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Some things you do for the money. Some things you do out of obligation, responsibility or a sense of nobility. But some things you do simply because you love-love-LOVE it. You can't imagine not doing it. It's the joyous gift God has put in your heart that makes passionate living possible.
For Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig and Dan Deanâ ”Phillips, Craig & Deanâ ”that thing is ministry through music. More succinctly put: These guys love-love-LOVE to sing about God. And way beyond the 10 albums, 18 No.1 singles and 2 million+ records sold in the past 16 years, the story of God's grace in their lives just keeps getting bigger. The only way they could stop singing is to stop breathing, which is unlikely, because these guys just inhaled their second wind.
Their individual lives are steeped in local church ministry, but it's the power of song that keeps them coming back to the studio and stage. The latest project from Phillips, Craig & Dean, Top Of My Lungs, brilliantly captures the loud, boisterous excitement and joy these guys feel when they open their mouths to sing of God's bigger-than-life grace.
Shawn Craig, who finished his MDiv degree in 2005, moved into a senior pastor role at the St. Louis church he's served for more than 25 years. And somewhere along the way, in Boise, Idaho to be exact, he met the girl of his dreams. They've set the wedding date for November.
Dan Dean, senior pastor in Dallas, hit the big 5-0 this year, celebrated the marriage of his eldest son Dusty, and is training for his first marathon. He and his wife, Becky, will celebrate 30 years of marriage in August.
Randy Phillips and his wife, Denise, started a new church in 2005 in Austin, which is growing by leaps and bounds. Somehow, between that and keeping up with both a 4-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old daughter, he finds time to host his own TV show, The Awakening on TBN.
Top Of My Lungs
Let my love be loud, a sweet joyful noise / Only for you I lift up my voice
I lift up my voice / At the top of my lungs I will sing hallelujah
Produced once again by Nathan Nockels (Watermark, Downhere), who also produced PCD's hugely successful worship trilogy Let My Words Be Few (2001), Let Your Glory Fall (2003) and Let the Worshippers Arise (2004), Top Of My Lungs bridges the praise and worship music fans have come to expect from PCD with a more eclectic, progressive musical palette.
"On every album you want to stretch a little bit, sonically, to move forward, so that was certainly a goal," Shawn Craig says of Top Of My Lungs. "We'd toyed with the idea of doing a hybrid, more of the signature ballads and fun songs we used to record, but the more we dug into it, the more we found ourselves going back to praise and worship. That's really the bottom line for us now. We love singing it; we love leading it. We see the power of praise, the avenue it creates to people's hearts… It's just a very personal thing to us."
"Top Of My Lungs represents the kind of praise and worship we want to be part of, the kind of worship that holds nothing back," Randy Phillips adds. "It's â everything out on the table' because God deserves nothing less. Great songs compel you to singâ ”fresh, deep, magnificent and strong lyrics about the goodness of God, they beg you to sing them as loud and with as much passion as you can."
From the guitar-crunching opener of "One Way" to the sweet closing of "'Tis So Sweet," Top Of My Lungs is packed with 11 compelling worship anthems, new songs that will be on the worship radar for years to come.
The sweeping, symphonic "Saved the Day," is sure to be an instant Easter classic. "It's not often you come across a great resurrection song, so when you get â em, you want to hold on to it," Shawn says of the Michael Neale penned song. "Whatever struggle you're going through, there's resurrection in every situation," adds Randy.
The piano-driven "Your Name," written by Paul Baloche, is another great example of the accessible songs on Top Of My Lungs. "When you sing about the name of Jesus, the power is undeniable," Randy says. "I got very emotional in the studio, just trying to make it through the lyric."
With every song here, Phillips, Craig & Dean aim not only in praise of their Creator, but also squarely at the hearts of hurting people. Songs like "Saved the Day," "Because of That Blood" and "Let the Redeemed," which Dan Dean wrote with Roger Hodges, reach through and beyond the church.
"Most of our songs come from real life experiences," Dan says. "We sing to reach out to people who are going through difficult places in their lives. We choose songs that will bring the reality of Christ into those places."
Certainly Top Of My Lungs charts progressive new terrain for Phillips, Craig & Dean. Nockles brings a razor sharp edge to their signature harmonic blend that enhances their God-given interpretive skill. Simply put, it's not an overstatement to say that they've never sounded better or delivered a stronger collection than this one. "Nathan was downright medieval in stretching us beyond what we thought we could do," Randy says. "Vocally, it's not like anything we've done before. We hit notes we've never hit before, notes I didn't think I was capable of."
It's no wonder that after 16 years, the ministry of Phillips, Craig & Dean continues to resonate with audiences far and wide. The energy and excitement they feel seeing God continue to use the gifts they love using to impact people's lives is tangible, like the clothes on their backs. You can hear in when they speak; you can feel it when they sing.
"It really is the ultimate dream fulfilled," Randy says, "to be able to write and sing songs that people want to hear. After 16 years, labels have come and gone and so much has changed in the business end of itâ ”we just went to Toronto, where there's no Christian radio to speak of, and 2000 people showed up to hear us sing. What an honor! We're so grateful for the opportunity and for all those folks in retail and radio here that make it possible."
So that's what happens when you're not working for the money or for success or because somebody told you to. The grace of God makes the money, the success and any sense of obligation irrelevant. All that's left is a burning desire to take what you've been given and share it…as loud and as long as possible.
Group Professional Life: 1991 – Present
Randy Phillips - lead vocals
Shawn Craig - lead vocals
Dan Dean - lead vocals