When Andrew Gard took over as campus pastor at Southeastern, one of his top priorities was to create a worship culture on campus that resulted in new songs and worship albums produced by SEU students and worship leaders.
That vision became a reality this past week.
Hundreds of students filled Bush Chapel on Monday night for the post-Thanksgiving 1st Chapel as the SEU Worship team recorded 12 original songs for their "No Other Name" live album. The album, which will be released at Conference in February, will be available on iTunes and on CD for $10.
"When it releases, the quality will be excellent," Gard said.
The project was in motion soon after Gard hired Chase Wagner as worship director. They had worked together on other albums while at the Foursquare Church in Puyallup, Washington, and wanted to take the project to a new level at Southeastern.
"It's something that we kind of knew how to do, and we just thought it would be perfect for this context and this community," Wagner said.
The worship team wanted to open the project up to the SEU community, and all students were invited to write original songs that could be considered for the album. Gard said that about 20 original songs have been performed on campus this year, even though only 12 were selected for the live recording.
Wagner said the approach that the team took to the project brought the campus together. It gave many people a sense of belonging with the music, which showed in the turnout at 1st Chapel.
"The place was packed, and it was so cool to see the campus unified over that kind of thing," he said. "Usually when it comes to music and bands, it's not that way."
The album is an extension of SEU Worship's mission, which includes developing and training future worship leaders, creating meaningful worship experiences on campus and in the community, and resourcing the local and global church through producing music or touring.
For students involved in the project, the experience of writing original music and participating in a live recording should serve as a boost for their careers.
"They get the full experience before they're even out on their own," Wagner said.
There were a couple of issues during the recording - such as a mic falling - that required some songs to be re-recorded. But according to Gard, the entire experience went smoothly. He credited Wagner and the musicians for ending their Thanksgiving breaks early for more rehearsal and setup time.
"It was smooth when you have a lot of people working really hard," Gard said.
The only thing left to do now is wait. The team will spend a couple of weeks in post-production before the music is sent off for final editing.
Through connections, Gard and Wagner reached out to Hillsong recording veterans Andrew Crawford and James Hurley. With their help, the album will be edited and produced professionally. Crawford will do the final edit from Australia, the base for Hillsong.
Gard said the goal is for the album to crack the Top 10 on iTunes' Christian/Gospel charts when it is released at Conference. He hopes to make at least an album each year for Conference, in addition to other smaller projects.
Below is the list of tracks on the "No Other Name" album: