It's a warm summer day deep in the Georgia piney woods and Mac Powell is waking up in a record producer's dream. Many of his favorite singers, songwriters, musicians and friends have gathered in a rustic cabin-Bibles open, hearts in tune, writing songs specifically designed to put the word of God in the mouths and hearts of His people.
The reason for this creative retreat is the recording of "Glory Revealed II: The Word of God in Worship," the follow up to the 2007's scripture infused "Glory Revealed." Forged from a creative vision shared by Powell, frontman for Grammy winning rock band Third Day, and acclaimed author/speaker David Nasser, the first "Glory Revealed" won two Dove Awards, spawned the No. 1 song "By His Wounds," and most importantly, had people around the world singing scripture.
"We had so much fun doing the first record and not only making the record, but going on tour with the album," says Powell, seated on a porch swing in the warm Southern sunshine. "We feel like there are a lot of great things that people got from the album and from the tour. We enjoyed really getting together with friends---sharing our hearts, our faith, our love for God and our love for God's word, the Bible."
Like the first, "Glory Revealed," the new album became a labor of love that attracted many of the top names in Christian music, including Casting Crowns' Mark Hall, Amy Grant, Brandon Heath, Natalie Grant, Jason Crabb, Ed Cash, Tenth Avenue North's Mike Donehey, Aaron Shust, Matt Maher and country songtress Sara Evans. "What's great about the 'Glory Revealed' record is that the songs originate with scripture. There's something amazing about singing God's word back to Him in worship," says Hall, who also appeared on the first album.
"I've always been a fan of Mac Powell from Third Day. Then when I met my husband Jay, I learned that they were friends. Mac sent me an email asking me to be a part of this project, and I was very honored and immediately said yes!" enthuses Evans, who duets with former band member Bethany Olds on the bluegrass-flavored "There Is A City," penned by Olds and Sonny Lallerstedt. "I had no idea that my former fiddle player wrote the song and was the singer on the demo! What a small world! I love 'There is a City' and am so proud to be part of such an amazing project! And I love to sing about my Lord!"
That sense of purpose and enthusiasm permeates "Glory Revealed II," and much of the spirit of the new album was born during the tour supporting the first album. That tour became more than just a successful music industry trek supporting a hit project; it evolved into something different and more special. A community developed that set the stage for the next "Glory Revealed" and informed the direction for the new recording. Instead of being birthed in a sterile studio, "Glory Revealed II" came to life in a rustic cabin owned by one of Mac's good friends. "Even though the record musically is very similar to the last record, it's pretty different in how we recorded it," says Powell. "It really came from going on the road and being together with a lot of these musicians. There's something live on the stage that comes out when you spend some time together and when you're singing each other's songs. We wanted that live aspect to come through on the record. So that's why we did this in a big cabin, living together for a week, playing the music together live. One of my favorite things about this record is that when you hear it, you're not hearing music that was made, you're hearing music that's being made."
Nasser set the scene. "We're in a grain silo, which has been converted into a hunting lodge. It is three stories high with nine bedrooms. It really adds the ultimate Americana feel, a rustic feel with the tin roof, the wide-open spaces, farm equipment and hundreds of deer. When you come out here, you just feel like this is what makes America great and this music stylistically is great American music. It's the kind of music that has a lot of space so you can really hear the lyrics. You can't miss what makes this record so amazing and that is the word of God."
To write and record "Glory Revealed II," Powell gathered some of his favorite singers/songwriters including Trevor Morgan, Shane & Shane, Laura Story, Bethany Dillon, Shawn Lewis, Jonathan Shelton and such sought after Georgia musicians as Lallerstedt, Olds, and Jason Hoard. Lewis and Third Day sound engineer Chris Biggs recorded the sessions. Mac's wife, Aimee, and David's wife, Jennifer, kept the creative brood happily fed during the retreat which had the feel of a fun summer camp with an undeniable sense of adventure and purpose.
In keeping with the mission of the first "Glory Revealed," all the songs on the album are taken from scripture. On "Psalm 23," Morgan and Geoff Moore sing a beautiful rendition of the oft-quoted scripture that makes it seem fresh and uniquely compelling. Shane & Shane's "Cup O'Salvation," taken from Psalm 116, is a gentle, beautiful reminder of the grace of God. Lewis delivers a stunning vocal on "Never," taken from Hebrews 13:5-6. Accompanied by the angelic voice of Bethany Dillon, Lewis reminds us the Lord is our helper. We need not be afraid.
The creative juices flowing were almost palpable, and the songwriting process was as organic as the recording. There were several small groups of co-writers scattered around the cabin, on the porch, at the picnic table and elsewhere around property working. Powell would walk from one group of collaborators to another, contributing his input and encouragement. "When David and I talked about doing a second record, I really had a vision of us making music together, living together in this cabin, letting it be more like a retreat time as opposed to a 9 to 5 punch-the-clock thing in the studio," he says. "I wanted it to really be a retreat time where we could sleep late if we wanted to--and most musicians do--and spend some time in God's word together. I was hoping that it would naturally work, that people would kind of go off on their own and start writing songs, finishing each other songs. It totally happened and it was amazing."
The cover of the CD depicts the location. "I really wanted this building to be represented on the record," says Powell. "In a way, it was a church for us for a week. It was a building that---just like a church---allowed the people of God to come together, dig deep in the word, worship and be in community together. So that was our church, our Glory Revealed church house."
Unfortunately due to hectic schedules, not everyone could make it to the Georgia sessions, so Powell took the tracks to other artists who were anxious to contribute such as Brandon Heath. "It's a great approach to help people remember the word of God. I love that you are able to teach people the word in song," says Heath, the Gospel Music Association's reigning Male Vocalist of the Year, who sings with Shust and Tenth Avenue North's Mike Donehey on "What We Proclaim." Remarkably, all three artists also represent GMA's New Artist of the Year award, each taking home the coveted title over the last three years at the Dove Awards. Heath adds, "I love that Mac fosters community through albums like this. It's a great ministry tool. It's not only the word, but the action of the church as we come together to worship our God."
Powell has been thrilled at the way "Glory Revealed" has been embraced and says the appeal is simple to understand. "It's God's word and people are drawn to that," he smiles. "They are drawn to wanting to learn God's word. They hear a song a few times and have it in their heart and in their mind. All of our children have listened to the record and love it. They have memorized scripture and we've memorized scripture. It's so great to see how just hearing a handful of songs a few times can really put the word of God in your heart and in your mind."