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Permalink 08:54:00 am, by viewfromthepugh Email , 900 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Pop culture, News

Keaggy named greatest guitarist; Malone students team up on video game; songwriting contest nears end

Legendary Gospel Music Hall of Famer and guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy has been named the Greatest Christian Rock Guitarist of All Time by Classic Christian Rock Zone.

Keaggy topped the list of the 100 Greatest Christian Rock Guitarists of All Time in a recent survey conducted by the site. The results were determined by several percentage factors: 40% according to the results of the survey (over 24,000 votes were tallied), 30% according to the choice of a top peer group of Christian rock musicians, 20% according to the choice of Christian rock broadcasters and magazine publishers and 10% according to the choice of the site administrators.

"Many thanks to the voters first of all. There are so many great guitarists not just here in Nashville, but all over the world, who are not mentioned that should be up there in the high rankings," says Keaggy. "Polls and award shows make me nervous at times because truly gifted and hard working artists and guitarists often get overlooked. But I am humbled to even be on this list, and deeply appreciate your acknowledgement of my work over the years."

MALONE STUDENTS TEAM UP ON VIDEO GAME - Students from two very different departments—creative writing and computer science—are teaming up to write and program a video game at Malone University.

Creative writing students in the fiction writing class took on the project of designing and writing the story for the game, while computer science students are learning a program in which they will bring the writers’ games to life.

“It has been a very stretching experience, but at the same time it has been a positive thing to be able to move out of the stereotypes of what a creative writing major is ‘supposed to’ do,” said sophomore Kathryn McKenna.

Instructor for the computer science course is Adam Klemann, Support and Infrastructure Manager of Malone’s Information Technologies Department.

“This interaction between the programming course and fiction writing students provides a great opportunity for students to learn not only how to program and to write, but also to collaborate and interact, bringing ideas to fruition together,” he said. “We get excited about projects like this. It is but one possibility when pursuing a liberal arts education like what Malone provides its students.”

At the end of the semester, the students will get the chance to play the games they wrote and designed.

Bryce Schmidt, a junior creative writing major, said he looks forward to more projects like this.

“Partnering with a class in a different major is an interesting and enriching experience, and I am excited to see where different creative fields can intertwine in the future,” said Schmidt.

END NEAR FOR SONGWRITING CONTEST - The 12th Annual CCM Network International Songwriting Contest is in its final month, which means songwriters are urged to get their entries in now to qualify for Songwriter of the Year prizes and opportunities, including an international radio single release, writing for an INOV8 Label artist and media exposure.

“Each year, we are excited to discover talented songwriters from all over the U.S. through the Songwriting Contest,” says Jeff McLaughlin, founder and president of CCM Network International. “Already for the 12th annual competition, we have received some great songs and I look forward to what may come in in the next couple of weeks. I encourage all songwriters out there to send in their songs!”

The competition selects first, second and third place winners each quarter, with the Grand Prize songwriter selected from the four quarterly first place winners.

For a complete list of prizes and song submission information, visit

NON-PROFIT FOCUSES ON MUSIC EDUCATION - With music and the arts disappearing from schools nationwide, Virtual School of the Arts (VSA) is stepping forward to bring music education back to our schools. Based in Nashville, Tenn., the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization was founded in 2014 by renowned drummer and songwriter Chad Chapin (Ben Folds, Casting Crowns, dcTalk). 

VSA provides scholarships for music lessons and the arts to inner city youth and students who do not have access to the arts. All lessons are one on one and taught via Skype with top instructors from all over the world. Due to school budget cuts and/or lack of finances, VSA bridges the gap between aspiring students and professional instructors with significant music industry experience.

"VSA knows the importance of the arts in schools,” says Chapin. "Studies show that schools that have lost their arts programs have seen their grades drop, and students who take lessons in the arts are more likely to succeed and go on to become leaders. VSA specializes in mentoring the next generation of leaders who in return will lead others. Our mission is to give every student access to music and art instruction in order to empower them for the future.” 

Chapin started drum lessons at the age of 7, and he was hooked. Shortly after high school, Chapin moved to Nashville to pursue his dream of playing music. Fifteen years later, Chad has toured with award-winning and chart-topping artists, including Ben Folds, Casting Crowns, dcTalk, Tait, Rachael Lampa and many more. Along the way, Chapin has received a Grammy nomination, won a Dove Award and 12 BMI Music Awards, and earned countless Gold and Platinum records. 

At an annual cost of $1,800 per student, VSA needs the support of those that support the arts. Donations are tax deductible.

