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2001: the year in news
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Third Day Releases Come Together
Third Day was another band that reached unprecedented heights in the past year. In January, riding the success of their Offerings: A Worship Album(which was actually released in 2000), the group won four of the nine Dove awards they were nominated for, including "Group of the Year," "Artist of the Year," and "Praise & Worship Album of the Year." The group also logged their most successful tour ever in 2001, selling out 22 of 28 venues, and drawing in excess of 100,000 fans. The pinnacle, however, came in the form of Come Together, the band's fourth studio album. The disc sold 56,000 units in its first week of release, more than any previous 3D release, and breached Billboard's top 40, resting at #31. The album also spawned several hit singles, in the Adult Contemporary, CHR (Christian Hits Radio) and Rock formats.

The success was no surprise to those close to the band. "Third Day created an amazing project," said Essential Records President Paul Beeson. "And I think it's safe to say that people were excited to hear the band's first full studio album in over 18 months. Third Day fans have remained committed to the group and through the Offerings project, a whole new demographic of fans were garnered. The support of these fans is evident by this week's scans being bigger than the last two album-debut week numbers combined. We are humbled and overwhelmed by the response to Third Day and Come Together."

By year's end, few would dispute that Third Day was the foremost rock group in the CCM industry.

Extreme Days Hits Theatres
The marketplace for teen films was crowded already when Extreme Days hit theatres in September. But the genre got a boost of positivity and morals with the release of this "road trip" film. And Christian theatre took a big jump forward. Reviewer Melissa Miles called the film "tastefully done," adding that, "While [the film] doesn't make it to "Best" it does grab hold of the bottom rung of "Good." With no language or sex it is at least a good alternative to the teen flicks of the day. If you are in the mood for a somewhat mindless film, go see Extreme Days. At least the music will be there!"

Regardless of the quality or success of the film, the production of Extreme Days raised the bar for Christian films in the future. The promotional blitz behind it was unprecedented, and began in the early months of the year. Toby McKeehan penned the title track to the film's soundtrack, which became the #3 song on the CCM Update's year-end chart. The movie received press in many circles, including a feature article in the major teen magazine Breakaway. By August, even Carman was promoting the film.

In a Christian film industry when perhaps the most successful movie production to date was Left Behind, the arrival of Extreme Days(which was co-written and directed by Christian Eric Hannah) signalled that Christian films, like Christian music, are slowly becoming bigger and better. Read Melissa's review of Extreme Days.

The Fallout From the September 11 Attacks
You knew this was coming. It's impossible to mention the top news stories of the year without mentioning 9/11. Every aspect of American life, it seems, was affected, and the music world was not exempt. Sales in Christian music increased exponentially in the weeks after the attacks, a fact some attribute to a nation reaching for comfort, meaning and answers. Hundreds of stars from all areas of show business joined together to raise money for the victims and their families. Several star-studded concerts and albums were produced.

Specifically of interest in the Christian market is the creation of Let's Roll, an album being compiled by producer Tony McAnany (Missy Elliot, Madonna). It features songs by Nicole C. Mullen, Chaka Kahn, dc Talk and more, and will benefit the Todd M. Beamer Foundation. Beamer was one of a group of passengers said to have overcome terrorists on United Airlines flight 93 (the plane crashed in Pennsylvania). dc Talk's Toby McKeehan recounts the story: "This man gave his life up for America." "And the last words he said [before confronting the terrorists] were the Lord's Prayer and 'Let's roll.' That's inspiring." Let's Roll is available now through beamerfoundation.org.

Festival Con Dios
Whatever your opinion of the Newsboys, their impact on Christian rock is undeniable. The group took the industry to new heights with this past summer's Festival Con Dios tour. Over 100,000 people turned out in 19 cities to see the 'Boys, Audio Adrenaline, Earthsuit, Switchfoot, the OC Supertones, The Benjamin Gate and more from May 17-June 17 (the "Spring leg") and September 13-30. The festival was also featured in Newsweek's July 16 issue (the piece was actually a look at how Christian music has progressed in recent years, with the festival as its backdrop).

Steven Curtis Chapman Releases Declaration
Forgive us this indulgence. SCC is a favourite of many around here. I wasn't among them until listening to "Live Out Loud," "Jesus is Life," "Bring it On," "See the Glory," etc. But those songs blew me away. After listening, I was convinced. Chapman is one of the best male performers in the business. Even with all of the syrupy stuff ("When Love Takes You In," "Carry You to Jesus," etc.) is taken into consideration, this album is good.

Robin Parrish of cmcentral.com agrees: "Life isn't always a bed of roses," he says. "It's filled with hard times and hard questions with no easy answers. And Chapman addressed those questions in as honest, forthright, and heartbroken a way as I've ever heard. He continued to push the musical envelope with this album as well, and more than satisfied his legions of fans."

Our own Dan Ficker calls it "a more personal release than ever, with similar instrumentation to his last [1999's Speechless]".

The album made its way onto the top 10 lists of most credible Christian publications, and was nominated for an American Music Award and a Grammy. He stands eligible to receive several Dove Award nominations as well. "Live Out Loud" was named CCM Magazine's "Top Song of 2001." The prevailing theme of most reviews of this album is that Chapman just keeps getting better. Let's hope more SCC comes our way soon.

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