Sunday, January 1, 2012

New "Freedom Train" CD

My new "Freedom Train" CD is getting closer to completion and I am patiently awaiting the final product. Brock Tozer, the music director at CHRI 99.1 FM in Ottawa, encouraged me to make a record that focused on the style I wrote for the song "One Church" on my previous "Sons of Light" CD. This new record will take my music to the next level and definitely focuses on more Funk, Disco and R&B influences while still maintaining a very contemporary sound. This record has in fact challenged me to bring in a whole bunch of other musicians to help including a horn section on 4 of the songs. Renowned keyboard player Mike Janzen joins us on half of the album with his funky grooves and my longtime lead guitarist Joel Williams delivers in a big way. "Freedom Train" also brings many other artists together who have lent their voices to this project. Some names you may recognze like: Ali Matthews, Sean Dayton, Chris Bray, Dana Marie & Amy Savin. Colin Bernard who just finished releasing an album he made with producer Ed Cash, joins me with his "Bono" from U2 voice. The black trio of Rufus John, Natahsa John and Melissa Laguerre bring a rich texture that screams MOTOWN! Rapper Prosper Laguerre joins me on the song "Forever Changed" which has gone in a total Hip Hop direction. Although much of the record is quite funky there are songs that have a different feel all together. The song "Be Glorified" is the one worship song on this record that should impact listeners in a big way. The first single (still to be determined) is set to be released to radio on Monday January 16, 2012 and the CD Release concert will be held at Bikers Church in Ottawa on Saturday March 3RD! Stay tuned for more updates!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kingdom Bound 2011, Bluesfest & The Healing Journey

It is currently 1:45 AM on Friday August 5, 2011 and I am reflecting on the summer so far. I just got back from the 25TH anniversary of Kingdom Bound. Our set on Worship Tent stage Monday August 1 was probably our best live performance yet and God allowed me to minister to those who were there. Later that same day we were live on WDCX 99.5 FM from 5:15 to 5:45 pm in between Casting Crowns and Brenton Brown. That in itself would have made my Kingdom Bound experience great but when I include the fact that my backstage artist pass allowed me the freedom to interact and connect with other artists like Paul Baloche, Kathryn Scott, Brenton Brown and Robin Mark to name a few, it was absolutely fantastic!

One man who has really impacted me was Paul Baloche. I got to meet him last year when Joel Williams and I attended Kingdom Bound as guests of the festival. Paul was and is a very genuine and authentic man of God. There is nothing pretentious about him and I watched him and his band support Kathryn Scott who had flown in from Ireland. Paul left the festival after his set was done as he needed to return to his parents home to spend time with his father who is very ill. I love this guy and his approach to worship. After experiencing him last year I started bringing lost of his music into my own worship sets at my home church and can honestly say that share one of his songs every week. The artist who probably impacted me the most this year was Kathryn Scott and in fact Joel and I attending both of her worship sets. She is a tiny woman with a huge voice and she is able to communicate how confident she is in God's love for her. She has also been on a journey that has led her to know on a very deep level that God will show up every time and she in fact called for the healing of everyone who was in attendance. I stood for both of her sets filled with tears as God performed a deep healing on my heart from the abuse I experienced as a child. I realized that I had not been fully believing God's love for me and as a result of what happened in that worship tent I have come home a changed man. Kingdom Bound is something that really needs to be experienced and that worship tent reminds me of the Old Testament accounts of the Lord appearing in the tent in the form of a cloud, I experienced that during my healing. I put together a short video that features some live footage of artists during their sets and also brief segments with me talking with some of them that you can see here:

This has been an incredible summer so far. We played the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest 2 weeks before Kingdom Bound and got to open up for Kirk Franklin. During the two weeks just prior to Kingdom Bound I went on a southern Ontario radio tour and did a series of one hour segments that included some live, unplugged music, sharing about my music and my faith testimony. It was incredibly powerful. in few weeks time Joel and I will be returning to the recording studio with award winning producer Andrew Horrocks as we embark on recording my next record to be entitled "Join Together." This record is set to be released in January of 2012 and now that I have a distribution deal through Parle Records which is a subsidiary of David C. Cooke I will be in a great position to get my music into the hands of many people. The timing of my deal with Parle couldn't be any better as David C. Cooke as just bought up Integrity Music so this is great for me! I am overwhelmed by how amazing God is and how he is allowing me to move forward with making a new record. I am also very grateful that my vision of uniting artists under the banner of "Musical Prayers" is also catching on. The future looks very promising indeed! In Christ, Scott

