Tag Archives: barlowgirl

Amy’s Christmas Playlist

21 Dec

Every year I make an iTunes playlist of my favorite Christmas songs–some have been on the album every year since its inception, while others are happy new editions.  There are several versions of my playlist before choosing the 20 or so songs that will fit on a CD for the enjoyment of my friends and family.  (And I make like 6 copies of the epic mix album for people.  Don’t get the piracy police after me!)

So, here it is…my 2011 mix, which I call “Joy Is Born.”

Joy Is Born Christmas Mix 2011

1. “Star Of Wonder” – JJ Heller, Wake Up The World [My good friend, Shari, told me that about JJ’s Christmas album and we both love it!  JJ’s version of “Star of Wonder” is the perfect lead-in to any album.  She imagines to capture the wonder of seeking Christ–“Messiah was worth every mile.]

2. “Heaven’s Got A Baby”-The O.C. Supertones, Happy Christmas Vol. 3 [This song is a cheery proclamation and it’s on the mix every year.  Sometimes it’s first, but I’m going for awe and wonder this year, so I needed something a little more subdued.]             

3. “Born to Die” -Bebo Norman, Christmas: From the Realms of Glory [As if I would ever make a playlist without a Bebo song.  That would just be ridiculous! I assume you already own this album, so I’m not even going to tell you to buy it because you already know how awesome it is!]

4.  “Adorn” -Alli Rogers, The Silent Stars [If you don’t own The Silent Stars or anything by Alli Rogers, you need to rectify that RIGHT NOW!  Go, buy, download, and prosper!]

5. “Ring The Bells” -Travis Cottrell, Ring The Bells [Did you know that Travis Cottrell is the worship leader at Beth Moore’s church?  Or at least he was.]

6. “I Celebrate The Day”- Relient K, Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer [Relient K’s Christmas album is one of my favorites, so this song is ALWAYS on my playlist.  Let It Snow Baby is available as a $5 download on Amazon right now!]

A bunch of fans made this music video for “His Favorite Christmas Story.” Love it so much I had to share it here!

7. “His Favorite Christmas Story”- Captial Lights, X Christmas- Various Artists [I haven’t heard anything from Capital Lights since their debut album.  This song tells a cute story that make me tear up.  Every. Single. Time.]

8. “You Gotta Get Up (Christmas Song)”- Rich Mullins, A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band [I play this song as soon as I get up every Christmas morning for as long as I can remember.]

9. “Feliz Navidad”- David Crowder Band, X Christmas- Various Artists [David Crowder Band + silly Spanish = mucho bueno.]

10. “A Christmas Song For All Year Round” Aaron Sprinkle, Happy Christmas Vol. 3 [I wanted to marry Aaron Sprinkle so I could be “Amy Sprinkle,” as it turns out Aaron is already married.  I suppose I could legally change my name to “Amy Sprinkle” anyway.  Santa, bring a name change for Christmas!]

11. “How Many Kings”-Downhere, How Many Kings: Songs For Christmas [I’ll be talking more about this song on Friday Faves.  I. Love. It.  So much that each word was its own sentence.  I played this at my small group’s Christmas party “reflection time” and they loved it, too.]

12.  “Welcome To Our World”-Chris Rice, Deep Enough to Dream  [What is Chris Rice doing these days?  Has anyone heard from the guy since he got married?  He needs to make more theologically relevant music for the masses.]    

13. “The First Noel (Instrumental Version)”-Josh Wilson, Sing: A Christmas – EP [Josh Wilson + instruments of any kind = magic.]

14. “Hallelujah (Light Has Come)”- BarlowGirl, Home For Christmas [The Barlow sisters are always wonderful, and this song is exceptional. Their vocal arrangements make my heart happy.]

15. “What Child Is This”- PLUMB, (Free Download) [Sometimes the best things in life really are free!  Plumb’s version of “What Child Is This” is an older version than the one we usually sing.  Personally, I prefer this version.  It was prettied up to celebrate the birth only, and completely revised of the implication of the cross Jesus was to bear.]

16. “Bring A Tourch, Jeanette, Isabella”-Downhere, How Many Kings: Songs For Christmas [It’s Downhere again!  Their version of this classic makes me want to grab a torch and look for the Christ child myself.  I mean, there is a plastic Baby Jesus in the nativity down the street.  But I just don’t that elicits the joy of the actual event.]         

This is the version from his self-titled album, not the Christmas EP.  I put the Christmas version on the mix. Josh makes the best facial expressions when he sings.  Love, love, love his guy and his beat-up gee-tar!

