Sprig Signs Worship Artist J. Reynolds

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Sprig is pleased to announce its partnership with worship leader, songwriter, and producer, J. Reynolds, who has signed to the Sprig Worship imprint.

“J. is one of those prolific creators who just makes all this incredible music, dumps it in your lap, and says, ‘Here you go. Think we should do something with this?'” says Christopher Hopper, label executive. “My answer was, ‘Uh, yes!'”

“He’s an incredible writer,” agrees Anthony Hoisington, co-executive and head of the Old Bear imprint. “He’s just so good at grabbing ideas out of thin air and making them work, whether for himself or the other artists he writes for. For us, [signing him] was a no brainer.”

A long-time friend and collaborator of Brothers McClurg, J. is no stranger to the stage or the studio. “This just felt like the right time to make him more visible,” says Hoisington, who also helped produce J.’s upcoming debut release, Fire & the Flood, slated for a Fall 2017 drop.

“His years of faithful service to the local church combined with his seasoned repertoire make him a valuable addition to our growing family,” says Hopper. •••

Ian Zumback Signs with Sprig Music

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For Immediate Release

October 26, 2016

Ian Zumback Signs with Sprig Music

Watertown, NY – Sprig Music is pleased to announce the signing of Nashville-based singer-songwriter Ian Zumback to its label roster. With his long music history and profound faith journey, Ian brings a wealth of seasoned life experiences and a rich songwriting and performance craft that embodies the Christ-altered life of the believer.

At the heart of Ian’s music is a desire to refresh and comfort others and to reconcile people to God.

“Sprig is very passionate about adding a dimension that serves a niche, if you will, of people that are yet to hear the Gospel,” says Zumback. “Meanwhile, other listeners may already be Christians but desire to hear a sound that’s a bit different than some of the other genres available.” And it’s this heart that label president, Christopher Hopper, is capitalizing on.

“Ian is bringing something to the table that’s fresh and tangible,” Hopper states. “His sound and his lyrics resonate with people. They’re raw, truth-telling lines that evoke this sense of, ‘Oh yeah, I feel like that too.’ It’s that kind of honesty that’s really made us fall in love with what he’s doing.”

Sprig is releasing Zumback’s first single, Murderer a Messenger, on November 18 complete with a new music video directed by Luka Iverson. The single will be available worldwide through major distribution and precedes an LP release slated for the summer of 2017.

“I couldn’t be more excited than I am to be joining the Sprig Music family,” says Zumback. “We share a vision consistent with each other, and I feel so privileged to share a place on the artist roster with my friends Brothers McClurg and Weston Skaggs.”

Zumback currently resides in Nashville with his wife, Susan, and their son, Jonah.

For booking requests, please contact Daniela Piña with Sprig Music Booking at (315) 788-0825 or fill out Sprig Music’s Artist Booking Form. •

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Weston Skaggs Signs Deal with Sprig Music

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WATERTOWN, NY – Sprig Music is pleased to announce our partnership with recording artist and worship leader Weston Skaggs. As the newest artist on the Sprig roster, Skaggs comes with a long history of ministry to the church, as well as a deep reservoir of powerful songs that we believe the world needs to hear.

“I am so glad to be a part of the Sprig music family,” says Skaggs. “This team is full of incredibly talented and Godly people who have made me feel welcomed and encouraged.”

Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Skaggs is known for his unique blend of indie folk music and American roots. Add to that his heart for the local church, and what comes out is a worship leader who’s able to paint pictures of the highs and lows of the human experience. His songs are deeply authentic and accessible, drawing from situations like the dramatic birth of his daughter.

“My wife, Amy, nearly died in childbirth with Paisley,” recounts Skaggs. “She lost 10 liters of blood due to hemorrhaging, and underwent a hysterectomy during a 4-hour life-saving surgery.” The implications of the surgery are far-reaching, as anyone can imagine. But Skaggs insists that God used the experience for good. “Some extraordinary things happen to someone who holds on to the love of God when the odds are totally against them. Only one thing can account for it all—the love of God in Christ Jesus.”

And it’s precisely from this sort of place that Skaggs penned the lyrics to of his upcoming LP Joy & Sorrow Meet. “Out of the wreck I rise,” he says, “every single time.” The album pre-releases on Friday July 22, 2016 exclusively at Kingdom Bound at Darien Lake, NY with a full release the following Friday, July 29 on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play, and physically at Sprig Music Store.

“Being a church-founded, artist-centric label means that Sprig has no conflict of interest to tamper with their artists’ songs and personal calling,” Skaggs adds. “This has allowed me to feel very settled and free to create the most true expression of my art in the studio.”

