Friday, January 30, 2015

#64 EVERGREEN by Honeytree (1975)

EVERGREEN by Honeytree (1975)
Myrrh (MSA-6553)
noun \ˌpī-ə-ˈnir\
One who is among the earliest to help create or develop new ideas, methods, etc.  

In early 1997, a group of eighteen Jesus Music pioneers gathered in a mountain lodge in Southern California for three days of fellowship and music. Think of it as sort of a Gaither Homecoming-style video for Jesus People. The brainchild of Dan Collins and Steve Greisen, First Love: A Historic Gathering of Jesus Music Pioneers was released on 2 VHS tapes, 2 audio CDs, and later on 2 DVDs. The award-winning First Love is a must-have for any lover of Jesus Music; compelling personal testimonies, vintage video and photographs, and sparkling musical performances combine to deliver an experience like no other. A review in the New York Times called it “stunning.” Terry Clark’s rendition of Let’s Have a Good Time (featuring Darrell Mansfield on blues harp) was certainly a highlight, as was the late Andrae Crouch’s retelling of how he first received “the gift of music.” But arguably the most memorable moment on First Love was Nancy Honeytree’s performance of a song titled Pioneer. The Holy Spirit filled the room and tears began to freely flow as Nancy played her guitar and sang these words: 

Pioneer, Pioneer
Keep pressing onward beyond your fear
Only the Father goes before you to your own frontier
Youʼre a Pioneer

Uncharted wilderness stretches before you
And you thrive on going where no one has gone
Still it gets lonely when darkness deepens
So sing by the fire until the dawn

You travel light, and you travel alone
And when you arrive nobody knows
But the Father in Heaven, He is glad you can go,
For those who come after you will need the road

And what you have done, others will do
Bigger and better and faster than you
But you canʼt look back; no, you gotta keep pressing through
Thereʼs a wilderness pathway and it’s calling you

Nancy Honeytree was indeed a pioneer. After surrendering her heart and life to Jesus (which we talked about in detail here), Nancy became a regular at the influential Adam’s Apple coffeehouse in Fort Wayne, Indiana, playing her songs alongside Phil Keaggy, Mike Warnke, Mike Johnson, and the earliest incarnation of Petra. Her self-titled custom album was picked up and released by Myrrh Records in 1973, and was followed by a second album, The Way I Feel, in 1974. At a time when Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Joan Baez and Carole King were popular on secular airwaves, the Jesus Movement had its very own “hippie chick folk singer” in Honeytree. Perhaps the best known female artist in the burgeoning Jesus Music field, she came to be known as the First Lady of Jesus Music. I had a chance to ask her about that title recently. 

I don’t remember exactly how I began to be called the first lady of Jesus Music," Nancy responded. “It’s kind of embarrassing really, but I am definitely one of the first ladies of Jesus Music!” 

Honeytree’s next album would make an indelible mark. Mark Allan Powell’s Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music calls it her “masterpiece.” The Ancient Star Song blog says that it is “one of Jesus Music’s most classic albums.” Blogger David Lowman says it’s Honeytree’s “best album” and “considered by many to be one of the Top 10 most important and influential albums of the Jesus Music era.” One thing’s for sure -- in 1975 Honeytree took a giant step forward with an album called Evergreen  

The album’s cover featured a beaming Nancy in a pine grove, wearing a denim hat and her trademark glasses. The photo was actually taken by Bill Grein, husband of Janny, who would see her own debut album released the following year. 

“The photo shoot was really simply done, as everything about the project was,” Nancy recalls. “Bill and Janny Grein and I just went out one day during the recording sessions, found a cool tree and took some pictures. If you look at my glasses really close you can actually see Bill’s trousers and his tripod, and farther back there’s Janny with her camera.  They were precious friends in the Lord and powerful ministers.  As for the denim hat, it’s in Mike Warnke’s collection of Jesus Movement memorabilia and I have a hat of his that was similar.” 

The back cover featured candid shots taken by Janny Grein during the recording sessions and feature Phil Keaggy in addition to Honeytree. Roger Sanders designed the cover. 

The album’s title was explained as soon as the needle dropped on the first song of Side One. To familiar acoustic folk and percussion, Honeytree sang these words: 

When the seed was planted in my heart
I prayed that I would be
Just like a fruitful tree
And grow evergreen
Lord, let me grow evergreen

Bill Puett’s flute accentuated the brief title track. 

The wide-ranging It’s Only Right has an uptempo gospel feel, complete with backup singers. It begins as an autobiographical song that talks about Nancy’s travels and her “burning desire” to sing her songs; the second verse implores her fellow Jesus People to “arise” and “do the best we can with what we’ve got”; while the song’s final verse talks about Jesus establishing the Church and His promise to return. 

Next up was the soft and tender (Lovely Jesus) Here I Am. The song features beautiful orchestration and was penned by Phil Keaggy. 

Phil Keaggy
Phil Keaggy used to come to Fort Wayne as often as we could get him to do concerts at the Adam’s Apple where I was the secretary,” Nancy remembers. “During the afternoon before he would play at the Apple, we would sit around in the office with our guitars and play.  He would listen to my new stuff, immediately learning and playing along with each song – imagine my delight!  I think Phil got a kick out of the fact that I was a pretty good guitar player and he would show me a few licks saying, ‘Can you play this?’  He taught me the beginning of Lovely Jesus, in fact the whole song, and said that although he had written it, he never heard it done by a male voice.  That’s how I got the privilege of recording Lovely Jesus.” 

It’s a song that speaks of complete surrender and devotion.  

Next we are treated to a set of songs about people from the Bible – Mary and Martha from the New Testament, and Ruth from the Old Testament.

Keaggy’s lead guitar shines on Mary and Martha, an uptempo rocker that points out the difference between the two biblical sisters, emphasizing the importance of spending time with the Lord.  

“One of my favorite things about the recording of Mary and Martha is the fantastic flute parts played by Bill Puett,” says Nancy Honeytree. “Then Phil gets going on a great electric solo and the flute comes back in… so great.” 

