Beautiful harmony echoed within this building as multiple churches from across Canada gathered in Rimbey for the Praise and Harmony Workshop. Over a three day period, multiple sessions focused on teaching four-part harmony, introducing new songs and the need for basing our songs upon Scripture. Sunday morning was the first time this Christian Reformed Church had ever experienced an a cappella assembly and the singing was incredible!
It would be difficult to overstate the impact that the Tulsa International Soulwinning Workshop has had on my family and our ministry. In fact, for a large portion of our lives, I have measured our timeline and Acappella’s history through attendance of this annual Workshop.
The Workshop was much more than a Christian teaching event. It has always been a great family reunion! Sharon and I attended the very first Workshop as college students while dating. The first year was such an amazing experience that we refused to miss the second annual workshop, even though it was just a few days after our wedding.
Learning about Williamstown Bible College through attending the Tulsa Workshop, we enrolled in WBC’s ministry program. Subsequently, we were founding members of a traveling quartet that would include Tulsa every Spring as a “must include” on our national travels.
When the time came to launch Acappella as a full-time ministry, we chose the Tulsa Workshop to begin the talent search, and indeed, recruited the earliest vocalists there. AVB, Vocal Union and Acappella’s concerts in Tulsa always felt like a “homecoming.” The inspiring congregational singing, which characterized this event, was reason enough to make the annual trek of thousands of miles for thousands of Christians.
The Tulsa Workshop brought very special people into our lives, including the one-of-a-kind, servant of God, Terry Rush. And everyone who heard and met Marvin Phillips could not help but fall in love with his infectious spirit. I have been increasingly blessed through Marvin’s mentorship, having served with him on several continents.
Recent director, Shane Coffman, has become an inspiration to our worship ministry, among others too numerous to name. For everyone who served to make this event possible, we say wholeheartedly, “Thank you!” No doubt, the spirit of all we have experienced, gleaned and learned through this iconic workshop will continue with us through the rest of our lives.
Here's the link to their announcement.
Introducing Acappella Praise & Harmony's 12 Days of Christmas
Enter now to win a gift each of the 12 days of Christmas. Share with friends to improve your chances!
The Gospel is a mystery. God became something He is not, so that we can become something we are not. Christ became human, so we can become holy. Jesus became sin, so we can become righteous.
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 Corinthians 5:21
Those of you who have listened to the music of ACAPPELLA over the years understand that the legacy is not exclusively about making beautiful harmonies, recording albums or presenting concerts. It has always been about message -- the "good news." In fact, many of our favorite songs are adapted directly from Scripture, such as this one.
This video was shot while preparing for a concert in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The concert promoter has since rebooked Acappella to appear there again on October 21, 2017, so mark your calendars.
The Gospel message is going into all the world and we know that some people can only be reached through music. Acappella will be celebrating our 35th anniversary in locations from coast to coast in 2017, as well as appearances in Puerto Rico and Switzerland. Thank you for supporting our ministry, downloading our music and ordering CDs for friends and family. Please visit our new store at Acappella.org. Plan a road trip to attend an Acappella concert. Sign up to cruise with Acappella in January.
Sing to His glory!
Every time we record, I ask these wonderful volunteers what is their favorite part of the experience. Without exception, the most popular response given is the time of worship. The singers work so hard during the recording sessions that the devotional times of singing and worship become a very special treat. Hear the Praise & Harmony Singers worship with "Shield About Me" from the "Only God" P&H CD.
Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory,
the One who lifts my head high.
You can order the CD, sheet music, download and powerpoint slides to this song here.
Did you ever sing in a school choir? Countless people who have enjoyed being part of a singing group in the past rarely seem to have the opportunity to replicate that experience, much less, be part of a professional recording. What happens when you audition and record for a Praise & Harmony project?
First, you must assemble a like-minded quartet of singers, covering all four parts of soprano, alto, tenor and bass. The audition consists of recording a pre-selected song (the latest audition song is the "Hallelujah Chorus") to submit to the committee for the selection process. The committee is looking for, among other things, a smooth blend, intonation, breath control and a sound without vibrato and scooping (attacking notes by starting well below the pitch and gliding up.) Since this is a professional recording, not every group is accepted, continuing an emphasis on excellence which is a favorite hallmark of the P&H collection.
