO 1 CONTINUE TO CHANGE THEBLEEP GAME
n i p e e bl inside: 14 18 22
As Mugatu would say, “The Bible is so hot right now.” Biblically-based films are flooding both the box office and TV sets. Not since the 50’s has there been such a wave of stories from “The Good Book” on film.
“Modernist global barbecue.” That’s how Roadhouse L.A. describes what Kyle Schutte is doing in the kitchen.
MAKING HISTORY IN SOCHI
Sara Hurtado and Adrià Díaz were the first ever ice dance couple to represent Spain in ISU competition and made history again at the Olympics this year.
of e c a f w e n e h t c i s u m l e p s o g
ON THE COVER
FEATURING MICHAEL W. SMITH TOBY MAC NATALIE GRANT ANOINTED SKILLET MERCY ME CAPITAL KINGS PHIL WICKHAM
30 34 42 46 52 58 64 70
SPOTLIGHTS ON DEITRICK HADDON MICHELLE WILLIAMS MARY MARY MANDISA TYE TRIBBETT
40 50 51 62 63
Neilson reports that in 2013, 32.8 million Gospel/ Christian albums were sold. That’s more than the Blues, Jazz and Latin genre albums combined. But you may not even know who these artists are who are selling out arenas and playing to crowds of thousands at festivals. So, we talked with some of the biggest names in the business about new music, life on the road and making a joyful noise. PLUS - check out ICONS of gospel on page 56. BLEEP 3
n i p e e l inside: b
76 82 90 98 4 BLEEP
ANTHONY RAPP & STEVEN ROYAL
In the creative arts, collaboration is key. That’s exactly what Broadway veteran Anthony Rapp and director/designer Steven Royal did.
We head to Frankfurt am Main, Germany to talk with KleinReesink, head of Ekn Footwear whose shoes are as stylish as you’d see anywhere but produced sustainably and fair, without chemicals, but with a conscience.
CAMERON ON CAMERA
Photographer fwee Carter and Cameron McCartney put their heads together and the result is some men’s fashion where classic meets modern.
BLEEP OBSESSED LIST
We’re obsessed. Find out why and what we think you should be paying attention to this month.
BLEEP CREATIVITY. UNCENSORED. RYAN BRINSON Editor-in-Chief SARAH ROTKER Business & Audience Development Manager PABLO SALINAS Social Media Associate BEN HUMENIUK Cartoonist RACHAEL MARIBOHO Culture Editor FEATURE EDITORS: Nathan Robins WRITERS: Caleb Bollenbacher Hatley Moore Courtney Shotwell Lisa Sorenson Laura Seitter Alex Wright FEATURE CONTRIBUTORS: Florian Hubertus WEB CONTENT: Sheena Wagaman Eric Lehman Jordan Shalhoub
All articles and photos are the property of the writers and artists. All rights reserved.
Letter from the Editor I become giddy over someone I admire responding to me on Twitter. I don’t have any shame when it comes to that. They don’t have to be famous, just someone I admire. Sometimes though, because of BLEEP, I’ve been able to actually talk to some of those people and learn more about their lives, the projects they are working on and what inspires them, which is then inspiring to me as well. This issue has played out like a dream for me. Growing up in Dallas, right in the buckle of the Bible Belt, I spent my time listening to gospel music every minute of the day. I realized early this year that I had never featured any of those artists in the magazine and in part, this is my way of rectifying that in a grand fashion. The amount of artistry and talent represented in this grouping of artists is really incredible. What else is incredible is that what these artists represent is a new guard of sorts. These are not your grandmother’s hymns nor are they a dusty group of hymn singers. (not that there’s anything wrong with hymns, but I doubt your grandmother heard anything like the EDM gospel music Capital Kings are creating or heard hip-hop gospel like what Toby Mac has unleashed. These artists sing about hope and they do it in a way that rivals what’s on mainstream radio. At BLEEP, we represent all facets of creative culture and that’s something that’s important. Neilson reports that in 2013, 32.8 million gospel/ Christian albums were sold. That’s more than the Blues, Jazz and Latin genre albums combined. It’s hard to deny that it’s a powerful market and these folks are at the top of the heap and some of them are icons in the genre. Speaking of icons, having the chance to talk with Anthony Rapp about his new show If/Then and the ongoing legacy of being a part of the original cast of RENT was something I never thought I’d be able to do. I read his book, “Without You” in college and sitting in his apartment, talking to him about it was a thrill. Moral of the story: This issue is a dream for me, the artists are incredible, and it’s different than anything we’ve done before.
Ryan Brinson Editor-in-Chief
Dedicated to Kim, who opened my world and taught me to love singing gospel music. BLEEP 7
Photos by Jeff Busby
We love Baz Luhrmann. Hot off of his $350 million dollar smash hit film “The Great Gatsby,” Luhrmann has taken one of his most beloved films, “Strictly Ballroom” and reimagined it as a musical. Strictly Ballroom The Musical reunites the original creative team behind the classic 1992 film, including director and co-writer Baz Luhrmann, set and costume designer Catherine Martin, choreographer John “Cha Cha” O’Connell and co-writer Craig Pearce. If you don’t know, Strictly Ballroom The Musical is the story of a championship ballroom dancer who defies all the rules to follow his heart. What you might not know is that this story originated as a stage play that Baz Luhrmann devised with a group of students at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) back in 1984. Full circle moment? We love it. It can’t get to Broadway quick enough! www.strictlyballroomthemusical.com
BLEEPbliPs Hedwig is one of the spring’s biggest new hits on Broadway with both audiences and critics raving this edgy and sparkly new production. But did you know those aren’t just run-of-the-mill sequins making it sparkle? Two-time Oscar nominated costume designer Arianne Phillips partnered with Swarovski to emblazon the costumes of Hedwig Robinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris). Phillips’ designs for the iconic character utilize over 500,000 Swarovski crystals to bring the story of the “internationally ignored song stylist” to life. Phillips is familiar with the world of Hedwig, having worked on the film version of the show in 2001. If you haven’t purchased your tickets, you should do it quickly before there aren’t any left. We are a big fan of the 10PM Saturday night performance option, the only late night option of it’s kind on Broadway. www.hedwigbroadway.com London’s Duologue just released their Memex EP on their own imprint Wild Game Records. The EP is a taste of what the band’s next album will sound like. That full length is due to come out in August and the band will be touring the States. To listen to the EP, head over to their website. www.duologuemusic.com
The Flea Theater presents the World Premiere of The Mysteries - a radical retelling of the Bible. Playwrights commissioned include Tony Award and Academy Award winners and nominees David Henry Hwang, Craig Lucas, Billy Porter, José Rivera and Jeff Whitty who join together to tell the entire History of man’s salvation in 52 episodes from the fall of Lucifer through and including Judgment Day. The Mysteries will feature The Bats, the resident acting company of The Flea Theater – 53 of which will take part in this extravaganza. The show runs through May 25, Monday & Thursday – Saturday at 6:30 and Sunday at 4:30. All tickets will include dinner along with the performance. Running time is 6 hours with 2 intermissions and dinner and desert in the respective intermissions so it’s a long show, but hey, the “Good Book” is a long book. www.theflea.org BLEEP 11
the intersection by
Kissing Trailers Goodbye
I’m growing weary of movie trailers. It wasn’t all that long ago that I would go to the theater just to see certain trailers, with the actual feature film coming as a mere afterthought. There’s always been something magical about that first tease; that promised hint of honey. It’s my favorite kind of infuriating: seeing something I want and knowing I’ll have to wait for it. But that’s the whole point and beauty of what a trailer is. It’s all part of the ritual that ends with the lights coming back on and a fresh story circling its way through my mind. The trailer is the beginning of a courtship, and that initial viewing of the completed product is the first dance. But lately Hollywood is going overboard. I get that in this day and age it’s so easy to preen and show off glimpses of an impending story: social media, which is moving continuously towards a great emphasis on media, offers readily accessible platforms to show bits and pieces without any significant cost or investment. Where studios used to have to funnel major resources into film promotion, the landscape is now so instantaneous that there’s very little standing between the editing room and the audience’s eye. Can we save something for the honeymoon though? The worst offender of late (and the worst offender I can think of in general) has been Sony’s upcoming “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”Now, I was in the minority that thought that the 2012 Spider-Man reboot was something approaching perfection. I loved nearly every aspect of it, and so when plans for a sequel were announced I couldn’t have been more excited. Fast forward to the present and I can hardly see a mention of the new movie without rolling my eyes. While I still plan to show up for opening weekend, my plans are now coupled with hesitancy and irritation. Something happened along the way to kill the romance. I don’t have to think for even a moment to realize what it was. In the past several months the film’s marketing department has gone absolutely crazy. I lost track of how many official trailers have been released somewhere around four, not counting all the international ads and television spots. That 12 BLEEP
in itself is excessive, but couple it with the number of ‘exclusive clips’ that have come out and the amount of footage available is absolutely ludicrous. I’ve long since stopped watching, but I’m fairly certain that the entirety of the movie has been released online by now in three minute exclusives. Why even bother showing up to the theater? At this point I’ve got a fairly good idea of the entire plot of the movie, more of an idea than I want to have. The whole purpose in forging a relationship with a story is to experience all of its twists and curves on the way. When all of that is revealed in advance something disappears. The mystique is lost along with modesty. As someone with an abundant interest in film, I follow Hollywood news with more interest than most people I know. Seeing the various stages of production in a film is absolutely fascinating, even if just done from afar. But the finished film is something sacred, and I don’t understand the desire/need to dilute that anymore than necessary. I recently had a friend send me a link to the opening scene of the new X-Men movie (which for the most part has been a great example of restrained marketing), which I’ve been looking forward to with rabid anticipation. Without any intention of being rude, it took me less than a second to delete the post. Why would I want to see the entire opening scene without its proper context, outside of the cathedral that is the theater? Why would I want a few stolen moments outside of their proper space? It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy the sneak peek. It’s not that it wouldn’t make me even more excited about the new movie…but in the end would it be worth it, going to see the complete film and having already seen so much of it? ‘Less is more’ does not go out of style, and that applies to Hollywood just as much as with anything else. Marketing should encourage the thrill of the chase, but right now it’s just an overly attached girlfriend. I’ll pass on clingy, thank you very much.
by Alex Wright
“And then just fall.”
