Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Voyage CD and New Official Website





"Voyage: Journey of Prayer" is now available to purchase. Go to christinedente.net to buy the CD, and to read about the songs. A digital version of "Voyage" should be available in January. The Facebook group announced there will be an album release event from November 27th through December 31st, 2009. For details go here.

New Cross Rhythms Article






From CrossRhythms:

"Out Of The Grey: The return of the husband and wife duo
Sunday 9th August 2009
Tony Cummings talked to '90s CCM hitmakers OUT OF THE GREY about their decision to return to the scene
Out Of The Grey
Out Of The Grey

For lovers of finely crafted, articulate pop music the news that Out Of The Grey are returning to the CD racks will no doubt be met with considerable joy. Since the husband-and-wife duo of Scott & Christine Dente went into semi-retirement in 2001 many fans have been pining for the group's particular brand of haunting art pop. Now the duo are back gigging again and have just cut an album that will be released independently. Scott Dente spoke on Mike Rimmer's Rimmerama programme about their first album for eight years. "It's something that Christine has been working on for the last four years. She wrote a collection of songs based on a collection of prayers called the Valley Of Vision prayers. So it is very different for us but at the same time even though it might sound a bit churchy, the music is very cool, there is actually some electronica and we are just throwing a whole lot of stuff at the canvas. It's turned out really well; I'm really excited about it."

The Valley Of Vision book is a spiritual classic, a timeless collection of Puritan prayers and devotions from the likes of giants of the faith like Bunyan, Watts and Spurgeon. It will be intriguing indeed to hear Christine's haunting, delicate voice applied to such powerful spiritual insights. Since Out Of The Grey stopped touring in 2001 Christine has released one solo album, the fine but sadly neglected 'Becoming' (2004) and, also in 2004, the 'Kisses From Heaven' project with Michelle Tumes and Susan Ashton, a follow up to the near-classic 'Along The Road' by Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker and Christine. Asked what she's been doing the last few years Christine replied, "As well as songwriting, I've spent a lot of time teaching my kids who are homeschooled. Our oldest is going to be a senior this year in High School so we will find out if we've ruined him or done great things. So that's exciting. But I see as our kids get older I will have more time and space for creativity and music."

Virtuoso guitarist Scott Dente has also been busy since Out Of The Grey went into a hiatus. He explained, "Doing sessions on guitar is something that I've done all along, ever since I got into the studio with Charlie Peacock for Out Of The Grey. He was always working on so many different kinds of projects and he was kind enough to throw me on so many projects including his own. Really if it wasn't for Charlie, I don't think I would know how to play in the studio as he was very patient with me early on, almost 20 years ago. I really love working on other people's projects, I get to feel like I'm on a team of specialists who go in for the day and operate on the patient and sometimes the patient lives and sometimes they die and then we move onto the next patient. So it's a lot of fun and it doesn't have all the pressures of being an artist. I get to work on a project and then those people have to go and do the interviews and all the touring with it. I've always enjoyed it and I still enjoy doing it a great deal but I'm also enjoying producing quite a bit as well."

Scott's deft guitar work on the recordings of acts like Sarah Groves has kept him in demand as a sessioner. Christine and Scott met at the Berklee School of Music in Boston where both were studying. They married in 1987 and moved to Nashville to pursue a career in Christian music. There they met Charlie Peacock and after signing with Sparrow Records they recorded their debut, self-titled album. Released in 1991 it produced a number one Christian radio hit with "Wishes" as well as several other success songs. In 2001 a poll of critics sponsored by CCM magazine put 'Out Of The Grey' at 47 on their list of the 100 Great Albums Of Christian Music. Such an accolade was rather ironic as their subsequent albums 'The Shape Of Grace' (1992) and 'Diamond Days' (1994) were even better than their debut, containing such CCM gems as "Nothing's Gonna Keep Me From You", "The Door Of Heaven", "Steady Me" and "Feels Like Real Life". 'Gravity' (1995) was another gem of poetically-tinged, thought provoking pop which the Encyclopedia Of Christian Music described as "a near perfect balance between earthy realism and spiritual rapture." By the time the 'See Inside' album was released in 1997, Brown Bannister had taken over production from Charlie Peacock. It moved the group away from the art pop sound of old to a more rock direction but again produced number one radio hits in "Disappear" and "Not A Chance". But then mystifyingly the duo were dropped by Sparrow Records. Out Of The Grey took a three year hiatus before returning in 2001 with the '6.1' album for Rocketown. But the duo's comeback album didn't click with US Christian radio and the duo slipped from view. . .until now.
Out Of The Grey: The return of the husband and wife duo