17. “Sing”- Josh Wilson  Sing: A Christmas – EP [What a shock!  Another song by my friend, Josh Wilson.  I played this at small group two weeks ago when we talked about the LONG-AWAITED joy and expectation of God’s timing.  “We could never get back home with broken hearts, so Home has come to us.” Lyrical genius!]

18. “Snow Globe”- Matt Wertz, Snow Globe [We had a whole Friday Faves dedicated to the hilarity that is this song.  See “Friday Faves: Snow Globe Living Edition.“]

19. “Mary Did You Know” – Spoken, Happy Christmas Vol. 4  [All punked up like it should be.]      

20. “Drummer Boy”-Jars Of Clay, Christmas Songs [I never truly appreciated this song until Jars of Clay recorded their version.  Then I researched how the drummer boy is the lowliest of all shepherds, and still he came, and offered what he had–the gift of his playing.  I mean, I’m not sure how drumming helps a newborn baby.  I would think that would elicit much screaming and sobbing. But I still like the song.  It’s not like Baby Jesus didn’t cry either, so “Silent Night” is a farce, too.  And  yet I enjoy both songs.]

21. “Jesus, King Of Angels”- Fernando Ortega, Christmas Songs [Oh, Fernando, I love your music.]

This is the video that launched Straight No Chaser into a music career years after graduating from college.

22. “The Christmas Can-Can”-Straight No Chaser, Christmas Cheers [Because I like to end things on a hilarious note, I included this song from acapella group, Straight No Chaser, who became “famous” after their “12 Days of Christmas” video from college re-emerged on YouTube years later.  So they recorded a second album, Christmas Cheers.]

I was going to tell you why I chose each and every song, what the song means to me,but that’s entirely too much work, so I added a few notes, a bunch of links, and a handful YouTube videos for your viewing enjoyment. 

Have a question about why I chose a song, leave a comment!  Tell me what songs are on your “list.”

Rockin’ at RevGen 2009

14 Sep

Revelation Generation (RevGen) held its fifth annual two-day Labor Day Weekend extravaganza Sept. 4-5 in Frenchtown, NJ.  This year’s line-up was ambitious and impressive with big hitters such as Switchfoot, Jars of Clay, Relient K, Needtobreathe, Flyleaf, and MercyMe taking center stage along with other favorites such as Derek Webb, Jon Foreman (s0lo acoustic performance), BarlowGirl, Seabird, The Devil Wears Prada, and GRITS.  Thirty-thousand people, five stages, good eats, and great weather–the combination made for a great day!

Beach balls of all sizes started flying during Relient K’s set.  I got hit on the head a few times!

Attending only the second day of festivities, here’s what I discovered–The Fold (great band!), Dawn from Fireflight is super nice, Seabird is amazing live (and in conversation), BReith is a funny guy, Relient K keeps getting better and better, Jon Foreman on acoustic packed out the Nashville Tent, BarlowGirl is wild in concert (must see again!), I like Derek Webb’s new album much more on acoustic!

The ever-entertaining Matt Theissen of Relient K.

Like any festival, there are degenerates who ruin the fun for everyone.  I wanted to keep this positive, but Sarah got spit on by a teenager girl (“What? I wasn’t spitting on you!” she protested), got kicked by rowdy college boys (who came dangerously close to kicking my precious camera), was hit on the head by a half-empty water bottle that came flying out of nowhere (no one claimed it or apologized), and dodged numerous frisbees and footballs.  In fact, I was almost clubbed a few times as well.  I can honestly say that some people were completely out of control–and, no, they weren’t all teenagers and I don’t think any of them were drunk.  It was so exasperating that we didn’t dare venture past the acoustic stage after dark.  With a crowd that size, people don’t need to throw concussion-causing objects–that’s what yards and parks are for!

This is B.Reith.  I met him in the merch tent.  He was pretty amusing.  Check him out!

Overall, the event was wonderful.  The staff and volunteers were courteous, helpful, and so kind!  The festival really stepped up service to the media this year, which made things much easier.  And–this is almost unheard of–the shows ran almost perfectly on schedule!  Good management, RevGen!  I will definitely make RevGen a permanent part of my Labor Day weekend.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you know I’ve been talking about The Glorious Unseen [read Take 5] all week. Well, here’s a happy TGU member running the merch table. Sadly, I didn’t get to attend their live show.