I was hanging upside down off of my partner as I learned the role of Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We had five rehearsals until we opened, and the past two days I had been shadowing my other part, Helena. For everyone else, this is a remount— the actress who is sharing the role of Helena with me has played it for the past twelve years and is now the director; for me, this is a whirlwind of lines, blocking, and right now, fight choreography. When I received the call that I would be sharing two of the leads, I quickly went from excitement to anxiety. Would I be able to pull this off? Most Shakespearean productions have at least a six-week rehearsal process…could I learn two heavy roles in five days? My anxiety leapt to fear the first day of rehearsal—AKA come memorized, watch what we do, get it perfect the first time, and don’t slow us down— when I saw the amount of detailed blocking and fight choreography I needed to learn. The safety of my partners’ was at risk, so the fight choreography and lifts needed to be spot-on. As I received my first lines of choreography—run down the stairs, go to balcony, jump in his arms, leap down, run down other stairs, do a cartwheel, roundhouse kick to his head, fan kick in the air, punch in the air, hold—I praised the Lord for my MFA and all the movement training I acquired in those three years. I kept reminding myself of the main tenets of acrobatics and lifts—trust your partner, hold your core and your weight, and most importantly, trust your abilities and that you can catch yourself if you fall. By the end of the day, I found myself more confident, to the point where I was adding in lifts, dismounts, and Russian acrobatics to the part that was not previously choreographed. The crazy thing is that every time you accomplish something that terrifies you, you gain confidence and expand the circle of your own realm of bravery. Being an actor is scary for all sorts of reasons other than rejection, auditions, or opening night, which, believe me, demand plenty of courage already.
Courage is when your friends and family secretly think you’re crazy for moving to LA, and hope that one day you will grow out of this “phase.” Or when someone at the bar rolls their eyes when they ask what you do. Courage is reminding yourself of why you got in this business, and knowing that even though you are surrounded by a brilliant company of actors who support you, that at the end of the day, you have to be your number one fan. You have to catch yourself. Being afraid of office jobs, of sedentary and average lives, and most of all, of mediocrity, we fling ourselves wholeheartedly into a career whose unshaky ground promises a life that is anything but ordinary, and perhaps, this is what makes us the biggest cowards of all. The irony is that in our cowardice, we find our courage. Like the cowardly lion, we roar and bellow and fake it until we make it, until we can just fall and hope that we will catch ourselves. So often artists have a reputation of being narcissistic, but, like the profession we love, it is all acting. Somewhere behind the bravado is someone who is desperately afraid that you won’t love them back, whether you are a critic, a casting director, or a lover. Because of this, I have found that the best artists and the most talented actors— not necessarily the most successful ones, though—are the ones who are full of generosity, vulnerability, and humbleness, whether they are onstage or not. They might be afraid to show their true colors, but they do it anyway, admirably. They are often times the ones who have dealt with the most hardship in their lives, and in the process, have learned how to catch themselves and love others with a heart that is full of fear, but a heart that leaps nonetheless. The next day I found myself saying to the other Hippolyta actress, “Then just fall backwards down his back and do a cartwheel as a dismount.” I saw a glimpse of fear in her eyes, and then the resolution of a fighter who won’t back down from a challenge. She didn’t complete the lift, but she stuck her landing. She laughed, brushed off the dirt, and confidently said, “Once more” before leaping into his arms. BLEEP 13
by Laura Seitter
Holy Hollywood According to the opening lines of the book of Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” From there, the Bible goes on to tell of creation and destruction, sin and redemption, violent hate and life-giving love. In the beginning of film man re-created the world in front of a camera, and the stories that have been told ever since tend to revolve around similar themes. Filmmakers have a long history of using not only biblical themes in their work, but of adapting stories straight from the New and Old Testaments and reimagining them for the big screen. It is easy to see why the Bible has been such a solid content source for movie makers. Aside from being public domain, Bible stories offer all the great crowdpleasing elements like epic battle sequences, torrid love affairs and even the occasional talking animal. Biblical figures form the foundation for some of the most definitive character archetypes, like the ruler,
the rebel, the innocent and the hero. Regardless of one’s personal religious convictions, the Bible is an account of the simplistic, but effective, idea of good vs. evil – a concept that any movie audience can relate to. In the early years of filmmaking, the Good Book provided a surplus of content for new audiences. Beginning in the late 19th century with a series of Passion stories for the silent screen, filmmakers around the world adapted Bible stories to film, illustrating iconic imagery like the Parting of the Red Sea, David’s defeat over the giant Goliath and Christ’s crucifixion as living art pieces. As film technology progressed and became available to wider audiences, newly instated production codes restricted the exhibition of morally questionable films that included nudity and sex, or violence. Producers, however, cleverly recognized that moral ambiguity could pass unquestioned when safely cloaked by biblical narrative. Thus, women like
Eve, Delilah and Bathsheba became hyper-sexualized seductresses, and bloody sword fights were regularly incorporated. When a classic scriptural hero was meant to find redemption, filmmakers made sure the sin was lavishly committed. If you look at just about any list of film’s most iconic and celebrated works, you will find a fair few biblical blockbusters. Cecil B. DeMille, pioneer for both silent and sound productions, was renowned for his extravagant religious epics, most notably “The Ten Commandments” in 1956. Charlton Heston, who memorably starred as DeMille’s Moses, is also remarkable for his titular role in 1959’s “Ben-Hur.” In the new millennium, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” has become one of the highestgrossing movies of all time, and still remains one of the most hotlydeliberated. Despite a long and winding tradition of scriptural-based film, 2014 may yet be recalled as the year of “Holy Hollywood.” This year has already seen, and will see, several films depicting stories of faith, both biblical and modern. Darren Aronofsky’s highly-anticipated film “Noah” came to theatres earlier this year, but left many viewers feeling overwhelmed by special effects and artistic license and unsure about the overall message. Conversely, “Son of God” (adapted from the 2013 miniseries “The Bible”) was boldly direct with its Good-News message, while unfortunately lacking in cinematic sparkle. In December, Ridley Scott will release “Exodus: Gods and Kings” starring Christian Bale and Aaron Paul. “Heaven Is for Real” and “God’s Not Dead” give contemporary points of view about Christianity and spirituality, and have both been relatively successful in the box office. Later this year, the best-selling apocalyptic book series “Left Behind”
will again be readapted for theatres, starring the dubiously-cast duo Nicolas Cage and Chad Michael Murray. Scripture-based film has yielded some poignant, artistic masterpieces, but these films are inevitably accompanied by controversy. Sometimes the objection is about cinematic quality. A literal adaptation of an ancient text, such as the story of Noah, would result in a cast of one-dimensional caricatures, as bland as washed-out nursery wallpaper. But when a film takes too many liberties with such significant material, it can undermine the valued beliefs of an entire community. In addition to being the foundation of Christianity, the Bible is entrenched in historical tradition and ceremony; there is an expectation of reverence with regard to this content. Nonetheless, if a person remains unconvinced about the divinity of Jesus Christ, they are not likely to buy into a Deus Ex Machina result (in the most literal sense). Those expectations of respect can be up for debate. Both sides of the dispute can stir up a storm of unkindness, hurt sympathies and burning vitriol. Sometimes, these heated deliberations about biblical film take all the joy and pleasure out of the viewing experience for me. Film, as an art form, is supposed to provoke introspection and question society, but the conflict between religions, between faith and disbelief, is not going to be solved by Hollywood. From a personal perspective, even as a Christian I don’t believe film is a good tool for evangelism or for teaching scripture. In the Bible, Matthew 5:16 says exhibit your faith, to “let your light shine before others” by caring for those in need. I’ve found that to be far more useful than debating the latest film. BLEEP 15
Dénouements and Steak Series finales are always a stressful experience for an audience. It is the final chance for a show to make all of it’s viewers’ hopes and dreams come true, or the perfect opportunity to crush them. There’s no telling how each show will handle it’s conclusion, but there are several strategies that these writers like to use as their final goodbye. Obviously, this reminds me of cooking steaks. When presented with the option of preparing your steak on a scale from rare to burnt to a crisp, there is a level of completion that is done to your meat, which is the exact same situation with series finales. For my brilliantly analytical scale, the more the meat is cooked, the more the writers chose to wrap up loose ends and leave no questions. Rare—These are your cancelled shows that had no idea they were being cancelled. These poor writers were super excited about their cliffhanger and introduction into the next season. Unfortunately, the leaders of television land didn’t care and now your show has demised with zero resolution whatsoever. Medium Rare— I like to refer to this group as the ones who knew they were getting cancelled, but were probably banking on a movie or spinoff. Instead of resolving things, they’ll just add a last second cliffhanger until they make an epic comeback. While your body kind of feels like you watched the finale of something, you’re confused because nothing was really concluded at all. Looking at you Heroes. Medium—This category is a bizarre mix of answering some things, while leaving some stuff unanswered, which just leaves the audience in an awkward limbo, or purgatory if you will. Segue to “Lost.” I was one of the millions of Americans that unhealthily obsessed over “Lost” and racked my brain on uncovering the countless mysteries and secrets that the show held. When the commercial spots for the series finale began to air that alluded to all of our questions being answered in the epic 2-hour finale show on IMAX cameras, for some reason I believed them. Were some questions answered? Yes. Was there overall closure? It was a BS strategy,
by Hatley Moore but yes, there was closure. Did they answer all of the questions? Hell no. These kooky writers managed to get away with creating one of the most popular and highly critiqued cable dramas of all time, and they didn’t answer the majority of things that happened on the show. I’m not still bitter… Medium Well— Boom. Closure, questions answered, resolution. But wait, lets throw in one lost bit of ambiguity just so you can keep ’em guessing. The most famous ‘medium well’ finale is undoubtedly “The Sopranos.” Turns out you might piss off 75% of your audience if you finish your show mid-sente Well Done—”Breaking Bad.” ‘The Office.” ‘M*A*S*H.“ These shows are some of the greatest series finales of all time. I’m not saying to have a good series finale you need to answer everything and tie up all the loose ends. I’m just saying that in the sense of taking all of the pink and red out of your meat and having a fully cooked steak, the shows in this category don’t leave the audience guessing. Questions are answered and the resolution is achieved. We don’t have to know every detail of every person in the show, but the audience needs to be able to psychologically have full closure in order to make it in this group. Burnt—Here’s my steak for “How I Met Your Mother.” I could do a full article over the recent finale, but I’ll leave it with this steak analogy. This category is for the shows that tie up all loose ends, but then go a step farther and try to have an epic conclusion that is too big for it’s britches, inevitably crushing the souls of your watchers and leaving you with a steak that has disappointingly been cooked just a little too long. Bon Appétit.
barbecue not your typical
After graduating from the Art Institute of Atlanta, Kyle Schutte joined the award-winning ONE Midtown kitchen in Atlanta and was the Executive Chef at both Vu in Marina del Rey (named one of the top young chefs to watch) and 54Twenty in Los Angeles (it was named one of LA’s best new restaurants.) Now, Schutte is making barbecue his way at Roadhouse LA.
