John Schlitt was the led singer of the Christian rock group Petra from 1986 until the band's retirement in late 2005. During his career with Petra, the band released 2 RIAA certified Gold albums (Beyond Belief and Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out) and earned 4 Grammy and numerous Dove Awards. His travels and performances with the group reached all 50 American states as well as over 35 countries.
During breaks from Petra, Schlitt recorded and released two solo albums: Shake in 1995, and Unfit For Swine in 1996. Both albums were moderately successful and received positive reviews. After Petra's retirement in 2005, Schlitt and Petra guitarist and founder, Bob Hartman started working on an album together as II Guys From Petra. The album was released on January 26, 2007 titled Vertical Expressions. Hartman and Schlitt have performed several shows to promote the album.
In addition, Schlitt released his third solo project, titled The Grafting on 2008-01-22. Dan Needham, Schlitt's son-in-law, produced the album. The album was released with premier performances of the tracks "The Grafting" and "Only Men" by Schlitt on the program Celebrations. The telecast was aired internationally by the Daystar Television Network.
Now Schlitt has released his solo Christmas album "The Christmas Project." We are honored to be able to catch up with him for this Hallels' exclusive interview.
Hallels: Thanks John for your time. I must say I was blown away while I was listening to your Christmas album. You put the rock and roll fire in many of these Christmas songs. Why have you decided to do a Christmas album?
First of all, thank you for your comments about the CD. I think the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is my favorite time of year. I've always wanted to do a Christmas music album for this time of year.
Hallels: I believe "The Christmas Project" was financed through the help of fans through Kickstarter. Did you feel nervous when you had to raise your own financial backing for the record?
No, I wasn't nervous. There is always uncertainty when you venture into something like this.....but I felt it was worth the effort.
Hallels: I must admit I love your rendition of "The Hallelujah Chorus." What made you decide to record this classic song?
My producer, Dan Needham, presented me with this arrangement of the song and I loved it! I said, "We have to do it!" Then, he told me that he planned on me singing all the parts. That is the only time I had concerns....but I did it!
Hallels: You have a balance of traditional carols as well as new songs. Since there are so many carols out there, how did you choose the songs you wanted to sing?
These were the first songs that came to Dan and me as we collaborated on the structure of the CD.
Hallels: I believe "What Christmas Needs to Be" is the single off the album. For our fans who have not heard it yet, tell us what the song is about?
This song is the theme of the CD. It says Christmas is about Christ and we need to remember that!
Hallels: Speaking of Christmas, what does Christmas mean to you?
Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is the one time of the year a major part of the world recognizes Jesus Christ.
Halllels: What's your next project? Are you already planning your next solo album? If so, when can we anticipate the release?
As I am writing this I am so involved with the Christmas CD, I haven't even thought past that. I will say, I am excited about next year and what it may bring!
Your readers can hear song samples on John's SchlittShop page as well as purchase The Christmas Project.
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