It just so happens that Bart Millard, Nathan Cochran, Michael John Scheuchzer, Robin Shaffer, James Bryson and Barry Graul are responsible for six of the top 50 Christian songs of the past decade with MercyMe hits like “Bring the Rain,” “In the Blink of an Eye,” “You Reign,” and “God With Us” as well as the tune chosen as the #1 song of the decade, “Word of God Speak.” And that’s not even counting their crossover single “I Can Only Imagine,” which pushed their first project to double platinum status. Then there are MercyMe’s 13 consecutive top 5 singles on Billboard’s Christian Songs chart, eight Dove Awards and multiple Grammy Award nominations.
And the band is just getting started if their offerings like “All of Creation,” “Beautiful,” “You Are I Am,” “The Hurt & The Healer,“ ”Move,” and “Shake” are any indication. MercyMe is consistently among the top touring Christian acts with a stage show that leaves you breathless.
For 29-year-old Britt Nicole, 2013 was a pretty special year. Not only did she and her husband Joshua Crosby welcome their first child, a daughter Ella Brave Crosby, but Britt’s single “Gold” crossed over from Christian music into mainstream radio play.
ReachFM listeners were already familiar with Britt from her songs like “Set the World on Fire,” “The Lost Get Found,” “Walk on the Water,” “Hanging On,” “Headphones,” and her recent collaboration with hip-hop artist Lecrae on “Ready or Not.”
Her Facebook page reveals Britt Nicole drew inspiration from some of the deeply devoted fans she’s amassed over the years when it came to putting her project Gold together. Britt shares that her songs were penned in response to fans’ letters describing their feelings of isolation, struggles and being the objects of bullying.
Nicole is gratified to see her songs connect with listeners and for God to use her lyrics as a reminder that worth comes not from anything external but from who God has created you to be.
It’s a message Britt has become known for, delivering in person as she treasures the chance to speak to fans face-to-face. With lyrics that connect, a heart that understands and a beat that is unrelentingly danceable, Britt Nicole is producing music that is pounding through the headphones and the hearts of the next generation.
Colton Dixon was not the first believer on American Idol, but with his bleached blonde fauxhawk and unabashed passion for Christ, he was arguably one of the most closely watched. We had a chance to talk to him about American Idol, that Lifehouse song and what a guy in a robe talking about farming has to say to a 17-year-old guy in high school.
GN: Is it okay that people always mention American Idol in your introduction?
CD: I’ve seen contestants in the past who really hate that they are associated with American Idol. I’m not like that at all. I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for Idol. When you look at my Twitter followers, they [American Idol] are the ones who gave me that exposure. I feel like I’m always going to be related to Idol in some way. However, I feel that the artists that have really been successful have made a name for themselves outside of Idol.
GN: I read that you were at a piano recital when you were thirteen and you suddenly discovered you could sing.
CD: I was going to play “I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe. My piano teacher pulled me aside and said, “Let’s set up a mic.” Honest to goodness, I didn’t have a voice before then, but somehow I was holding pitch and I got through it. Of course my parents were crying, because they are crybabies about stuff like that, but other kid’s parents were crying too. I remember going to church that Sunday and our pastor talking about gifts from the Lord, and everything he said was in line with the way I felt whenever I was singing. I just felt like it was the Holy Spirit pointing me in the direction I should go: music ministry.
GN: The Lifehouse song about Christ being all we want and all we need has been so identified with you. How did the lyrics impact you yesterday?
CD: Every time I take the stage. It’s basically that prayer: “God, You are the One who will get me through. If I was to get up and try to do what I do on my own, it would fail every time.” But people want more than good music. They want a stronger connection with the Lord at the end of the night. So many of us have stuck our toe in the water, but we haven’t been willing to jump out of the boat and walk on the water with the Lord. I want to keep trying until I have that kind of faith. That’s how those lyrics impact me every day, not just yesterday.
GN: What do you say to a 17-year-old guy who asks what Jesus has to do with surviving high school?
CD: I’ll tell you my story. If you know at all what I look like, I’ve got a pretty crazy fauxhawk and I wear skinny jeans. I went to a high school where you were either really preppy or really country, so I stuck out like a sore thumb. I would say take on your individuality and who you are, but find your identity in him [God] and not the world. I know that you can do it. If you don’t known the Lord, he has done such amazing things. I’m not obligated to talk about him. I want to talk about him.
Jamie Grace is only 22 years old, but she has already earned a college degree in children’s ministry, just released her sophomore project, Ready To Fly, starred in the movie Grace Unplugged, was the youngest Dove award nominee in 2012 – when she ended up grabbing the award for New Artist of the Year – and picked up a Grammy nod along the way. Grace is also an accomplished conference speaker (she has traveled the country with the Revolve Tour for teen girls), and prolific vlogger (her YouTube music videos are what first put her in front of TobyMac).
But behind the irrepressible personality and boundless enthusiasm evident in her songs “Hold Me,” “You Lead,” and “Beautiful Day” is a young woman who had to discover for herself the power of God’s call and giftings. She was just 13 when she was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, and it was several more years before Jamie Grace fully embraced the chance to live her most personal struggles on a very public platform.
It was her own middle and high school years that inspired her song “God Girl” for girls 16 and under. With lyrics that declare her desire to be known to her Facebook friends and foes alike as a God Girl, Jamie Grace makes her point that discovering your purpose is only possible against the backdrop of a relationship with God.
Rounding out the ReachFest line-up is Citizen Way. Made up of two sets of brothers, Josh and Ben Calhoun along with David and Ben Blascoe, Citizen Way quickly captured audience’s attention with their first single, “Should’ve Been Me” off their 2013 debut album Love Is The Evidence.
Ben Calhoun wrote the song after a student at a camp where the band was leading worship shared that what he learned during camp was “it should’ve been me.” The anthem celebrating Christ’s substitution at the cross soared to the Top 5. The response to the band’s second single “Nothing Ever (Could Separate Us)” proved their success was no fluke but a reflection of their ability to connect with audiences through their lyrics.
General admission tickets for ReachFest are still available, but this event seems headed for a sell-out. With the first artist onstage at 4 p.m. and the last notes at 10:30 p.m., this event promises to be an awesome day of fun for the entire family. Get all the event details and purchase your tickets at ReachTickets.com