Grill in Maui and they had their signature ice cream sandwich on their menu. So I decided to try it and something about that took me back to eating an ice cream sandwich with my dad after a little league game. I thought if an ice cream sandwich can take me away from Hawaii and connect to a memory like that, maybe food is something I need to be looking into. I found an artistic medium to explore the connection with the diners and food so I knew that day that I was going to go into food.
IN A TIME WHEN “CELEBRITY CHEFS” ARE A DIME A DOZEN, WHAT SETS YOU APART? I just naturally look at food differently than most chefs. It’s not something I tried to do, but as I grew WHEN DID YOU FIGURE OUT THERE WAS AN ART TO and learned in culinary school, I had instructors who FOOD? I went to college for psychology for three years. nourished that process for me. They pushed me The creative aspect of my life had just vanished to keep trying new things and I ended up in some and I needed to reclaim it. I was eating at The Hula kitchens who did the same things along the way. It’s not something I do consciously, it’s just the way
I see things. I have no desire to recreate something someone else has done before. I embrace the old techniques as much as the new though. All of my menus will take the best of new school and the best of old school. It’s important to me that our diners have fun. I would hate for a guest to come in and it be stuffy, so I think the food has to be sophisticated but fun at the same time.
global barbecue.” We are using modern techniques and globally driven ingredients but we aren’t taking recipes or specific dishes from around the world and putting them on our menu. We are taking globallysourced ingredients and using them in our barbecue.
WHAT CAN DINERS EXPECT COMING TO ROADHOUSE LA? I think barbecue should be confined to backyards, DO YOU FOLLOW THE TRENDS IN WHAT’S POPULAR not in a restaurant. So I thought “What would I do to IN FOOD? make myself go to a barbecue place?” How can I take Not really. I do what I think is right. I will be the first an out-of the-box approach and apply it to the worlds person to say that bacon doesn’t belong on a dessert. oldest form of cooking? As a chef, you obviously get influences from different Diners can expect fun. We take what we do seriously, places, but just because everyone else is doing it but these are new flavor profiles, new techniques and doesn’t mean that I should. not traditional barbecue. It’s a fun, out-of-the-box, barbecue experience. WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT ROADHOUSE LA? It’s not what should barbecue be, but it’s what could www.RoadhouseRestaurants.com barbecue be? We’ve branded ourselves as “modernist www.KyleSchutte.com
Adrià Díaz Sara Hurtado and Adrià Díaz were the first ever ice dance couple to represent Spain in ISU competition. Both skating since they were young, they again made history when they became the first ice dance couple from Spain to qualify for an Olympic games. We caught up with the duo on their Sochi experience and what’s next for the dazzling pair.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOUR LOVE OF SKATING EVOLVE INTO THE DESIRE TO SKATE COMPETITIVELY AND AIM FOR THE OLYMPICS? Adrià: When I was 9-years-old, I decided I wanted to compete. I would go to my mum and say I wanted to go to the Olympics one day, but I never took it seriously until I stopped freestyle and started ice dance with Sara. Then, I could see we had the opportunity to make it there. Sara: It happens without even noticing. One day you are doing what you like most and the next day you are traveling all around the world competing. Then, after you realize this is more important than what you originally thought at the beginning, you end up dedicating most of your time to it. From the beginning, competing at the Olympics was the dream to achieve. All athletes look at the TV and feel that fire inside that wants to take you there and do whatever 24 BLEEP
is necessary to make it happen. WE SEE YOU COMPETE ON TV BUT THERE ARE YEARS OF PRACTICE THAT GO INTO IT. WHAT’S THE PART OF YOUR TRAINING THAT YOU THINK WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST? Sara: Ice dance requires much more than people think. Of course there’s a lot of physical training, but there’s another world at work between [the physical and the mental]. We do a lot of leading and following drills where I might end up doing Adri’s steps so I can feel what he is feeling and vice versa. Also, like Adri says, the exercises we do with Catherine help us deliver feeling in our programs. She is a great teacher. Adrià: Our coaches now know how we work and what we need to give our best. I think our training is normal, but people would be surprised with some exercises we do with our theatre coach. She
is an awesome woman and a little bit crazy, so we sometimes do crazy exercises on the ice. For example, we’ve done part of our program while screaming very loud. With things that people, start look at us like, “Okay, we will leave them alone.” THE SCORING SYSTEM FOR SKATING IS CONFUSING TO SOME PEOPLE BUT IT BASICALLY BOILS DOWN TO EACH COMPONENT EQUALLY A CERTAIN POINT VALUE. HOW DO YOU JUGGLE THE ARTISTIC SIDE OF SKATING WITH THE TECHNICAL COMPONENTS NEEDED TO GET THE SCORES YOU WANT? Adrià: Well, we try to always get both. We work first on the artistic elements because the technical elements may need a little bit more time to get them right. Especially for us, since we recently started participating in ice dance competitions and the steps are always harder. By the middle of the season, we
start feeling more comfortable with the elements and because we had worked on the artistic parts before, it all starts working better. Sara: That’s a clever question. First, you have to know the rules and what will make you get the points you want. Then, with those rules, we look at our possibilities and it’s just about mixing it all together. We get to be creative but at the same time we follow the rules to get the points we need. WHAT DID THE MOMENT FEEL LIKE WHEN YOU TOOK TO THE OLYMPIC ICE? Sara: It felt really good. I felt I was ready for that moment and ready to show what we worked so hard for so long. It was the moment I was waiting and dreaming of my whole life and I enjoyed every single bit of it. With every step and every move I did, I was conscious it was a once in a lifetime moment. I will BLEEP 25
never forget those programs. Also, it was very special because my parents were watching. It was their first international competition that they saw, since before
Olympics, they had only saw me skating in Spain, so it was very special. Adrià: It felt like another competition because I wanted it to feel like that. I didn’t want to think it was Olympics. We had only one chance to skate our best in four years, so the feeling of “the Olympics” it was more outside the ice to me, the ambiance dayby-day. On the ice I tried to feel like it was one more competition. WHAT MOST SURPRISED YOU ABOUT YOUR OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE THIS YEAR? Adrià: I was impressed with the apartments and all the installations. The ice rinks and basically everything they built were new and really close so the transportation for the athletes was very nice and fast. 26 BLEEP
Also the ambiance and the spirit of all the athletes felt really good. Sara: Everyday there was a new surprise. The opening ceremony, the official practices, the rising of the flag, every single sunrise and sunset… all of it was beautiful and they did a great job for the athletes to feel like we were at home. HOW DO YOU JUGGLE PERSONAL LIFE/TRAINING? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT ON THE ICE/CAUSES YOU SUPPORT/ETC? Sara: Skating is our full time job, then we do like every other person our age. I like to go to the cinema, do yoga, read, cook and spend time with other friends. Also, I’m studying journalism at the University Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid and because I’m doing it distance, that takes a lot of time too. Adrià: I basically skate from Monday to Friday, plus the gym and ballet classes some days, and during the week, I help young free style skaters. On the weekends, I’m off so sometimes I go to the cinema, bowling, or just stay home watch movies, play some games and rest. WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? Adrià: A very nice vacation in Spain with my parents, my sister and my friends and family. After, we will come back to Montreal and start preparing new choreography for next season. Sara: The short-term is traveling to Madrid, a few weeks of vacation and then the preparation of the new season starts: new free dance choreography, training and a few summer competitions to test the programs and see if they are going on a good direction.
Neilson reports that in 2013, 32.8 million Gospel/ Christian albums were sold. Thatâ€™s more than the Blues, Jazz and Latin genre albums combined. We talked with some of the biggest names in the business about new music, life on the road and making a joyful noise.
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Michael W. Smith is one of the most recognizable names in Christian music. Over the course of his three-decade career, he has sold more than 15 million albums, received three Grammys and an American Music Award. Now, he’s back with a new sound and a fresh musical outlook.
many people’s lives. “Secret Ambition” is really old but people love it. OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER, YOU HAVE SEEN TECHNOLOGY CHANGE FIRSTHAND. HAS THAT CHANGED THE WAY YOU APPROACH WHAT YOU DO? You have things at your fingertips now that we didn’t have when I started, but that doesn’t change the fact that a great song is a great song, no matter what the technology is.
