Books and music are quite possibly the two most powerful expressions of art. As a person who thrives on words, lyrics are my favorite way to get to know the artist and the reason behind what they do. Lyrics give listeners the chance to hear the honest heart of the songwriter, allowing them into a personal, sometimes even vulnerable, place.
Authors are the same way with their books. A huge labor of love and commitment, the topic must be something close to the writer's heart for him to flesh out a whole book on the subject. Through rounds of editing, much like finishing a song, the writer works exceptionally hard to make sure the final product he sends out to the world has captured his heart in the best way possible.
Overall, it's somewhat magical what can be created when an artist passionate about their subject puts pen to page, either in the writing of a song or the telling of a story. Even better is when the two forces combine. Whether it's the book or the music that came first, there's actually a pretty remarkable amount of times these two worlds come together. Some musicians are inspired by another's writing, while other times it's the songwriter who decides to venture out and write the book based off their own music. In celebration of Matthew West's new album All In, released just months after his most recent book Hello My Name Is hit shelves, we've collected a list of our favorite book and music tie-ins.
1. Matthew West: Hello My Name Is
Matthew West is the award-winning singer/songwriter behind many of CCM fans' favorite tunes. His writing talents go beyond songs though: Matthew is also the author of five books to date. With Give This Christmas Away, The Story of Your Life, Forgiveness, and Today is Day One on his previous list of accomplishments, he recently released the fifth addition to his list, Hello My Name Is: Discover Your True Identity. Obviously inspired by the chart-topping song of the same name, the book seeks to remind readers of who God says they are. Just a few months after that release, Matthew jumped back over to musical side of writing with brand new album All In, encouraging listeners to go "all in" on their relationship with Christ (find it here).
2. Jeremy Camp: I Still Believe
When Jeremy Camp wrote his deeply personal song "I Still Believe," it was in the midst of great loss and sorrow. In the aftermath of his first wife's death, Jeremy found himself more broken than ever before as he penned these words in faith: "I still believe in Your faithfulness / I still believe in Your truth / I still believe in Your holy word / even when I don't see, I still believe." After years of sharing his story at shows all over the world, Jeremy felt it was time to continue the message in a bigger way. He released his vulnerable book titled the same as the hit song in 2011, with an updated version re-released in 2013. Jeremy has continued to share these messages of enduring hope in his music, most recently with brand new album The Answer.
3. Stu Garrard and friends: Beatitudes
Led by Stu Garrard with the help of several top CCM songwriters and artists, the Beatitudes album is a vital part of the upcoming Beatitudes Project. In addition to the album also comes a documentary film, View From the Hill, and a book, Words From the Hill (An Invitation to the Unexpected). The Beatitudes Project has been over a decade in the making for Garrard, whose goal for the whole endeavor is to reveal connected stories of real people around the world who embody the characteristics found in the Beatitudes, shown through a 21st-century lens. The book, written by Garrard, releases this month alongside the album that features industry-leading artists Matt Maher, Amy Grant, Hillsong United, John Mark McMillan, Michael W. Smith, Martin Smith and more.
4. All Sons & Daughters and Jamie George: Poets & Saints
Worship duo All Sons & Daughters teamed up with pastor and author Jamie George to create a video based curriculum and study guide revolving around Poets & Saints. The group's fourth full-length album coincides with both the book Poets & Saints: Eternal Insight, Extravagant Love, Ordinary People and the study curriculum Poets & Saints: A Community Experience. Filmed in Europe, the study focuses on the lives of ten Christian influencers such as C.S. Lewis, John Newton, Saint Patrick, Saint Francis and more. The album acts as a "soundtrack" of sorts for the journey as they look at the lives of these great men and explore new sonic fields in their music.
5. Brandon Heath and Bob Goff: Love Does
Bob Goff released his book Love Does in 2012 and later that same year, Brandon Heath released his song of the same name on the album Blue Mountain. Both titles found great success, with Bob's book quickly becoming a New York Times Bestseller and Brandon's song charting in the top 20 Christian songs. "Bob is a world changer. It's a tribute to him and to others," Brandon says of the song.