Earlier this year Christine and Scott began playing small gigs again. Scott has thoroughly enjoyed the experience. "We were out this past weekend and got to do a concert and I was really struck again by Christine's artistry and how beautiful some of the songs are and how much time she spends crafting lyrics. It was a lot of fun; it was just the two of us like it was back in the early days, just guitar and vocals which is quite terrifying by the way, trying to recreate those early songs just with the two of us. But also it was a great deal of fun and took a great deal out of me physically, strangely enough!"

So what have Out Of The Grey learnt over the last few years? Said Scott, "When we came off the road, it was both a combination of desire and lack of interest in the marketplace. In the last five or six years one of the things we have learnt is just how much we need to be part of community. We spent a lot of years on the road taking care of each other, in survival mode, raising small children and making records so we had to keep it pretty tight. Since we've come home we have really had a chance to dig into our church, into our community and have real friendships where people need us. If there is any message that sounds a little bit different coming from the stage when we get to speak it's telling people that they really need to dig in where they are and not have their eyes on a prize which is either 100 miles or a million miles away. The prize is all around them, being a blessing in their community."

After years of working with the CCM labels Out Of The Grey are happy to be "independent artists". Said Christine, "If people are interested to find us on Facebook we can let people know when 'Valley Of Vision' comes out and where to find it." Added Scott, "It's very grassroots at the moment, we don't have any 'people', no label and we don't have much of anything going on in that regards. But we are going to release the record and as soon as we have finished it I'm going to get on my horse and start to figure out how to pedal it as well. We will have some presence on the web and will try to figure out how to re-enter the arena. We are so used to being 'label-brats' that we don't know how to do much for ourselves!"

Such is the consummate singing and songwriting talent of this extraordinary musical marriage that even without Nashville CCM's marketing muscle I feel certain we'll be hearing a lot more from Out Of The Grey in the future." CR

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kisses From Heaven (old article)



(from Cross Rhythms)
"A special worship project bringing together three of America's most acclaimed singers, MICHELLE TUMES, SUSAN ASHTON and CHRISTINE DENTE has just been released. Elizabeth Cook reports.
TOGETHER IN WORSHIP: Michelle Tumes, Susan Ashton, Christine Dente
TOGETHER IN WORSHIP: Michelle Tumes, Susan Ashton, Christine Dente

If you'd been around Christian music in 1994 chances are you'd have been raving about the album 'Along The Road' by Ashton, Becker, Dente, a marvelous piece of pure pop featuring three of the greatest voices in CCM - Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker and Out Of The Grey's Christine Dente. Fast forward 10 years and a new album has emerged which recalls the former glories of that musical milestone. 'Kisses From Heaven' (released in the States as 'Lost In Wonder') showcases the return of Ms Ashton and Ms Dente, though this time they are joined by another hugely talented vocalist of the Nashville scene, Australian-born Michelle Tumes.

The album was producer by John Hartley, the Brit now living in Nashville still fondly remembered for the years he spent with pioneering pop duo Phil & John. He and Kingsway Music's label manager Stephen Doherty conceived the album after a conversation they had about the "purity of when a female sings a worship album." John Hartley explained, "We wanted to make a worship album with Christian artists and both of us cited 'Along The Road' as one of our favourite Christian albums."

Getting three of the finest female singing talents in Nashville to share the lead vocals isn't a new idea, but here the concept is given a clearer worship focus as each of the talented ladies brings her considerable singing skills to worship songs. Christine Dente, who only last year recorded her first solo album, 'Becoming', after a string of classic recordings with Out Of The Grey, said about the 'Kisses From Heaven' sessions, "It was fun to share the microphone again."

