Venture3Media (V3M) launches its Simple Hymns series with today's (Aug. 30) release of Simple Hymns: Songs of Redemption featuring such well-known worship leaders as Pat Barrett (Housefires), Chris McClarney (Jesus Culture), Leigh Nash (Sixpence None the Richer), Dan Koch, Anthony Skinner, Aaron Keyes and more. The 10-hymn album is available at iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play and more digital and streaming outlets globally.
The first of several new recordings in the Simple Hymns series to release over the next year, Songs of Redemption combines classic Hymns with a fresh interpretation, some with additional lyrics, as well as new songs that have been written and recorded in a hymn-like style and focusing on the Majesty and Greatness of God.
We are honored to catch up with Venture3Media's president and founder Steve Nicolle for this exclusive interview.
Q: Steve, thanks for doing this interview with us. Tell us a little about yourself and your involvement in the "Simple Hymns" project.
I have been involved in the recording, distribution and marketing of Christian music for quite some time now. I started in Canada, owning and managing the largest Christian music company outside of the US for 25 years. When I sold that company to the owners of Kingsway Music in the UK, they asked me to start up Kingsway America. I then moved to the US, signed Jesus Culture, Bethel Music, The City Harmonic, Leigh Nash, Chris McClarney and launched Rend Collective. It was an amazing few years.
I started up my own company again, Venture3Media, and signed Planetshakers globally, which has been growing incredibly. The Hymns concept was brought to me by a close friend around a year ago, and immediately I saw the need and opportunity for bringing Hymns to a new generation. We put together our plan for the release of the recordings, and for the launch of Simple Hymns.
Q: What are the values of hymns? And why should churches continue to sing hymns?
The value of hymns to Christians around the world is really beyond comprehension. The lyrics have expressed so eloquently our worship, adoration and our hope. These lyrics have formed our faith and values for many decades, comforted generations in times of trials and loss, and have been a center point of our worship and praise. I think one of the reasons that churches today should continue to sing hymns is their enduring nature. When times are uncertain, and the future becomes less clear, that is when we look to hold to things that have endured the test of time. The hymns offer us an anchor, they remind us that God and his love is unchanging from generation to generation throughout the ages.
Now with the fresh new interpretations of these hymns, they can also bridge the different demographics of a church, giving each worshiper a lyrically inspired song built around timeless truth. The same lyric that has sustained, strengthened and affirmed the faith of many generations before us.
Q: Tell us a little about the vision of "Simple Hymns" and how was this project birthed?
Simple Hymns is really a response to the growing desire for songs with depth, songs that are lyrically focused. Also, Simple Hymns is a response to the need from smaller churches that don't have the large sound systems, lighting rigs and "A" level musicians. It's very difficult for these churches to pull off all of the musical and technical requirements of some modern worship music. Smaller churches make up 90% of the churches here in America. Outside of America, it's even a larger percentage that are congregations of less than 300.
With Simple Hymns, the goal is to reinterpret, refresh and bring these lyrical masterpieces into a more simple chord structure and melodic melody. Many of the hymns were written in a classical format that once again would limit how many churches could do them justice. With Simple Hymns we wanted to make sure that most any sized church would be able to play these hymns with the musicians they have. These Simple Hymns are also designed to be predominately acoustic by design so people can listen to the music or watch the videos as a backdrop to their devotionals or for times of reflection and encouragement.
Q: The first collection "Songs of Redemption" is now released. Why did you choose the theme of redemption for this inaugural release?
The word "Redemption" is a very prevalent word in the hymns. Because slavery was still very prevalent at the time of hymn writing, the hymn writers knew how powerful the meaning of the word "Redemption" is in Scriptures. Fanny Crosby was very vocal in her opposition to slavery in the US and spoke to congress and to many presidentS in her lifetime seeking to abolish slavery. I think today, this word doesn't hold the same inference or meaning, and it is absent in most modern worship. I think bringing the word "Redemption" to this generation is important, because it holds a very significant and enlightening truth to our faith. We have been redeemed, set free, through the death and resurrection of our Savior. I truly believe "Redemption" is a word and theological concept we need to revive in our expressions of worship today.
Q: You have got quite a range of artists singing on this new record. Who are some of them? How did you get them to be involved?
Yes, there are a great group of artists, who all love the hymns. Pat Barrett of Housefires sings Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone). Amazing Grace is one of the most famous songs of all time, and this new version has a chorus that was written by Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio.
Chris McClarney from Jesus Culture has been a longtime friend and has been a strong proponent for bringing hymns to a new generation. He wrote on this album and he will be singing on the next album, Simple Hymns: Songs of Worship.Leigh Nash from Sixpence None The Richer sings on this album as well. She is one of my favorite female vocalists of all time. I did a hymns album with her at Kingsway America. She loves the hymns!
Aaron Keyes is another artist and songwriter on this album. I released an album with Aaron on Kingsway America as well. He is a very gifted songwriter and worship leader. All of the artists on these recordings bring their passion for the hymns with them and I believe that has translated in the music and videos amazingly well.
Q: Were the songs assigned to the different artists or did they come up with their own choices and compositions?
In most cases, the artists themselves came with the hymn that they wanted to sing.
Q: For churches who want to sing these hymns, where can musicians and worship leaders find the guitar chords and lead music sheets for these songs?
The song charts, lead sheets, lyrics and Multitracks can be found at https://www.multitracks.com/search/?q=simple%20hymns
Q: Tell us about the future releases in this series. Who are some of the artists who will be involved? And when can we expect the second release?
The second release is Simple Hymns: Songs Of Worship and it is scheduled to release on October 4th. It will feature Mack Brock, Chris McClarney, Anthony Skinner, Abby Eaton and many more great artists. We will have a new album release in the Simple Hymns series every 5 to 6 weeks over the next year.
Most songs will also have a video as well that will be added when the album releases. You can watch the music videos on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBfLtHXZAGiunGsbtp41-Ow?view_as=subscriber, or Apple Music https://music.apple.com/us/album/simple-hymns-songs-of-redemption-deluxe-version/1477191798.