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NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Late on a hot summer night in 2008, deep in the Georgia woods, music is spilling from a rustic cabin. Third Day frontman Mac Powell, Laura Story, Shane & Shane, Shawn Lewis, Bethany Olds, Trevor Morgan and a cast of talented songwriters and musicians have gathered in the rural setting to write and record the old-fashioned way. There's no studio clock ticking, no label executives stopping by, just camaraderie and a sense of creative adventure.
A year later, on July 14, Provident Music Group's Reunion Records released the product of those backwoods recording sessions: "Glory Revealed II: The Word of God in Worship."
"It went beyond my expectations," says Powell, who had aimed to duplicate the musical chemistry that developed on the road when he and friends toured in support of the first "Glory Revealed" album. "My idea was to make it an artist retreat and capture that fellowship and camaraderie we have on the road. We wrote even more songs than I thought we would -- 16 in four days. Some are being held for the next record."
The brainchild of Powell and speaker/author David Nasser, "Glory Revealed" is a collection of songs that are all drawn from Scripture.
"There are over 21 artists who contributed to 'Glory Revealed II,' and it includes some unique pairings," says Ben Howard, Provident Label Group senior vice president of marketing and sales. "For example, Jason Crabb with Bear Rinehart of Needtobreathe, or Brandon Heath with Mike Donehey from Tenth Avenue North." The CD also includes Amy Grant, Natalie Grant (no relation), Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell, Geoff Moore and Bethany Dillon.
Several contributors, including Crabb and Heath, added vocals in Nashville. But otherwise the writing and recording sessions took place in a Georgia cabin owned by comedian Jeff Foxworthy, a friend of Powell's. In an old grain silo that has been renovated into a three-story hunting lodge, Powell and friends set up their equipment in the living room and recorded day and night, with Powell's wife, Aimee, and Nasser's wife, Jennifer, cooking meals.
Powell says artists participated for several reasons. "People really get excited about the idea behind the record," he says, "and also musically because it's very rootsy, Americana, down-home music. It's music we love to be part of, especially for artists like myself, Mark Hall and Bear Rinehart that make more modern worship and modern rock songs. Something rootsy like this was different for us."
The first "Glory Revealed" sold 26,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It also netted two Gospel Music Assn. Dove Awards in 2008, for special event album and inspirational recorded song of the year for "By His Wounds."
The new album is the latest in an expanding brand that Powell says will include a Christmas project and a children's collection. A tour kicks off August 19 in Nashville featuring Powell and key artists. The group will then open for Third Day on its fall tour.
Multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Sonny Lallerstedt thinks consumers will be able to sense the unusual recording process in the songs. "The whole experience came together in the most unique way," he says. "Just sitting there and getting to play and listening to these songs ... was a fine experience."
Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters