Some ingredients combine in a way that creates a new chemical entity, with new properties, colors, purposes and uses. Some images combine to create new ones, simultaneously reflective of their original sources and unique unto themselves. Like a soaring bird made of crystalline glass, casting rainbows of refracted light strained from overcast skies, the new musical group GlassByrd weaves a tapestry of undying hopefulness, adoration and spiritual peace that is as painfully aware of the gathering gray as it is of certain eternal truths. Into a landscape populated with music that is either worship oriented or personally reflective, this new amalgam is all of the above, and more.
Marc Byrd may be one of the most successful musicians in Nashville. But like so many stellar songwriters and producers before him, he is rarely in danger of being mobbed by hordes of fans. His band, Common Children, released two critically acclaimed albums and traveled the country pounding out driving, emotional and deeply spiritual rock and roll. Failed record labels, consolidation, and the all too common personal tolls of such a lifestyle found Byrd homeless, tired and confused. Though he earned his stripes the hard way, in the trenches of the alternative Christian rock underground, his surprising rise to the upper echelons of respect and acclaim came from an unexpected place.
During a time of particular struggle, including financial destitution and artistic frustration, the floor-sleeping, guitar strumming iconoclast wrote a simple song reflecting on the only hope he truly knew. "I didn't know what else to do except worship," Byrd remembers of that trying time. "I just worshipped. My faith was all I had. I realized that I don't have anything of worth to offer except what has impacted my life, and that is my faith in Christ." That time of personal worship yielded several private songs. One of which would end up taking on a life of its own. "God Of Wonders" found its way onto the breakthrough City On A Hill album and went on to become one of the most loved modern worship songs of the last decade. "The thing about 'God Of Wonders,' 'With Every Breath,' and 'Holy Is Your Name,'" Byrd continues, "is that I didn't know there was a City On A Hill. I actually wrote those songs just because I wanted to write them. It felt good doing that. I guess this is where Christian music really makes sense."
Another successful and critically acclaimed transplanted Nashvillian by the name of Christine Glass entered the picture years earlier. She and Byrd met when both were signed to the same independent label. An instant artistic chemistry was established, followed closely by a personal connection that would eventually come to fruition when the two married in 2000. Though their personal lives were entering a new level of meaning and significance, their musical efforts were struggling due to record label problems. Glass received notice of her being dropped from her record deal on one Christmas Eve and both found themselves label-less shortly thereafter. "God can use those awful things in your life," Glass assures. "He brought me to a place of poverty and it made me rely on Him." Fortunately for her growing cadre of fans, Glass roared back with an astounding independent sophomore album, Love and Poverty, produced by Byrd and Steve Hindalong.
Like her husband, Glass found great personal comfort and encouragement in her times of worship, both corporately at church, and privately at home. One of the fruits of that time, a simple song called "You Are Holy," was recorded by Nicole Nordeman on the second installment of the City On A Hill series. As with her husband, her fresh and honest approach to worship opened musical doors she had never even considered trying. Despite widespread respect and anticipation of a continued solo career the classically trained vocalist found a different creative path in front of her; one that involved her favorite songwriter and guitarist - and soul mate - Marc Byrd.
When the two artists, both well established in their own right, came together privately for times of worship and writing, they developed a vocal, melodic and stylistic chemistry that breathed fresh wind into their creative sails. Writing led to recording demos, and the demos led to a record deal as a new musical identity dubbed Adore. Early recordings appeared on the modern worship compilations Eterne, Our God Of Wonders and Traveling Light, raising anticipation of the band's debut album.
Fortunately, when Warner Brothers took over the Word label and checked out the work-in-progress that was to become the duo's debut, they realized they had something special on their hands. The name of the band has changed to GlassByrd and at long last the beautiful chemistry of Christine Glass and Marc Byrd will take flight. Songs of simple worship sit alongside offerings of hope, consolation and desperate love. Byrd's rock-tinged voice and gliding emotive guitar style fuses seamlessly with Glass's ethereal voice and innate harmonic sensibility to create an entirely new sound. Falling somewhere between worshipful modern pop and alternative spirituals, GlassByrd is carving out a new and crucial niche in the modern Christian music scene.
Lyrically, whether from the purely worshipful perspective of "Jesus You Are Beautiful," the comforting "Wounded Healers," or the romantic "Tonight (I Want To Live In Your World,)" Open Wide This Window is all about one thing. Byrd explains, "We don't want to sound cliché, but it's all about 'hope.' Our hope is in Christ. He is so identified with the hopeless, the oppressed, and the poor. Sometimes it's hard for us to admit that we are weak. But God tabernacles in our weakness. He builds His presence in our weakness. All we have to offer is our fumbling faith and our hope in Christ." This lyrical thread ties all of the songs together under a banner of humility, grace and love. For Byrd and Glass it's definitely not about preaching or flag-waving. "We're broken people and Christ was broken," Byrd adds. "He identifies with our suffering. We're just beggars telling other beggars where we've found some bread."
Glass explains further. "If we made a record that was all happy and great that would be dishonest. That's not what we've done. We've made a record about worship, we've made a record about God, and we've made a record about the things that are on our heart. It's a record about hope and we've learned that our hope is nurtured within a community. When I don't go to church I feel it. As weak as I am, I need that connection and support. If this record gives that to people in some small measure then it's a complete success as far as I'm concerned."