Ruth gives us a preview, stylistically, of some of the music we would later hear on The Melodies In Me. The music has a haunting quality (and I mean that in a good way) while the lyrics ask the Lord to “give me the heart of Ruth, full of faithfulness and truth.” 

Side One of Evergreen closes with another cover song, this one written by Larry Norman. Nancy revealed that it wasn’t her idea to record the song, but she’s glad she did. 

Billy Ray Hearn, who produced Evergreen, was the one who came up with the idea of my recording Larry Norman’s I Am Your Servant,” Nancy recalls. “That was just the Lord.  I have heard so many testimonies of people who decided to serve the Lord with their whole lives as a result of listening to that song.  If I had to pick out just one song to represent the heart of the Jesus Movement it would be I Am Your Servant.” 

That’s high praise from a songwriter of Nancy’s caliber. Norman’s signature version of the song would be released a year later on his In Another Land album. But for many, it’s Honeytree’s version that they heard first and love the best. 

The track begins with Nancy singing acapella in a plaintive voice… 

I am a servant, I am listening for my name
I sit here waiting, I've been looking at the game
That I've been playing, and I've been staying much the same
When you are lonely, you're the only one to blame

I am a servant, I am waiting for the call
I've been unfaithful, so I sit here in the hall
How can You use me when I've never given all
How can You choose me when You know I'd quickly fall

So You feed my soul and You make me grow
And You let me know You love me
And I'm worthless now, but I've made a vow
I will humbly bow before thee
O please use me, I am lonely

I am a servant getting ready for my part
There's been a change, a rearrangement in my heart
At last I'm learning, there's no returning once I start
To live's a privilege, to love is such an art
But I need Yur help to start
O please purify my heart, I am Your servant

Evergreen was recorded at Superior Sound Studio in Hendersonville, TN with Bud Billings engineering. It was remixed at Creative Workshop in Nashville by Brent Maher, who would go on to produce and engineer six Grammy winning albums. Maher also produced Benny Hester’s debut album and is credited with discovering and developing The Judds as a country music duo.  

In addition to the aforementioned Keaggy and Puett, instrumentalists included bassist Joe Osborn, Jerry Carrigan on drums, Ron Oates on piano and organist Tony Brown. Cindy Reynolds added a little harp here and there. Nancy Honeytree herself played guitar on the album, and she gave Phil Keaggy credit in the album’s liner notes for assisting with producing and arranging the album.  

Side Two begins with two of the album’s standout tracks. 

Rattle Me, Shake Me comes across as a bit of a novelty song. According to Nancy, it was written in an unorthodox fashion. 

Rattle Me Shake Me was made up to keep me awake while driving at night,” she recalls. “The scenarios were fictional, but the experience (of somebody thinking I was high because I was so happy in the Lord) was mine.  After I got saved during my senior year of high school I worked as a Girl Scout camp counselor for the summer.  I taught all my kids to pray if they got homesick and the Lord gave us a spirit of joy in our unit.  My superiors at the camp were very suspicious (I later found out) and had people watching me to see if I was doing dope or doping my kids!  I was so in love with Jesus and was just witnessing to everyone without any sensitivity to whether it was appropriate or not – which caused a lot of controversy.  But the Lord used it by His grace because everyone kept talking about it so much that eventually quite a few of the ‘opposition’ got saved!” 

Rattle Me, Shake Me became a huge favorite of Honeytree’s audiences. She still performs it to this day. I don’t think she’d ever be allowed to stop singing that song even if she wanted to! 

Searchlight is another song with an interesting story behind it.

“Searchlight was written on a long road trip out west,” Nancy said. “We went to Nevada and as we were driving along endless blank desert miles there suddenly appeared a green interstate sign for the town Searchlight, which seared into my head by the sheer visual contrast.  Later in my hotel room in I wrote the song Searchlight.”

Searchlight, turn your beam on me
When I’m not what I seem to be
When darkness creeps in
Turn your light on my sin
Oh, searchlight, turn your beam on me

Jesus, when my life is done
And You call me to Your throne
How I long to hear You say
On that Resurrection Day
Oh, welcome, my child
Welcome home

This one had a bit of a pre-disco rhythm and gave Keaggy’s lead guitar and Puett’s saxophone room to stretch out and shine.

Nancy says, “I loved the way Searchlight was recorded by the guys in Nashville and Phil Keaggy – such a great groove, the background singers were awesome and the string parts – wow!  The string and BGV arranger was a guy named Bergen White.  The singers included Bergen, Sherry Kramer, and Janie Fricke who later had a bunch of country hits.”

The upbeat Say You Told Me So featured some nice lead lines by Phil Keaggy. According to Nancy, it began as another type of song altogether.

She recalls, “Say You Told Me So was one of those songs that got inspired by some long forgotten drama in a dating relationship which involved breaking up and wanting to get back together – but the words were so perfect to apply to our relationship with Jesus and how we feel when we try to walk out on Him – we’re ecstatic to humble ourselves if it means we can be back together with the One who fills the deepest desires of our hearts!”

Sometimes I Need You was a gentle folk ballad, accentuated by Reynolds’ harp and Puett’s flute. This song was actually my initial introduction to Evergreen due to its inclusion on Myrrh’s double sampler album, Jubilation, Too! 

Sometimes I need you to be tough
Solid as a wall of stone
When my enemies gather outside
And I cannot fight them off alone
Let me hide behind the wall
So the arrows don’t get through to me
Like a fortress strong and tall
That’s what I need for you to be
Sometimes, brother

Sometimes I need you to be sharper
Than a two-edged sword
When my heart and mind lead me astray
And you know I cannot see the way
When I stumble and fall
And temptation makes a fool of me
Upon you I will call
Restore me in humility
And love, sister
Sweet love

Sometimes I need you just to be tender
Soft as a baby’s skin
Warmer than a mother’s smile
When my fears attack me from within
When you hold me let me cry
So I know my tears get through to you
To sing a gentle lullaby
That’s all I need for you to do

Sometimes I know it’s hard to tell
And it’s hard for me to tell you
Tough or tender I‘ll try to remember
That you need me, too
And I will do the same for you
Sometimes, brother
Sometimes, sweet sister

Sometimes I Need You became a favorite song of Joni Eareckson Tada,” Nancy remembers. “She and I would sing harmony on that one together whenever we were invited to minister at the same event – precious!”

