Andrew Peterson’s Resurrection Letters

By Doug McKelvey

On paper Resurrection Letters, Vol. I is a project that shouldn’t exist. The math doesn’t add up. After ten years of putting it off, ten years of feeling too intimidated and inadequate to write and record the project he instinctively knew could be the most important and personally meaningful of his career, Andrew Peterson wrestled a growing sense he could put it off no longer. After all, we’re only given so many years in this life.

 

Peterson’s twenty years of creative output as a songwriter and novelist had already served to articulate and shape the longings of hundreds of thousands of fans, turning and training their desires towards eternal things. His poetic and theologically rich expressions have been always honest, sometimes painful, ever restless, ever hopeful, ever human. He is the rare artist who clearly sees his talent, not as a reason for pride and self-promotion, but as a thing he is given primarily to steward in the service of others. And it was because of that posture of humility—and despite all his recent successes as a recording artist, novelist, filmmaker, and non-profit organizer—that the unfinished Resurrection Letters project was always present somewhere in the back of his mind unsettling him like a splinter under skin.

 

“Listeners asked me again and again about when I would record Resurrection Letters, Volume One,” Andrew remembers, “and I would wince every time.”

 

To put all of this another way, there are many artists who are gifted, and then there are a small handful of artists who are gifts. And Andrew Peterson is a gift to the Body of Christ. He has not pursued a career by asking what would sell well and seeking to cash in on that. Instead he has pursued a calling by asking what would serve well and then laboring to bring those expressions of beauty and comfort and longing into being. When he creates, he creates with a measure of fear and trembling, because he begins in the knowledge of his own limitations, never presuming he will be able to bring his work to any meaningful completion. So it makes sense that the project he saw as most necessary would also be the project he would feel most unprepared, even unworthy, to pursue.

 

“Honestly, as the centrality of the resurrection became clearer and clearer to me from a theological standpoint,” he says, “the less I felt up to the task.”

 

A decade ago Peterson had been so stirred by implications of the resurrection expressed in N.T. Wright’s Surprised By Hope and C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce that he penned an album’s worth of songs unpacking those epiphanies. For the intervening decade since the release of Resurrection Letters, Vol. II though, he’s found himself mumbling ambiguous and reluctant answers to that obvious, repeated question: “When are you going to go back and record Volume I?”

 

“The songs I wrote for Volume II traced the ripple effects of the resurrection,” Andrew explains. “They explored how it impacted my own life and hopes rather than being specifically about Jesus. I called itVolume II because I knew there was a more fundamental part of that story still to tell. The whole church, the whole history of our faith, hinges on Christ’s resurrection. But I didn’t feel adequate to the task of communicating that, so for ten years I’ve carried that insecurity along with the sense that I needed to bring it to completion at some point.”

 

Eventually, that time came. In the fall of 2017 Andrew met with his label Centricity Music and together they agreed on a deadline three short months away so the project could release in time for Easter of 2018. Now Resurrection Letters, Vol. I was on the calendar. The gears were turning and time and money from the label were being invested in anticipation of the pending release, so one way or another Andrew was going to have to deliver something. Problem was, those three months spanned a quarter year which was shaping up to be the most unlikely recording season of Andrew Peterson’s career.

 

“I came into the process with only two songs written,” Andrew explains, “and during those three months I had two trips to England scheduled, a trip to Israel, a deadline to complete the Wingfeather Saga animated film, and a deadline to finish writing a nonfiction book. I was also staging the Rich Mullins tribute concert, staging the Rabbit Room Live show, hosting the annualHutchmoot Conference, and coordinating and touring the Behold the Lamb of God Christmas concert. It really didn’t make sense that we could record Resurrection Letters, Vol. I during those same three months, but somehow, on odd days when I was home in Nashville, it happened.”

