Few artists have been more influential in defining the CCM brand than Petra and WhiteHeart, so fans will likely jump out of their skins when they hear that John Schlitt, lead singer of Petra, and Billy Smiley, guitarist, singer, and founder of WhiteHeart, have teamed up for the new 2019 StoryTeller Tour with special guest Jason Fowler. The tour launches June 26th in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Union of Sinners and Saints features members from the two bestselling Christian Rock bands of all time, with over 15 million albums sold, 25 #1 songs, 15 Grammy and 40 Dove awards and nominations between them.
"The idea of this new tour really intrigued both of us," Schlitt declares. "With our histories, it only made sense to feature Petra and WhiteHeart favorites along with the new songs that we were writing in the studio, but give it an 'MTV Unplugged' sense of style that lets the audience feel a part of the journey. The intimacy and stories have been an incredible treat for us and the long time fans of both groups."
Smiley adds, "We play festivals and bigger events with the full band, but we had an unplugged tour last year in Canada that was so incredible that we wanted to bring it to the states."
Fans can find The Union of Sinners and Saints' self-titled debut CD and vinyl, and new songs coming each month from the new "Rockify" series, at iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and YouTube, as well as the group's official website at www.theunionofsinnersandsaints.com.
Featuring new originals and updated versions of Petra and WhiteHeart classics, the CD has been a fan favorite. The new vinyl version features some of the same songs as the CD, but with a bonus 11-minute "Group of Songs" with some of the #1 songs from both White Heart and Petra. "With the advent of the popularity of rock coming full circle to festivals and theaters this year, the timing is right for some new material and shows," explains Smiley.
"A lot of the fans of White Heart and Petra are bringing their kids to the shows, and many kids and teens have never seen us live, and so we are seeing a lot of interest around the U.S., Brazil, the UK, Canada and Australia to try to get us back there where we played so many shows in the 80's and 90's," says Smiley.
Joining Schlitt and Smiley in the studio are Anthony Sallee of WhiteHeart on bass, new artist Jason Fowler on guitar and vocals, Jon Knox of WhiteHeart on drums, and Jonathan Crone on guitar. "This is an incredible band," says Smiley. "From the beginning of WhiteHeart to the very end, the caliber and musicianship of the players we looked for was always trying to find the best musicians that we could. These guys just continue that lineage, and I am so honored to have them out with us."
Smiley produced the record and brought in an all-star cast of Petra and WhiteHeart musicians including Bob Hartman (Petra), Dann Huff (WhiteHeart, Giant), Brennan Smiley (The Technicolors) and Brian Wooten (WhiteHeart, Trace Adkins) on Guitars; John Lawry (Petra) and special guest Michael W. Smith on B3; Chris McHugh (WhiteHeart, Keith Urban) and Peter Furler (Newsboys) on drums; and Dave Ellefson (Megadeth) on bass.
Richie Biggs (WhiteHeart, Petra, The Civil Wars) mixed the record along with Jonathan Crone. New singles will be mixed by the legendary Mark Needham (Fleetwood Mac, The Killers, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham).
Adds Smiley, "We hope to see you at a show and share in the memories and the future we all can make together!"
Check out the new single, "I Still Believe," here.