And Ashton insists the album is different to 'Along The Road' saying, "It's different in almost every way - musically it's different and there's no Margaret, so that makes the dynamics very different." Each of the singers took their turn at doing lead vocals with the other two providing harmony and backup. Michelle, due to start work on her next solo album soon, said about working with others, "I liked knowing that there were different shades of artistry, which I feel makes it interesting and has more of a sense of community. A solo album is so focused and at times stressful, because one is carrying a lot of creative weight. I really loved singing background vocals on Susan and Christine's songs."

Between them the three singers have sold in excess of four million albums worldwide and are all multi Dove Award winning artists and Grammy Award nominees. Although the girls did not do all the recording together they were glad for the reunion. Dente said, "I was very comfortable working with Michelle and Susan. I have known them both for several years and they are fantastic singers and lovely ladies to spend time with. I was glad of the reunion." And although due to technology they did not get to spend a lot of time recording together Hartley said, "What really stands out for me is the quality of the songs but also the enthusiasm and kindness from all three girls."

As well as the choice of the producer, 'Kisses From Heaven' has a strong UK influence with Michelle and Christine covering Tim Hughes' classics "Beautiful One" and "Here I am To Worship" while Susan offers a fine reading of Stuart Townend's modern hymn "In Christ Alone". But the project isn't all worship covers. The two original songs "I Believe In You" and "Your Love Falls Down", both co-penned by John Hartley, are amongst the album's strongest tracks.

Tumes picked out "Beautiful One" as her favourite song on the album. "It's my favourite because the meaning washes over you, reaffirming the love we have for Christ, and to me that is a huge part of worship. Initially this song was done in a low key but John made the decision to re-record it in a higher key which made the song come to life." Ashton felt the same sense of God's presence. "The whole process of being involved with this record has contributed to a major renewing of my spirit and I've really needed that, it's been a real gift."

That sense of renewal came through for Ashton in recording "I Believe In You". She said, "The first time I heard it, I was singing the demo of it for John Hartley and Chris Eaton. I was feeling fairly lost at the time, and singing it was like making an affirmation of my faith that I couldn't even really feel at the time. But as I sang the words, God's faithfulness to me was so real, I just cried as I sang it. I love that song, it's my song, and I hope it can be everyone's song who has ever felt lost." CR

KLOVE Article


Scott and Christine Denté (Out of the Grey)

How long have they been married?

Scott and Christine have been married since 1987, and have been writing songs together for 14 years. They have three children: Julian, 9-1/2, Carina, 7, and Chloe, 5.


How did they meet?

Scott and Christine met in 1985 at Berkelee College of music in Boston, Mass., where they were music students. Christine was a voice major and Scott studied guitar. "Our love for music overflowed into our love for each other," says Scott.


What attracted them to each other?

Christine: Scott's eyelashes [she laughs]. His are longer than most girls who have mascara on. Scott's sense of humor and his light heartedness are two major factors in my being attracted to him. But also, I have always called him guileless. He's the kind of person who doesn't put on airs and he's very honest. I think the Lord brings together two people who complement each other. Scott taught me that I need to pay more than $7 for clothing and I taught him that he doesn't need to buy a CD every day of his life.

Scott: Christine is a very compassionate person. She's very conscious of the pain and the struggle in the world. She's my moral compass and she keeps our family pointed in a godly direction. Although we haven't always had a family, those are some of the things that have developed in her over the years. You know, when we met she was a silly college girl and I was a silly college boy. It has been wonderful to watch her grow in the Lord and as a woman. I'm still madly in love with her!


How do they keep their romance alive?

Christine: We have lots of dates. Many times those dates are just after the kids are in bed. For example, sometimes we may light a fire out back on our back patio in our little outdoor chimney. I have to say, Scott is very romantic. He makes sure he tells me he loves me, and what he thinks of me, and how I look. He buys me special gifts here and there, and we buy each other cards and write poems to each other.


How is their family life affected by touring and is it difficult taking the children with them?