In addition to balancing the voices between the four parts for the final product, the primary reason for quartets is to provide the framework of regular weekly rehearsals for every participant. There is no substitute for serious rehearsals for learning, perfecting and blending with other vocalists. 25 songs are assigned. The first time that the "complete group" will sing together will be at the actual recording itself; so the regular rehearsals during the months leading up to the recording are priceless and essential. The songs must be learned before the recording process begins. This is why individual singers are not allowed to be part of the process, because the interaction of rehearsals provides necessary preparation.
When the time arrives for the actual recording, the first thing that happens is every singer records with other singers of their same voice part in "sectional" recordings. This usually happens in four groupings, with every voice seeking to blend as one. Check out this video of the bass section recording in Lubbock, as the basses are assembled in four groups.
After the sections are recorded, all vocalists combine to record the 25 songs with all voices intermixed. The culmination of rehearsals and preparation creates stunning results so beautiful they cannot be fully described.
After the audio recording is completed, the entire group is recorded on select songs for music videos. These are the videos that you can find on the Youtube channel and through social media.
Although this process requires an amazing amount of work by every volunteer singer, the testimonies of those who participate are very heart warming. Listen to these Praise & Harmony Singers share from their hearts:
Every believer has the right to experience praising God through song.
There is nothing like singing with fellow believers. A cappella congregational singing, when it is grounded in Christ as an offering of mutual edification, makes for the most exhilarating community experience a church can be a part of. Many churches who have enjoyed the riches of this congregational idiom, however, are allowing it to fall by the wayside, blaming their static, lifeless, worship services on the a cappella tradition itself, as if we as a brotherhood haven’t completely neglected to equip our congregations with the skills that enable them to bring their best for the Lord on Sunday.
What’s the solution? Training and education. If a church wants to keep singing alive as a vital experience for every believer, training in congregational singing for the entire church is essential. When I was young, my home church would bring in Ralph Casey to provide a training weekend for the purpose of equipping our entire church family on music basics, singing fundamentals and song leading. This happened more than once in my home church.
The need is greater than ever. Sharon and I travel with the Praise & Harmony congregational singing workshops for the purpose of equipping churches to establish a solid training program to keep a cappella singing alive. Our primary target audience is not the most gifted vocalists, who are already passionate about singing, but the beginners who either don’t participate or who have never tried to sing harmony before. We are finding the results can be amazing!
We encourage churches to establish “new song” classes in which every person is encouraged to sit by voice part with basses, altos, sopranos or tenors. Teaching new songs should be a regular and frequent objective of growing churches. Using training CDs on a daily basis (in cars, homes, etc.) to reinforce the new song class will greatly accelerate the learning process.
In order to coordinate everyone to your arrangements, we urge everyone to use projected musical notation. We urge them to incorporate real dynamic volume changes in their singing, which can easily be facilitated by singing verses softer and choruses louder, for example. Additionally, when the song leader dominates the volume for the duration of the song, it dwarfs the contribution of the congregation, and unintentionally moves the focal point on the worship leader. This is why we encourage the use of a hand held microphone so the leader can “mix himself out” of the overall sound, and only take charge when necessary to drive the tempo and facilitate changes.
In this video, “God Of Wonders,” notice how the congregation is sitting in sections by voice part; lower voices on the left and higher voices on the right. By being “immersed” in each section, beginners find it much easier to learn to sing harmony by ear. Secondly, notice how we are working to sing the chorus, “God of wonders beyond our galaxy” louder than the unison verses. I am using the microphone to take myself out of the mix so that the leader is only heard when necessary, and the bulk of the experience becomes a culmination of every voice present. One voice (or voices) should not consistently dominate the congregational experience.
For those interested in hosting a Praise & Harmony Workshop, find out more here. We strongly encourage churches to send their gifted song leaders to the annual advanced training “bootcamp” available at the Worship Leader Institute. If your church would like to participate in a professional worship recording, find out more here. The video below provides more information from the volunteers who participate in the recording process, which happens at least once a year.