Lullaby in Jesus’ Name concludes the album. This one also reminds me a bit of some of the music we would later hear on The Melodies In Me.

Day is done, gone the sun
But we need not fear
Darkness comes that we may see
The stars and know that God is near

Greater light rules the day
Lesser rules the night
Sun or moon, it doesn’t matter
We are always in His sight

Greater love hath no man
Than our Savior’s love
Jesus came to give His life
That we may know our God above

In the name of Jesus
I sing a lullaby
In His name I say goodnight
But never have to say goodbye

Evergreen opened a lot of doors – there was so much radio play,” Nancy said.  “I still love to hear the arrangements – it was just right.  That was such a creative time, songs just seemed to roll out.  I think about that now that I have to be much more intentional about writing.  I can remember sitting with Phil Keaggy in the Adam’s Apple office working out the basic structure for these songs before we went into the studio in Nashville.  His natural musicianship caused a beautiful flow to all the songs.”

Nancy Honeytree today
Nancy Honeytree certainly was – and is – a pioneer. Pioneers don’t stand still. They can’t afford to. As Nancy penned in her song, a pioneer has to “keep pressing onward.” She did clear a path and paved a road for those who would follow. And while those who followed were selling more albums, getting more airplay, drawing bigger crowds, and winning more awards…Nancy was pressing through without looking back. Because there was a wilderness pathway calling her.

After the success of Evergreen, Nancy recorded a live album in Dallas, Texas and then released two wonderful albums that we’ve already written about on this list – 1978’s The Melodies In Me and 1979’s Maranatha Marathon. After her “Jesus Music” era, Nancy became an ordained minister and developed a specialized ministry to singles, continuing to write and record. She also ministered in prisons for a time alongside Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship. After marriage and family, she shifted gears once again and developed an international focus, ministering in Central America and Pakistan. A 2005 album, Call of the Harvest, featured a reunion with Phil Keaggy and was available in three different languages.

With the totality of her life and ministry in mind, Nancy’s lyrics from the song It’s Only Right certainly proved to be prophetic:

No matter where the Spirit leads
You know I’m gonna trust and obey
And keep singin’ this song all along the way

Fun Fact: With this post, Honeytree becomes the first artist with FOUR albums on our list.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

#65 WHAT A DAY by Phil Keaggy (1973)

WHAT A DAY by Phil Keaggy (1973)
New Song (NS-001)
He has recorded more than 50 albums.

He’s been voted one of the top “finger-style” guitarists in music today by Guitar Player Magazine.

He’s won 7 Dove Awards, and is a 2-time Grammy nominee.

He’s one of the most-admired guitarists in the world.

And yet he is known for his humility.

It’s ironic when you think about it – being famous for being humble.  And yet he is. His skills as a guitar virtuoso are without question, but he eschews the stereotypical gunslinger, “guitar hero” persona. He always has. His gentle personality, unpretentious nature and humble spirit leave an indelible impression on everyone with whom Philip Tyler Keaggy comes into contact. And those qualities were evident from the time he recorded his very first solo album…before we even had a name for “Jesus Music.”

Phil Keaggy grew up in a large, Catholic, Midwestern family. He was the 9th of 10 kids, and grew up in an old farmhouse in Hubbard, Ohio. Needless to say, resources were stretched and money was tight. Which is probably a good thing in hindsight. Because if money had been no object for the Keaggys, Phil might’ve grown up to be a drummer.

“I asked my dad for a set of drums for my tenth birthday but he came home with a Sears Silvertone guitar,” Phil told Speed of Sound magazine in 1993. “I had wanted a set of drums, but my folks couldn't afford them, so I got the guitar.”

By the end of his fifth grade year, he was playing guitar in front of the entire school. He was off and running.

Keaggy’s guitar playing was not at all hindered from an earlier childhood accident that actually caused him to lose part of a finger. While climbing on a large water pump at age four, Phil lost half of the middle finger on his right hand when the pump broke and some of its metal parts came crashing down on him.

“I remember it very vividly,” Phil told Harmony magazine in 1976. “I can see my Dad running down the hill, rescuing me, and taking me to the hospital. I can recall having a white cast and bandage; it was gigantic! As a young kid, I was embarrassed about it a lot, especially when I was beginning to get into guitar.” He tried to convince the interviewer that as a result of the accident he’s not really great at finger picking.  “I use my thumb, my forefinger, my ring finger, and my little finger, and I try to put them to use the best that I can,” Keaggy offered.

I “try to put them to use the best that I can?” There’s that humility talking.

Christian faith in the Keaggy household was a bit of a mixed bag. It was complicated. “My mother was a very devout Catholic, but my dad was just sort of hangin' in there,” says Phil. “He was raised a Lutheran, but he didn't really commit his life to Jesus. He was a hardworking man, an iron worker. He put all his time and efforts into supporting the family.”

Phil remembers his mother as a generous, loving woman who gave all of her time to her children. “She brought joy into a lot of people's hearts, so I put wanted to please her as well as I could as far as going to church,” Phil remembers. “My dad didn't go. He'd just drop us off and then come back and pick us up, so there wasn't a spiritual unity in our family. My dad drank, which was a hardship for my mom, and all of us, too, and scared us kids a lot with the things that go along with drinking. Some people, they can't drink without being kinda mean sometimes. But I'm not talking down on my dad, because I know it was just the fact that he wasn’t born again then. He is now. He just didn’t have a personal knowledge of Jesus then, and so he became a slave of drink and it would take him over.”

Phil Keaggy (bottom center)
with The Squires
From age 13, Phil played in various bands in the Youngstown, Ohio area: the Keytones, The Squires, New Hudson Exit, and others. As eleventh graders, Phil and longtime friend, drummer John Sferra formed a power rock trio called Glass Harp with bassist Dan Pecchio. After winning an Ohio-area “Battle of the Bands,” Glass Harp landed a multi-record deal with Decca. Keaggy’s guitar skills and the group’s experimental sound helped Glass Harp develop a growing and devoted fan base.

