Platinum-selling, Dove Award winning recording artist, Mark Schultz, releases his long-awaited, fifth studio album, Come Alive, Aug. 25 on Word Records. One of Christian music’s most acclaimed singer/songwriters, Schultz’s first new studio album in nearly three years is also his most personal recording to date, inviting listeners to “come alive” through these songs birthed by stories of hope, loss, joy and redemption.
New for Schultz, working with more than one or two producers for an album, Come Alive features the distinct and masterful touches from multiple GRAMMY Award winner Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, Third Day, CeCe Winans), Shaun Shankel (Beyoncé, Hilary Duff), Bernie Herms (Natalie Grant, Avalon) and Paul Mills (Third Day, Bluetree). The album also features collaborations with such hit making songwriters as Bart Millard and Barry Graul of Mercy Me, Matthew West, Joy Williams and Herms. The combination of talent and Schultz’s own vision for this album results in his most thought-provoking, musically diverse project to date.
“I would hope that when people listen to this CD they can identify with the struggles within the songs, but at the same time know that God is the same God through the struggles as He is during the triumphant moments. Christ, who began a good work, will finish a good work. It may not be on your own timeline or not even the way you imagined it, but He promises He will. There’s a bigger picture out of our control, but God has made these promises and I want to hold onto that.”
“He Is,” the first radio single from Come Alive to release July 10, is an expression of this hope that was inspired by the stories of two families battling cancer.
“Payton Cram was a girl who came to one of my concerts in Michigan with her dad,” recalls Schultz. “I was really amazed at her maturity for her young age, even as she had cancer. When the cancer started to get bad, I flew up and spent a day with her and prayed with her and her family. She was a beautiful girl. She was never going to blame God for her cancer. She never asked ‘Why me?’ She just always knew there was a bigger purpose in it.”
During the same time Payton was fighting cancer, Mark learned from his wife, Kate, about a missionary family whose fourth child was born on a Friday and on Sunday they found out the mother had terminal cancer. “The father of the family said, ‘Well, we can’t praise God on Friday and curse him on Sunday…We have to trust that He knows what’s going on,’ and that’s when the idea of ‘He Is’ was born,” says Schultz. “He is, He was and always will be. It’s a pretty important message–no matter what kind of rough road you are riding through.”
Another poignant song on the album, “What It Means to Be Loved,” is “the only song I’ve ever played in concert that received a standing ovation before the end of the first chorus was over,” recalls Schultz. Kate was again a source of inspiration for the song: “My wife said to me, ‘Since you are adopted, I think we should adopt kids too. I think we should adopt kids with special needs…maybe someday we adopt kids with special needs that doctors know are only going to live for a year or two,’” recalls Schultz. “I replied, ‘Honey, why would we do that?’ She answers, ‘Because, before they go to heaven, I want them to know what a great Christmas is like and what a great birthday is like and let them know they were loved well before they get to heaven.’ That’s the kind of wife I’m married to.”
This conversation was sparked by the story his wife told him about a family who was expecting a child and were told that tests revealed health issues that meant the baby probably wouldn’t live long. Although the doctor’s suggested terminating the pregnancy, the mother decided she would love the child as long as she could. Schultz channeled those emotions into the “What It Means to Be Loved” lyrics: I want to give her the world / I want to hold her hand/ I want to be her mom just as long as I can and live every moment until that day comes/ I want to show her what it means to be loved. Schultz’ clear, compelling voice conveys the sense of sadness, yet shares the spirit of hope and abundant love that lie at the heart of the song.
“As Christians, we are called to be love,” says Schultz. “If that means loving a baby that will be here seven minutes or 70 years, it doesn’t make any difference.”
Pulling from real life experiences for the new record, many of the songs on Come Alive were also inspired when Schultz rode his bicycle from coast to coast to raise over $250,000 to benefit the James Fund, which provides assistance for widows and orphans. Along the way he learned much about himself, the human condition and God’s sovereignty. Those revelations reverberate throughout his new album.
“The album is a powerful work of art, full of emotion and featuring the most prolific and moving work Mark Schultz has ever written,” says Mark Bright, Word Entertainment President and CEO. “His ability to capture life’s most fragile moments in song, and lead people closer to God by revealing His glory in every situation, is what makes Mark Schultz such a gifted artist.”
Taking the songs from Come Alive on the road, Schultz will debut new music and fan favorites on a 40-plus-city tour beginning with the festival circuit this summer and leading into his “Come Alive” tour featuring platinum-selling group Point Of Grace that launches Sept. 10 in Decatur, IL. For the latest list of tour dates, visit www.markschultzmusic.com.
Lauded at No. 1 on Billboard’s “Hot Christian Adult Contemporary Songwriters” list and with nine No. 1 radio hits, Schultz was the centerpiece of the U.S. Army campaign “Letters From War,” named Christian Music Today’s Male Vocalist in 2003, and featured on the national TV programs, 48 Hours, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, CNN and more. His 2005 release, Mark Schultz Live…A Night of Stories & Songs, sold RIAA certified Platinum and garnered Schultz his first GMA Dove Award.
For additional information on Mark Schultz, visit www.markschultzmusic.com or www.wordlabelgroup.com.