 

Happened is perhaps a slight understatement. Three months later Peterson had managed to record fourteen new songs. At that point a decision was made to split the project into a five-song EP and a nine-song album, partly because of the number of songs, and partly because of the subject matter. Most of the songs were about Christ’s resurrection, but a handful centered instead on his crucifixion.

 

“My dream was always that Resurrection Letters, Vol. Iwould be a record you would listen to on Easter Sunday,” Andrew says, “so I wanted it to feel like a celebration. Early on I imagined a three-part structure following the line from the Anglican liturgy ‘Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.’ But once everything was recorded it just didn’t feel right to open the project with “Last Words (Tenebrae)”(a song based on Christ’s final utterances on the cross) and then to spend five songs contemplating his death. So we split it. The Prologue EP (Resurrection Letters: Prologue), honors the necessary darkness of the cross and becomes a musical meditation for Passion Week and Good Friday, allowing Resurrection Letters, Vol. I to be the pure Easter celebration we envisioned.”

 

Much of the credit for the prolific song output during those three months, Peterson says, goes to producer Ben Shive (Ellie Holcomb, Colony House, Mercy Me). Shive stepped up to shepherd the project through Andrew’s frequent absences. Having produced Resurrection Letters, Vol. II a decade earlier and toured for years with Andrew, Ben was the obvious choice. “He understood more than anyone else what we were trying to do,” Andrew says. “Plus, Ben Shive knows scripture better than any friend I have, which is essential for a project like this. He even wrote two of the songs and co-wrote another three.”

 

Shive had also split production credits on Peterson’s last two studio projects, Light for the Lost Boy andThe Burning Edge of Dawn. Those albums were autobiographical, dealing in large part with Andrew’s “long, dark journey” through a three-year depression.

 

“One of the reasons I love doing the Behold the Lamb of God tour every year,” Andrew says, “is that it feels really good to spend a month of the year not singing about me and my story, but instead singing words from scripture about the Lamb of God. After four years spent writing and singing songs about my own struggles, to spend this season writing and singing about the death and resurrection of Jesus felt like a culmination of that hard journey. When I die, I’m not interested in people saying that I told my own story well, except in how the telling of my own journey might have drawn them to a deeper understanding of the gospel.Resurrection Letters, Vol. I is a distillation of that hope.”

 

Such hope is articulated most clearly in the first single and video “Is He Worthy?” Drawn from the fifth chapter of Revelation, the song is structured as a sort of liturgy set to music, utilizing a call and response format that invites listeners to become participants. It isn’t difficult to imagine that “Is He Worthy?” might be printed in hymnals 200 years from now. The poetic, catechismal lyric begins in a recognition of the world’s brokenness and builds to a hope-filled and worshipful proclamation of Christ’s worthiness.

 

“When I sing those words from scripture, I can hardly believe they’re true,” Andrew says. “‘From every people and tribe, every nation and tongue, he has made us a kingdom and priests to God who reign with the Son.’ We’re told that we will actually reign with Christ. That is a mind-blowing promise. How can we even wrap our thoughts around it?”

 

The album’s upbeat, anthemic opener, “His Heart Beats,” likewise deals with an incomprehensible reality: that the resurrection of Jesus wasn’t only a spiritual event, but involved a dead physical body being restored to life; that a heart which had been silent for three days suddenly contracted and began to beat again; that the blood which had stilled and pooled in Christ’s veins suddenly began to flow again. “His Heart Beats” is a joyful meditation and triumphant declaration likely to be incorporated into many Easter sunrise services.

 

A third song that could similarly serve the church for generations is the psalm-like “Always Good,” written when a friend suddenly and unexpectedly lost his wife. Perhaps more than any other song on the record, “Always Good” is a hard-won confession of faith that lives in that expectant tension between the hurts of this life and the hopes of what is to come.

