The Christian rock group Jars of Clay was pondering what direction to take its 10th studio album last year when a friend showed an old Irish proverb to the group’s Steve Mason.
“It says, ‘It is in the shelter of each other that people live,’ “ recalls keyboardist Charlie Lowell. “It was so simple and poignant. We loved that image for the church, that we could shelter one another instead of pointing our fingers and picking apart what other people are doing and what they believe.
“We wound up writing two or three songs around that concept, one of them that actually uses the (proverb’s) words.”
That was how the Nashville-based band got started on “Jars of Clay Presents The Shelter,” an 11-track set that was nominated for a pair of Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association. The album includes guest appearances by Amy Grant, Sixpence None the Richer’s Leigh Nash, Brandon Heath and others. And Lowell, 37, says the collaborations were inspired by the proverb, too.
“Usually when we gather to work on a project, we lock the doors and turn off the phone,” Lowell says. “But in the spirit of this concept, we said, ‘If we’re going to write about community, we need to unlock the door and call some friends and get our artists in the community involved in this.’
“Some of it happened really organically. Some of it was management getting phone numbers so we could call these artists. But most of the people on the list were very excited to be part of the record and respectful of the concept, which was humbling. We know what it’s like to be on the other end and get calls, so it was great of them to do it for us.”
Jars Of Clay perform with Steven Curtis Chapman, Fracesca Battistelli and Caleb at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 26, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $39.50 and $25 pavilion, $15 lawn. Group rates are available. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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