As the Sixties gave way to the Seventies, Phil Keaggy’s musical future was bright, as Glass Harp released their self-titled debut with Decca, and began to open for such established groups as Iron Butterfly, Yes, Grand Funk Railroad and Chicago. But his personal life was very dark. “I was into drugs by now,” Phil said in the Harmony interview. “I knew my mom was concerned about me. My dad didn't know anything; if he did, he'd have hit the ceiling. The unity and discipline wasn't happening in our home, the Bible was not openly read. That was something you heard about in church. I was experimenting with LSD. I had done some trips and it was terrible. I thought it might enhance my creative ability in music, but it didn't. I once heard a tape of me playing when I was high and it was awful. The things that people do under the influence of drugs are incredible! It was like a nightmare. I had ‘peace’ written on my wall and I went around giving the peace sign, but I didn't experience peace in my life.”

Things were about to go from bad to worse.

“On February 14, 1970, my dad and mother were on their way to take my sister to her girlfriend's house,” Phil remembers. “At the time I was down in Maryland playing with the group and was high as usual. When I returned I received word from my brother Bill that they were in an accident, a head-on collision. The steering rod had punctured my dad's lung; mom was in critical condition and, as a result, members of the family came from Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, and all over. Dad was going to be all right but he was shattered. His world, his whole life was crumbling. Mom looked very bad but I thought she would snap right out of it, I was very insensitive to the reality of what was going on. I was living in my own world, trying to do my own thing, not really caring about people, just myself. I remember visiting her at the hospital and saying, ‘Don't worry, mom, you'll be okay.’ A week later she died.”

Phil recounted the details of that traumatic event: “I was in Mansfield that weekend playing. I came home at 5 in the morning and the lights were on as I entered the house. They told me Mom had died at such and such a time and I remember that I fell right to floor in despair. My whole world was shattered, too, because I had really loved Mom and I knew that she prayed for me and wanted the best for me. I began now to experience an emptiness in my life--right down deep, gut level, right where my spirit is. I felt I was lost and needed help.”

A close family member was about to steer Phil toward an encounter that would change his life forever.

“My sister, Ellen, who I hadn't seen for about three years, told me she had an experience that changed her life completely, a born-again experience,” said Phil. “She had met Jesus Christ and her life was changed. I just listened to her as she shared her experience with me. And as I looked at her, I saw that she had hope. I could see that she was reflecting peace in her life, and joy, and love. Mary Ellen was sharing with me and my younger sister, Geri, about how we both could come to know the Lord and have our lives changed. She invited us to an Assembly of God service one Sunday morning while she was in our area. I heard the Gospel preached and I responded with my need, I went forward, knelt down and said, ‘Jesus, come into my life.’ I knew I'd tried a lot of other things; I'd seen the other side. I wanted to see what God had to offer me. I knew Jesus was the answer.”

Phil Keaggy surrendered his heart and life to Jesus Christ on a Sunday morning, just two weeks after his Mom had passed away. He recalls, “I experienced a joy that morning; a burden was lifted from my shoulders and something new took place.” Phil also tells of having been baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1970 at a Kathryn Kuhlman service. “It was a beautiful experience,” he says.

“My life began to change -- even my desires that very day that I accepted Jesus were different.” Needless to say, life in Glass Harp was different as well.

“The rest of the band just couldn't figure out what was going on,” Phil recalls. “I liked them; we got along well and were united in our goals for the band. But something had happened to me. I began to refuse their dope.”

Phil began to incorporate his new-found faith into Glass Harp song lyrics. After a couple more albums, Phil gave the band notice that it was time for him to go.

Fresh out of Glass Harp, Phil began to search for what he called "a kingdom of God in the flesh." He found Love Inn, a Christian community in upstate New York. [We’ll have more to say about Love Inn in a future post.] He also spent a brief period of time as an official member of the band Love Song.

In the meantime, Phil says it had been the desire of his heart for about two years to record some fresh songs the Lord was giving to him. Unbeknownst to him, God was at work, gathering the people, the funding, and orchestrating the circumstances that would result in an album called What A Day.

Phil returned to Youngstown and met a recording engineer by the name of Gary Hedden, who suggested that Phil record some of his songs at Motion Picture Sound in Cleveland.  Meanwhile, a man named Al Stevenson agreed to back the album project financially. Stevenson advanced Phil the kingly sum of $2,800 and agreed to be reimbursed from the sales of the album.

On January 2, 1973, the What A Day sessions began.

“I spent six days in the studio with Gary,” Phil remembers. “Sessions were from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Everything flowed; there was no striving. Gary and I became good friends, and I didn't preach at him; I just showed him how Jesus had changed me and let him know how I felt about the Lord when he asked me. The Bible says if any man asks you to give the reason for the hope that lies within you, do it. I was able to do that, and a week later Gary accepted Christ on his own. Both he and his wife became Christians.”

While Keaggy was at Love Inn, he and radio disc jockey Scott Ross had discussed starting a record company that would be “totally for the Lord” and “guided by spiritual principles.” It was to be called New Song records. Phil sent the What A Day masters to Ross in Freeville, NY with a note that said, “This is the album and if New Song wants to release it, I'm all for it.”

In his Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, author Mark Allan Powell writes:

What A Day was one of Jesus Music’s first super albums – a phenomenal masterpiece that everyone (in the Jesus Movement) owned and that no one would dare disparage.

The album was co-produced by Keaggy and Hedden, and Phil Keaggy sang all the vocal parts and played all of the instruments on the record, a fact that certainly made What A Day unique. But what really made the album special was the spirit behind the music. There is no escaping the sense that you are listening to the joys and wonder experienced by a new believer in Jesus. Phil Keaggy was born again. And he was obviously thrilled about it. One reviewer called it an unpretentious, from the heart, expression of a love affair between the Creator and one of His sons.” “Effortless” is another adjective reviewers have used to describe What A Day 

Some of the earliest “Jesus Music” efforts exhibited a naivete that comes across as dated and, at times, embarrassing. Not true with What A Day. The “first love” nature of the songs on this album give it a purity and a simplicity that has worn well over the years. The simple yet profound lyrics are wedded to masterful melodic vocalizations, richly layered melodies, and chord structures that are certainly more interesting and complex than what Keaggy’s peers were offering at the time. Musically, acoustic guitars take top billing, while the more subtle electric guitars play a supporting role.

