Grammy winning and multi-platinum-selling Christian band Casting Crowns will perform Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Singer-songwriter Mark Hall and company have been together since 1999, and were formed through Hall’s ministry church.
“I’ve been a youth pastor half my life,” Hall said. “I’m still a full-time youth pastor right now, Sunday through Wednesday. We had a band just to lead worship for the youth group. Some men in our church said, ‘We want you to record these songs and put them on a CD.’ So, we went to a studio and made a CD for our church, and one of the college kids goes off to school and meets Mark Miller from Sawyer Brown, the country group.”
The chance meeting helped Casting Crowns find their footing. Miller listened to the CD and called Hall with the news that he wanted to sign the band.
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“That was about 13 years ago,” Hall said. “I remember saying, ‘If I can stay a youth pastor, I’ll do it.’ That’s how we got here.”
The term “Christian” music is fairly broad from a genre standpoint. Hall isn’t quite sure how to identify Casting Crowns’ musical creations.
“I don’t know if any band sets out to be Christian; they’re just writing songs like everybody else is, but it ends up being faith-based because of who you are,” he said. “Radio lumps you in. Mainstream isn’t going to play you because you talk about Jesus too much, so you just get stuck in this one little shoebox. I don’t know what we are; I’ve never really had to worry about it.”
Hall’s family started going to church after his father became a Christ follower when he was about 30 years old.
“I don’t remember my dad being that musical, but he joined the choir right from the start and singing solos in church,” Hall said. “I was maybe 8 years old, and music was always a part of everything we did. We’d be singing in the car, in church. I just sort of grew up doing it.”
Beyond presenting live music, Hall and company hope to engage their audience in a deep, spiritual way.
“All the songs are really interactive,” Hall said. “You’ve got all the words; everything is up on the screen. Sometimes when you don’t know songs that a band are playing, it’s kind of hard to be at a concert. So, we do all the favorites and the songs everybody knows. We’ll be doing some things from the new record, too, but we’ll be singing everyone’s favorites. And, if you’ve got a friend who’s sort of on the outside looking in, this would be the concert to bring them to.”
The band will release a holiday album after finishing their current tour.
“It’s coming out around Thanksgiving,” Hall said. “It’s one of my favorite times of year.”
Hall thinks anyone interested in having a night out with faith-based music will have a great time with Casting Crowns.
“If you’re going to trust us with a couple hours of your night, we’re going to point you to truth,” Hall said. “We’re going to encourage you. We’re going to show you that God loves you even more than you think He does. We’re going to make it about something bigger than music. The way I see it, we’re going to get to run a couple laps with you in your race at a concert. We’re going to make it worth your time.”
IF YOU GO
- What: Casting Crowns
- When: 7 p.m. Friday
- Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park
- Info: www.bjc.psu.edu