To see VSA in action, click here for a short video:

For more information about Virtual School of the Arts, visit


Permalink 04:05:00 pm, by viewfromthepugh Email , 523 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Pop culture, Sports

Wednesday notes: TFK teams up with Alice Cooper, Crew player gets callup, Jean Watson to appear on TBN

Top-selling rock band Thousand Foot Krutch jump starts its holiday season, performing during Alice Cooper's annual Christmas Pudding benefit event Dec. 13 in Phoenix, Az. at Comerica Theatre. The event benefited Alice Cooper's Solid Rock’s teen center in Phoenix, a non-profit charity that provides free music and free dance lessons to teenagers ( The event also featured Cooper, Nils Lofgren, P.O.D., Jonny Lang, Night Ranger and more.

Touring in support of its second consecutive No. 1 selling Billboard Hard Rock album, OXYGEN:INHALE, released Aug. 26 through The Fuel Music, the event with Cooper followed tour dates in Russia that saw capacity crowds in every venue. Photographer Melissa Fox captures (below) the enthusiasm from Moscow on Nov 23 at Ray Just Arena.

CREW MIDFIELDER CALLED UP - Columbus Crew SC today announced that midfielder Justin Meram has earned a call-up from the Iraq National Team ahead of the 2015 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup.

Before the tournament, the midfielder will participate in a training camp, which is set to be held in Dubai. The camp provides the Lions of Mesopotamia an opportunity to train before the Asian Cup, which takes place in Australia from January 9-31. The tournament, held every four years, is organized by the AFC, and the winner qualifies for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. Iraq was the tournament champion of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup.

Meram will join his teammates beginning on December 20 in Dubai, with friendly matches scheduled against Kuwait (December 23) and a pair of match-ups against Uzbekistan (December 25, 28). The Crew SC winger is then slated to travel to Australia for another pre-tournament friendly, on January 4 versus Iran in Sydney.

The call-up from Iraq is the second for Meram, as the midfielder earned his first three caps for the Lions of Mesopotamia at the 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations, which was held in November. Previously, he became the first player in Major League Soccer history to earn a call-up from the Iraq National Team.

The 26 year old experienced a breakout MLS campaign in 2014, notching a career-best eight goals and four assists for the Black & Gold. He was re-signed to a new contract following the season.

WATSON TO APPEAR ON TBN - Shadowlands recording artist Jean Watson is set to share her Celtic-infused Christmas music this Thursday on the CBN television network's flagship show, The 700 Club. She is also scheduled to appear on the show on Christmas Eve.

Watson will perform music from her recently-released Christmas project,  Christmas...Not The Way It Seems. Produced by Grammy Award-nominated producer Billy Smiley, the 11-song collection of angelic and classic Christmas favorites also features the talents of legendary Gospel Music Hall of Famer and guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy. Keaggy will perform with Watson, and will also be featured on the show throughout the holiday season performing songs from his Christmas CD, Welcome Inn.

"I feel very honored to be able to share my music and story on The 700 Club!" says Watson. "It was a thrill to perform with Phil Keaggy, and taping the interview was a an emotional moment for me. I hope that viewers are as touched in watching the show as I was in making it!" 

To find affiliate listings and show times in your area, visit

NEW ALBUM - Hip-hop group LA Symphony released its new album “You Still On Earth” today.

 You can buy it on Amazon here.


Permalink 08:30:00 pm, by viewfromthepugh Email , 533 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Pop culture

New video available from for King and Country

Australian brothers Joel and Luke, who make up for KING & COUNTRY, come from a rich family heritage and carry with them a mantra of sorts, speaking to a woman’s worth as well as encouraging themselves and other men to step up and stand out to proclaim that chivalry is not dead. This is a message they celebrate in their new behind-the-song video for “Matter,” a track from their 5-star-acclaimed, bestselling sophomore album, RUN WILD. LIVE FREE. LOVE STRONG.

Part of the DNA of for KING & COUNTRY is this idea of respect and honor in relationships and women being priceless,” Joel says. “What we’ve both found in our beliefs as men is that people are made equal. No one is a commodity and everyone deserves to be loved and loved well.” To Joel and Luke, remaining focused on what truly matters is crucial to succeeding musically. “The best legacy I can leave is if I am a good dad and good husband. If my family environment was out of whack, I don’t know if I’d even be able to write songs anymore,” says Luke.

for KING & COUNTRY, who played their multi-week, multi-format No. 1 hit single, “Fix My Eyes,” on Huckabee this pastSaturday, were featured as the “Hot Star” cover story in POLLSTAR magazine, and whose story will be chronicled in a Thanksgiving Day The Tennessean cover story, delivered their “Respect & Honor” message to the masses on their “YOU MATTER—THE TOUR.

With 28 sold-out events logged, tens-of-thousands heard the message from stage, along with the duo’s soaring melodies, driving rhythms, theatrical instrumentation and personal themes found in RUN WILD. LIVE FREE. LOVE STRONG.Concert-goers further heard encouragement from for KING & COUNTRY to sponsor needy children through Compassion International, as the “Respect & Honor” message is reinforced through for KING & COUNTRY’s merchandise, selling necklaces and bracelets that bear the words “Priceless” and “Respect & Honor.”