In the liner notes of the 1990 Myrrh re-issue of What A Day, Chris Willman wrote, “There’s a naiveté in the mostly acoustic What A Day that’s wonderful to re-experience nearly two cynical decades later.” Well, four decades have now passed, and the album remains an important touchstone from the early Jesus Music period that always brings a smile. If anything, the “naivete” (as Willman calls it) should challenge us to put away the negativity and the distractions of life in the digital age and refocus on the simple joy of knowing Jesus.

Joy is also reflected in the photos on the album’s cover. Keaggy appears to be dancing, praising God, worshiping the Lord and leaping for joy with an acoustic guitar in hand. The photos were taken by Bob Combs; Linny Cobb designed the cover.

The album opens with one of its stronger cuts, This is What the Lord Will Do for You. It’s a gentle, toe-tapper with enough electric guitar runs to keep things interesting. Lyrically, Phil discusses the seasonal “life anew” that takes place in nature and compares that to “life anew” that is available to those who are “born of the Spirit.” Phil also invites the listener to accept this free gift, available to all who believe.

The following track also presents the Gospel and describes Jesus as King of the Jews…One who is faithful and true…always by our side…always near.

Walking With Our Lord takes its cues from Psalm 94 and Isaiah 59 when it asks…

Is the inventor of the ear unable to hear?
The Creator of the eye unable to see?
Is His arm so short that it cannot save in your time of need?

The song concludes with Phil in full-throated praise as he sings…

Thank You, Lord!
Thank You, Jesus!
Bless You, Lord!

The next track, A Time and a Place also borrows heavily from Scripture. Ecclesiastes 3 comes to mind (“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…”) as well as Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 concerning God’s care for the birds of the air, and for us as His children. This song also brings a smile due to the carefree, very-70s verbiage:

And we can sing songs and play guitar
And shoot the breeze
And we can talk about the human race
After all, we are a part of it all.

Side One of What A Day concludes with a now-classic song titled Rejoice. It is yet another song with a Biblical foundation, echoing the words of Jesus in Luke 15…

Now the time of the harvest is near,
Don't be blind and take heed how you hear.
Now there are many saying which way to go,
And you listen but still you don't know.

He is the Shepherd that will give you rest
All ye heavy laden.
He who asks will receive and
All who seek will find Him

Can you dig what this means?

All the angels in Heaven above
Rejoice when there's a soul saved.

All true saints of Jesus Christ
Rejoice when there's a soul saved.

Rejoice would become a bona-fide classic when the iconic 16-minute version of the song was recorded and released several years later as part of the 3-album live set How the West Was One. But this initial version on What A Day certainly whetted our appetites.

Speaking of classic, the title track opened Side Two and has been a favorite of Keaggy’s listeners ever since. This song was my personal introduction to the What A Day album, having heard it first on the Jubilation, Too double sampler LP. Phil also re-recorded this one for How the West Was One. Knowing the backstory regarding the death of Phil’s mother makes the lyrics very poignant…

When we get Home, our Eternal Home
There'll be no more sick and dying.
No one is sad, no one is alone
And there will be no more crying.
He will wipe away every tear
From His children's eyes
And put a smile upon their faces.

What a happy day when we see
Our Lord in Paradise
Crowned as King of Kings.
What a day that will be
Oh what a day that will be!

What a day, what a day,
What a day that will be

What set this song apart from many of the “second coming” songs popular among Jesus Music artists was the tone and focus of the lyrics. While songs like I Wish We’d All Been Ready took a much darker approach, Phil’s outlook was one of sheer joy at the thought of being in his “Eternal Home” with his Lord. What A Day remains a staple of Keaggy’s concerts to this very day.

Now I Can See is a song that really speaks what my heart is saying,” Phil told Harmony magazine in 1976. The 5-minute track is, like several of the preceding songs, filled with Scripture.

Next up was a short instrumental piece titled Behold, All Things Become New that foreshadowed Phil’s 1978 instrumental masterpiece, The Master and the Musician.

Hallelujah is another standout track, and another song that was repeated on How The West Was One. The lyrics contain a single word – “hallelujah” – while the musical accompaniment is a rich tapestry performed on Keaggy’s acoustic guitars. It was worship music before worship was cool.

The album concludes with I Will Sing, a song that has proven to be prophetic…

I will sing, I will play to my King.
His right hand is my strength
I will stand.

There is an undeniable anointing on this album. ‘Anointing’ is a word that is mystical to many and, frankly, it scares people. But here’s how Phil Keaggy described it to Harmony magazine in 1976:

“When life goes into an album, life comes out,” Phil said.” There is a lot of music that is fantastic technically, but it lacks life and spirit. Jesus said, ‘The flesh profits nothing, but the Spirit gives life.’ I've got music that's fantastic musically, but then there's music that the Lord ministers through. He anoints it. The input that you receive is also your output. Its roots go back to influences in a person's life that have been good and pure. You know, when it comes to anointing, that's something only the Lord can do. He can use someone who isn't as talented or someone who is much more talented than I am. I encourage people to get into music, but I remind them to remember who's the Author and Giver of that gift. I discourage people from getting a guitar just to be like me. When someone is given a gift from the Lord, the Lord will accomplish that which concerns that gift. It's all for the purpose of glorifying Him, to build up the Body, to edify the Body, and to bring news to the fainthearted -- to those who are lost -- and to set the captives free.”

Phil Keaggy married his wife Bernadette in the summer of 1973, and then spent a period working and recording with other artists such as the 2nd Chapter of Acts, Paul Clark, and Honeytree, before settling in for a lengthy stay at Love Inn, effectively putting his music on hold for a period of about 3 years. Once free from that entanglement, he was off to the races.