With so many uncertainties in the world, it's comforting to know that the basic tenets of the Gospel are as true as ever! Acappella sings "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" from the Beyond A Doubt CD. Now on sale for only $5 at https://acappella.org/store/acappella/beyond-a-doubt/
Fond memories are plentiful when considering the first time I attended the Tulsa Workshop, then known as the International Soul Winning Workshop. Sharon and I were college students when we made the long trek with family to attend the very first workshop in 1976. I can remember sitting in the middle of the Tulsa Fairgrounds Coliseum while gazing around 360 degrees, in awe of the sight of thousands of Christians of various backgrounds from countless places unknown to me. It was a pilgrimage of sorts. --Nothing like I'd ever experienced before. And then the singing began! My, oh my, what spiritual electricity was generated in that packed facility, surrounded by thousands of Christians, all broadcasting their voices in unbridled enthusiasm. Radiant joy!
The Tulsa Workshop
April 6-9, 2016 Check out the schedule here.
Hear Bob Goff speak along with so many other amazing speakers and instructors. Enjoy wonderful singing and recharge your spiritual batteries.
All ages are also drawn to the family-oriented Alaska State-Wide Lectureship.
The Alaska Lectureship is hosted in a different region each year. Last year, Sharon and I were fortunate to participate when it was hosted in Fairbanks. One characteristic of this gathering that was very evident was the appeal to families! Unlike so many lectureships that only attract the more mature of our number, this gathering reminds me of the early days of our young family trips to huge annual events.
This year, the Anchorage Church of Christ, who hosted the very first one in 1964, will be in charge of the 2016 lectures. To build upon this beautiful concept of families attending big events together, the Anchorage church has decided to plan the Alaska Youth Forum 2016 to coincide with the annual lectureship. This will ensure that families, who would like to participate in both events, are provided a convenient opportunity to experience both events while only having to budget for one trip. Here is an article from Bobby Ross, Jr. who wrote about their 50th anniversary back in 2014.
Last year, we enjoyed being with the Northern Lights Church who hosted the Statewide Lectureship along with a Praise & Harmony Workshop.
Alaska Statewide Lectureship
April 22-24, 2016
To register, e-mail Judy
As you would probably guess, every one of these annual events have a different personality. If you have never attended the Pepperdine Bible Lectures before, you owe it to yourself to follow up on a "bucket-list" trip to beautiful Malibu, California.
It's hard to believe the number of teachers they secure for this event every year. It has become a standard of excellence in programming quality. This year, one of the featured speakers is N.T. Wright, of whom it is said that he "is arguably the most important theological voice in the church today."
In addition to the congregational singing in the Field House, I enjoy leading a class in Stauffer Chapel where the acoustics ring beautifully for a cappella singing.
You will notice a thread that ties together these ten huge events that I'm recommending (besides the fact we plan to attend all of these this year) is that they all feature outstanding a cappella singing. Here's a photo I took from a previous lectureship:
Speaking of great a cappella singing, Ascending Voice happens every other year, and provides a compelling reason to extend your stay in Malibu for the Pepperdine Lectures one more week. For the week after the Pepperdine Bible Lectures this year, Ascending Voice will draw a cappella enthusiasts, scholars and experts from the most diverse backgrounds into one amazing symposium.
This year, they have graciously announced discounts for ministers and song leaders: Registration for the fourth international celebration of Christian music at beautiful Pepperdine University will be free of charge to ministers and song leaders. The only charge will be for food and lodging, if needed, and for TAKE 6 concert tickets ($40). All other events will be free to these registrants.
I can't wait to hear the Grammy-award winning TAKE 6 in concert that week in California. We eagerly that week because earlier that same week we have tickets for the Pentatonix concert in Nashville, TN.
It's hard to believe that thirty years ago we launched the Acappella Christian Music Seminar in Murray, Kentucky. We hosted a week-long event for a cappella enthusiasts that would later become ACAFEST. Today, ACAFEST is hosted on the campus of Lipscomb University in conjunction with their annual, family-friendly Summer Celebration.
Worship leaders for this event include Acappella vocalists, Kevin Schaffer, Steve Maxwell, Jeremy Swindle, Anthony Lancaster and Robin Brannon. In fact, every evening, Acappella will be leading a "sing along" at 6 PM, so make sure you arrive early for this special time of lively congregational singing.