WHAT SETS THIS RECORD APART FROM YOUR PREVIOUS RELEASES? It’s not a live recording for one and it’s not all YOU’VE TOURED THE WORLD, HAD NUMBER ONE congregation music. It’s more of an anthemic record. ALBUMS, AND WORKED WITH THE BEST IN THE I love what it does sonically. I worked with some really BUSINESS. WHAT HAVEN’T YOU DONE? I have a symphony in my heart, head and my soul. I great producers who knocked it out of the park. don’t even know where to start to write one, but I I worked with new writers and producers I’ve never worked with and the sound is massive. We really went have one in there. So that is something I want to do to raise the bar and I’m so grateful. This album was eventually. a year in the making, but if it were easy, everyone AFTER IT’S ALL SAID AND DONE, WHAT’S YOUR would do it. DREAM? To finish well. That’s pretty much it. Life’s a process. YOU’VE HAD 28 NUMBER ONE HITS. DOES IT GET You can always get better. I’ll feel that way until the TIRING SINGING THE SAME SONGS FOR, IN SOME day I die. I’m always going to be pushing myself. That CASES, DECADES? You know, songs like “Missing Person,” “Live the and to be full of joy 24/7. Life,” and “Place in this World” never get old. They just “Sovereign” is Michael W. Smith’s first studio worship don’t. With “Friends,” I watch what it does for people album since 2008 and releases on May 13th. For more when we start singing it. It has been a part of so info, head to www.michaelwsmith.com 32 BLEEP
TOBY MAC IS, WITHOUT QUESTION, ONE OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN GOSPEL MUSIC. AS A PART OF THE TRIO DC TALK, ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR GOSPEL ACTS OF ALL TIME, HE BROKE RECORDS AND WON FOUR GRAMMYS OVER THE COURSE OF TEN YEARS. AS A SOLO ARTIST, HE’S RELEASED SIX ALBUMS, WON AN AMERICAN MUSIC AWARD, TWO BILLBOARD AWARDS, AND THREE MORE GRAMMYS. WITH MORE THAN 11 MILLION IN CAREER ALBUM SALES, HE’S AN UNDENIABLE FORCE IN THE INDUSTRY AND HE’S USING HIS CLOUT TO CULTIVATE NEW ARTISTS AND PRODUCE MUSIC THAT MATTERS. THIS MAY, HE HEADS OUT ON TOUR WITH SKILLET AND LECRAE FOR WHAT HE SAYS WILL BE AN “INTENSE EVENING OF PASSIONATE MUSIC.” WE CHATTED WITH THE BUSIEST MAN IN GOSPEL MUSIC ABOUT WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE TOUR AND WHERE HIS DRIVE COMES FROM. WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ON THIS TOUR? Well it’s amphitheaters mostly and I’ve always loved that atmosphere. I think my music is fitting in that atmosphere because it’s about making people feel good, making people smile and having a big party. Usually, I’m that guy on the tour, but this time, we’ve got LeCrae and Skillet as well as Capital Kings. All of this music has intensity, energy and passion and even though we come from different genres, it all feels like a big party. MUCH LIKE THE DIVERSITY AMONG THE BANDS ON THE TOUR, YOU’VE WORKED WITH SO MANY ARTISTS FROM DIFFERENT GENRES. HOW DO OTHER ARTISTS FUEL YOUR CREATIVE JUICES? Getting to work with artists like Capital Kings or Jamie Grace, I go in to help them be inspired and 36 BLEEP
develop their sound, but they end up inspiring me. Their passion for their art, their desire to create songs that are great and their driven nature inspires me and makes me want to be a better artist. Watching John [Cooper] in Skillet is impressive. I love how they put their show together. It feels so theatrical to me and the thought behind their live show is very creative and inspiring. There’s an energy that comes with LeCrae, he’s drawing more and more people to his shows and to his music and he’s on top of his game. He’s turning hip-hop upside down. It’s positive, it’s something different and it’s the look we need. Hip-hop is a great art form and I’ve always loved it since I was a kid, but I think LeCrae rounds it out very well because he’s intense, passionate and he’s positive. YOU’VE WON GRAMMYS, TOURED THE WORLD AND SOLD MILLIONS OF ALBUMS. WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOU CAREER THUS FAR? If I had to say one thing, it’s continual collaboration. I am sort of a schizophrenic pop artist and I’m all over the place with the pop music I make. There are influences from hip-hop to reggae to rock and roll and you can hear that I love all of those genres. Choosing continually to collaborate is what I’m most proud of because I believe when a couple of minds come together, it makes family and a team. I really try hard to honor the people around me, whether it’s the band, the producers, or the co-writers. We are in the trenches together and I want to honor, enjoy and be blown away by them. THE GROUND-BREAKING, GRAMMY WINNING, DOUBLE PLATINUM DCTALK ALBUM JESUS FREAK TURNS 20 NEXT YEAR. WITH SIX NUMBER ONE CHRISTIAN MUSIC SINGLES, ONE OF WHICH WAS ALSO A TOP 40 HIT, MANY SAY IT’S THE ALBUM THAT REDEFINED CHRISTIAN MUSIC. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A PART OF A LEGACY LIKE THAT? It’s an honor to think that people point back to
something you had something to do with. You never know what you’re doing when you’re doing it, you’re just doing the best you can. It was a special combination between myself, Kevin [Max], and Michael [Tait]. “Free at Last” was very hip-hop leaning and “Supernatural” was more pop/rock. “Jesus Freak” was when we loved hip-hop but wanted to touch rock and roll. It was a nice blend of things where it didn’t feel forced and felt very natural. WHAT CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT FROM YOU? I’m writing and developing a couple artists at Gotee Records. I’m writing songs for my record that’s probably still a year out still, but I just love being in the studio, making music and remaining passionate about it. I love staying un-jaded to what a song can do in someone’s life. As long as I believe a song can open a mind or a heart and God can use it - then I’ll keep working at it. YOU’RE AN ARTIST WHO HAS EXPERIENCED A LONGEVITY MORE ARTISTS DREAM OF HAVING. WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR ASPIRING MUSICIANS WHO WANT THE SAME? My number one goal I have as I approach art, music and writing is to step into the studio with an un-jaded heart. Don’t think you have to do a record or you have to write a song. You get to write a song. Be on the edge of your seat with every song you are writing on. Think about those whose lives and hearts this song could touch. To remain un-jaded and have eyes wide open in wonder at what could happen in the studio, with the next single, next album or next concert, for me, is the key to remaining passionate. I still love what I do and I always think there’s something around the corner that’s a little better and yet unstated. I don’t mean that in an unsatisfied way, but meaning that I’m hoping to see what’s next. I call it wide-eyed-wonder because that’s how I want to be. WITH ALL YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR, WHAT’S YOUR DREAM? My dream at this point in my life is that I would be able to continue to be a good father and husband. I want to be involved with art moving forward and be developing artistry that changes the world. I want to develop and write with artists. I watch producers who get older and continue to stay in the mix and I would love to do that. I want to continue pouring into artistry and have a legacy that says that’s what was important to me. I eventually want to be able to step out of the limelight and be the person who is behind the artist who is making a difference in the world. www.tobymac.com
Now, Haddon is embarking on one of the most exciting ventures of his career. The League of Extraordinary Worshipers (LXW) is not only one of the best and most energetic choirs in music, but they are You may know Deitrick Haddon from the Oxygen changing the face of what it means to be in a gospel show “Preachers of L.A.,” which chronicles the lives choir. Need proof? Check out their show-opening of six Los Angeles preachers, including Haddon. It’s performance at this year’s BET’s Celebration of Gospel. The album is out now and for more information, been a big fat hit for the network and season two is check out www.deitrickhaddonlxw.com on the way as well as spin-offs in other cities. But even if you watched the show, you may not For a taste of what we’re talking about with his know that Haddon is a Grammy nominated and solo work, check out “Amen” from Haddon’s album Stellar Award winning gospel artist, first as the leader of the Voices of Unity and then as a solo artist. He’s Crossroads. Our favorite on the new LXW album is “Just released more than a dozen albums and with each Like He Said He Would.” It’s the perfect bridge between album, pushed the boundaries of what traditional your grandmother’s church gospel and the new gospel music happening today. gospel music looked and sounded like. 40 BLEEP
NOT ONLY DID SHE RECEIVE THE GOSPEL MUSIC ASSOCIATION’S DOVE AWARD FOR FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR FOUR CONSECUTIVE YEARS (2006, 2007, 2008 AND 2009), AND AGAIN IN 2012, BUT NATALIE GRANT IS ALSO A GRAMMY-NOMINATED VOCALIST WHO HAS SHARED THE STAGE WITH SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN THE BUSINESS. WITH A NEW ALBUM, A NEW TV SHOW AND A NEW FILM, “PERSECUTED” WHICH IS IN THEATERS JULY 19, WE CAUGHT UP WITH THE GOSPEL POWERHOUSE TO TALK MUSIC, DATING AND WHITNEY HOUSTON.
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YOUR MOST RECENT ALBUM, “HURRICANE” DEBUTED way they emote from the top of their head to the AT NUMBER ONE ON THE CHRISTIAN ALBUM CHARTS bottom of their feet. AND WAS A TOP 20 ALBUM ON THE BILLBOARD 200. WHAT SETS IT APART FROM YOUR PREVIOUS ALBUMS? SPEAKING OF WHITNEY HOUSTON, YOU RECORDED A I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, I know my lane SONG SHE ALSO RECORDED FOR THE SOUNDTRACK and I’m happy to stay in it. But what musically makes TO “THE PREACHER’S WIFE” ON THE DELUXE VERSION this album different than the ones before it is that it OF YOUR ALBUM, “HURRICANE.” “I LOVE THE LORD” IS has more tempo on it and is driven by pop production A STAPLE IN GOSPEL MUSIC, BUT DID YOU FEEL ANY on the tracks. The subject matter is heavier and I was PRESSURE OF COMPARISON WHEN YOU RECORDED in a much darker place in my life when I wrote and IT? recorded the record, but I wanted the music to sound I didn’t when I recorded it. I’ll never forget hearing full of hope. that song in the movie theater and I just love Richard Smallwood who wrote that song. I grew up loving HOW HAS YOUR SOUND EVOLVED OVER THE COURSE gospel music and he has that way of writing songs OF YOUR EIGHT ALBUMS? that stand the test of time. That song, I’ve always I think it has the most to do with me. My first loved. When my husband and I first started making record, I had very little to do with it. I remember how music together, we would always do that song in my the label I was on had an idea of who they wanted me concerts, just me and the piano, but we haven’t in to be. I didn’t write at that point so I just recorded the probably a decade. We got a brand new grand piano songs they gave me and hit the big notes I wanted for our house and that was the first thing we did was me to hit. I was just thrilled to have a record deal and sing that song. be making music. The second and third records were I was asked to sing at the 50th Anniversary of along the same lines even though I started writing the March on Washington, and sing on the on steps a little bit. But with “Awaken,” there’s a reason it was of Lincoln Memorial. There were a few hundred called that, I awakened to so many things in my life, thousand people there and I decided to sing that in my faith and also had a creative awakening. It was song. It wasn’t until 30 seconds before I went on when a pivotal record for me in my career and changed the I thought “What was I thinking singing a Whitney course of my music and my life. Houston song on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial?!” When I started singing, I could see people giving me WHAT INSPIRES YOU MUSICALLY? that look of “She’s singing Whitney,” but by the end, My greatest musical inspiration is my husband. they were on their feet. It could have gone really bad He’s a producer and a songwriter. So many times, but it went really well. the people who help make the records are so behind the scenes that people never know their names YOU’RE THE HOST OF A NEW SHOW ON GSN CALLED or anything about them. He’s a genius and I’d work “IT TAKES A CHURCH” THAT PREMIERS IN JUNE. HOW with him even if we weren’t married. It’s just really DID YOU GET INVOLVED AND WHAT’S BEEN THE MOST convenient that I get to make my records in my FUN THING ABOUT IT? pajamas in my house. I’m really blessed in that way. It was something I’d never done before. I’ve hosted Vocally, my influences have been Whitney Houston the Dove Awards before but that’s the extent of and CeCe Winans. Nobody sings a song like Whitney my hosing experience. I thought it would be a fun Houston and CeCe Winans is the same way. I think challenge and something different so I was excited at they are cut from the same cloth. It’s incredible the the opportunity. 44 BLEEP
The more I learned about the premise and the idea of getting churches around the country to help people in their church who are single to meet someone, the more I found it’s a great opportunity to show what community can be found in the local church. Statistics are telling us that this generation is leaving the church in droves and this is a great opportunity to show so many people who are lonely - it’s not just about finding a mate but also finding a community who will be there for you through the thick and thin. That’s the community found in the local church. HOW DO YOU JUGGLE TOURING WITH FILMING AND YOUR FAMILY? I don’t juggle at all. I’m a terrible juggler. That’s the number one question I always get asked. If someone has the perfect recipe for balance, I wish they’d share with the rest of us. It’s hard and I go through it every day. I never set out to do music to become a famous singer. I make music because it’s what I feel like I’m meant to do; to sing about hope, to sing about faith and help be an anchor for other people. For my girls, I want them to see that I’m doing what God has for me to do and I want them to do the same in their lives.