When I got to RevGen, The Fold was on the New York Stage, and they were really good.  I caught up with the band later and also discovered, they are really nice guys.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take their picture.  But I will definitely interview The Fold for Backseat Writer.

Aaron of Seabird on keys

Aaron Morgan of Seabird on keys [top and bottom].

The first band I had a chance to watch and photography was none other than Seabird.  I’ve been dying to see these guys live since I first heard Til We See the Shore.  And Seabird delivered as promised.  The only downside–they didn’t play my fave song, “Maggie Mahoney,” but they did play two songs from their upcoming (insert girly scream) album! [Read Seabird interview.]

Jon Foreman performing for a packed out tent of fans [top and bottom].

Next, I checked out Jon Foreman’s acoustic set in the Nashville tent, which was packed out with rabid Jon Foreman fans.  He sang “The Cure For Pain” when I was taking my closer pics.  I know I’m supposed to be objective as a journalist, but tears were just pouring down my face as I snapped these shots.  “The Cure For Pain” seems to be an anthem for so many judging not only by my reaction, but the crowd reaction as well.

I also caught BarlowGirl, Relient K, and Derek Webb on film, but missed out on Switchfoot’s photo pit.  It was getting pretty crazy up there, so I kept my distance.  Here are the rest of my photos::


Relient K

Derek Webb did a fabulous acoustic show, including some songs from his new album, Stockholm Syndrome, which just released Sept. 1.  [Read BSW interview with Derek Webb].

I’ve been super busy lately, but I promise to let you know when I’ve edited/uploaded all my RevGen photos.

Wrap-Up on 12 Days of Christmas Music

10 Dec

To wrap up “12 Days of Christmas Music,” we decided to ask the artists to share a little insight on their Christmas projects.  And keep checking back with Backseat Writer as we continue to UnWrap Christmas.  Our special holiday coverage continues through Jan. 2.


Why did you decide to release a Christmas album this year?
We always dreamed of doing a Christmas record.   Our family is crazy about Christmas and music is such a big part of our Christmas celebrations; we wanted to share that with others

Which of the songs on the album is particularly special to you?
“Ill Be Home for Christmas”–We love that song because Christmas is so special and we make sure that we stop touring in December so we can be home with family.  “Carol of Bells” is special because our cousins song on the CD with us and they were a big part of our Christmas memories.

To read Backseat Writer’s review of Home for Christmas, click here.  Thank you to the Barlow Sisters for joining our group of Christmas Un-Rappers.  Check back to see more answers to holiday questions from BarlowGirl and the rest of our panel.


Why did you decide to release a Christmas project this year?
I’ve always loved Christmas music.  I love listening to and singing Christmas tunes, which is why it was fun to record the EP.  It was a lot of fun to write an original Christmas song (“Sing”) this year.  The birth of Christ is such a world-changing event, and it was a great experience to write about it.

Which of the songs on the album is particularly special to you?
My favorite on the EP is the original, called “Sing.”  The song is basically my response to God fulfilling His promise to save us.  I imagine that if I were alive when Jesus was born, I would have wanted to sing.  History and humanity had been holding their breath for the arrival of Christ, and His life, death, and resurrection absolutely changed everything.  That makes me want to worship and sing.

To read Backseat Writer’s review of Sing: A Christmas EP, click here.  Thank you to Josh for joining our group of Christmas Un-Rappers.  Check back to see more answers to holiday questions from Josh Wilson and the rest of our panel.  And if you’re in need of some Christmas spirit, go to joshwilsonline.com to peruse Josh’s amazing online advent calendar.  Smiles guaranteed!


*Which Christmas songs are particularly special to you?

“O Holy Night” has always been a favorite. I used to sing “Breath of Heaven in church;” I love Sara Groves’ rendition.

Why did you decided to record Christmas music and does this mean we’re going to get a Christmas CD from you some day?!
I love Christmas music, and when Ben Glover and I wrote “You’re Here,” we knew we had to do something with it. You will see a Christmas CD from me someday, and I hope it’s something with a twist.

To purchase Francesca’s Christmas singles head over to iTunes.  Thank you to Franny for joining our group of Christmas Un-Rappers.  Check back to see more answers to holiday questions from Francesca Battistelli and the rest of our panel!

Inside Out With Cadia

8 May

By Amy Sondova Cadia’s Tori Smith and Courtney Myers are on a mission encouraging middle through college-aged girls to establish an identity firmly planted in God. The female pop/rock duo released their self-titled debut (Fervent) in Feburary. Before the album dropped, “Inside Out” was selected as the official theme song (and music video) for Women of Faith’s “Revolve Tour.”