For more information on Weston Skaggs, please visit sprigmusic.com/artists. For media interviews and booking, please contact Daniela Piña (315) 788-0825. •

Brothers McClurg to Release Christmas Album

WATERTOWN, NY – Sprig Music is pleased to announce that Brothers McClurg will release a new Christmas album entitled “Goin’ Back To Bethlehem,” on November 27, 2015, featuring a collection of brand new material as well as revisiting some old standards.

In conjunction with the full-length album, we’ll be releasing six music videos over six weeks, beginning this Friday, November 13th. Make sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Facebook for up to the minute updates.

From the entire Sprig Music family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

Sprig Music Signs Drummer Sam Widrick

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WATERTOWN, NEW YORK – Sprig Music is pleased to announce its management partnership with drummer Sam Widrick. Widrick is best known for his current tour status with husband and wife duo Christopher and Jennifer Hopper, as well as for his studio performances on their current worship album Awaken. He’s also a weekly live drummer for New Life Christian Church in Watertown, New York.

Widrick’s attention to detail, dedication to excellence, and impeccable sense of timing make him one of Sprig Music’s favorite drummers. His playing is hallmarked by consistency and a keen ear for artistic nuance.

“Plus,” says Christopher Hopper, “he’s just a likable, easygoing guy. And that’s not as common as you might think, especially when under pressure on stage or in the studio.”

With specialities in rock, hard core, and pop, as well as a growing interest in jazz, R&B, and country, Widrick’s wide dialog of genres makes him an asset to studio and road acts alike. He’s highly prepared, diligent, and always brimming with creative interpretations and insights. He’s also versatile in large and small venues, able to adjust dynamically to environmental contexts.

“We couldn’t do what we do without Sam,” says Jennifer Hopper. “He’s the glue that holds us together.”

Please visit Widrick’s Sprig Music page for booking and endorsement inquiries.

Press Release: Sprig Music Signs Artist Michael Bahn

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Photo by Sabina Magdalen-Hillman

Watertown, NY – Sprig Music is pleased to announce its partnership with singer/songwriter Michael Bahn of Grants Pass, Oregon. Bahn is a prolific writer and worship leader who serves as pastor of worship and administration at River Valley Church (RVC). Along with multiple albums of his own original music, he’s worked with numerous notable national artists, including Lincoln Brewster, Logan Martin, Chris & Conrad, Phil Stacey, Don Moen, Brandon Bee, Kate White, and Brothers McClurg.

Bahn is currently recording his third album, his first with Sprig Music, slated for a fourth quarter 2015 release. The album, produced by Chris and Anthony Hoisington of Brothers McClurg fame, will be prefaced with a new single “Rejoice” for airplay during the Christmas holiday.

Sprig Music is excited to produce and promote Bahn’s songs, all of which are designed to be easily accessible to worship leaders serving churches large and small. His modern vocal stylizing, instrumental proficiency, and dedication to song craft make him a musical inspiration. Bahn himself is a valuable addition to the Sprig Music family of artists as his love for people and desire for excellence are abundantly apparent in his work, as his his love for his wife and children.

To learn more about Michael Bahn, or to book him for dates in 2016, please visit his artist page for more information. •

Artists at Kingdom Bound 2015

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We’re pleased to announce that two of our artists, Brothers McClurg and Christopher and Jennifer Hopper, will be performing next week at Kingdom Bound at Darien Lake Amusement Park. Both bands will be playing in the Worship Tent, and Christopher will be speaking and MC’ing as well.

Scheduled events:

Wednesday, July 22nd
PAC Stage / 6:00 pm
Christopher Hopper as MC

Friday, July 24th
Worship Tent / 8:00 pm
Brothers McClurg (Band)

Saturday, July 25th
Worship Tent / 11:00 am
Brothers McClurg (Band)

Saturday, July 25th
Thrivent Financial Galaxy Theater / 3:00 pm
Christopher Hopper speaking on “Kingdom Business”

Saturday, July 25
Worship Tent / 5:45 pm (but come early!)
Christopher and Jennifer Hopper (Band)

Brothers McClurg Featured on CCLI

Brothers McClurg on CCLI

We were super stoked to wake up over the July 4th weekend to find that CCLI’s Song Select website had featured Brothers McClurg’s song “Alive.” We’re continually blessed by the work that our CCLI family does in promoting inspiring worship music to bless the nations, and we’re proud to be a small part of the big picture. Congrats to Brothers McClurg! Here’s to many more souls singing the praises of our God and King.

Bringing Music Styles From the Past Into Our Present Worship

Bringing Music Styles From the Past Into Our Present Worship
By Chris Hoisington
Brothers McClurg

About two years ago, I started a search for new inspiration. You know, the sort of quest that any good songwriter will when you’re feeling dry and you’re seeking fresh musical inspiration. I wanted to find God in other forms of music besides the current modern worship music I’d become accustomed to.