 

“I never cried so much making a record,” Andrew reflects. “What it really means to ponder and pray and write about the significance of the centrality of the resurrection is that the whole album is about Jesus. It’s about the person of Christ. Through that creative process I found myself loving him more. IfBehold the Lamb of God is about dusting cobwebs off the Christmas story to remind people it’s about the incarnation and the atonement for sin, then Resurrection Letters, Vol. I is the next chapter in the story, a celebration of what Christ saved us for. My hope is that these songs kindle a new longing not only in hearts, but down to our very bones and sinews—a tangible longing that we were made for this, for this coming redemption, for God dwelling with his people in a more profound way than he did even in the garden.”

 

www.andrew-peterson.comFacebookTwitter

 

Guess what? That’s a wrap! We’ve completely finished recording my new album, Thunder!

There were so many wonderful moments in the making of this project, and I don’t quite know how to put them into words yet, so I’ll try to be brief.

I put in several 12 to 15 hour days with producer Chris Hoisington and the tremendously talented crew at Old Bear Records. I’m moved by their commitment getting this album right, and giving me the time and space to find my own voice, to let me play several different instruments, and to express what is on my heart through music in new and unique ways. I’ve had wonderful times in recording studios in the past, but never anything as unique as this.

I have never been more excited about making music than I am at this point in my life. I put my all into this album. I played and sang my heart out. I laughed, I cried, I had space to pray, and to follow the Spirit’s leading. This is the gift that Old Bear Records gave to me, it’s why I wanted to work with these amazing people. There was an atmosphere in the studio that Made me feel we were creating on holy ground.

This picture was part of a promotional photo shoot that happened after we wrapped. I love dogs, and this picture represents the joy I found in this whole experience as Instagram sensation, Mabel the dog stopped by (Find her at @Mabel_thebully). This picture represent just one of the many moments in which I was surprised by joy while recording at Old Bear Recording Studio! To Chris, Anthony, Jeremy, Pauly, Ron, Sarah and all of your families, I sincerely thank you for all you did to make this project what it needed to be.

I promise you, this album is going to be something like you’ve never heard from me before.

There is still a lot left to do before the project can be released, including raising the funds to finish paying for the recording budget. One way you can help me to do that is by pre-ordered here at the link below. I need to raise nearly $5000 and your pre-orders of the album itself, t-shirts, books, and various other perks connected to the album will help me to meet the financial need. By pre-ordering through Indiegogo you not only get some great new music before the rest of the world does, you actually get to be a part of making the record.

I’m grateful for you. Thank you for taking this journey with me.

Blessings,

Rick Lee James

Pre-Order and Donate To My New Album Here:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rick-lee-james-new-album-thunder/x/17048881#/

Hello my dear fans, friends, and family,

On March 12th two big things are happening.
1.) I enter Old Bear Studio in New York to spend a week recording my new album.
2.) I launch a new Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to pay off the remaining $5000 of the recording budget that I wasn’t able to raise in the last campaign.
I’m writing you all to ask a favor.
  • It’s a fact that the more web traffic a campaign gets, the higher up its ranking will receive on Indiegogo, which means more potential backers get to see it.
  • Because of this I’m asking you to contribute to my campaign on March 12th, even if you’ve have given before on the previous campaign.
    • Even if you can only give $1.00 to the new campaign it generates more traffic, which helps it to be seen by more potential donors.
    • $1.00 really does help.
    • Essentially, 50 contributions for $1 is better than One contribution for $50 as far as driving traffic to the web site is concerned.
  • When others back a project, potential backers start to feel more secure, it seems to add a level of security and trust in an artist and their project.
  • PLEASE DON’T WAIT UNTIL AFTER MARCH 12th!!
    • Statistics show that those who are able to secure 30% of their contributions in the first couple of days after they launch from their initial crowd will more than likely be successful and actually get more contributions.
Successful crowd funding takes work and needs support, so I’m asking you, once again for your help. I literally can’t do this without you. I know many of you have already done so much, and I hate asking again, but these kinds of projects just don’t work unless everyone pitches in.
I hope you will be a part of making this new album.
You can find out more about it at RickLeeJames.com/Thunder and sign up through the Indiegogo link today to be notified when the campaign goes live at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rick-lee-james-new-album-thunder/coming_soon#/
With your help, I know we can finish making this album.
  • ONE LAST THING!!
    • See the list of perks we will be offering to donors at the bottom of this message.
Blessings,
Rick Lee James
Some of the Perks That Will Be Available To Donors On March 12th
  • Thunder – Full Album (Digital and CD)
  • Your Name on the Album Credits
  • Pizza Party and Live Concert Performance of the Album
  • T-Shirts
  • Concerts In Your Home