Christine: I have to say that being on the road with toddlers and 9-year-olds is different every time. It's neat to see our 9-year-old son working backstage with the crew. He is helping out with his flashlight and partaking of that experience. The girls look forward to getting a new babysitter who will teach them cool things to do with crafts. We have learned to go with the flow wherever we go.

Scott: I have seen Christine become more flexible over the years. On the road, we don't know what's going to happen next. I have seen that frustrate her. She will need to get ready for the show and the kids aren't situated and I'm occupied with preparations for the show. Christine has grown in leaps and bounds. We have come to a place where everyday is different and we just wait to see what will happen.


How does working together affect their spiritual lives?

Scott: We encourage each other. Iron sharpens iron. Christine is a great sharpener on anything that comes up, like an ethical question such as should we do this or should we do that? We're just able to communicate right away. We're living the same life together. One of us isn't gone for 10 hours out of the day. We don't have to debrief each other at the end of the day.


Has working together strengthened their relationship?

Christine: I think our relationship is the kind that thrives on working together. We meet some couples that say they would kill each other if they had to work together. Ours is the opposite.

Scott: We need each other.


Article courtesy of K-Love. (also the Christian Music Lighthouse Site)

Gloria Christmas (old article)

(from Thought Quotient)
Gloria - A Rocketown Records Christmas album

GLORIA - buy it now
In early 2004, Rocketown Records’ artists and a few other friends gathered on a brisk winter morning at Charlie Peacock’s Art House studios in Bellevue, Tennessee. Their goal was to capture immediate reflections on the Christmas season and to write freshly out of those experiences. What emerged were the blueprints for Gloria, a new Christmas collection that combines traditional music in new settings with several original songs that are sure to become part of new Christmas traditions.

Gloria addresses the anticipation that is part and parcel of the Christmas season: waiting… waiting for the birth of the Savior 2000 years ago and waiting today for His glorious return. The music of Gloria envelops the light and darkness of walking in expectation as songs range from the haunting but hopeful notes of “Prepare a Place” to the joyous summation of “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”

It also rests on the idea of community, a theme vital to the holidays and a concept that’s always been at the heart of Rocketown’s identity. Runway Network producers Charlie Peacock and Scott Dente directed artists and writers through the process of collaboration that resulted in several of the 11 songs on Gloria. Pairing the artists in unexpected co-writing combinations fostered both creativity and anxiety, but ultimately produced great results. “Co-writing with people you don’t know too well can be intimidating,” notes Peacock. “Our job was to be encouragers and affirm the good ideas we were hearing.”

With writing and performance contributions from Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Charlie Peacock, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Cindy Morgan, Ginny Owens, Watermark and more, this album is a must-have for any Christmas music collection. “For many years our loyal and faithful Rocketown followers have been asking the question ‘When will there be a Rocketown Christmas record?’” says Rocketown Records President Don Donahue. “For a while now we’ve been brewing up what we hope will be a collection of songs that fans will have in their homes for many, many Christmas seasons to come. We want this music to help each of us rediscover the true rhythm of the entire season through songs that focus on the anticipation and expectation that surrounds our celebration of Christ’s birth.”

Co-producer Charlie Peacock notes that the idea of Advent influenced how the artists wrote for Gloria. “Advent is about the season before Christmas, the first four Sundays to be exact,” he explains. “It is also more specifically about the arrival of Jesus, the Son of God. Advent got us thinking bigger, bigger than the single day of Christmas. It became for us an invitation to a season of reflection on the birth, life, cross and resurrection of Jesus.”

“I love the idea that the Advent season is a journey to the cradle of the Christ,” adds co-producer Scott Dente. “The Gloria record is filled with themes of anticipation, excitement, awe and longing.”

Those themes emerge from classic traditional favorites like “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” as well as from newly written original songs from a variety of writers in collaboration. “I liked the community aspect of Gloria,” says Peacock, “the fact that it was born out of Rocketown first with an invitation for others to take part. I can only hope that we achieved some of the cohesion that other Christmas albums sometimes lack. I trust we got more right than wrong by banding together the way we did.”