Phil Keaggy today

Unlike all but a very small handful of early Jesus Music artists, Phil Keaggy continues to record and tour today, keenly aware of a Divine calling to share the Gospel through his music. God obviously blessed him with an extraordinary talent, and he’s has been faithful to offer it back to the Lord over the past 40 years. All the while, he remains a man of genuine humility.

He’s a rare breed.

Friday, January 9, 2015


Well done
Well done
Good and faithful servant, well done
When I see His blessed face
All I wanna hear Him say
Is “Well done.”

Andrae Crouch passed from this life on January, 8, 2015. I knew that he had experienced many health challenges and was in serious condition. But when I received a text from my brother letting me know that Andrae had passed, it hit me a lot harder than I expected. My mind went back to the early ‘70s and so many memories flooded my heart. As I just sat on the couch in our family room, watching YouTube videos of Andrae until the wee hours of the morning, I shed a lot of tears as I realized just how much positive influence this man had on my life, especially during my formative years. We sang his songs in my Dad’s little Assembly of God church in Phenix City, Alabama. I mimicked his piano playing the best I could. My brothers and I recorded Soon and Very Soon on our first custom recording project (released on vinyl, cassettes and 8-tracks!) in 1978. And we probably sang All That I Have a thousand times as our family crisscrossed the country in evangelistic ministry from 1977 to 1983 (and recorded that song as well). But it went deeper than that. Andrae had a joy, an anointing of the Holy Spirit that was contagious. His ministry allowed us to see and understand that there was more to music than just notes on a page. He was teaching by example.

I could go on and on about the life and ministry of Andrae Crouch. But there will be more Andrae albums appearing later on this list, and I can save my words for those posts! Instead, I’d like to share thoughts and remembrances (collected from social media) from those who knew him best and loved him the most. These comments come from fellow artists who run the gamut from Jesus Music to jazz to CCM to Christian comedy to alternative rock, illustrating the fact that his influence ran deep and wide. But we’ll start with those who actually spent time as members of Andrae Crouch and the Disciples.


Yesterday, my friend and mentor, Andrae Crouch, went home to be with the Lord. The most exciting time of ministry was when I was in the "Disciples." I met Andrae in 1963 when I moved from Mermentau, Louisiana to Los Angeles, California. He was already firmly established in popularity and notoriety. He heard me sing in a choir and said to me, "If I ever get a male group, I want you to sing with me." At that time, he had a mixed group called The COGICs. I owe whatever success I had in the ministry to the blood of Jesus, my Mother's and Father's upbringing, and the mentoring of Andrae and Sandra Crouch. Andrae was truly a musical genius. I was encouraged to write by Andrae. My time with The Imperials, Andrus Blackwood & Company, and currently with Andrus and Bingle would not have been possible without the musical and ministry influences of  Andrae Crouch. Winnie and I will miss you 'til we are together again. Right now you are with your Godson, Sherman Andrus, Jr., in the presence of God.

Sherman Andrus
Andrae Crouch & the Disciples • The Imperials • Andrus, Blackwood & Co.

Today my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord. Please keep me, my family and our church family in your prayers. I tried to keep him here, but God loved him best.

Sandra Crouch
Andrae Crouch & the Disciples 

I have been at the hospital with Sandra and the original Disciple Perry Morgan almost every day since Andrae was admitted on January 3rd. There was an overwhelming presence of God's peace that sustained us throughout these difficult six days.

In 1971 Kenneth Copeland told Andrae' about these four talented night club musicians in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma who were playing at revival meetings at a mission called "The Open Door."

When Andrae Crouch and the Disciples performed in Oklahoma City we were told that he wanted to meet us and hear us play. The members of our band were Harlan Rogers,Fletch Wiley, Hadley Hockensmith, and myself. After that night Andrae phoned me numerous times about joining his group. We finally said yes in July of 1972.

Andrae' is the one who told me that I had the talent to be a record producer and gave me my first producer's credit on Take Me Back. He saw something in me that I did not know existed. Andrae' got me started in movies ("The Color Purple") and in television ("Amen"). The list goes on and the debt is unpayable.

During Andrae's final moments here on earth, his sister Sandra and I called Kenneth Copeland on my smartphone and held it to Andrae's ear. Andrae responded physically when Ken was praying and God's presence filled the hospital room. Within the hour at around 4:20 PM Andrae left us for his reward.

All I can say is that I will always love you, Andrae, and "well done, good and faithful servant." I will be your sister's brother now.

Bill Maxwell
Sonlight • Andrae Crouch & the Disciples • Koinonia

Sad to hear of the death of Andrae Crouch. Andrae had a profound impact on Gospel music and his songs live on. His influence helped many in their musical careers including mine. You will be missed, Andrae. I would ask for your prayers for Sandra Crouch and all of Andrae's family, and also for Perry Morgan, Bili Thedford, and Bill Maxwell. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." Psalm 116:15

Harlan Rogers
Sonlight • Andrae Crouch & the Disciples • Koinonia

Now I know why I couldn't sleep last night. My friend of fifty seven years was trying to tell me farewell. RIP Andrae Crouch. Your life and music changed history's course for the world. I will always cherish the memories that we shared. A friend closer than a brother that will be missed and always loved. There are no words to express what I'm feeling. Rest in God's Peace, Sweet Prince.

Bili Thedford
Andrae Crouch & the Disciples

What can I say? There was life before Andrae Crouch, and then our lives after we met him. He was a pivotal figure for Kathryn Wiley and I in our early walk with Jesus, and even for the last 38 years when we weren't geographically close. There are so many words I could say about Andrae; he was generous, kind, funny, but he could be intense when he needed to be. He captivated audiences around the world by proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God, through the gift of music that God had given him. To be a part of that, to SEE the grace of God move in concerts around the world, was life changing. To God Be the Glory! Prayers for Sandra Crouch and the church family in LA. OK Andrae, it's your turn to pray for us now. We love you!

Fletch Wiley
Sonlight • Andrae Crouch & the Disciples • Koinonia

Deeply saddened but eternally grateful for the privilege of knowing, recording, performing, singing his anointed songs, praying backstage, sharing meals & laughter....precious moments in our lives with this amazing, iconic and humble man of God! There will never be another like him! Andrae' touched the world! "To God be the glory!" Prayers for Sandra and family and all those many Disciples! RIP dear brother!

