One of the most treasured conversations amongst music fans usually starts with someone saying “I remember seeing them long before they got famous.” Indeed, being in the know before word hits the streets is one of the sweetest morsels in the life of a regular music consumer, though sometimes it’s hard for folks who are a little less regular on the CD buying/downloading circuit to stay on top of what’s hot. That’s why gmc is putting together a brand new list of “Ones to Watch” just in the time for the New Year, which blends a slew of artists that either recently landed in the fast lane towards success or are burgeoning acts sure to follow in their footsteps.
Christian music fans might have heard rumblings about NEEDTOBREATHE way back in 2006, but to those that follow more of the mainstream, chances are its name didn’t come up until 2011’s arena tour with Taylor Swift (who hand-picked the South Carolina-bred band for her support slot). The results of that exposure found the group’s latest long player The Reckoning (Atlantic) landing on a boatload of year end critic’s picks lists and propelling the southern-slanted modern rockers towards a 2012 headlining tour through the most prominent mainstream clubs and theaters.
It’s easy to think of TobyMac as the forerunner in the faith-based hip-hop movement, but LeCrae is quickly ascending to equally seminal status. With a 2010 GRAMMY nomination and a ton of Dove nominations, he’s already got the industry on his side, but thanks to a blend of cutting-edge production, razor-sharp rhymes and a street-savvy lyrical direction, you simply can’t ignore this innovator when his tunes come on the radio.
Laura Story (laurastorymusic.com)
Believe it or not, very few female artists have topped the Billboard Christian Songs chart, but in the case of Laura Story’s monumentally moving “Blessings,” it was only a matter of time. Even though it’s been on the air for almost a year, the praise and worship cut is a true anthem that’s already building anticipation for her folk-flavored follow-up.
Marc Martel (marcmartelmusic.com)
This name may already look familiar to those who own a Downhere album given the fact that Marc Martel’s been the Canada-based band’s co-vocalist since its formation in 1999. However, he’s pretty much a fresh face in solo terrain who just so happens to give late great Queen singer Freddie Mercury a run for his money. In fact, Martel posted a YouTube video covering that band’s “Somebody to Love” and won up winning a vocalist slot on the forthcoming “Queen Extravaganza” tribute tour.
Royal Tailor (royaltailoronline.com)
Many have called Royal Tailor a spiritually-centered combination of Maroon 5 and Chris Brown, which means plenty of soul-saturated harmonies and R&B-infused grooves. The sound is certainly catching on, giving these four Indianapolis-reared fellas their first ever GRAMMY nomination for “Best Contemporary Christian Album” (with their fate being decided February 12, 2012 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles).
Worth Dying For (iamammo.com/wdf)
Hillsong United is considered the standard setter for modern worship, but Worth Dying For is quickly being tagged as one of this generation’s most relevant praise purveyors. That’s because there are plenty of spine-chilling choruses and musical variety that boasts spiking synth-pop one minute, screamo the next and a series of power ballads that are just as powerful.
Le’Andria Johnson (leandriajohnson.com)
In terms of the music industry, Le’Andria Johnson may be best known as the season three winner of BET’s “Sunday Best” in 2010 (who was also nominated for a GRAMMY in the “Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance” category), though she also has a gripping testimony to tell. The single mother of three may have lost her home to foreclosure, but never let her faith waver as she sang gospel-infused praises inspired by Aretha Franklin, The Clark Sisters and Mary Mary.
The New Year brings a new EP for Tidewater, the one man band spearheaded by Brett Allen under the production direction of Kevin Gales (Fiona Apple, Kid Rock, Sarah McLachlan). The Beautiful Life (ROXR Records/Inpop Records) continues in his sophisticated singer/songwriter direction for fans of OneRepublic or Matt Wertz, while coming on the heels of Top 40 placements on both iTunes’ singer/songwriter chart and Smartpunk.com’s bestseller list.
Rachel Chan (www.rachelchanmusic.com)
She may only be 16, but Rachel Chan’s already lived a life in the spotlight as the daughter of best selling New York Times author/pastor/speaker Francis Chan. Even with a famous father, the newcomer clearly takes ownership of her contemporary pop palette on a debut disc called Go (in:ciite Media) with socially relatable messages to her peers within the church and beyond.
Adam Cappa (adamcappa.com
Prior to signing with BEC Recordings, Adam Cappa ministered to teens within the Young Life organization and led worship at his home church. After hooking up with Jeremy Camp and Francesca Battistelli on tour, his platform has certainly grown, but the 25-year-old’s heart to reach today’s youth sounds stronger than ever on his pop/Top 40-leaning debut disc The Rescue.
Copyright 2011, watchgmctv.com. For permission to repost or reprint, click here.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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