NewSong sets ‘intimate’ evening

Christian music mainstay NewSong is slated to bring their annual “Very Merry Christmas Tour” at 7 p.m. Saturday to Life Christian Center International in Albany.

Christian music mainstay NewSong is slated to bring their annual “Very Merry Christmas Tour” at 7 p.m. Saturday to Life Christian Center International in Albany.

ALBANY — In answer to a question about the longevity — 30 years and counting — of seminal Georgia-based Christian artists NewSong, group member Russ Lee offers a story.

“We were in Pennsylvania the other night doing a show, and a guy with the local sheriff’s office comes up to me and says, ‘You came to Iraq (with the 101st Airborne), and I wanted to personally thank you’,” Lee said. “He told me, ‘God used you to help me get through Iraq.’

“When someone shares something like that with you, you know you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.”

NewSong, which has been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, has recorded 20 No. 1 Christian radio singles — and counting — and has been nominated for a Grammy, will bring its one-of-a-kind “Very Merry Christmas Tour” to Life Christian Center International here Saturday. Joining NewSong for the 7 p.m. show will be Kutless, Chris August and Jamie Grace.

According to Life Christian Center officials, a few of the $15 general admission and $25 VIP seating tickets for Saturday’s show are still available at various locations, including the church at 1211 Stuart Ave.

Lee, who joined NewSong in 1993, some 12 years after its startup, said group members are always happy to come to Southwest Georgia for performances.

“Albany is very special to us,” he said in a telephone conversation. “NewSong got its start in South Georgia, and that region still feels like home to us. We’re excited to come to Albany because of our history and the relationships we’ve developed there over the years. Some of our very dear friends are from Albany.

“We also try to squeeze in a little quail hunting when we come to town. We have to do it all in a day because of our touring schedule, but we arrive early, have breakfast, hunt for as long as we can, then have lunch and go to the venue to get ready for the show.”

Lee said the NewSong ministry is not about making a living but is more a call from God.

“If you live by faith and you feel God’s call, you should do it with all of your might, with no reservations,” he said. “I’ve seen over the years the great purpose that Christian music serves; I’ve had people come to me and tell me they were at the end of their rope when they came to one of our shows and went away with a renewed sense of hope.

“Moments like those remind us why we do this.”

Lee said the members of NewSong are “encouraged” by the recognition they’ve received for their music and performances over the years, but he notes that such recognition does not “make or break” the band.

“Certainly when you receive the affirmation of your peers in any business, it’s encouraging,” he said. “But anyone who does this for awards and recognition is a pretty shallow person. Those kinds of things are markers along the way, but there is a much greater purpose for what we do.

“And while I don’t necessarily speak for the band, I know these guys well enough to know they feel the same way. They’re in this to glorify God.”

Lee said fans who may have seen one of NewSong’s regular tour shows are in for a treat Saturday. The “Very Merry Christmas Tour,” he noted, is much more “intimate.”

“This tour is unique and different,” he said. “It’s, I think, one of our greatest opportunities to be a part of people’s lives. It’s like we’ve been invited into their living rooms, and we sit around and sing Christmas carols together.

“We can’t wait to share the evening with the people of Albany.”

NewSong’s latest album, “One True God,” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s Christian/Gospel Album Chart.