All various artist compilations offer the special challenge of creating a cohesive album from musically diverse artists, a feat apparent with Gloria as the styles represented range from the pop sensibilities of Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant and Ginny Owens to the bluegrass-influenced folk of Alathea to the modern rock attributes of Taylor Sorensen and nearly everything in between. In order to find common ground, the artists began meeting in early 2004 in community-driven writing sessions. Unique combinations surfaced from Michael W. Smith and Christine Dente (”Prepare a Place”) as well as from Taylor Sorensen, Alathea and Jars of Clay’s Steve Mason (”Love Came Just in Time”). Other new tracks inspired by these community sessions included Cindy Morgan’s “Follow That Star” and a song written by Wayne Kirkpatrick and recorded by Amy Grant, “God Is With Us.”

Scott Dente says, “All of these artists have a very strong identity, either vocally or stylistically, so retaining their uniqueness was never a problem. The trick was in combining their efforts to make a record that made a strong overall statement. A bit of a puzzle to be sure, but a lot of prayer and conversation took place to try and achieve the goal. We tried to weave a thread of continuity through the record by using sounds and musicians that could be constant throughout all 11 songs since the voices and even the styles of music would change.”

Not only do those individual artists blend together well on Gloria, but audiences across the country will hear those voices come together once again for this Christmas season’s Gloria tour. Currently being booked, the “Gloria” tour is expected to hit 15 markets during the first three weeks of December and will feature such artists as Ginny Owens, Watermark and Shaun Groves, among others.

Watermark’s Christy Nockels says, “It is my prayer that this tour will be a real meaningful time for all of the artists to worship, reflect and celebrate together. When I think about Christmas, I think about gathering together with people you love. It will be a cool thing to get with other artists and to bring that into different parts of the country.”

It’s a tour that makes sense for Shaun Groves as well, since it allows the celebration to extend beyond Christmas Day alone. “I don’t really feel like Gloria is just about one day out of the month. I think we hope that it is something you can listen to way before Christmas, getting your mind and your heart around the idea that there’s anticipation for Christmas. There’s anticipation to Christ being here. It made the gift that much more special because it was long awaited and felt overdue at times.”

Scott Dente says, “I just hope that listening to Gloria is a reflective and joyful experience that brings people closer to the wonder of the Incarnation of Jesus. I can’t wait for people to hear it.”

quotes: the artists comment on the making of…

Christine Dente
Christine Dente (on “Prepare a Place”):
I find in our culture it is so difficult to focus. I thought this would be a great song for me and Michael, and I thought it would be wonderful to create a meditative kind of sound to help people be quiet, to listen, prepare their hearts, prepare a place.

Amy Grant
Amy Grant (on “God Is With Us”):
I heard about Gloria through my manager whotold me that Charlie would be producing it out at the Art House and that Wayne had written a song. That did it for me. Work is a great excuse to be around people you enjoy. I liked ‘God is With Us’ the first time I heard it. How nice it is to have your attention grabbed right up front, and Wayne always has something great to say in his songs.

Shaun Groves
Shaun Groves (on Gloria, “O Come All Ye Faithful” and the “Gloria Tour”):
The Gloria record is an invitation to experience Christmas in a new way, putting Christ in the center of that, to come to this child in a manger as if it’s for the first time. Hopefully, it will help people experience that by showing the waiting that went on for Christ to come. There was anticipation for hundreds of years for this Messiah that was going to come. “O Come All Ye Faithful” is saying, “Come. The dream has been realized. The promise has been kept. The hope is really here. It happened. Some of us didn’t think it would, but it happened. It’s here. This is what we’ve been waiting for”… I had a blast on the last Rocketown tour. It keeps you laughing. I like hanging out with songwriters even though I like things that are pretty different than George [Rowe] or Ginny [Owens] or the Dentes or the Nockels. Still at the heart of what we do are songs, which means we aren’t the prettiest people, we can’t dance. I like being around artists that know that all we really know how to do is write songs. There’s a bond there that I don’t necessarily have with other artists. So if I have to be away from my family around the holidays and on the road, I like to be with people I really like hanging out with. I really do like hanging out with our artists.