I started by thumbing through my vinyl collection. It was in these beloved crates of aged musicology that I happened upon some old records that my parents had recorded in the mid 70s. The McClurg Family Singers.

I hadn’t listened to these records in over ten years, at least. But what I remembered of them sounded hoaky. The ultimate in cheesy, twangy southern gospel.

But I decided to give them a new listen. When I dropped the pin on their grooves this time around, the music hit my ears differently. I heard something in the sound that was fresh. It was old, but familiar. It was exciting.

I caught the scent of my inspiration, like a grandfather’s pipe smoke wafting in from the front porch.

From there, I began purchasing gospel records from the 60’s and 70’s, soaking in the sounds of Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light,” Elvis Presley’s “How Great Thou Art,” and the Louvin Brothers’ “Satan is Real.” They reminded me of those old songs I grew up hearing in church like “He Set Me Free,” “There’s Power in the Blood,” and The Gaithers’ “Because He Lives.”

I thought to myself, where has that music gone to? That good ‘ole sound?

Sure, we hear them every now and again, done at church during a special music time or in passing a road-side tent revival. And they’re alive and well at southern gospel festivals. But what about the church as a whole?

Soon after this fresh rediscovery of music, I decided to play the song “I’ve Got a River of Life Flowing Out of Me” during a Sunday worship service at my church. The results made me smile. I found that the older folks perked up and remembered how to clap, and the younger folks turned their heads, wondering what this “new” sound was. It was a glorious moment.

I think there are times when certain songs, even certain styles of music feel tired and need a break. This can be true of any art form, but especially of music. But everything comes full circle, and eventually we find a way to make old songs and old styles feel fresh again.

When I think of gospel music from the past, I think of our heritage, of a deep faith to draw from and pull into the present. These thoughts, combined with what happened that Sunday morning, made me think, what would new writing sound like if we brought that older style back again?

A few years back, Glenn Packiam, of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, called worship leaders to take a fresh look at liturgy in our churches—the structured, intentional progression of a Sunday service. He challenged us to try and bring it back again as an element in our services. To some churches, this was a totally new idea, while for others it had been one they have continued to do. It was in this challenged that I felt renewed passion toward these old gospel songs and music styles from Christian music’s past.

I started to realize that many of the vintage gospel records I was listening to were telling Bible stories, and some of the stories in scripture that you don’t always hear sung about in church. In a lot of ways, I think worship leading is like being a pastor. We are called to shepherd people into a real, honest and heartfelt experience with God. That’s why telling the Bible stories through song helps us reflect on the stories in new ways. It breathes life into the story. To help us understand the stories and what they can teach us.

Like a pastor takes a scripture and expounds upon it, we are taking stories from the Bible and expounding upon them through song. Bringing the story into the worship experience. Singing the stories of Jesus and what He did and how He interacted with people can help us understand Him in a deeper way. It can also help us see our life in light of the stories, which is exactly what a sermon does. Sermons and songs need to intermingle more. Often, our praise and the preaching of a sermon completely isolated, treated as two separate disciplines, when really, they have far more in common than we realize. Music can teach theology in fresh and new ways. Old Bible story songs teach people about their heritage, about the rich legacy of faith that we’re still benefitting form today.

Keep in mind, I don’t think this will work in every church or with every worship leader. Each of us has a unique voice and style, and the Lord speaks to each of us on how we should lead our congregations. I just wonder if we added more of those old gospel tunes and a return to that style of music, we may pull the older generations together along with us. As worship leaders, we’re called to serve our congregations as a whole, not just with the newest worship songs but also giving a fresh feel to some of the older songs as well.

Brothers McClurg has done just this with our last couple two albums, “Home” and “Around the Mic.”

We’ve tried to write with that old gospel feel in mind and bring it into the present.

And we’ve found that it’s giving fresh voice, not just just to our own congregations, but to the congregations we visit around the country.

These old gospel songs may be something you might want to try implementing into your own set. I would talk to your pastor about it and try adding a song or two into your set to see if it’s something your people might enjoy.

We certainly need praise songs that are straight forward and simple, that don’t focus on us but look to God, and I’m not saying you should stray from that. What I’m suggesting, however, is adding journey songs that talk about the road of life we’re on and help people see that we are real and honest people who go through the highs and lows of life. Music is a powerful tool that can connect people to Jesus like nothing else.

To start, I would recommend playing one gospel/journey song as people walk into church, then lead them in three songs of praise. Or at the tail end of your worship set, have them sit and share an older song while the offering is being taken. You might even end your service with one so that you’re not taking away from your praise songs, but rounding out the entire service. These practices are things that are inspiring us, and it may inspire you as well. Below is a gospel playlist of songs, old and new, to consider for your church.

Have you had an experience with this type of musical style in your church recently? What’s the response been like? We would love to hear how God is shaping your set list in different ways to help each person in your congregation connect with God.