Our ACAFEST class line up includes:
A Spirit-Led Guide to Worship Planning - Bret Morris
Making Music in the Hood! Come learn and experience the Journey - Terry Davis
Sing a New Song - Anthony Lancaster
Worship That Is Out Of This World - Mike O’Neal
Mike O'Neal has served NASA in studying the spiritual implications of space travel and is an outstanding resource for special Christian events.
Singing groups will include Durant, Acappella, Shadow Vox and Impression. Acafest / Summer Celebration is definitely another family-oriented summer destination that will bless your lives.
ACAFEST Summer Celebration
June 29 - July 1, 2016
If you'd rather choose the popular vacation destination of Florida for your summer getaway, you can choose Equip Conference 2016, which overlaps Lipscomb's Summer Celebration -- although ACAFEST / Summer Celebration runs Wednesday through Friday, while Orlando's Equip Conference begins Thursday and ends on Sunday.
How will I manage to be part of both of these concurrent events? I'll be co-leading worship with our son, Anthony in Nashville on Wednesday night, then sing with Acappella and teach Praise & Harmony classes on Thursday at Lipscomb. We'll fly to Florida as Friday, Saturday and Sunday I'm assigned to lead worship for Equip, directed by my friend, Phil Barnes. Equip happens every other year.
Equip Conference Orlando
June 30 - July 3, 2016
For those with significant overseas travel ambitions and who have a heart for missions, the Asian Mission Forum just might be the ticket for 2016.
Our first experience attending this event was last year's forum, hosted in the Philippines. This year, AMF will take place in Malaysia and will feature an edifying combination of instruction, worship and sharing. Dr Evertt Huffard of Harding School of Theology will be the primary resources speaker.
Sharon and I are so very blessed to meet Christians from numerous nations and fellowship with our brothers and sisters from across Asia.
Asian Mission Forum
July 28 - August 1, 2016
What an honor to be invited to lead worship at Harding Univerisity's 2016 Lectureship with the theme, "Holy, Holy, Holy." Attendance for this lectureship has been growing recently. I'm thankful to be a part of this particular theme and to have a number of assignments throughout the week. We hope to meet many of you in Searcy, Arkansas.
Harding Bible Lectureship
September 25-28, 2016
Oklahoma Christian University is a special place to Acappella Ministries. Every year, the Lectureship kicks off with an Acappella concert, a key note speaker and wonderful singing. This year, the theme is "To God's Elect": Peter's Message for Today's Christian.
We look forward to the "family reunion" that takes place every year in early October in Edmond, Oklahoma!
October 2-4, 2016
Although this last event happens in January of a new year, I had to mention another vacation opportunity for Christians who love congregational singing and a cappella concerts. The "Singing At Sea" cruise vacation will take place in January and promises to be an encouraging experience you will never forget!
Next year happens to be Acappella's 35th anniversary so we have a special time in store! Meet Christians from around the world and enjoy a cruise with a bunch of Christians! Sign up today.
Singing At Sea
January 23-28, 2017
Check out this link for the brochure cruise details.
One additional event that we regularly attend is Sunset's Vision Workshop in Lubbock, Texas. We enjoy being a part of this annual gathering designed to equip church leaders in God's work. Next year's theme: Not Ashamed.
January 18-21, 2017
Well, there you have not ten, but eleven big events that can bless your life. How about carving out time in your busy calendar to attend one of these refreshing, recharging and renewing events?
Some of Acappella's songs have been featured in concerts for well over 34 years. Since we teach songs by rote, it is not uncommon for arrangements to change and evolve over time. The ending of "I Feel Good" is an example of this. A few weeks ago in Detroit, we decided to sing, "Something about the sweet spirit of my Jesus" three times. Sometimes, the younger members of Acappella point out that the older Acappella alumni don't move around as much on stage, so we also decided to "step up our steps." We hope this infectious melody makes you feel good!
I cannot count the number of Christians that I have encountered who are reluctant to display joy when talking or singing about their faith. This is a far cry from one person who encountered Jesus and was seemingly unconcerned about decorum afterwards (see Acts 3:1-12.) Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
Did this video make you smile? If so, our mission is accomplished. We want to share this joy - - and music is a powerful means to do just that.
I believe that the human voice is the greatest instrument of music ever created. Harmonizing hearts and voices in praise to the Creator is the highest calling of mankind. Host a Praise & Harmony Workshop for your church and sponsor leaders to attend the Worship Leader Institute