Most Anticipated Albums of 2011: Christian/Gospel
Burlap to Cashmere, TBD (April)
It's not hyperbole to say that cousins Steven Delopoulos and John Philippidis turned Christian music on its head with their 1998 debut, Anybody Out There?, under the moniker Burlap to Cashmere. Influenced by their Greek heritage and Brooklyn upbringing, it was 180 degrees from anything else happening in the genre. They seemed too good to be true, and it turns out they were. Band members headed in separate directions before a sophomore disc was released. Delopoulos carved out a solo career in the years since and did some dates with Philippidis, but fans missed Burlap as a band. Now, more than a decade later, they're back. But Delopoulos has a warning for those expecting a return to 1998: "This record is very different than the first [we're] not a Spanish salsa CCM disco band anymore ... thank God!" Instead, expect more '70s singer-songwriter influences like Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and Cat Stevens. That works for me.
Steven Curtis Chapman, TBD (Summer)
Chapman has sold nearly 10 millions albums, and he's won five Grammys and a whopping 56 Dove Awards. His best album is arguably his most recent, 2009's Beauty Will Rise. Inspired by the death of his young daughter, it traced his family's very personal journey from grief to hope. The disc earned Chapman his 15th Grammy nomination, and has fans old and new waiting eagerly to see what he'll come up with next.
Sixpence None the Richer, Strange Conversation (March 8)
This one was on our list of summer releases we were looking forward to in 2010, but it was bumped to early 2011, only adding to our anticipation. There's plenty of interest in hearing the latest from this long-silent group, which became most famous for its ethereal single "Kiss Me." Leigh Nash's voice is in pitch-perfect form and Matt Slocum is as creative as ever for this upcoming offering, recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Jim Scott (Red Hot Chili Peppers). Joining the duo on background vocals and acoustic guitar is Sam Ashworth, son of noted artist, producer and author Charlie Peacock.
More Christian/Gospel Releases:
Brandon Heath, Leaving Eden, (1/18)
Hawk Nelson, Crazy Love, (2/8) Various Artists, Know Hope Collective, (2/15)
Francesca Battistelli, Hundred More Years, (3/1)
Demon Hunter, Triple 2011, (3/8)
Shawn McDonald, Closer, (3/22)
Kirk Franklin, TBD, (3/22)