While Natalie can out-sing most everyone in the industry, if you really want proof of her vocal prowess, listen to her stripped down version of “I Love The Lord” off the Deluxe version of “Hurricane.” www.nataliegrant.com
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Anointed began singing as a group while they were still in high school. More than 25 years and 8 albums later, they stand as one of contemporary gospelâ€™s most influential acts, infusing soul into an entire generation of gospel music lovers and making the gospel sound accessible to the mainstream Christian music market.
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Anoin WHEN YOU FIRST BEGAN SINGING AS A GROUP, WHAT WAS THE GOAL? Da’dra: We initially just wanted to use the gifts and talents we had to inspire those in our area. We had no idea it would spread. We were singing all over Ohio and then, we ended up singing all over the country. Steve: We’ve been so blessed to see so many sights and meet so many people around the world. We’ve had an opportunity to meet with our mentors as well. I couldn’t believe I was not only meeting them but also working with them. HOW DID THEY MENTOR YOU WHEN YOU WORKED WITH THEM AND HOW DID THAT AFFECT HOW YOU DO WHAT YOU DO NOW? Da’dra: It’s interesting. Our entrance into the recording industry began with a member of the Winans family. It was Vicki Winans who gave us the opportunity to sing back up on her record and that led to the VP of Brainstorm Records hearing us and they were distributed by Word. Having known Vicki at that time, then the Winans family began to find out who we were. Her son produced on our very first record. When we moved to Nashville, we met CeCe Winans and early on, we were doing one of our first showcases and she came to support us. Having her encouragement and support meant so much. She encouraged us to stay grounded and know our purpose, which was to touch people’s lives. Steve: Meeting and working with Andre Crouch is a another highlight of our career. We were singing one of his songs and with him, like with any of our mentors, they see something familiar when they hear us sing. Because we were inspired by them, they are seeing parts of themselves in what we do. It’s a great moment. GOSPEL MUSIC HAS AN ABILITY TO TRANSCEND GENRE IN WAYS SOME FORMS OF CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC DOESN’T. WHY IS THAT? Da’dra: There’s something uplifting, joyful and 48 BLEEP
hopeful about gospel music. It’s about the music and the message and the combination of energy and passion. Anyone can feel that, no matter what you believe. That’s one of the reasons gospel music tends to seep out into genres. Steve: And of course the message of finding strength to make it through brings it home. It connects the audience to their personal stories. Da’dra: No matter what walk of life we come from, we are all human beings and we all have similar life experiences. Everyone can identify with needing to overcome something in a hard place. Gospel music has a way of speaking to it. HOW DID YOU COME TO LAKEWOOD? Steve: We had ended our tour with CeCe Winans and felt like we were ready to move into a different scenario to reach people. As an artist, you do what you do each night and then you head to the next place, but you never really get a chance to connect with people. That was a passion we had in our hearts. AFTER A CALL FROM LAKEWOOD WORSHIP LEADER CINDY CRUSE-RATCLIFF, THE DUO VISITED ON FATHER’S DAY IN 2006 TO SING IN, WHAT THEY THOUGHT WAS, JUST THAT WEEKEND’S SERVICES. Steve: We learned all the material, went to rehearsals on Friday and did the Saturday night service. After the service, the man who, at the time, hired us, asked us when we were moving. [laughs] After eight months commuting back-and-forth, we moved to Houston and joined full-time. WHAT’S IT LIKE LEADING MUSIC AT THE BIGGEST CHURCH IN AMERICA? Da’dra: Honestly, we have moments when we think about just how big it is. Millions watch every week, but for us, when we are in the process of preparing for the weekend services, we mostly just focus on what we have to do to make that experience one that will change people. We want them to come and have an experience they will never forget. After we leave the
nted stage though, we have a moment of ‘Wow this is really big.’ Steve: It’s an honor and it’s extremely humbling too. We are there with Cindy [Cruse-Ratcliff ] and Israel Houghton and so many incredible musicians and all of our paths are coming together at this time. It’s incredible. We’ve learned to take in every moment because it could change anytime.
YOU’RE BOTH WORKING ON SOLO PROJECTS CURRENTLY. WHEN DID THAT BECOME SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO DO? Da’dra: I’m just at the beginning stages of my journey. I wrote a song three or four years ago and the choir director at the church asked me to sing. A few people asked where they could buy the song but I hadn’t recorded it. I had just never thought about doing a record. Steve had already begun the process of getting his project together. Steve: I wasn’t trying to do a project either. We are so used to doing things together, we are brother and sister and have been singing together for umpteen years. But there were a lot of opportunities opening up for us as individuals. Right now, I’m in the editing/ recording/producing phase. When you are as busy as we are, it all happens at once.
HOW DO YOU JUGGLE MAKING YOUR OWN MUSIC WITH WORKING AT THE CHURCH? Da’dra: It’s been a struggle. Not only are we juggling those things, but we are both married and have children so as our kids get older, they have their own activities and schedules. And we still tour with Pastor Joel [Osteen] all over the world and sing during the arena and stadium events. Wherever we find the holes, that’s when we work on our own stuff. Steve: It’s been an exciting journey.
WHEN YOU LOOK BACK ON THE 25+ YEARS OF ANOINTED, SEVEN DOVE AWARDS, TWO STELLAR AWARDS AND THREE GRAMMY NOMINATIONS - WHAT HAS BEEN THE TAKEAWAY SO FAR? Steve: The most important thing are the lives God was able to reach. Da’dra: I just recently sat down and said, “God, I could come up with a dream for my life, but I’d like to know what your dream is for me.” Daily, I’m trying to be aware and open to His clues. I think we discover it day-by-day as we use the gifts and talents he’s given us, coupled with walking through the doors of opportunity that open to us. We want to be a light to our generation and the generations to come.
Below: Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.
Between releasing solo albums, singing with Beyonce and Kelly, and performing on the biggest stage in the world, the Superbowl, Williams took to Broadway, making her debut in Aida, then starring in The Color Purple, Chicago, and Fela!. She returns to her theatrical love this summer on the 50-city North American arena tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. In addition As one third of Destiny’s Child, Michelle Williams to joining Incubus’ Brandon Boyd and ‘N Sync’s JC won five American Music Awards, 17 Billboard Music Chasez on the mega-tour, she also announced that Awards, three Grammys, two MTV Video Music Awards, she will serve as a mentor on Oxygen’s newest reality and seven World Music Awards. But it was during the TV competition, “Fix My Choir” alongside gospel artists hiatus of the group that she stunned the gospel world Deitrick Haddon and Tye Tribbett. Last year, she made a return to gospel music with with the release of her solo album, “Heart to Yours.” Not only did the album top the US gospel album chart but it the single, “If We Had Your Eyes,” and her fourth studio album, “Journey to Freedom,” is expected this year. became the best-selling gospel release of 2002.
Below: Williams reunited with Destiny’s Child performing during the Superbowl halftime show. Bottom: Williams with the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar.
mary mary Mary Mary stormed onto the music scene with “Shackles (Praise You),” a song that helped pioneer modern urban gospel music. Their debut album, Thankful, went platinum and their next two albums both charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums. After two American Music Awards, three BET Awards, four Grammys and 10 Stellar Awards, the duo premiered in their own television series on WE TV. Currently in its third season, the show chronicles the sisters’ lives both on stage and off. They have remained one of gospel’s most recognizable groups since their debut. In March, Erica Campbell of Mary Mary released her first solo album, Help. The album debuted at number 1 on the US Billboard Gospel Albums chart and the first single, “A Little More Jesus,” has been a hit. For more info, to download music and to find listings for “Mary Mary” on WE TV, head over to www.mary-mary.com
Skillet is one of that hardest working bands
in the industry. The band has sold more than two million albums, received two Grammy nominations and won a Billboard Music Award. But what they really love is touring and are known for constantly being on the road, performing for their fans. We talked with John Cooper, lead singer of the band, about their upcoming tour with Toby Mac and LeCrae.
the same. My voice has obviously been a constant and is a part of our sound. With “Hey You, I Love Your Soul,” we had a ska sort of sound happening and with “Invincible” it became more electronic. Now it’s more of a rock sound, so that has changed and evolved. But the way I write lyrics is not dependent on the sound we are producing, so the way I write has stayed the same through the years. Another thing that has both evolved with us and become part of our signature is that we are one of the few rock bands who have the ability to utilize duets between a guy and a female voice. Since we are a band with both guys and girls in it, we are able to do things that other bands might not be able to do.
WHAT CAN AUDIENCES EXPECT WHEN THEY COME TO A SKILLET SHOW? A lot of energy. That’s what Skillet is known for. You WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE BAND? We tour constantly. After the tour with Toby, we don’t know Skillet until you’ve seen us live. We just are going to Europe for a while to tour in front of a have this energy and a passion for the music because it makes us feel and the audience feel like we are all a brand new fan base. We are opening for Linkin Park in England and Marilyn Manson in Russia. part of something bigger. YOU’VE TOURED EXTENSIVELY. WHAT MAKES YOUR WHAT MAKES THIS UPCOMING TOUR UNIQUE? I’m so excited about this tour. The line-up is FANS UNIQUE? Skillet fans are an eclectic group of people because amazing. That and the artists are so eclectic, which is we make feel good music. I’ve had an atheist fan awesome. It’s basically a mini music festival on tour. come up to me and say “I don’t get this Jesus thing THE BAND HAS BEEN TOGETHER FOR 16 YEARS AND but your music makes me feel good.” We just want to RELEASED EIGHT RECORDS. HOW HAS YOUR SOUND give people hope. Even in the songs that are about dark subjects, there’s a way to help people. EVOLVED? We have always had a few things that have stayed www.skillet.com 54 BLEEP
Few gospel artists have achieved what Kirk Franklin has over the past two decades. In 1993, “Kirk Franklin & The Family,” released their debut album and remained at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart for 42 weeks. It was the first ever gospel music album to sell over a million units. But it was in 1997, when Franklin collaborated with God’s Property, that mainstream audiences began to take note. The first single, “Stomp”, featuring Cheryl “Salt” James (of Salt-N-Pepa), was a mega hit, enjoying heavy rotation on MTV and charting at No. 1 on the R&B Singles Airplay. The album, God’s Property from Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation, went on to go triple platinum. Over the course of his 11 albums, Franklin has amassed seven Grammys, an American Music Award, and fifteen Stellar Awards. He has collaborated with artists from Mary J. Blige to Bono and Whitney Houston even recorded one of his songs, “Joy” for the wildly successful soundtrack to “The Preacher’s Wife.” He remains a prolific songwriter, producer and new artist cultivator. www.kirkfranklin.com
Amy Grant is an icon. She is the best-selling contemporary Christian music singer ever, having sold over 30 million units worldwide and the first real Christian music superstar. She pioneered the genre when it barely existed and paved a way for future artists to create music to stir the soul. After having massive success in the Christian music industry, Grant released Heart In Motion, a pop album in which the track “Baby Baby” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and four other hits from the album made the Pop top 20. The album sold more than five million copies. Grant has won six Grammy Awards, 25 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, and had the first Christian album ever to go platinum. She was honored with a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005 for her contributions to the entertainment industry and if you still doubt the power of her music, in 2001, her song “El Shaddai” was names one of the “Songs of the Century” by the RIAA alongside “Respect” by Aretha Franklin and “Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland. www.amygrant.com
In total, Yolanda Adams has won four Grammy Awards, sixteen Stellar Gospel Music Awards, one American Music Award, seven NAACP Image Awards, one Soul Train Music Award, and four BET Awards. She is a gospel powerhouse who has sold 8 million albums since her debut in 1991. Not only does she have fans all over the globe, but she has the respect of the entire recording industry. Adams appeared at the 53rd Grammy Awards, sharing the stage with Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine, and Martina McBride in the tribute to Aretha Franklin. Now, Adams has taken over the radio in a new way. “The Yolanda Adams Morning Show” debuted on New York’s hit gospel station, WBLS and is currently heard in 39 markets. With new music on the way, you’ll want to stay updated on everything Yolanda Adams. Check out www.yolandaadamslive.com
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MercyMe is one of the most acclaimed Christian groups in the world. Four gold albums and their album “Almost There” was certified double platinum. They have accrued seven number one songs and two American Music Awards. Now, with the release of their new album, “Welcome to the New,” we chat with front man Bart Millard about why this album is different than their previous releases and the boom of “I Can Only Imagine.”
