Originally known as the marketing unfriendly moniker Underground Worship Sound, Foreverafter have been working with teenagers leading worship events in churches and schools across America for the last few years and their brand of fresh worship has caught the ears of the moguls at Word America. In the wake of the American worship revival sparked by the success of Delirious?, Matt Redman and now Sonic Flood, Foreverafter's brand of dance pop is a welcome addition. The songs are given a welcome bit of production spit and polish by Dan Muckala so there are some strong musical resemblances to Mukala's "Fiction" album, which to be honest is no bad thing! Scratch under the state of the art production and you find some catchy, straight forward God-focussed songs with interwining vocals shared by husband and wife team Janey and Jennifer Lyons. It is they who are the heart of Foreverafter and for me, their album does the business. Plenty of drum loops, samples and inventive guitar work from the Mukala guys and plenty of catchy choruses that plant themselves in your brain. Give it a couple of listens and you'll be wandering around the house singing "The Best", "Who You Are" and "The One For Me" - top tunes all of them! Worthy of investigation.
~~"Jamey & I were both called to God's ministry at the age of 15. We knew we wanted to use our music to change people's lives for God. Although it is hard being on the road 20-30 days a month - especially when we are in a different state each week - when I hear the stories and see the changed lives it makes it all worth it." Jennifer Maninno Lyons, foreverafter
foreverafter, a fresh new modern pop group on Word Records, is not that new to thousands of youth, youth pastors, parents and students across the country. The group has been traveling and ministering for over five years, recording albums and impacting lives, and living out their calling to be "worship leaders for this generation."
The group is driven to minister, to reach youth in a unique way with their modern praise & worship. "We have a huge commitment to singing worship music," says Jamey, the band's primary songwriter and keyboard/guitar player, who cites Stevie Wonder as a musical hero and Keith Green as his biggest spiritual influence. "Our music doesn't sound like typical worship music at all. When listeners pop our CD in, they won't hear the typical worship sound. Our sound is artist-driven, but our content is worship-driven, that's what makes it different."
Through their unique musical style, foreverafter foremost desires to see this generation reached for Christ. With a passion for youth and a commitment to the clear path that God has directed them down since they joined their talents after a 'chance' meeting at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, they have seen God's hand at work.
While native New Yorker Jennifer Maninno Lyons studied vocal performance and Texas-bred Jamey Lyons majored in music composition, the two met in one of the university's practice rooms, as Jamey walked in on Jennifer 'accidentally' while she was in the midst of a songwriting session. "Jamey helped me finish the song," she smiles. "Basically, it somehow let us know that we were going to be full-time musicians together."
Since that time, it has been obvious to the group, the true calling that God has put upon their lives. Traveling at times 20-30 days a month, with a schedule booked solid with youth assemblies, youth pastor conferences, Fellowship of Christian Athletes events and weeks at a time of summer camps, Jamey and Jennifer minister through their music- but mostly, make friends, build relationships with the kids and speak to their lives.
"Ever since the very beginning our ministry has been relationship-based." shares Jamey. "We will go to great lengths to ensure that we are daily connecting with students, spending quality AND quantity time building relationships everywhere we go. For we know that is how lives are truly changed, not simply by us appearing on a stage and sharing our music.
Known as Jamey & Jennifer for many years, and most recently as Underground Worship Sound, the group had used a simple grassroots approach, naturally developing a strong following in many regions of the country. Although they have loved maintaining their ministry on their own, Jennifer explains that Word Records "became interested in taking what we had already had established and building on it rather than creating something apart from our vision." "Even the name Jamey & Jennifer didn't seem right any longer," explains Jamey, "not to mention the fact that it sounds like two 12 year old twins."
The group changed their name to foreverafter shortly after signing with Word Records. "Those of us who have chosen Christ for salvation can be positive that we will spend 'foreverafter' with Him," explains Jennifer, who is the group's lead singer and also a contributing songwriter. "And secondly, we chose the name because of our commitment to each other and to our marriage, knowing that whatever happens, we will always be together 'foreverafter'."
With that strong commitment to stay together as a husband and wife team, Jamey & Jennifer live out that example to numerous kids daily and are ideal role models to youth, as the national spokesgroup for True Love Waits, which works to spread the message of sexual purity and abstinence before marriage. The band has built a strong network of youth pastors nationwide, endorsing them in this effort. "We've been there," says Jamey. "It was only five years ago that we were dating and it was a temptation for us, so we can relate." But the fact that the two did wait until their own marriage provides a platform for them to speak into the lives of the young people in their audience.
"Jamey & Jennifer are gifted musicians. They love Christ and it shows," states Dawson McAllister, youth speaker for True Love Waits. "The youth of America need to hear their message.
The song "No," from foreverafter is a perfect illustration to kids, of waiting until marriage, and a song that will be a cornerstone in their performances with True Love Waits appearances.
In tune musically with that song, the group's first single, "Who You Are," is a good example of how foreverafter has melded its message with a sophisticated, high-energy sound, relating to kids everywhere. "It's pop music with guitars," elaborates Jamey, "but with some R&B loops behind it. If you listen to the guitar specifically, there's some wacky off-the-wall stuff."
The debut project from the group, produced by Dan Muckala, is a collection of 10 strong worship songs written by Jamey and Jennifer, with guitar and bass help from Brent Milligan (Michael W. Smith, Cindy Morgan) and Alex Nifong respectively, in the studio. The group will travel with a band, showcasing the material from the new album during a comprehensive national tour.
Jamey and Jennifer characterize the group's performances, no matter what the setting, as 'worship concerts,' noting that when attending their concert, one can sing along and worship God. "As we have stated, audience participation is a huge thing for us," notes Jennifer. "We even put the words to the choruses up on a big screen - one of the band members usually shares a testimony and we give a spiritual challenge to the audience, We believe that there is a reason for those people being there, and we want to make the most of the time."
And, if the heart of these two musicians is any indication of how they use their time, it is being well spent and will be now and foreverafter......