Sunday, October 31, 2010

GMA Canada Week 2010 and The Covenant Awards

Well, I just got in from Calgary at 1:00 AM this morning after spending the past 4 days at the GMA Canada Week Conference and 32ND Annual Covenant Awards and what an experience that was! The picture on the left was taken at the awards ceremony and is of Tim and Jon Neufield of Starfield. I saw the guys earlier in the day at the conference and it kind of went down like this: "Hey Scott from Ottawa, how are you doing brother? Are you still leading Worship at The MET?" These guys are down to earth, filled with the spirit, humility and kindness! Anyway, the conference and award ceremony was pretty amazing. I ended up on the same flight as Scott Jackson, founder of LIFE 100.3 FM in Barrie and although we had lots of email communication we never had the face to face contact and as it turned out we hung out together for the entire conference and got to know each other on a more personal level. The reality is that I also got to get to know other key Music Directors in Christian Radio who although they had been supporting my music, did not actually know me on a personal level. Mountain Mike from SHINE FM, Jim Houssen from CKO and Shamus Neeson from CKVN. As an artist, having the opportunity to connect with some of these guys is so important as a music director is more likely to support someone they have connected with verses an unknown. The picture above on the right features my producer, Andrew Horrocks with Scott Jackson and myself. Andrew won the award for Producer of the Year which is pretty cool considering the fact that his two big projects that were judged were my record and Stephanie Israelson's! It was great to hang out with Jacob Moon a bit and meet Sean Dayton and Greg Sczebel in person (in the picture on the left). One of the most memorable moments for me was when I was driving back to the hotel after doing my sound check for the showcase I was to give later that evening and starting up the truck and hearing my song "Shine on" being played on SHINE FM. I have heard my music on the radio at home on CHRI 99.1 FM in Ottawa but to actually hear yourself in another province is pretty cool. Later that afternoon I did an interview on SHINE during the drive home and that was great! I met a lot of artists and exchanged CD's. I was probably most impressed with TO TELL and DAN BREMNES who are both thinking about joining the "Musical Prayers Records" family! Once again I was able to put my CD in the hands of all the key players that were at the conference including John Mays (on the right) who was up from Nashville and is the VP of A&R for Centricity Music. John gave a couple of pretty amazing talks and I really connected with him on a personal level. He spoke on the Parable of the Tallents of Gold and really drove home the message that you need to commit to investing some hard work into the gifts that God has given you. Well, John has my CD now so I am looking forward to seeing what his response will be after he listens to it! Getting to speak with Martin Smith who is a senior territory manager for David C. Cook distribution and wrap my mind around this side of the industry was very helpful and it was also great to speak with Peter Fleck and Leroy Harder from the GMA and hear their perspectives as two of the guys really have their fingers on the pulse of Christian Music. Another cool moment for me was to accept and bring home 2 Covenant Awards for my friend Gen Feuller who won both Francophone song of the year and Francophone Album of the year! I have a lot more to process from this trip but the bottom line is that I got a grant from FACTOR for $1850 so I could go to Calgary and put myself out there. I am committed to knock on every door and climb through every window I have to in order to move my music forward and attending the GMA Canada Week was a great opportunity and one that will no doubt help me with future projects. I think that we as artists, need to be careful to not shy away from putting ourselves out there otherwise we are like the guy who buries what the Lord has given him verses the other who makes a huge investment and sees the results. One of the hardest working musicians I have ever met is my friend Jacob Moon (on the left). Jacob is always playing and touring. In January I will launch my third Canadian single which features Jacob and is called "My King." After Christmas Music Directors are always looking for new music so this will be the logical move. I also plan on launching "Shine On" to the U.S. market which is currently playing "One Church." It is pretty cool as WDCX in Buffalo is giving heavy support to "One Church" and I am supposed to do a radio interview next week with Neil Boron. I am waiting to hear back to see if we will get to play the 25TH anniversary of Kingdom Bound next summer and also the Gospel stage of Bluesfest. My sense is that great things are just around the corner. I am writing like crazy and praying to be able to do another record that will be called WE WILL. Well, that is it for now, this guy needs some sleep! In Christ, Scott

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Is it O.K. for a Worship Leader to Dance?

Recently I was given some feedback from a brother who was concerned about how I tend to move around while leading worship. More specifically he graciously pointed out that although he acknowledged the fact that I was caught up in the joy of worshipping the Lord that dancing while playing guitar and leading worship was a distraction for some. I accepted the feedback graciously but was almost immediately prompted by the Holy Spirit to read this piece of scripture:

1 John 4:18

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

I was left reflecting on what the issue really was and why some people would be uncomfortable when I as a worship leader was worshipping God filled with the Spirit and full of joy. I reflected upon King David who is known in the Bible for his praise and worship of God. King David himself danced before the Lord, when he brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem...

