Courtesy of The Media Collective–On May 4th, the multi-platinum selling, Grammy®-nominated & American Music Award winning band MercyMe will release “The Generous Mr. Lovewell.” The album has already garnered a No.1 Billboard Christian AC and No.1 iTunes® Top Christian Song with “All of Creation,” almost four weeks before the release date.
“He’s like Buddy the Elf meets Forrest Gump,” says MercyMe singer Bart Millard of the fictitious namesake behind the band’s sixth studio album. “He sees the good in everyone and knows his neighbors enough to know their needs. Mr. Lovewell may not be the next Billy Graham, but he’s changing the world each day in every little word and deed.”
The fabricated philanthropist has a Twitter following and Facebook friends galore. His advisory board—Millard, guitarists Mike Scheuchzer and Barry Graul, bassist Nathan Cochran, drummer Robby Shaffer, and keyboard player Jim Bryson—equips the red balloon-toting make-believer with airy ideas (“Pay for a stranger’s lunch today”) that were already being embraced by MercyMe fans before this batch of songs left the studio.
“It’s working the way we hoped it would,” Bart admits. “People are taking the concept ten miles further down the road, trying to top each other’s random acts of generosity toward strangers, and leaving notes behind that say ‘courtesy of Mr. Lovewell.’ We want to see this become a movement that’s bigger than the record itself.”
To continue to put this message in to action, MercyMe is helping people all across the U.S. “love well” as they partner with radio stations in 8 markets across the nation while on the Rock & Worship Road Show to run “lovewell” campaigns. In the campaign, listeners nominate a family or individual who is in need of a little extra love during this season of their life. The radio station chooses the winner, and along with a personal meeting with the band where they play a special acoustic set and offer free concert tickets, MercyMe provides contributions to the winner that go towards meeting their needs.
Plans for the record first took shape last year after MercyMe returned from a poverty-stricken province in the Dominican Republic where the guys met the child, that they as a band sponsor through Compassion International. The band was also recently honored by the organization for helping to get over 17,000 children sponsored throughout the world.
“We always heard ‘you come back different’ from a trip like that, and sure enough, it turned our world upside down,” Millard explains. “We came back disgusted with ourselves and what we had considered important in life. It was time to relate this to our audience—the church—and figure out how we might all do something about improving the way we love each other, at home or halfway around the globe.”
MercyMe framed out the songs for The Generous Mr. Lovewell during a week’s stay at a cheap rental house in Lake Tahoe along the California/Nevada border and then met up with two producers, Brown Bannister and Dan Muckala, for tracking in El Paso, Texas. While Bannister has guided the band on many prior hits, the addition of Muckala was a new twist for the band.
The message of committing to extravagant selflessness and faithful optimism threads its way through every song, and while “It’s one thing to be kind to someone, to be decent,” Millard concludes, “ if we really believe we have this hope, then to stop short—to not be the hands and feet of Jesus—seems almost offensive. Our dream is for this album to inspire others to ‘pay it forward’ to the cross. It doesn’t have to be about major sacrifices. Just let your life become such that people know what you stand for.”