Tony Cummings reports on the return of award-winning rock band SANCTUS REAL
After forming in 1996, Sanctus Real became one of the biggest names in Christian music. Their radio friendly pop rock brought them 24 US Christian radio hits (including eight number ones) and album sales exceeding 750,000 units. But then their lead singer, Matt Hammitt - unquestionably one of the most recognisable voices in Christian rock - made a shock announcement that he was leaving. The remaining two Sanctus Real musicians, Mark Graalman and Chris Rohman, found themselves at an impasse. Should they fold the band? Should they look around for new musical ventures? Wisely, they turned to prayer. Said Chris Rohman, "Mark and I just started praying and waiting to see what God had planned for us."
Rohman and Graalman eventually met a singer, Dustin Lolli, who at the time was working full-time as a worship leader and performing in a folk duo with his wife, known as James and June. The duo had actually made a record to be independently released titled 'Chasing The Moon'. The offer for Lolli to join a revised Sanctus Real was made and eventually accepted. Getting to know the heart of the band tipped the scales for the folk singer turned rock singer. He explained, "I saw in these guys a real focus to write songs that move people toward an understanding of their identity in Christ. They've built an amazing platform to be able to share God's love and I knew I wanted to be a part of that."
Signing with a new record company, Framework Records, the trio began writing songs for a new album. That album 'Changed' is set for release on 27th April. Said Mark Graalman, "We're a group of guys making music together as opposed to a group of guys getting behind a song. We're focusing back on the simple message of the Gospel. It's the simple message of God's love."
In April, Sanctus Real begin a 16-city headlining tour of the US, singing tracks off 'Changed', including the latest single "Confidence", together with many of Sanctus Real's favourite oldies. It's going to be a fascinating time to see whether the American Church and US radio embrace the new trio to their hearts like they did the old one.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.