Last week’s Immerse event sponsored by the GMA and held at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., featured an evening concert with Natalie Grant, Dave Barnes and Audrey Assad. The three diverse artists showcased their songwriting and vocal abilities for an intimate room of about 200-300 people at Belmont’s Massey Performing Arts Center. The room was comprised mainly of independent artists, worship leaders and those desiring to pursue a career in the music business.
Natalie Grant headlined the evening with a full band and an energetic set list. Beginning her set with the aggressive “I Will Not Be Moved” and the fun “Make It Matter,” the very pregnant Grant energized the audience well before previewing new material from her upcoming album, Love Revolution (Curb, Aug. 24). She sang the worshipful “Greatness of Our God” and the powerful “Human” (co-written by Jordin Sparks)–both of which can be heard on the radio in their respective formats, and arguably two of the strongest cuts on the new album.
She also debuted several new worship songs from Love Revolution, including a cover of Brooke Fraser’s lovely “Dessert Song.” The most powerful point of her set came in the form of the new song “The Power of the Cross,” a song so new that Grant had to pull the words up on her iPhone. She interspersed Scripture as well as words of encouragement to Immerse attendees in between songs, challenging those in attendance with the notion that God is bigger than our dreams, our goals and our aspirations and to make their art matter–to count for something bigger than themselves. The songstress ended the night with a powerful rendition of “In Christ Alone,” her incredible vocal chops astounding even the best vocalists in the room.
Singer/Songwriter Dave Barnes played a five-song set prior to Grant. Barnes may be new to Christian radio, but he’s hardly a new artist, having released several albums independently and toured the country with countless well-known artists. He began his set with the song that’s probably most familiar to Christian audiences, “God Gave Me You.” (The single is fairing well on the charts at CCM radio, expanding Barnes’ already strong platform.) The remaining four songs from his set included two old songs (“Grace’s Amazing Hands,” “I Have And I Always Will”) that longtime Dave fans were sure to recognize, the later being a tune Barnes penned for his wife for their wedding. The other two songs (“What I Need,” “Little Lies”) were from Barnes’ new album, What We Want, What We Get (Razor & Tie), and allowed the singer to engage with attendees, inviting audience members to sing along. In a room filled with aspiring singers and songwriters, even Barnes was surprised by how good his ready-made “choir” sounded on his songs. His humorous banter in between cuts only added to a nearly seamless set, as his voice sounded crystal clear against the strum of his acoustic guitar.
New Sparrow Records recording artist Audrey Assad opened the evening with a three-song set, which included the title track from her recently released debut, The House You’re Building. The ever poetic Assad was a great complement to the concert, engaging the audience on her worshipful track “Restless” and evoking strong applause and admiration from the songwriters in attendance. She talked candidly about her recent engagement to her longtime boyfriend and sung a song (“Ought to Be”) she wrote for him.