This Press Release Originally Appeared on ABNewswire

ARTIST RICK LEE JAMES SEEKS FUNDING TO CARRY ON THE LEGACY OF RICH MULLINS, THE ICONIC CHRISTIAN MUSIC SINGER

Musician and singer Rick Lee James is all set to carry on the legacy of Rich Mullins, the American contemporary Christian music singer, and songwriter, best known for his worship songs “Awesome God” and “Step by Step”. In the summer of 2017, in the middle of writing and planning a new studio album, James received a phone call from Rich Mullins’ first publisher Randy Cox. Randy kindly asked if there would be a place for some of Rich Mullins’ unpublished music on James’ new record. After hearing the Mullins’ song ‘Thunder’, James gladly committed to recording it. With the lyrics, “It sounded like thunder when you cleared the temple”, Thunder sets the tone for the entire project. This new album is designed to shake things up a bit.

To meet the financial needs for this new full-length album, James has started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com with a goal of $10,200. As an emerging artist who has been deeply inspired by the music and life of Rich Mullins, the project means a lot to him and he is ready to put his heart and soul into it.

Rick is a worship leader, singer, and songwriter, author, speaker and Podcast host with over twenty years of experience in the ministry. He also had the privilege to share the gospel through music to various venues such as the world-famous Ryman Auditorium and the National Worship Leader Conference. Even with the experience he has, James has both great elation and caution when approaching the music of a CCM icon like Rich Mullins. “Rich Mullins is to Christian music what Bob Dylan is to secular music”, says James. “There’s a great deal of pressure not only to be true to what Rich envisioned but to make something that his fans can be proud of”.

In addition to the lost music by Rich Mullins, this new album will be filled with James’ own original songs, re-imagined hymns, and congregational music that deals with tough issues like loving our enemies and learning how to lament in worship.

The album is being made at Old Bear Studio in Buffalo, New York with the popular rootsy folk group, Brothers McClurg, as the backing band. Rich Mullins’ song ‘Thunder’, and an original song by James called “The Love of Christ” have already been recorded. Once the album is fully funded, Rick will head back to New York in March to finish the project with producer Chris Hoisington. The funds raised from the campaign will be used to cover the costs of paying for studio time, musicians, engineers, photographers, videographers, and various other productions costs.

The backers of the album receive will various perks by supporting the campaign, such as free signed copies of the CD, personalized gifts from Rick’s private media collections, guest spots on the Voices In My Head Podcast, an autographed electric guitar, a trip to the recording studio and much more.

Information about the campaign can be found at Indiegogo.com.

Campaign Address: https://igg.me/at/RichMullinsThunder

Media Contact
Company Name: Voices In My Head Produtions LLC
Contact Person: Press Execuctive
Email: Send Email
Country: United States
Website: www.RickLeeJames.com

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CCM Magazine Tweet

First off, I want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.

Because I am thankful for you I want to let you know that “Hymns, Prayers, and Invitations” is available for free this week on Noisetrade.

The only way to get it is if you go to this link:

Noisetrade HPI
noisetrade.com/RickJamesMusic/hymns-prayers-and-invitations

And to help you get more Christmas shopping out of the way, I’ve put some goodies on sale over on Amazon. CD’s Books, and Live Concert DVD’s are on sale for only $4.99 plus shipping.

Buy in bulk and get a whole bunch of gifts for friends, family, choir members, and church worship teams.