Across the country, people are responding, much like the softball coach in Florida who heard the message and decided to give for KING & COUNTRY “Priceless” necklaces to the 30 girls on his softball team. Local radio station, Joy FM (Sarasota, FL), reported that the coach is “teaching these girls the importance of a relationship with God and to dig deeper and thrive as young women of God.” To date, more than 80 thousand “Priceless” necklaces and “Respect & Honor” bracelets combined have been sold.

With no opening band on the “YOU MATTER—THE TOUR,” for KING & COUNTRY played songs like “Fix My Eyes,” “To The Dreamers,” “Shoulders,” “It’s Not Over Yet,” “Without You (feat. Courtney)” and more from RUN WILD. LIVE FREE. LOVE STRONG., which released Sept. 16 from Word Entertainment. The duo also led hits like “The Proof of Your Love” from Crave, the highest-selling debut from a new artist when it released in 2012, as concert-goers document their experiences at these events at

Seeing more than 7,000 attend their concert at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, NJ, more than 6,000 in Louisville, 3,250 people at a sold-out event at Saddleback Church (Lake Forest, CA), 3,000 at a sold-out Chicago event and more sold-out events in cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit (Plymouth, MI), Nashville (Franklin, TN), Indianapolis, Austin, Phoenix (Mesa, AZ), Amarillo and Albuquerque, for KING & COUNTRY continues touring in the New Year as a featured part of the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular. 


Permalink 11:00:00 am, by viewfromthepugh Email , 254 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Pop culture

EMERALDE releases debut album

Music fans and critics alike are taking noticing of EMERALDE’s debut album, “Wind and Shadows” – available now from Gasbarro Music. EMERALDE is comprised of songwriting duo MarcoGio (Mark Gasbarro) and Margie Russomanno, whose individual efforts have already reached millions of people worldwide.

MarcoGio is best known as a sought after pianist, composer/arranger, producer and conductor, whose piano playing and/or orchestration has been featured on ABC’s hit series “Lost” and a long list of Hollywood blockbusters including “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “Cars 2,” “Star Trek,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Super 8,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and “UP” (which won an Academy Award for Best Musical Score).

Margie Russomanno’s successful solo career includes song placements in major network television shows and feature films. With over 500,000 YouTube views, Margie’s most recent album, “All I Need,” spent three weeks at #1 on ReverbNation's Los Angeles Christian/Gospel Chart where it remains in the Top 10.

Together, MarcoGio and Margie have teamed up as EMERALDE to create a genre of music they call “Dream Pop” – filled with Margie’s lush vocals, MarcoGio’s deep grooves and a cinematic feel.

Says MarcoGio, “We want to capture our audiences and lead them to wonder and dream. We want listeners to get lost in the imagery in the same way that great fantasy films thrill us with the possibilities of new and beautiful worlds rising out of the ordinary.”

A music video for EMERALDE’s debut single, “Spontaneous,” can be viewed on the group’s official website at Their debut album, “Wind and Shadows,” is available now at Amazon, iTunes and wherever music is sold.


Permalink 11:00:00 am, by viewfromthepugh Email , 446 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Pop culture

Soul2Soul marks 20th anniversary

Soul2Soul, Christian radio’s longest-running one-hour weekly program, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. On the air since 1994, the nationally syndicated show is heard on 781 stations in 41 countries. 

Twenty years ago, Chris Coppernoll, Johnny Fussell and Mike Becht asked a simple question: What was the one thing that Christian radio needed more than anything else? After months of discussion and dozens of interviews with radio and record label contacts, it became clear that Christian music fans needed to get to know the artists that made the music they loved in a more real and personal way. Soul2Soul launched in August 1994 on 100 stations and has been on the air continuously ever since. 

Hosted by Mike Becht, Soul2Soul is a one-hour radio broadcast that interviews some of the biggest names in Christian music and beyond. Over 450 artists have been featured on Soul2Soul, including Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Francesca Battistelli, Casting Crowns, Third Day, Randy Travis, Skillet, TobyMac, Jars of Clay, Kathie Lee Gifford, Newsboys, John Tesh, John Elefante, Wynonna, Blessid Union Of Souls, Point Of Grace, Billy Ray Cyrus, Mercy Me, Petra, Bill & Gloria Gaither, Stryper, Natalie Grant, NEEDTOBREATHE, Alan Jackson, Mark Lowry, Newsong, Scott Stapp of Creed, Jamie Grace, Jonny Lang, Max Lucado, Phil Keaggy, Rich Mullins, Brian Littrell of Backstreet Boys, Andrae Crouch, Matthew West, Jaci Velasquez, Sixpence None The Richer, Reliant K, Ricky Skaggs, DeGarmo & Key, Rebecca St. James and hundreds more!