2 Samuel 6:14
“And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.”

I found my mind wandering to that joke I have heard told in some circles that goes something like this: “Why don’t Baptists approve of couples...........while standing up? Because they are afraid that it will lead to dancing”

How can anyone worship in truth and spirit if they are feeling restricted to do so, even subtly? Much of the book of Psalms was written by David, and the Davidic style of worship has been practiced in Israel for many years, even unto today. Today, the resurgence of dance, and other forms of the arts being used in worship in Christian churches is referred to as the reinstatement of Davidic worship. David in fact refers to dance as a form of worship in some of the Psalms he wrote. ..

Psalm 149:3
“Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.”

Psalm 150:4
“Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.”

Obviously if a worship leader was “getting down” and swinging his guitar and breaking out into some freaky John Travolta dance moves under the guise of worshipping the Lord I may question that BUT gently swaying or dancing softly on the spot as the Spirit leads shouldn’t be an issue in my opinion, what do you think?

BTW I came a Hillsong video of live worship and the lead singer appears to swaying and dancing a bit :)
In Christ, Scott Towaij

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kingdom Bound Impressions and Connections

Well, it is 5:43 PM on Thursday August 5, 2010 and I am back home in Ottawa after taking in my very first Kingdom Bound Festival. Kingdom Bound has been held in Darian Lake New York for 24 years now and runs for 4 days. A friend had arranged for my lead guitarist Joel Williams and I to go down to the festival and set us up with free wrist bands, accommodations and food so we could both experience the festival and network with artists, make American radio contacts and meet the Kingdom Bound organizers to hopefully arrange to play the festival during it's 25TH anniversary in 2011. The artists and speakers were incredible and you can see the full list here but I wanted to talk about our experience and how God worked a miracle at this festival!

I am sitting here in a state of almost disbelief as I managed to meet and put a copy of my CD into the hands of Robin Mark, Paul Baloche, Downhere, Newworldson, Superchick, Jason Upton, Phil Joel (former Newsboy) and Kathryn Scott and the Newsboys. I remember clearly standing in front of Paul Baloche and him saying "hey, I recognize you, you are that guy that does those nice twitter posts, I recognize you from your picture..." Very bizarre, Paul and his entire band each got copies of my CD and I am feeling pretty confident that they and all the other artist who received it, will actually listen to it.

In addition to all of this I ended up at a tent for a huge American radio station WDCX which broadcasts in Detroit, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Dallas, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Syracuse, Birmingham, St, Louis, Portland AND is heard throughout Toronto. I met the music director and gave him a couple of copies of the CD. he listened to it that night and when I saw him the next day he said "great record, definitely great stuff on here and we will definitely be adding 'Shine On'...we don't have cancon in the U.S. but we love Canadian bands like Newworldson and Downhere and your music is great..."

I also got to meet the 3 key people who run Kingdom Bound and got CD's into each of their hands and talk to them for a bit and I am feeling pretty confident that we will be playing there next year!

The festival itself was so incredible, Toby Mac last night absolutely blew my mind! The Newsboys the first night were amazing as was Downhere and Newworldson but perhaps the most powerful experiences for me were inside the Integrity Music Worship tent which is just gigantic. I saw Robin Mark, Jason Upton, Paul Baloche and others in there where the Holy Spirit was so present that I felt like I was inside a Holy cloud. I was ministered to, impacted and have been forever effected by Kingdom Bound. If nothing comes from all of the connections I made at Kingdom Bound I am O.K. with that, God simply reminded me to trust Him and I will continue to do so, Hallelujah!

In Christ, Scott

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What does success on Canadian radio mean?

I have been trying to wrap my mind around Christian Radio and what getting airplay actually means. My first single "One Church" spent 12 weeks on CHRI 99.1 FM"s TOP 20 with 5 of those weeks being in the # 9 spot. This single was also picked up by most stations in Canada eventually and is still in rotation on some now. The new single "Shine On" has spent 5 consecutive weeks so far on CHRI 99.1 FM's TOP 20 and last month was in the # 5 spot nationally for CAN CON AC Hits according to MORE RADIO MAGAZINE. It is my understanding that "Shine On" is now on rotation on every Christian Radio station in Canada now yet at the end of the day, I am not sure what this means. Are my CD's jumping of the shelfs and selling like mad? NO, in fact sales are very slow. Am I racking in huge revenues from digital sales through itunes? NO, in fact I have maybe made $30.00 and have easily spent another $2000.00 in promotions not to mention the initial $20,000 investment to make this record in the first place. I come back to my initial question, what does airplay actually mean and is all of this effort worth it? Well, as I have been searching my heart for the answer I have come to the conclusion that if people are hearing my music they are hopefully being effected by it and as I am a relatively unknown artist it will take time for people to connect with me personally and identify with who I am as an artist. I know that The Lord is in charge and all I need to do is trust Him... In Christ, Scott