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MUSIC YOU WERE MAKING INDEPENDENTLY AND THE MUSIC YOU’RE MAKING NOW ON A LABEL? The biggest difference is just that you have bigger budgets and can do things you wish you could do as an independent artist. You’re able to cast a larger net and reach a larger audience. We’ve been on the same label the entire time and we’ve had a unbelievably terrific time with them. You hope for more people to hear your music and that’s what’s happened.
but I’ve never been thanked for playing a song and people in tears because it meant something to them.” They started telling other DJs and by word of mouth, it ended up showing on the Top 40 charts. We were already doing 150 shows and then it felt like we added 100 shows on the mainstream side.
AS AN ARTIST WITH NEW MUSIC TO PROMOTE, HOW DID YOU CONTINUE WITH THAT SAME SONG? It became the song that wouldn’t go away, but I’m not complaining. For whatever reason, we could feel YOUR CROSS-PLATFORM HIT “I CAN ONLY IMAGINE” tired of singing it, but when we do start singing it in SOLD OVER A MILLION DOWNLOADS. WHAT WAS concert, the crowd has allowed us to really enjoy the IT LIKE WHEN YOU SUDDENLY HAD THE LARGEST song again. Sometimes there are songs, even when SELLING DIGITAL TRACK FROM A CHRISTIAN ARTIST they go to number one, and we can get tired playing EVER? them. It was a boom that lasted for years. “I Can Only Imagine” ran its course on the Christian market and WHAT SEPARATES “WELCOME TO THE NEW” FROM we had moved onto our next album, Spoken For. YOUR PREVIOUS ALBUMS? During that time, we got a phone call that Fitz and Everything. Nobody ever admits they’re legalistic, Big Gay Steven in the Morning in Dallas had a call-in but I lived that life for 20 years. I thought if I jumped up dare them to play the song. They finally did and the and down long enough, I would get God’s attention phone started ringing off the wall. He told me, “I’ve and He would notice me. It wasn’t until about two been cussed out for not playing enough Eminem years ago when a friend of mine recognized that I
was killing myself trying to make everything happen and told me it was okay to rest. For me, it’s what made the difference between pretty good news to what the gospel is supposed to be - the good news. There’s nothing I can do to make Christ love me any more than He does. No matter how good or bad I am, He’s still crazy in love with me. We’ve been unpacking what it means to live by grace because we live because of grace. After 20 years of being in MercyMe, I’m genuinely excited to get this message out.
WHAT’S NEXT? Promoting the record and touring. We’ve been off most of the year working on the record so when the album comes out, we will kick it into high gear.
WHAT’S YOUR DREAM AS A PERFORMER? My dream is that the grace message would catch fire within the music industry. There are a lot of songs that relay a message that Christians need to try harder or do more. Not everyone comes from the same place, but I’ve never met anyone who said “this grace CHRISTIAN MUSIC HAS BEEN DOING LARGE idea is overrated, I’d rather choose legalism.” This is SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVALS FOR DECADES. WHAT’S really important and that’s why we titled the album THE APPEAL OF BEING A PART OF THEM? “Welcome to the New” because it feels like we are just When you’re at a festival, you are there with getting started, even though we’ve been doing this audiences for so many different audience. We are all for years. trying to get the same gospel to people, just doing it with different music. I love the community that we www.mercyme.org are able to be a part of with other artists at festivals. We never get to see other bands and hang out with them so being at these large summer festivals are such a great opportunity to do what we love and see other groups do it as well.
During the fifth season of American Idol, Mandisa stepped into the spotlight and hasn’t relinquished it yet. Her first postIdol single, “Only the World,” reached the number one spot on the charts and this year, she joined Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia by becoming only the fifth American Idol alumnus to win a Grammy. Her album Overcomer won the Best Contemporary Christian Music Album in 2014. www.mandisaofficial.com
In 1997, Tye Tribbett, the founder of G.A (Greater Anointing), entered into the McDonalds and Wrigley’s Gospel choir competitions where he and the group won first place in all categories. Shortly after, he gained the attention of multi-Grammy award winning producers, Buster and Shavoni, who were producing the soundtrack to the DreamWorks animated film, “The Prince of Egypt.” They asked Tribbett and his group to perform a song with Mary Mary and has hasn’t stopped since. Between the years of 1999 and 2005, Tye Tribbett and G.A. made their mark in the music industry, performing with Jill Scott, India Arie, John Mellencamp, Music Soulchild and The Roots and on Jessica Simpson’s Christmas project and Justin Timberlake’s hit single, “Cry Me A River.” In 2009, after four records, Tribbett decided to retire G.A. and his most recent album, “Greater Than” earned him two Grammys in 2014. He will next appear on the new reality show “Fix My Choir” on Oxygen with Deitrick Haddon and Michelle Williams. For more music and info, head over to www.tyetribbettworldwide.com
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Jon White and Cole Walowac met at their church when they were young and began playing music together as teenagers. Now, the duo known as Capital Kings is making people dance all over the country. We talked with Walowac about starting off in the industry and bringing a new sound to gospel music.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT THE TOUR? I’m excited to go out with LeCrae, Skillet and Toby. I’m such a huge fan of LeCrae’s music. We have a couple new surprises of what we’re going to do live and I think people will really love it. WHEN SOMEONE GOES TO SEE YOU LIVE, WHAT CAN THEY EXPECT? A high energy show with fun music. Our thing has always been that we love loud and high energy music that says something. We like to connect with people and when they leave the concert, they have something to think about.
YOU COLLABORATE WITH A FEW DIFFERENT VOCALISTS ON YOUR SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM. WAS IT A STRUGGLE GETTING YOUR TYPE OF MUSIC WHAT’S IT LIKE TO WORK WITH ARTISTS FROM OTHER MADE IN A GENRE THAT DOESN’T HAVE MUCH GENRES? ELECTRONIC MUSIC? It’s probably my favorite part when it comes Coming into it, really knew there wasn’t a scene for to putting a record together. A big part of it is this. We’ve been the type of guys who wanted to do collaboration; having a producer make their track and something completely different. As far as making the then finding the right singer for that song. We really music, we produced it ourselves, but getting it out love those people who were featured on our songs. to people was hard. Not having a song on the radio, Finding the right voice that fits the song is important there aren’t many avenues to go down if you’re left and I think it was really special the way it turned out. of center. We’ve been trying to figure out ways to get out there and guys like Toby Mac have really helped WHAT DREAMS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUR CAREER? us out and shared us with their fanbase. Whether we are doing this in 20 years or it ends tomorrow, I just want to inspire people, give them WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST SURPRISE OF ENTERING something that’s real and that they can connect with THE INDUSTRY? in every day life. I just want my music to be good and People don’t realize how much time you spend share some of my stories with people. on the road. They think you just wake up, hang out and play a show. But we have events all day long. The www.capitalkingsmusic.com amount of time that goes into a show and a tour has been a surprise to me. WHAT’S NEXT? We are working on our second album. We have a lot of cool songs we are excited about and after our summer tour, we are going on the Neon Steeple tour with David Crowder on the fall.
Rachael Lampa entered living rooms all over America as one of the lead vocalists in the vocal group The Collective during the third season of “The Sing-Off.” But long before she was belting notes and gaining praises from Sara Bareilles, she had established herself as one of the most powerful young voices in gospel music. Her debut album, Live For You, produced four number one singles including the still-on-the-radio hit anthem, “Blessed.” Her self-titled album, even ten years later, is still one of the strongest and well-written pop albums in modern Christian music. After releasing music indpendently, in 2013, Lampa co-wrote and was featured on a song with singer Jonathan Thulin, “Bombs Away,” which made our ‘Best Of’ list in BLEEP. Currently recording new music, stay up to date with upcoming shows and order her most recent album, “All We Need” at www.rachaellampa.com If you want to hear an incredible deep cut from Lampa, check out her song “Avalance” from her Human EP on YouTube. It’s better than most pop on the radio.
You know Joy Williams as one half of the Grammy-winning duo The Civil Wars. But did you know she released three Christian albums before taking that Grammy stage? As a matter of fact, her song “Hide” won an ASCAP Music award for the “Most Performed Song” in 2005. After parting ways with her label and releasing EPs independently, Williams joined John Paul White to form The Civil Wars. The album, Barton Hollow catapulted the duo into the spotlight, landing on many Best Albums of 2011 lists, including Time, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and USA Today. Their follow up self-titled release again was met with critical acclaim and another trip to the Grammy podium to accept another award. If you haven’t heard Williams’ Christmas song “Here With Us,” you are missing out on a truly incredible vocal and a gorgeous holiday song destined to end up in heavy rotation on your iPod this year.