Cindy Morgan
Cindy Morgan (on “Follow That Star” and working with Rocketown Records):
After we had our first meeting about the project and about the idea of Advent, I started thinking about the spirit of Christmas and about all the parts of the story that we know and then the mystery behind so many of the events, the small details. How did the wise men know? How did the shepherd boy end up following that star? What were his emotions? Where was he in his life? I started thinking about the shepherd who is lying on his back looking up at the stars in Bethlehem, wondering ‘what my life is about’ and the amazing impact beholding the Savior must have had on his life� I was involved with the Exodus record and A Night in Rocketown and have done a couple of Rocketown tours. It is funny; I don’t know why in the world, but I just love the folks at Rocketown. I connect with them creatively, and I’ve always loved the records they’ve done, so when they asked me I was thrilled.

Christy Nockels
Christy Nockels of Watermark (on “O Come O Come Emmanuel”):
It is probably one of my favorite Christmas songs; I love it. Melodically I think it is very mysterious. I really love it because it goes along with the Advent theme so well. That the Messiah would come and rescue us, save us and ransom us - I love that whole theme. I think it is beautiful to dwell on at Christmas time. It is a song of healing and recognizing where our healing comes from, that He has come to set us free.

Charlie Peacock
Charlie Peacock (on production of Gloria):
Though we wrote more songs than we could actually use, I think we ended up with the best combination. We were able to keep some in the mix that have a playful, celebratory mood like so many classic Christmas recordings. We put some very introspective and personal songs in the mix, too. The collaborations are some of my favorites, especially the Alathea/Taylor cut… All the artists are unique singer-songwriters. Still I have to reserve a special comment for Christy Nockels. She is a stunning singer.

Alathea
Mandee Radford of Alathea (on “Love Came Just in Time”)
The night before our songwriting day I was trying to think of waiting for Christ to come, and the line came to me ‘when everybody’s looking for a sign, love came just in time.’ I talked to Cristi [Johnson] about that, and she and I looked up in the Bible the story in Luke 2 about Simeon and Anna. Simeon was a priest and Anna was a prophetess who spent their whole lives at the temple. They knew they weren’t going to die until they saw the Messiah. I thought, ‘There’s no better picture of anticipation and waiting for Christ than what they went through their whole lives, living that out.’ I was really touched by this story about Anna. She was an 84- year-old widow. She had been married as a young woman for only seven years when her husband died. She spent the rest of her time at the temple praising God and waiting for the Messiah. Her tired, old eyes got to see her salvation and ours. Her story isn’t just the story of the day that Mary and Joseph came to the temple with Jesus, but the story of all the days that led to that one. Day after day of hope and belief that love would come, and He did.

George Rowe
George Rowe (on “O Come All Ye Faithful” and the “Gloria Tour”)
“O Come All Ye Faithful” is actually one of my favorite traditional Christmas hymns. I think it is a really rich and thought-provoking lyric, and even more so musically. I’ve always loved the melody and harmonies of it. So I was psyched to record this one… In terms of the tour, it’s always fun to be together, and we don’t get a chance to do that too often, maybe once a year. I’ll try to stay out of trouble.

Michael W. Smith
Michael W. Smith (on “Prepare a Place”)
I think it’s a miracle in itself for two people who have never written together to have a song within an hour. It’s just one of those things that happened quickly. I love it. I think Christine sounds great, and the song sounds like Christmas to me, like a hymn. I think I started playing the melody first, just put my hands to the piano and Christine came up with “Wait for the holy one” line. There was automatically a marriage of the melody and the chorus, and she got the pen and paper and started writing away.

Taylor Sorensen
Taylor Sorensen (on “Love Came Just in Time”)
It was Mandee’s idea, and I ran with it. She was thinking of different characters that normally don’t get thought about in the Christmas story. There’s just an amazing sense of anticipation. Anna and Simeon kind of represent Creation as a whole, especially the Hebrew people. I thought it was a good insight. We opened up Luke and started reading through some of the descriptions, observed what was going on and tried to put ourselves into the shoes of Anna and Simeon.