The longtime friends formed the band’s name from the ancient Greek word “Arcadia” which means “place of peace”. Both under the age of 21, Tori and Courtney sing about issues close to the heart of women of all ages, even doing a cover of Martina McBride’s “This One’s For the Girls.” Bouncing from pop to rock to folk, Cadia’s debut is fun, relevant, and full of great melodies reminiscent of BarlowGirl and indie band, Alathea.

Honest and open, Courtney (who has a special affinity for cake) and Tori were kind enough to talk about their album via an e-mail Q&A with Backseat Writer.

Courtney and Tori, you’re best friends and best friends always have dreams. You know, one day we’re going to get married and have a double wedding or be famous models or start a band. When you think back, how did you two consider “the dream” together?

Courtney: When the idea of Cadia was first presented to us, we were thrilled. I remember just hugging her in the middle of a church parking lot and screaming when the reality set in. I could not feel more blessed than I do right now in my life. Experiencing it with Tori is icing on the cake!

Vocally, you sing in different ranges—so which one of you is the soprano and who is the alto? Did you learn any new vocal techniques to record this album?

Courtney: I am the alto, and Tori is the soprano. It’s cool; sometimes you may think you’re hearing Tori’s high harmonies and it’s me, and vice versa. We felt incredibly blessed when we were working on our album because our voices were a perfect match. We love singing together!

The album has a lot of impressive co-writers including Ian Eskelin, Rob Hawkins, Cindy Morgan, Joy Williams, Britt Nicole, and Nicole Nordeman? What was it like to have so many talented people working with you? And how did you ladies contribute to the process?

Courtney: We were so thrilled to learn that we had such amazing co-writers on our album. The writers are some of my favorite musicians. Tori and I were very involved in the song selection. The fact that there were such amazing writers made the choices a piece of cake.

Cadia does an excellent cover of Martina McBride’s “The One’s For the Girls”. I love that you included it in your song choices! How did you come to pick this classic?

Courtney: We knew that it was a great song for women of all ages. We absolutely love performing this song. We get the crowd to get up and dance, and always tell the men in the audience not to be ashamed to stand up and celebrate the women in their lives. It gets everybody laughing.

I was surprised to learn that “Safe Place to Fall” almost didn’t make the album—why did you feel that its inclusion in the album was so important?

Courtney: The message in this song is so important for our listeners to hear. I have battled with self-esteem issues, and feeling like I was never going to be good enough and I wanted to share that message.

Courtney, not only are you a singer, but you’re a professional dancer—are you thinking about trying out for a part in “High School Musical 3” (or HSM 4, which will have a whole new cast)?

Courtney: No, I’m content right where I am!

My favorite song on the album is “Trust in Me Now”, which reminds us that God is still in control. What emotions are evoked within you when you perform this song?

Tori: I feel a sense of comfort and I have an “Ah-ha!” moment every time I hear the song. When you hear the first verse and it says, “I know your past, the point of breaking into pieces,” it makes me realize every time that God knows exactly what I am going through. He is the only one that completely understands, because He has been through everything. I also love the chorus, because it is written like God speaking to us. Like He’s saying, “I know it’s hard and I know you’re in pain, but just trust in me!” I just feel a sense of release, like “OK, Lord, I will rest in you.”

You both said that reaching out to girls in their formative years (middle school through college) is important. Why is this demographic so close to your heart?

Tori: Middle school through college is such an important time in everyone’s life. I think those are the times when a lot of important choices are made. And it’s a time that can be really hard, especially middle school. I know that middle school was a really hard time for me, and even high school, in dealing with friends and family issues. We want our music to be an encouragement for those girls and help them when they are going through those hard times.

Tori, I saw that one of your favorite books is Captivating by John and Stasi Elderedge—how has that influenced your idea of female identity in God?

Tori: It helped me remember how beautiful we are in God’s eyes, and that’s all that matters. So whenever I am being down on myself, and feel that I don’t look pretty, I just try to remember how pretty and important I am to God.

What do you think that adults just don’t get about women your age, you know, in that pivotal place between high school and forming an adult identity?

Tori: I think that adults understand most of what women go through during that time, because they were once that age also. But every generation is different. I think that each generation has different issues that they are facing.

Anything else you want to say in closing?

Tori: Our website is www.cadiaonline.com and our myspace is www.myspace.com/cadiaonline. We are very involved with both of those and we love hearing from everyone.

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