Heather Headley is one of the biggest names in musical theatre. After originating the role of Nala in the Broadway sensation The Lion King, she took on the title role in the Broadway musical Aida, which earned her a Tony. But there is more to this diva than commanding theatre audiences’ attention across the world. After taking a break from Broadway, in 2009, Headley released a gospel album, “Audience of One,” and it went to number one on the Billboard charts. A year later, the album won a Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album. Recently, Headley stepped back on to the stage in the role Whitney Houston made iconic in the 1992 movie, The Bodyguard. The new stage musical The Bodyguard opened at London’s Adelphi Theatre and when she concluded her run, she came back across the pond to appear with Il Divo on Broadway. For updates on everything happening with Headley’s music, shows and upcoming Broadway info, check out www.heatherheadley.com
Phil Wickham learned to play guitar from his dad when he was 12-years-old and began playing in church soon after. Now, he’s released five albums and is touring the world. “I had no aspirations to travel the world or tour or make CDs,” he said. “I was just chasing that first moment of feeling the presence of God. As Christians, we believe that God is everywhere, but we’ve seen that when people get together for something more than entertainment, and they take a moment to look at what God has done for them, something special happens.”
YOUR MOST RECENT ALBUM, “THE ASCENSION” WAS EXTREMELY WELL RECEIVED. WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION COME FROM? Psalms have been a very inspirational thing for me. Ultimately, it’s poetry that ancient believers in God wrote. It’s interesting to correlate the Psalms David wrote with what happened in his life and what he was going through. Israelites had these feasts where they would all gather in the city of Jerusalem to worship God. In that, there are Psalms of Ascent, that the Israelite people would sing. This album is about what it means to call modern man into a worship with God. To call people into that ascent. WHAT CAN AUDIENCES EXPECT WHEN THEY COME TO YOUR TOUR? Right now it’s just me and a guitar. It varies. Sometimes it’s an entire band, sometimes, it’s just me and it’s stripped down. Hopefully audiences are entertained. We try to put our best foot forward and have the best BLEEP 71
production we can, but the ultimate goal is to make that work for people to encounter God. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT PERFORMING? I love my family. I have two little girls, and my wife Mallory and I have been married for five years. Being out on the road and being on a bus, you mostly just see the bus, the venue and maybe the local Starbucks. But being home, I love just going grocery shopping and going to the park with my girls. I live in San Diego and it’s a beautiful place to live. A lot of people ask when we are going to go on vacation, but we kinda feel like we live in vacation in San Diego. SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVALS ARE A GREAT WAY FOR ARTISTS TO CONNECT WITH FANS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. Yeah, if you bought ten records that year that really resonated with you that year, you might see a good portion of those acts all at once place. I still love to sit down and be in the same room with artists and fans. You feel connected with something they’ve created. There’s something unique in the Christian world that there’s a bigger sense of community. It’s not just the people in my van, but when we get there, we are all on the same journey. It’s like the biggest summer camp you can imagine.
WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED? Obviously, I have faith in God and believe in Jesus and the Bible. I definitely don’t have everything figured out and I have a lot of questions, but I have seen God work in people’s lives and heard amazing stories of healing and restoring. As a songwriter, my job is to look at the world through a little different eyes. You can see your first child being born or have a deep moment with a friend or sit under the stars and those things become the foundation of a song. And as a Christian songwriter, I try to see God in those moments. Last night, I was watching “Gladiator” and there are such massive moments of emotion and love and redemption and I found myself equating to my faith. It’s extremely inspiring. AFTER ALL YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED, WHAT’S YOUR DREAM? I feel like I’m living it. I wanted to make music, be a part of people’s lives and create moments where people can experience God. I also wanted to find a hot girl to marry. I’ve done both. I’m so deeply in love with my wife and my two girls, and God continues to expand my music. This record is doing better than any record I’ve done so far and so the dream is happening for me. www.philwickham.com
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In the creative arts, it’s imperative that artists be able to collaborate with each other. Sometimes that’s on stage. Sometimes that’s in a recording studio. Sometimes that’s in a completely different arena. That’s what Broadway veteran Anthony Rapp and director/designer Steven Royal decided to do. We caught up with Rapp, currently starring in the new Broadway production If/Then and Royal who is prepping to direct Bat Boy at 1st Stage in Tyson’s Corner, Vir. in May, to talk about their projects and about collaborating off-stage to create an eco-friendly design for an under-utilized space. BLEEP 77
HOW IS IF/THEN GOING? It’s going really well. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK ON BROADWAY? It feels like this entire experience is a bonus round. All these people I’ve known for a very long time had a great experience together the first time we did this show and now we’re having another great experience. It’s very familiar but also new. I’ve had a lot of work out of town for the past several years so working at home is great. I love the rhythm of doing eight shows a week. AUDIENCES ARE GOING CRAZY FOR IT. I’M SURE RENT FOLLOWS YOU WHEREVER YOU GO. HOW DOES IT FEEL THAT SO MANY YEARS AFTER THAT EXPERIENCE, PEOPLE ARE STILL AFFECTED BY IT? There are a lot of people at the stage door who say things to me about RENT but that’s always been gratifying because I was and am very proud of that show. I do think for people whom RENT meant something, and seeing me and Idina together again, and the nature of our relationship in If/Then has so much history and nostalgia in it, those dynamics exist between us anyway. That dynamic truth of our offstage relationship gives weight to our onstage
relationship for both us and for those audience members who have that experience from RENT. HOW DOES THIS SHOW DIFFER FROM YOUR PREVIOUS BROADWAY OUTINGS? In RENT, we became a success out of nowhere. When we did You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown on the road, we got a tremendous response but when we got to Broadway it was a little less but it was still a wonderful experience. Idina is already a superstar and so much of the event for people is to see her back on Broadway. Though this show is so much more than a star musical and it’s an ensemble piece, there’s a different set of circumstances surrounding this show than the previous ones I’ve done. This show is riskier in today’s Broadway culture. It’s not based on a movie like so many shows are. But the audience response has been really amazing. YOU’VE DONE QUITE A BIT OF FILM WORK. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS FOR YOU? “Adventures in Babysitting” was my first film and it was such a great way to enter the film world and it’s had a life afterward. It did fine when it opened but it’s had a real life after. We celebrated the 20th anniversary of “Dazed and Confused” last year and that’s had a life after it’s been released. And then to be a part of the “RENT” film was like being a part of a showbiz miracle. That six of us from the original cast got to be in the film together - that never happens.
Above: Rapp and Idina Menzel in If/ Then on Broadway. Far left :Adam Goldberg, Rapp, Marissa Ribisi, and Jason London in the now cult-classic film, “Dazed and Confused.” Left: The poster for the film adaptation of “Rent.” Bottom far left: The original cast of the Tony Award winning RENT on Broadway. Bottom: Rapp and the cast of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown.
HOW DID THEATRE BECOME A PART OF YOUR LIFE? It was a natural progression. I was always putting on shows in my bedroom, forcing friends to dress up and sing songs that no one was really interested in except me. I was also really into puppets and magic. I had a wagon I used to pull around my neighborhood that had everything I needed to do a show in it : puppet stage, lights, and a shop vac retrofitted to create a confetti blast.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN DESIGN? I have always been interested in making things and using my hands. My father and I made huge painted cut outs for every major holiday that we would display outside of our house. These displays became bigger and bigger installations every year. I used to love making mini sets for my puppet stage and constantly making puppets and costumes. I also loved to take things apart. Radios, remote controlled cars, the aforementioned shop vac, I’d take everything apart and make it into something else. (Isn’t that the essence of design?) YOU RECENTLY WORKED ON MISS SAIGON AT THE SIGNATURE THEATER IN WASHINGTON D.C. WHAT WAS THAT PROCESS LIKE? From the outset of the production, we knew we had a huge challenge. Miss Saigon is by definition a huge show. We go to many locations in the show, some only for a moment, and we can’t lose the storytelling because there is no space. Luckily director Eric Schaeffer, had a concept that would instantly simplify the staging: instead of trying to create each of these places realistically, what if the show takes place in a “limbo” world of a plane crash. This meant we could really sculpt the space and only include the items that told the story the best. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW? Right now I’m directing Bat Boy at 1st Stage and I’m very excited about that. I’m designing the set for Into The Woods in D.C. as well. It’s an exciting time and there’s a lot happening.
AFTER BEFORE nail used to be or it’s not completely flat. But it has character from how it was used before and now that it’s been repurposed, it adds that character to the space. Everything we used has been used before in other structure. Rapp found himself with an underutilized and overAnthony: I’ve known Steven for such a long time and stuffed space in his loft. A conversation with Royal it turned out way more beautiful than I ever predicted. turned into a remodel project with an eye toward Steven: There has to be a quality and longevity to sustainability. More than just a redesign, they proved what you’re doing in a home. Life changes and you repurposed and environmentally conscious materials have to create something that can change with it. are both full of style and character. That’s what we were able to create.
Anthony: I don’t ever do anything half-ass so when it came to redesigning some of my apartment, I wanted it to be something special. I was traveling so much and it was such a big undertaking so I wanted to wait so I could do it right. Steven: Being a designer for the stage, it’s exciting to also design for real life because the principles are the same. You still have to serve the form and the function for the person, but you’re in an every day situation and not just a couple hours each night. So the function of it is different. Anthony: I also wanted it to be as green as possible and use as many repurposed and sustainable materials as we could. Steven: It’s all about sustainability. For example, the hard wood isn’t perfect looking, it has holes where a BLEEP 81
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N OOTWEAR Who doesnâ€™t love shoes? Florian Hubertus headed to Frankfurt am Main, Germany to talk with Klein-Reesink, head of Ekn Footwear, a small shoe manufacturer whose shoes are as stylish as youâ€™d see anywhere but produced sustainably and fair, without chemicals, but with a conscience.
In April 2013, the Rana Plaza textile plant in Dhaka, India collapsed. The tragedy made global news and sparked a discussion about how our clothes are produced and what price we actually pay for our avariciousness. In this particular case, the price was the lives of 1132 workers, mostly women, who literally found themselves in a death trap, with emergency exits blocked and security standards quasi non-existent. They produced our daily fashion under circumstances almost unimaginable to us. Klein-Reesink is the head of Ekn Footwear, a small shoe manufacturer from Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Their twist: Their shoes are stylish but produced sustainably and fair, without chemicals, but with a conscience. Almost a year after the tragic incident in India, he comes down the staircase of the warehouse of Ekn Footwear in an industrial area just outside of Frankfurt. I am here to get to know more about this company and its philosophy; And, of course, to check out their shoes, with which I immediately fell in love when I first saw them. Noel is a laid back type of guy. He talks rather quietly, but enthusiastically, especially when he can talk about his shoes. I go through all the boxes full of different styles and models, feeling like a kid in a candy store. The design of the shoes is charmingly coy, with some very well placed louder moments such as the contrast between the color of the shoe and the crepe sole or cork being used for the back. It demonstrates one of the key aspects that Klein-Reesink mentions when being asked what drove him to produce shoes in a way almost identical to how they were produced 150 years ago. “After working for a big, globally operating sports fashion brand, I found myself at a point where I had enough of their exploitive ways of producing their goods. I wanted to do it differently but I wanted to do it stylishly. With Ekn Footwear, I want to show that sustainability and style can go hand-in-hand and do not exclude each other.”