From the beginning Chris, Johnny and I believed that a story could change a life,” says Becht. “The story of God’s Son and His love for us transformed us and we felt compelled to share that story with others using the testimonies and songs of Contemporary Christian music. It’s amazing to me that our faith, at the end of the day, is based on the testimony of others. Whether it is found in the pages of Scripture or in the stories of lives changed down through the ages, what we know of God, His Son and His goodness has been handed down generation after generation in the stories we share. I hope that in some small way over the past 20 years that Soul2Soul has helped others discover, and share, the life-transforming story of the Gospel.”

In addition to the radio show, the Soul2Soul brand has extended to live events, including concert tours (Salvador, Greg Long, Tammy Trent) and the Soul2Soul Honors live event, which has been produced for national television broadcast. Word Publishing also released the book “Soul2Soul” by author Chris Coppernoll featuring excerpts from more than 75 popular Soul2Soul artist interviews.

Soul2Soul is a production of Music Square West and is distributed worldwide by Encourager International Ministries. Visit the official website at


Permalink 04:46:00 am, by viewfromthepugh Email , 209 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News

Donatos campaign benefits Nationwide Children's Hospital

Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Donatos Pizza are pleased to announce the Donatos “Good Cheer” Campaign, which will run through Dec. 29. Customers of the 63 central Ohio Donatos restaurants in Franklin County and contiguous counties will have opportunities to support life-saving research and care at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The complete list of all 63 participating Donatos pizzerias is listed below.

In this new partnership between Nationwide Children’s and Donatos, patrons of Donatos will have a chance to donate $1 at the point of purchase during check-out and will have an opportunity to add their name and/or an inspirational message for patients and their families to a paper holiday ornament icon, which will be displayed in the pizzerias and then delivered to Nationwide Children’s. Additionally, when customers purchase a $20 gift card, $1 automatically will be donated to Nationwide Children’s.

My hope is that by spreading holiday cheer, we can brighten the day of some patients at Nationwide Children’s,” said Donatos Chairwoman Jane Grote Abell. “We are delighted to support this program.”

We are deeply appreciative of this new partnership with Donatos and their commitment to Nationwide Children’s outstanding care and ground breaking research,” Steve Allen, MD, CEO of Nationwide Children’s, said. “This holiday season, Donatos’ customers can support this partnership benefiting children here and everywhere.”

Permalink 04:40:00 am, by viewfromthepugh Email , 459 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Pop culture

Duck Commander Bible released

The highly anticipated new project from Phil and Al Robertson, The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible, has released with a very supportive response from the press, fans and the Christian industry. Released through Thomas Nelson, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, fans are exclaiming; would make a great gift, Bible "Life Changers" are fantastic, a great way to study, I give this Bible 5 stars. The project focuses on the Robertsons' five core values: faith, family, fellowship, forgiveness, and freedom. The Bible is presented in the New King James Version and includes 30 life-changing testimonials, along with 125 Set Your Sights features from Phil and Al, who serve as Executive Editors on the project.

You can buy the Bible at

"Dad and I couldn't be more excited about the release of our new Bible, The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible," says Al Robertson. "Between the two of us, we have more than 70 years of combined experience of studying and teaching God's Word. We bring you that experience, as well as the witnessing of thousands of life changing experiences in this new NKJV Bible. You will be encouraged and inspired to learn more about God's will for your life and hopefully share this transforming power with others you know. We pray for everyone that will pick up these words from the Almighty, alongside our teaching and testimony, and put them into practice.

The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible has a wide range of media outlets enthusiastically providing coverage that includes; Parade Magazine (Nov. 9 Parade Picks), Moody Radio/In The Marketplace with Janet Parshall, WMUZ/Bob Dutko Show (Detroit, MI), CBA Retailers + Resources, Salem's Preaching Magazine, American Bible's "Project Shift," CBN 700 Club, American Family Radio, Campus Crusade for Christ (radio), Christian Post, Daystar Television, WSM-AM/Coffee with Cody, Phil Valentine Show,, Salvation Army's "Young Salvationist," The Oklahoman,, Good Day (Dallas), HM Magazine, Spirit Catholic Radio Network, among many others. Additional media coverage will be announced in the near future. Phil, "Miss Kay," Al and Lisa Robertson recently traveled to Dallas, TX for an in-store book signing at Walmart. The event was packed with fans, who began lining up two hours before the signing began in order to get personally autographed copies of The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible.

The Bible was also enthusiastically received at the 45th Annual Dove Awards in October in Nashville, TN. Al and Lisa Robertson were presenters on the national show, as they co-presented with Jason Crabb for the Inspirational Movie of the Year category, with "God's Not Dead" being announced as the winner. Several copies of The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible were available backstage for performers, presenters, nominees and other industry VIPS.

For more information about The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible please visit online

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