Gotee 20 years

There are hundreds of “Vanity Labels” in the music industry, labels either started by or actually run by music artists. The Beatles founded Apple Records. Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds combined their names to create LaFace Records. Prince has started two vanity labels (Paisley Park and NPG). Like so many other labels, though, vanity labels are often a flash in the pan, created with good intentions before being gobbled up by a larger label or fading away.

When TobyMac and colleague Todd Collins set out to produce a record for Out of Eden, they couldn’t find a label, so along with Joey Elwood they started their own. But is it possible that happened in 1994? Twenty years ago? What might be more remarkable is the fact that Gotee Records is still alive.

Jay Swartzendruber, who is uniquely qualified to opine on vanity labels in Christian music (having worked at three prior to a 5-year run as editor of CCM Magazine), offers this: “Charlie Peacock’s re:think label introduced the world to Sarah Masen and Switchfoot. Steve Taylor’s Squint brought us Chevelle and Sixpence’s worldwide hits. Michael W. Smith’s Rocketown Records inspired us with a renewed commitment to artist development. But of all the high profile artist-founded labels in the ’90s, only one is still going strong.”

Elwood contemplates two decades with the label with a sense of awe. “Twenty years can feel like a lifetime, but when it’s filled with creation, dreams being fulfilled, new friends being made, character-defining moments, memories catalogued, hopes being shared, potential being realized, family trees growing, and prayers being answered (not always the way one hopes), it all happens in the blink of an eye.”

Gotee has certainly had its brushes with death to contrast with its high points, but its staying power is undeniable. Elwood notes that both the highs and lows offer doses of valuable perspective. “We were called into a community that hopefully leaves a legacy that goes beyond any song written, any image projected, and any concert memory made. 20 years of music is not worth celebrating unless it’s accompanied by 20 years of surrender. If it’s ‘our’ story it has little to no power. If it’s HIS story then let the party begin.”

The party needs a soundtrack, and that’s why Gotee is releasing Twenty Years Brand New, a fascinating compilation album featuring new recordings from Gotee’s current artist roster along with label alumni performing each other’s songs. Leading up to the June 17 release, Gotee recently released two singles exclusively at iTunes. Out of Eden perform “Constant,” which was originally recorded by House of Heroes, and Capital Kings f/John Reuben remake “Ooh Ahh”, originally recorded by GRITS f/tobyMac.

Here’s the track listing for the entire collection:

1. Relient K – “Body Be” (originally performed by Johnny Q. Public)

2. Capital Kings feat. John Reuben – “Ooh, Ahh” (originally performed by GRITS feat. tobyMac)

3. The Katinas – “River” (originally performed by Out of Eden)

4. Out of Eden – “Constant” (originally performed by House of Heroes)

5. John Reuben – “Love Addict” (originally performed by Family Force 5)

6. House of Heroes feat. Stephanie Smith – “Stereo” (originally performed by 4th Ave. Jones)

7. Jamie Grace – “Getting Into You” (originally performed by Relient K)

8. Ayiesha Woods – “Refine Me” (originally performed by Jennifer Knapp)

9. Ryan Stevenson  – “My Refuge” (originally performed by Sonicflood)

10. Soul Glow Activatur – “Doin’” (originally performed by John Reuben)

11. Harper Still – “Here’s My Heart” (originally performed by Out of Eden)

12. Sarah Kelly – “Bless the Lord” (originally performed by Jeff Deyo)

13. GRITS – “Undo Me” (originally performed by Jennifer Knapp)

14. Finding Favour – “One More Time” (originally performed by The Katinas)

15. Stephanie Smith – “I Celebrate the Day” (originally performed by Relient K)

16. Paul Wright – “Valley of Decision” (originally performed by Christafari)

17. Zilch – “Over Thinking” (originally performed by Relient K)

18. The Gotee Brothers – “Gotee’s Groovin’” (originally performed by Out of Eden)

19. John Reuben – “Love Addict (Lounge Club Version)” [originally performed by Family Force 5]

20. Relient K – “Sadie Hawkins Dance (10 Year Reunion)” [originally performed by Relient K]