Great for stocking stuffers, your bible study, or whoever else you think may appreciate the gift of music this year (and a huge THANK YOU! to all of you who have supported my music so incredibly this year).

Rick Lee James Sale Items on Amazon these links for only $4.99:

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Hymns, Prayers, and Invitations

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Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Through The Psalms (Paperback Book)

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Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Through The Psalms (Hardcover Book)

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Basement Psalms Live (CD)

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Basement Psalms Live (DVD)

Happy Thanksgiving,
Rick Lee James

CCM Magazine Shot_Thunder

I’m grateful to CCM Magazine for publishing this story/interview about my new music video, recording the unreleased music of Rich Mullins, and helping refugees. Linked below:

https://www.ccmmagazine.com/news/featured-stories/rick-lee-james-on-covering-mullins-thunder/

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Tour Schedule

 

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-jiyd7-723426
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In light of so many things happening in our world, not the least of these being record breaking hurricanes, Rick Lee James takes a few moments to consider DACA in light of Matthew 25. Who are the strangers mentioned by Jesus in this well known parable?

www.RickLeeJames.com

 

Rick Lee James Hear Now

 

I’m grateful to CCLI for featuring two more of my songs, published by Lifeway Worship. Two more of my music videos were just added to CCLI TV today. Special thanks to the directors of the two videos, Rick Stull (Christ Is Lord) and Jason Elam (The Invitation). This makes the third song from ‘Hymns, Prayers, and Invitations’ to be featured by CCLI.

CCLI is the easiest way to discover and legally use affordable media, content and resources while reducing the administrative headaches of copyright licensing search and compliance. … The best place to find licensed audio samples and lyrics along with vocal, chord and lead sheets from more than 300,000 songs of worship.
https://worshipfuel.ccli.com/invitation-rick-lee-james

&

https://worshipfuel.ccli.com/christ-lord-christ-rick-lee-james/


 

LISTEN NOW: https://rickleejames.podbean.com/e/voices-in-my-head-podcast-205-wiith-stephen-tobolowsky/?token=dd8834904f6cc49d97522da84db7a368

My guest on this episode of Voices In My Head is Stephen Tobolowsky. Stephen is one of the leading character actors in film today. USA Today listed Stephen as the 9th most frequently seen actor in movies; he has appeared over 200 movies and television shows. See here for credits.

He is best known for playing Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day, Sammy Jankis in Memento, Werner Brandes in Sneakers, Happy Chapman in Garfield, and Mr. Bates in Freaky Friday.  On television, he played Tor Ekland on Seinfeld, Hugo Jarry on Deadwood, Bob Bishop on Heroes,  Sandy Ryerson on Glee and Stu Beggs on Californication. He is currently on screen in Silicon Valley and The Goldbergs.  Stephen will also appear in Netflix’s new series by Norman Lear, One Day at a Time (a new generation remake!); season 2 starts filming in June.

He wrote and performed Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party and The Primary Instinct, and wrote True Stories with David Byrne and Beth Henley.

His podcast with David Chen “The Tobolowsky Files” is available at Slashfilm.com and on iTunes, and also previously broadcast on KUOW 94.9 in Seattle, on WFPL in Louisville, KY and many stations through Public Radio International (PRI).*

His first book of stories, The Dangerous Animals Club, is published by Simon & Schuster September 25, 2012.  His second book, My Adventures with God, is now available everywhere, also published by Simon & Schuster.

Fun Facts:

He performed with Stevie Ray Vaughn when Stevie was 14 and cut the first songs Stevie ever performed.

*David Chen’s update on /Film: Public Radio International Announces a New Radio Show Based on The Tobolowsky Files.

For the last 10 years, Stephen has taught Classes in Improv and Comedy offered through Kalmenson & Kalmenson.

If you are wondering where you might have seen him, Stephen’s many television and film credits are listed here: Stephen Tobolowsky at IMDb

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