Here is a playlist of new and old gospel songs to check out and enjoy.

Watertown Daily Times Article

We’re so thrilled to promote the story that the Watertown Daily Times did on us today. Couldn’t have hoped for a better piece. Thanks to Ted and Amanda for their reporting.

Peter Hopper Christopher Hopper Watertown Daily Times

Original source: watertowndailyties.com

Christopher Hopper Watertown Daily Times YouTube Interview

Video Interview: YouTube.com

First-class recording studio at Watertown church opens doors to public (VIDEO)

By TED BOOKER
TIMES STAFF WRITER
Photos by AMANDA MORRISON
TIMES STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

PUBLISHED: SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2015 AT 6:50 PM
UPDATED: SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2015 AT 11:51 PM

WATERTOWN — Bands and artists with big dreams now can create their albums in a state-of-the-art recording studio at New Life Christian Church, which opened its doors to the public last month.

Launched at the church off Arsenal Street in the spring of 2014, Sprig Studios has all of the recording equipment artists and bands need to make professional albums to be sold online and at stores, said Christopher K. Hopper, president of the business, who also is the associate pastor of the church.

To celebrate opening to the public, the studio is offering a special rate for clients of $45 an hour through the end of this year, Mr. Hopper said. The cost includes supervision from a certified engineer and access to the studio’s tracking, editing, mixing and mastering equipment. The 2,000-square-foot space can also be used to record live concerts in the church’s 500-seat auditorium. He said the business reserves the right to deny the recording of music with explicit language that describes illegal activities, such as drug use and abusive behavior.

Built on multiple elevations and adjacent to the auditorium, the studio took nearly three years to design and build, Mr. Hopper, 36, said during a tour of the space Friday.

Mr. Hopper said he teamed up to design the studio with his father, Peter K., who serves as the chief studio engineer. He said the 68-year-old, who has more than 50 years of experience in the recording industry and owned a studio in Ithaca for three decades, was persuaded in 2011 to sell his business and move to Watertown to help launch the studio.

“Being a pastor at New Life, I wanted to champion the cause of the church being an epicenter for artists,” said Mr. Hopper, a singer and multi-instrumentalist who was recording a worship album at the studio Friday with his wife, Jennifer L., a singer.

The studio is in an area that was once used as a room to show films when the building operated as the Interstate theater at Stateway Plaza. The church opened in the fall of 2008.

To deflect sound, the space features a curved white wall and gravel-filled floor cavities, while American red cedar wood and bricks were used as design materials for other surfaces. Edison light bulbs affixed to black iron pipes lend the space a distinctive look with a “steam-punk aesthetic,” Mr. Hopper said. A space-saving 14-piece “Jefferson staircase” leads to the studio’s loft, where music also is recorded. The steep staircase, made with blue spruce wood, was inspired by a design from Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president, who was a skilled architect; Jefferson County was created in his honor in 1805.

The Hoppers lead a Christian band in Watertown that has produced albums under Sprig Music, an independent record label for Christian artists. The band will be doing a worship tour this year, hosting live concerts across the country. Earlier this year, it finished legs of the tour in Europe and Latin America.

Mr. Hopper said other groups that also produce music under the label are Brothers McClurg, a Buffalo-based band led by brothers Anthony and Chris Hoisington, and singer/songwriter Meg Sutherland, whose executive producer, Douglas Gresham, is the stepson of the late author C.S. Lewis.

“One of her songs is going to be featured in the next ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ film,” Mr. Hopper said.

Church members are able to support artists financially under the recording label by making donations online and at a giving kiosk in the church, he said.

Mrs. Hopper, 31, said she and her husband plan in July to finish the band’s latest album, which will feature about a dozen worship songs. She said the couple will have a busy travel itinerary this summer.

“Our band will be touring in Massachusetts this month and next month in Connecticut,” she said, adding that they’ll perform in July at the annual Kingdom Bound Summer Festival in Buffalo.

Peter Hopper, meanwhile, said he hopes the studio will inspire Christian and secular musicians to produce quality recordings for years to come.

“We can record all kinds of music — rock, jazz, country and even rap,” said Mr. Hopper, who has recorded with hundreds of artists during his career. He said he continues to learn something new every day in the studio.

“Recording is like flying an airplane — you’re always learning something,” he said.

And he has top-flight equipment on which to learn. He said the studio, which has a mix of digital and analog recording equipment, features a custom-designed recording console built in Nottingham, England. The 72-input console has 3,196 different functions.

“Doing this is kind of like painting with sound and mixing colors with a paintbrush. Each microphone used for recording has a different sound quality and characteristic,” he said.

For more information about the studio or to schedule a tour, call 788-0825 or visit www.sprigmusic.com.
To see a video featuring the studio, go to http://wdt.me/recording-studio.