Steve Archer
The Archers

Lord, thank You for the music and ministry of Andrae Crouch. I know You will enjoy him in Heaven as we have here on earth!

I remember doing some concerts and festivals with him back when I was getting started in Christian music in the mid 70's. At one festival there was no room in the audience for me to see him so Andrae said, "Come sit with me on stage!" So there I was on stage, sitting partly under his keyboard. I think I can still hear that monitor ringing in my ears! See you later, dear brother! 

Scott Wesley Brown

The man whose songs created the contemporary Christian music movement, the man who inspired a generation to first shout, "I love Jesus yes I do, I love Jesus how about you?" and the man who brought me to Christ 29 years ago, has left his body to be with the Lord that he sung about so effectively for 50 years. My heart is broken tonight in 1,000 pieces. I was just with him a month ago, laughing, joking, prophesying over each other and listening to each others' songs.

Over a year ago I had refused to go into chemotherapy treatment for cancer. I accepted that it was my time to go and was ready. Then Andrae called me. It had been 6 months since I was diagnosed and I had no emotion about it. Never cried, never complained to God, never got mad. I was just numb. Then Andrae asked me in that gravelly voice of his, "How's your faith my son?" And of all people in this world he was the only one who could reach back 30 years, look deep into my spirit like the first day he birthed me into the Kingdom and bring out the honesty in me. I told him, "Andrae, Jesus blood may have never lost its power but I think mine just did." He laughed. I said, "I'm hurt. I don't know why God would have me exit this life in such a brutal fashion." Then he just said, "Let me pray for you," and as he began to pray I felt the anointing fill the car I was driving and I broke down for the first time since I was told I was going to die 6 months earlier. I had to pull my car over because I couldn't see through my tears. Andrae convinced me there was more for me to do and I decided right then to go into treatment, get healthy again and run into the next chapter of my life. I'm alive today because my father in the faith, as he did in 1976, put my life back on track again. 


Last night (Jan 8th) one of my biggest musical influences, Andraé Crouch, went home to be with Jesus.  Songs like Through It All, Soon And Very Soon, I Don't Know Why, Jesus Is The Answer, and My Tribute are just a few of his songs that helped shape my understanding of the power of music, especially when it's being written and played for the glory of God. I'm praying for his family and friends as they grieve and ask you to join me. I'm so thankful that they can grieve with the hope and assurance that "It Won't Be Long" and we'll be going home to see the King and worship with Andraé again! To God Be The & forever!

Steven Curtis Chapman

Saddened by the news of my friend, fellow CCM pioneer and warrior for Jesus, Andre Crouch, passing away tonight. I'll always remember the early days of concerts and Jesus festivals together.... when he added Hadley, Harlan and Bill to The Disciples, it was all in the family. "Soon and VERY soon we are going to see THE KING! Cheers, for a short season.... Love you Andre! 

Paul Clark

I am heartbroken at the news of the passing of our family's old and dear friend, Andrae Crouch. When I was about 12, my dad, Jimmy Owens arranged and helped produce the first Andrae Crouch and the Disciples album. Andrae was frequently in our home in those days. I even remember one time when he and my mother were dancing a tango on our front lawn for the benefit of a nosy, very white neighbor. Andrae's music and ministry were always an inspiration to me as a kid. We were record label mates for several years in the '70's and sang for the same events and projects many times. Andrae was one of the most generous people I have ever known, always featuring others in his projects and providing for people when they needed a hand. Dan and I were married in Andrae's backyard. So many memories and lots of gratitude in my heart tonight. I really am happy for him, just a sad loss for us here right now. Praying for dear Sandra as well as Andrae's church and music families. To God Be the Glory...

Jamie Owens Collins 

The world has lost a gospel legend & The Archers have lost a friend, who helped us in our music ministry journey. Andrae Crouch... now in the arms of the One he wrote and sang about! Thanks so much, JESUS for sharing him with all of us! RIP

Janice Archer Cruse
The Archers

Andraé Crouch died yesterday, at the age of 72, but his songs will continue touching people for years to come. I was influenced by his music, ministry and work. I'll be praying for his family. I was fortunate to sing on Andraé's tribute album and visit with him a few times. I'll never forget him.Let's remember his songs. And a man that changed the face of Christian music.

Bryan Duncan
Sweet Comfort Band

Yesterday, late afternoon, my friend and brother Andrae Crouch passed peacefully into the presence of the Lord. He finally made it -- he will see his father and mother, and his brother. I feel great sadness, but it's just for myself and all the people who will truly miss him. He was an incredible inspiration to me and a whole lot of musicians of all kinds, colors, and ages. Soon and very soon, we will also see the King! Andrae will definitely continue to be a blessing to our dying world.

Fred Field
Love Song • Wing & A Prayer

Andrae was a "one of a kind singer/songwriter." He will be greatly missed. He had a child-like quality to his personality which never diminished throughout the decades. His songs and recordings will go on indefinitely. I'm certain that we will see this man in Heaven singing and worshiping God.

Oden Fong
Mustard Seed Faith

Now directing a heavenly choir. RIP, Andrae Crouch.

Steve Geyer 

Andrae's music was such an encouragement and brought so much pleasure to me. His legacy will live on down the ages.

Bryn Haworth 

Heaven's choir just kicked it up a notch! Andrae Crouch arrived yesterday. What an impact he had on the world through his anointed songs. 

Nancy Honeytree

Grateful for the Christ-exalting musical influence of Andrae Crouch whose “soon and very soon” is now.

Bob Kauflin

Wow. Such a legend. He will be missed.

Jon Knox
Adam Again • White Heart

Andrae Crouch was truly one of our leaders in Christian music for so many years. He will be missed. I had the honor of being in a few concerts with him over the years. He was so anointed and did it with such ease. What a great songwriter, too. Thank you, God, for his legacy. May the Holy Spirit comfort his sister Sandra and the rest of the family.

