116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The popular Christian band Casting Crowns has taken a unique approach to releasing its latest collection of songs. January saw the release of the seven-song EP, “Healer.” Now those seven songs have been released on a deluxe version of “Healer,” that adds seven more songs to complete a 14-song full-length album.
Mark Hall, lead singer and main songwriter for the group, chose this approach because of the way many people consume music these days.
“The reason I did it this way, it was my idea, is that people will get your record. They listen to it for a week and they’re like ‘OK, when’s your new record coming out?’ ” Hall said in a recent phone interview.
“I just thought man, there are so many things we’re talking about, and so many themes that we’re hitting here (on “Healer”), I want to space this out. I want people to digest some of the songs, live with these songs, and then give them the other half.”
What: Casting Crowns: The Healer Tour, with CAIN and Anne Wilson opening
Where: Alliant Energy PowerHouse, 370 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, 2022
Tickets: $25 to $150; creventslive.com/events/2022/casting-crowns---the-healer-tour
Band’s website: castingcrowns.com/
So now, as Casting Crowns follows up a spring tour with an extensive run of shows this fall, all 14 songs that were written for the project are together on the deluxe version of “Healer.”
That’s enabling the band to tweak the set list for this second installment of the “Healer” tour, which is coming to the Alliant Energy PowerHouse in downtown Cedar Rapids on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.
“The first seven songs came out for that (spring) tour. But the second seven have come out now,” Hall said. “So we’re going through and looking at some of the (new) ones we want to play for everybody.”
Hall and his bandmates are being judicious in selecting which “Healer” songs to perform. With more than 20 Top 10 singles on the Christian charts (including 11 chart toppers), they know those are the songs fans have come to hear.
“We have like three lists we go by,” Hall said, explaining how a Casting Crowns set list is crafted. “The first one is the bigs, the ones if we don’t do them, we’re going to be in trouble. Those are ones we’ve got to do. The second list is the new songs that we want to try. And then the third list are our favorites over the years that maybe aren’t radio singles, but they’re our favorites. We try to squeeze a couple of those in there and just have a little bit of a balance.”
The consistent ability to write hit singles has made Casting Crowns one of contemporary Christian music’s most popular and long-running acts.
The band was formed by Hall in 1999 in Daytona Beach, Fla., — and relocated to the Atlanta area two years later — simply to complement Hall’s ongoing work as a youth pastor. In that capacity, he had begun to write songs because he thought music was an effective way to speak to people and share his messages of faith.
Hall started bands to lead worship, and Casting Crowns initially was part of that effort.
But what started out with modest ambitions didn’t take long to grow into something bigger.
The group originally included Hall, guitarists Juan DeVevo and Hector Cervantes (since replaced by Josh Mix) and violinist Melodee DeVevo, was later augmented with bassist Chris Huffman (replaced in 2021 by Hall’s son, John Michael), keyboardist/accordionist Megan Garrett and a drummer (Jack Williams has followed Rob Cervantes, Andy Williams and Brian Scoggin in the drum chair).
Casting Crowns started to make a name for itself with the release of two independent albums that were warmly received in the Atlanta area.
One person who heard the early albums was Mark Miller, singer for the country band Sawyer Brown. He signed Casting Crowns to his Beach Street Records label, which was a division of the Christian label Reunion Records. Miller has remained involved, not only through the label, but as Hall’s producer of choice for Casting Crowns’ albums.
The real breakthrough came with the band’s 2003 self-titled CD. It became one of the fastest-selling national debuts in Christian music history. The band has remained at the forefront of Christian music ever since, with seven of the eight subsequent albums debuting atop the Christian albums chart. The one album that failed to reach that mark, “Only Jesus,” reached No. 2.
In all, the group has sold more than 12 million copies of its albums, while winning a Grammy Award, four American Music Awards and 18 Dove awards — Christian Music’s highest honor.
Hall began writing the songs for “Healer” during the pandemic, an event that shut down his church and forced him to get creative and use tools like video conferencing to keep his youth group together and hold other activities. As with previous Casting Crowns albums, the new songs grew out of Hall’s activities as a pastor.
“The very first devotion Bible study I shared on Zoom for my youth group, because they had shut the church down, was (on) the 23rd Psalm and the idea of the lord being our shepherd,” Hall said. “I remember telling them that night that this is going to be a tough season, and even if you don’t know it’s going to be tough yet, it’s going to get tough.
“And we talked about how we need a shepherd. We don’t need a letter from a shepherd or a Bible study by a shepherd, we need him,” he said. “And we talked about staying connected with each other, but staying in the word (of God). That’s how the whole thing started.
“The very first song I wrote for this record was the song ‘No Hurt,’ on the second half, because all of the racial stuff blew up. Right after that, the second song I wrote was ‘The Healer.’ Even (as) I was writing the third song, which was ‘Song of a Broken Heart,’ I started realizing all of these songs are about healing.”
The 14 songs came to explore a variety of ways healing happens through God.
The title track speaks to how people sometimes look for comfort and healing through social movements, political candidates or internet influencers instead of turning to Jesus. “Anything But Easy” is about bringing loved ones to Jesus, no matter what challenges they must overcome along the way. “Scars In Heaven” (a Top 10 single from the first half of “Healer”) is about healing after the death of a friend, and how that process can come in unexpected ways.
Such messages are placed within songs that fit the Casting Crowns’ trademark brand of uplifting, anthemic pop ballads, filled out with inviting melodies, burnished instrumental tones and layered choir-like harmony and backing vocals.
With the pandemic upending life everywhere, the topic of how and where to find healing was nothing if not timely.
“I started writing the songs during the pandemic, everything being shut down and the world kind of going crazy and just trying to remind people that only Jesus is the healer,” Hall said. “We can’t unite properly without Him.
“We’ve seen the world, especially our country, trying to come together behind things, like causes, candidates, hashtags and all of these kinds of things, and it’s just Jesus is the one that heals us. He’s the one that heals relationships. So we really want to talk about how he is the true healer.”