In today’s tough music industry climate, platinum-certified albums are difficult to come by, and such a feat is even harder for a new act. However, Casting Crowns has quickly become one of the Christian music community’s biggest success stories with a self-titled debut album that hit platinum status in 16 months, and spawned three hit singles: “If We Are the Body,” “Who I Am” and “Voice of Truth.”
“I wasn’t thinking at all about selling records, I was excited that we were making one,” lead vocalist/principal songwriter Mark Hall says, recalling how he felt when veteran country artist Mark Miller signed the Georgia-based band to his Beach Street Records, a Provident Label Group imprint.
This year, Casting Crowns—also comprising Juan DeVevo, Melodee DeVevo, Hector Cervantes, Chris Huffman, Megan Garrett and Andy Williams—is up for seven Gospel Music Association Awards. Hall received six individual nominations, including a nod for Male Vocalist of the Year. Last year his writing prowess earned him the Songwriter of the Year accolade at the Doves.
“Steven Curtis Chapman was a big influence on my writing,” Hall says of the nine-time Dove Songwriter of the Year, who co-produced the band’s debut disc. “I always liked the way he crafted [a song], especially a story song, and the fact that he could say so much in such a small number of words. I’ve always been a visual artist and looked at writing as drawing pictures with words.”
Hall is currently writing songs for the group’s next album and admits he feels pressure, but not the usual kind a new artist feels to follow up platinum success. “There is a weight to it because it’s like God has taken a little while here and given us the ear of the church,” he says. “You have to make sure you are saying something and you’re not just writing songs. That is the pressure on me that I’m putting on myself: to write songs that need to be written, not just that need to fill a record.”