Karen Lafferty

In 1977 I received a phone call from Andrae Crouch. The offer came for me to play drums on a tour for him, as Bill Maxwell was unable to do so, due to deadlines on Keith Green's first album. What an incredible thrill it was to play behind a man that was SO GIFTED, SO GENEROUS, and SO KIND to me. Thank you, Andrae! I'll bet you are the only one surprised to find Heaven's choirs singing YOUR songs!

Alex MacDougall
Daniel Amos

...It was such a blessing being in Norway with Andrae. That was the last time I saw him. I have many great stories and quotes about our precious brother. 

We are gonna miss him so. I sing Soon and Very Soon at every one of my performances at the end of Stand By Me, and now Andrae is with his King and our King, and that song now is even MORE powerful.

I asked Andrae once, "Hey, how many Grammy awards have you won?" And he said, "Darrell, I don't know, man, but you know those trophies aren't even gold or even gold plated, man! Next time I get a Grammy, I'm gonna say, 'Give me the gold and give God the glory,' 'cause God don't need the gold and I don't need the glory!"

Well, precious brother, you got something much better than a Grammy this time. Receive your REWARD now in Heaven!

Darrell Mansfield

Andrae Crouch was very instrumental in the development of my love for music in the church. I first saw him in concert when I was in 6th grade...I was amazed. His song Jesus Is The Answer became my favorite, and was one of the first songs I ever performed as a young teen...learning it on piano and then singing it while playing. Later in my life I had the privilege of singing on a recording with Andrae...what a blessing. I am saddened by this news, but know the choir in Heaven is singing in a new way with the addition of this amazing man.

Michael James Murphy

The beautiful Andrae Crouch rests in the arms of Jesus now. I had the rare privilege of touring with him in the 70s with Erick Nelson. Andrae loved Erick as a man and writer. One night Andrae made us deep-fried chicken in his hotel room. The whole place smelled like grease and Tabasco. It was the best chicken I've ever had! What a joy to watch God work though him night after night and as a young woman, and someone just called to the ministry, I learned SO much from both he and Erick about what real ministry looks like. Thank you, Andrae, for leading so many to Jesus and loving Him the way you did. Sing to the heavens a new song, my friend.

Michele Pillar

R.I.P. Andraé Crouch. I got to open for him and the Disciples a few times with my first band when I was only 15 years old. That left a very big impression upon me and has influenced my journey ever since. What a loss.

Michael Roe
The 77s • Lost Dogs

Truly a legend, as well as a wonderful, talented man, Andrae Crouch has gone to be with the Lord. I did concerts with Andrae and his songs of worship were powerful.

Dan Rupple
Isaac Air Freight

One of the greatest compliments in the entire history of my career was the night Andrae' Crouch marched up to me after a concert we had done in San Diego, California (sometime in the mid-80s). He sounded almost urgent as he got "all up in my grill" and exclaimed "Man, you got to do a live album! Those people love you!"

On January 8th, Andrae' joined the long heavenly parade of brothers and fellow musicians that I've had to say good-bye to over the past several years. I didn't know him well, but count him as a friend, because he was always gracious and candid with me. We first met around 1971 at the Wayne Coombs Agency in Hollywood. Wayne's company handled concert bookings for Christian artists and Larry Norman and I were considering them for possible representation. I'm not sure exactly why Andrae' was there that evening...perhaps as an example of what the agency was doing with new, upcoming talent. But the vision is etched in my memory; here was this handsome young man in a bright red sweater, with a bright shining smile. He just exuded confidence and Godly joy. I thought to myself, "Boy, this guy is sure going somewhere great!"

Throughout the years, our paths crossed from time to time along the concert trail. I'll always treasure the rare gift of sharing a dressing room with him when we were co-billed in Valencia, CA. We did four shows a day for a full week at the Magic Mountain Theme Park. He'd come off stage and grab a towel to wipe the perspiration from his face and chest. As we'd sit together back stage, he'd start speaking, almost in "stream of consciousness" mode, pontificating about life and performance philosophy. I sensed that I was in the presence of greatness and eagerly gleaned as much as I could from the little gems of his hard-won wisdom.

In 2013, I signed on as part of the One Way Experience Tour. We were planning to play 36 cities throughout that year. I was delighted when I saw Andrae's name on the roster. I thought, "I'd do this tour just for the backstage laughter and road stories alone!" The tour coordinators had heart and vision, but they weren't quite able to pull all of the essential elements together. That May, much to everyone's disappointment, the tour was postponed indefinitely.

I saw Andrae' for the last time at a dinner party in Nashville. We'd all gathered with the tour team to pray and celebrate the upcoming ministry adventure. I had heard that Andrae' was struggling with health issues and, though he looked frail, he still had the unmistakable Light of the Spirit in his eyes. That night, as he was leaving, I stopped him at the restaurant door and we stood together for a quick picture. I'm so glad I did. I had no idea that it would be our last.

So long for now my friend. We'll sing to the Lord together again someday. I love you Andrae'.

Randy Stonehill

Let me "join the chorus" of praying for Andrae and his family as he departed this life to be with Jesus today. I only worked with him once at a Mercy Corps fundraiser. He was a soft spoken gentleman who loved Jesus with his whole heart and soul. He left a beautiful impression on me in Christ. He wrote Soon and Very Soon ("...We are going to see the King..."). Andrae's wait is over. He is now beholding the glory of God's love. We will miss you, Andrae! You were a gift from God in our midst. We will join you in Jesus, "soon, and very soon."

John Michael Talbot

Andre Crouch has gone to be with Christ. I was honored to have many backstage conversations with this gifted man, as well as a few treasured memories of visiting him at home. He was a legend even back in the 70s, so I'm sure his musical legacy will continue to be appreciated...well, for an eternity! Talented, sweet man!

Randy Thomas
Sweet Comfort Band • Allies

Welcome home, my friend. Your reward awaits you in Glory.

Mike Warnke

We have come from every nation,
God knows each of us by name.
Jesus took His blood and He washed our sins,
And He washed them all away.
Yes, there are some of us,
Who have laid down our lives,
But we all shall live again,
On the other side.

Well done, friend. Well done indeed.