6. Lecrae: Unashamed
Few artists have had success across multiple genres the way rapper Lecrae has in the past few years, so it only seems right that the Grammy-winning artist would add a book to his list of accomplishments. Although it's been a decade since the song "Unashamed" released, the word has become a motto for Lecrae, showing up in many of his lyrics and of course in the 116 (Romans 1:16) emblem he and his labelmates proudly represent. Early this year, Lecrae released the book Unashamed to much fan anticipation and positive feedback.
"If you don't know you're lost, you can't be led. And if you can't be honest, you can't be healed," the writer says in sharing his testimony of childhood abuse, alcoholism, drugs, bad relationships, rehab and even an unsuccessful attempt at suicide. With his bold faith in Christ at the forefront, Lecrae is quick to tell the world through both song and now print just how faithful God is to redeem our broken pasts.
7. Lacey Sturm: Life Screams and The Reason
Former Flyleaf lead vocalist Lacey Sturm released her debut solo project Life Screams earlier this year. The widely successful album hit No. 1 on Billboard's Top Hard Rock Albums chart and went above and beyond expectations. But before the album made its appearance, there was a book.
The Reason: How I Discovered A Life Worth Living debuted in 2014 and rocked fans with Lacey's honest account of her struggle with depression, drugs and abuse. Many readers praised the book for its raw vulnerability and courage to ask the hard questions of life. Her equally personal second memoir, The Mystery: Finding True Love In A World Of Broken Lovers, is set to release October 4th.
8. Casting Crowns: Thrive
At the beginning of 2014, Casting Crowns began to challenge listeners with the theme of Thrive. The album hit shelves in January, with lead singer Mark Hall's book of the same name coming the next month. As the title track found success at Christian radio among other hit singles "All You've Ever Wanted" and "Just Be Held," Thrive made a great addition to the list of encouraging records fans have enjoyed from the Crowns crew over the years. The book followed suit, reminding readers what it really looks like to walk with Jesus and encouraging us all that we were made to do more than just survive; we were made to Thrive.
9. Plumb: Need You Now Plumb was no stranger to fans when she released Need You Now in 2013, but the album undoubtably took her career to the next level after a long wait for new music. Letting listeners in to a personally difficult time in her life, the album gave fans rock tunes, pop gems and emotional ballads that were birthed from her struggles. A little over a year later, the story continued with Plumb's first book. In the same way the album did, Need You Now: A Story Of Hope allows fans to know her incredibly moving story mingled with the joys and trials along the way, ultimately reminding everyone who reads it that we can always cling to the hope of restoration.
10. Jenny Simmons: The Becoming and The Road To Becoming Jenny Simmons spent a decade as the frontwoman for Dove-nominated band Addison Road. After the group parted ways, Jenny took the first step in a new adventure and released her debut solo album The Becoming in 2013. In late 2015, Jenny took yet another new step and released her first book, The Road To Becoming: Rediscovering Your Life In The Not-How-I-Planned-It Moments, in which she walks through her darkest seasons of change and uncertainty with an ending invitation for readers to view these moments as holy happenings totally seen by God. Jenny's next book, Made Well: Finding Wholeness In The Everyday Sacred Moments, releases October 4.
11. Trip Lee: The Good Life
Reach Records artist Trip Lee released his fourth album The Good Life in early 2012, with a book of the same name coming later that year. With these projects Trip posed a question to listeners: what if "the good life" isn't what everyone thinks it is? What if it isn't being rich and famous, having fancy cars and big houses? What if instead less is more, and the only true life is the life found in Christ? Through both the album and book, Trip explains that The Good Life is well within our reach when we turn from the world's lies and go straight to Jesus for the freedom and peace we crave.
12. DC Talk: Jesus Freak DC Talk's "Jesus Freak" needs no introduction. I'd venture to say that nearly every Christian music fan is familiar with the 1995 mega hit. The legendary trio comprised of TobyMac, Kevin Max and Michael Tait found their signature song within the Jesus Freak album, but the name didn't stop there. A few years later in 2000, the band collaborated with The Voice of the Martyrs to create Jesus Freaks Vol. 1: Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus, the Ultimate Jesus Freaks. The book collected the profiles of dozens of Christians who bravely stood firm in the face of persecution. Jesus Freaks Vol. 2: Stories of Revolutionaries Who Changed Their World - Fearing God, Not Man released in 2002.