That being “eco” does not necessarily mean to wear woolen pullovers from your grandpa’s wardrobe and Birkenstock sandals first came to his attention when he lived in New York, working in a café that sold fair trade coffee and organic food. It attracted a diverse crowd and he saw people like Erika Badu getting their coffee there. This had nothing to do with the dusty hippie image that usually comes with everything “organic.” Along with a friend who shared his opinion that sustainability could use an extra pinch of coolness, he started networking and bringing companies together to discuss how to implement this idea in their own cooperate structures. The conference they started, the KarmaKonsum Conference, still exists but Klein-Reesink eventually moved on to found Ekn Footwear. He teamed up with a designer and they set themselves a set of high and unusual standards under which their shoes are produced: vegetable tanning, no use of chrome salts (which are known to cause a number of allergies), organic dyeing with e.g. beetroot, fair wages and social standards for the workers. Not an easy starting position. The decision to produce in Portugal, that has a long tradition in shoe manufacturing, and to avoid cheap markets like Asia or Eastern Europe makes the final product a lot more expensive, thus harder to sell to the customer. Despite a growing trend toward a more conscious way of shopping, mass produced fashion sells more and more each year. Budgets often steer the customer towards the cheap alternative to quality which are full of chemicals that reportedly can lead to skin irritations and more. Beyond that, not everyone actually thinks about where his T-Shirts actually come from. In places like Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin, it is chic to sit in hipster cafés and contemplate the origins of your cotton shopping bag, but just a few kilometers away, people might have a lot of other things to worry about before they could even start to think if they want to spend three times the price on a shoe they can get a lot
cheaper next door at H&M. I ask Noel if the whole LOHAS-trend is a first world problem, only for those who can actually afford to worry about such things. “No, I don’t think so. In my opinion it is not about the financial capability but about the awareness of the problem. You have to educate the people and let them know all that is behind the cheap T-Shirt from the big department store. I believe that eventually they will go for the other T-Shirt, which is free from all those things. Every person wants to be good. No one likes to be antisocial.” The conviction that companies like his can make a difference and are not just a drop in the ocean, is very inspiring. He puts faith in the people, a common sense of responsibility that eventually will help us to redefine the balance between our needs and wants, “The old green generation was altruistic, the new one is hedonistic,” he says. “People like to combine style, fun and awareness for the planet.” And one thing is for sure: Companies like Ekn Footwear show that it can be done and that it can be fun. They have released a number of models, from desert boots to loafers and sneakers. And not only is the design unique and fun, but they are immensely comfortable. It is a significant difference to the not-sowell manufactured shoes. Ekn Footwear is on the right path. They released a signature model with German musician Max Herre and already people like Ai Weiwei have been seen with a pair of Ekn shoes on their feet. The attention is growing and the recent warehouse sale was a huge success. On the
horizon he sees a wider range of products, maybe even a proper Ekn Store. The company is a constantly growing plant, which is already implicated in its name (Ekin meaning ‘seed’ in Turkish) and it is about to bloom in all the colors that can be found on their shoes. To me, it is a Bonsai tree and Noel Klein-Reesink is the gardener who takes meticulous care about his fragile tree. And he does a damn well job in shaping it and making it grow into the right directions, so the result will be a beautiful, healthy plant he can be proud of. Hopefully it will not stay a plant in the desert.
Lucy Dang is living her fashion fantasy. It is the night of her first solo fashion show and the mood is nervous but electrifying. It has been a very long road to get to this point, but it has been a journey that Lucy Dang would not trade for the world. Armed with a BFA in Fashion Design from the University of North Texas, Lucy moved to New York City in 2008 where she worked as a designer for several well established brands like Rebecca Taylor and Nicole Miller. In 2011 Lucy moved back to Dallas and put her New York experiences to work for her. A month later, the LUCY DANG label was born out of passion and creativity, and it doesn’t take long for the accolades to start rolling in. In 2013 Lucy was recognized as the winner of both the Texas’ Next Top Designer Competition and Belk’s Southern Designer Showcase. Which leads us to now, the debut of her third collection at her very first solo runway presentation, and the ultimate dream of seeing her clothes sold at major department stores. The show itself is a spectacle. Lucy presents a moody fantasy land of models with elaborate head pieces, and purple hair. There is not one empty seat in the house and several others are standing around to catch a glimpse of the parade. Big ball gowns with feminine shapes and silhouettes. Festive cocktail attire with a custom designed graphic print. There are metallic finishes on the fabrics and hand stitched couture details throughout the collection. It truly is a labor of love. Along with the mountains of press she received, Lucy’s prize for winning the Belk Southern Designer Showcase was the feature of her designs to be sold at Belk; America’s largest family owned and operated department store. With over 300 locations in 17 states, this latest achievement has planted Lucy firmly in the limelight as Dallas’“it” designer. Soon the rest of the country will grow to love her as well. New Yorkers can check out Lucy Dang label at ADK Fashions in the Garment District. All others can visit www.lucydang.com for more information.
by Juan Lerma
All images courtesy Sterling Steves for Sterling FX Photography
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McCARTNEY WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO FOCUS ON THEATER PRODUCTION AND FILM? Well, I love creating and building with a team. I think the creative process is fascinating and getting to see people from all different background come together for a greater purpose is powerful. I started in a film program but realized it wasn’t hands on enough for me so I went to Theater Production with a minor in Film so one day I can eventually be a creative director. WHAT FILMS INSPIRE YOU AND WHY? Anything that challenges the way I think and almost anything that has spectacle like Baz Luhrmann or Quentin Tarantino films. That’s really more of the scale in which I imagine my films and productions. Being able to take the viewer on a journey is always my goal. WHAT IS YOUR DREAM/GOAL WITH STUDYING FILM? Eventually I would want to be the creative director for music artist, music videos, films, commercials, live concerts and theatrical productions. When working on projects and developing my own ideas I can always see all the details for every moment. I eventually want to be creating my own work and be working with my own creative circle. WHEN/WHY DID YOU GET INTO MODELING? It’s something I have always wanted to be apart of. I fell in love with picture taking as a kid and soon realized I could be apart of these beautiful images. As a kid I would visualize the set, story and how I would fit into the scene. I have been modeling on a small scale in the midwest after I lost about 30 pounds. I started with a commercial and the commercial turned into a photo-shoot which eventually lead me to doing various fashion weeks. My mom recently passed away from cancer and I knew it was time to move to NYC and start believing that I can achieve my dreams. WHAT KEEPS YOU INTERESTED? Well of course the art of the industry but hopefully one day I will land larger campaigns, make some cash and be able to share my story. WHAT INSPIRES YOU? Things that inspire me are people who have become successful but use that success for greater good. The industry is full of all kinds of people and I try to keep true to myself as much as possible. Beauty comes in all different shapes and that’s where I try to place my mind so I’m always open to the beauty around me. 94 BLEEP
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It almost goes without saying but we are obsessed with “Game of Thrones.” Who’s not? There’s a reason everyone and their mom/dog is watching this show. Season four is kicking the drama up a notch and I couldn’t be more excited. Speaking of epics, we are so excited by the everexpanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Captain America 2” was a fun Bourne-esque romp, and that ‘miraculous’ post-credits scene turned the “Avengers 2” excitement up to 11. Speaking of an ever-expanding repertoire, the “new” album, Out Among The Stars, by Johnny Cash needs to be on your must list. A collection of studio recordings that had been missing since the 1980s, this album is deeply beautiful, funny and deserves its place among Cash’s classics. Speaking of a classic, TV icon Pat Sajak has taken over social media and his Twitter feed is one of the internet’s undiscovered gems. One of our favorites: “I’ll be watching Naked & Afraid Sunday. It’s a weird habit, but that’s the way I’ve always watched TV on Sundays.” Speaking of things to watch on TV, Collabro on “Britain’s Got Talent.” Talk about unexpected. Not since Susan Boyle have we been this surprised by performers on the show. Their take on “Stars” from Les Miz is refreshing to see on TV (or in our case in the States, on YouTube) And they got Simon Cowell to stand and applaud. Speaking of standing up and applauding, James
Maslow has been getting our standing ovations on “Dancing With The Stars.” Beyond the obvious reason that he may be the sexiest man ever on this show, he’s a really good dancer. Like, he’s really good. And sexy. And a good dancer. And sexy. Speaking of men who are crazy talented, all eyes are on Lo-Fang. He writes all his music. He arranges all of his music. He plays every instrument on the album. He’s a kick ass performer. Between him, Sam Smith and Aloe Blacc, there is an exciting surge of new men in music who you need to be watching. Speaking of kick-ass people, we can’t put down “American Vampire.” The hit comic by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque recently kicked off its Second Cycle and it’s a triumphant return. The beautiful art and rich mythology make for a haunting classic. Speaking of things that are haunting, we can’t get enough of “Orphan Black” leading lady (or ladies?) Tatiana Maslany. “Orphan Black” is a wild, entertaining thrill ride but its heart is Maslany’s awe-inspiring performances as up to seven different characters, each with their own individualized personalities and nuances. Speaking of women with heart, we love following ‘2sisters_angie’ on Instagram. She and her 4-yearold daughter make gorgeous fashion creations from different types of household materials. And the photos are usually accompanied with some incredibly adorable thing her daughter, who she calls “Mayhem,” has said.
Compiled by the BLEEP team
Speaking of what we’re
I am... biting my finger nail and I need to stop. I’m here because... the cheese dip. What makes me happiest is... sand between my toes. The color that best represents me is... Periwinkle or Pacific Blue. What I hope to accomplish today is... it was my drafting homework but that didn’t happen. My best friends are... imaginary. I can’t live without... my dog. Between an Olympic champion or an Oscar winner, I’d rather be... I’ll come back to this one. If I wasn’t me, I’d be... living off an some beautiful island far away. I like it best when you... talk nerdy to me. God is... smiling. I’m hungry for... anything colorful and covered in sugar. I cry… when I flip people off. Which never happens but could be funny. Style means… to be you. I want to go... don’t we all! The most obnoxious sound in the world is... eating noises. What makes me weak is... forgetting my protein after the gym. At this exact moment, I’m passionate about... growing my beard. I crave... margaritas all the time. My inspiration is… people who have become successful but use that success for greater good.
Cameron McCartney BLEEP 99
P E E L B
We talked with some of the biggest names in the business, including our cover artists Toby Mac, Natalie Grant and Michael W. Smith, about ne...
Published on Apr 29, 2014
We talked with some of the biggest names in the business, including our cover artists Toby Mac, Natalie Grant and Michael W. Smith, about ne...