Lecrae, Switchfoot to perform at ShoWare

One is a hip-hop artist from the South, the other an alternative rock band from the West Coast.

After early successes in the Christian rock scene

After early successes in the Christian rock scene

One is a hip-hop artist from the South, the other an alternative rock band from the West Coast.

Different in appearance, style and sound, they share a passion to write and play honest music from the heart, a reflection of their Christian soul.

Lecrae and Switchfoot – two Grammy Award-winning acts – bring The Heartland Tour to the ShoWare Center on Friday for a 7 p.m. concert. The nine-city, seven-state tour, which began in Omaha, Neb., last Friday, ends in Spokane on Sunday.

The artists, longtime friends, wanted to tour together for years and found a way to make it happen this spring after wrapping up projects closer to home.

For Lecrae, it meant the May 3 release of his first book, “Unashamed”, his biographical journey to faith and freedom. The rapper’s memoir recently became a New York Times Best Seller and led to his third performance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”, among other national appearances.

The Houston-born, 36-year-old rapper is constantly working on new music, the kind of positive lyrics and gritty hip-hop beats that have pushed his work from the Christian/gospel category into the mainstream.

For Switchfoot, the tour comes off the heels of the band completing its 10th studio album, Where The Light Shines Through, a collection of old-soul, rock-n-roll music with a new perspective. The band even collaborated with Lecrae on one of the tracks on the new album, which they will perform on tour.

“For me, to go out on tour with (Switchfoot) is an honor, it’s a blessing,” said Lecrae, who maintains a hectic schedule as an artist, songwriter, record producer, actor and president of his nonprofit ministry. He lives today in Atlanta with his wife and their three children. “It’s special because we both love to give our whole hearts to our audiences and connect with them in a unique way.”

Switchfoot’s Chad Butler, the drummer for the band he co-founded with Jon and Tim Foreman 20 years ago, is excited about taking new music on tour. The latest album unapologetically dives into the big, honest questions of why we’re here with a broad view of darkness and light, pain and healing, church and state.

“For me, it’s a really meaningful collection of songs,” Butler said from the band’s San Diego-area studio. “The record is about finding hope in dark places. … Everybody can relate to going through difficult seasons of life. For us, personally, these songs come out of a challenging time. It’s about looking to find hope and meaning.

“For us, music has always been a way for us to explore the world,” he said. “Songs are a vehicle that allow us to ask big questions of life and to dive deeper in the surfaces of day-to-day conversation.”

Lecrae continues to score big on the charts and in the industry. The influential rapper and hit-maker has sold 1.9 million albums to date. His 2014 release, Anomaly, broke industry records by selling 88,000 copies the first week and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart.

Through his music and interviews with mainstream media, Lecrae has spoken honestly, openly. He tackles difficult subjects and offers his religious and ideological views.

“I don’t mind saying the things that everyone’s thinking but no one wants to say,” he admitted. “Why not? It’s there. Let’s talk about it.”

Lecrae also has defended his craft, the artistic integrity of today’s hip-hop music. It’s not violent, as many associate it to be, Lecrae says. The music is often misunderstood.

“It’s poetic, lot of beauty to it,” he said. “The picture I hope people walk away is the understanding hip-hop music is an art form that is beautiful and can uplift and encourage and inspire. It’s really powerful.”

Such moving music keeps Switchfoot performing for the masses.

Switchfoot has sold 5.7 million copies worldwide of its nine studio albums, including their 2003 double-platinum breakthrough, The Beautiful Letdown, and 2009’s Grammy Award-winning Hello Hurricane. They have performed at sold-out world tours with more than four million concert tickets worldwide, raised more than $1 million dollars to aid kids in their community through the band’s BRO-AM Foundation, and earned themselves a global fan base.

The band’s secret to success and longevity is about faith and friendship.

“We generally enjoy spending so much time together, travelling, seeing the world together, sharing the experience of playing music, being creative together and just wrestling the big questions of life,” Butler said. “Being friends off stage is a big part of it. You have to love the music you play and love the people you play it with. That’s something I don’t take for granted.”

Lecrae and Switchfoot are unanimous on one distinction. Don’t label them Christian artists, but artists who happen to play faith-filled music that transcends genres and people of all makes. Christianity is a faith, not a musical category.

“I want people from all walks of life to embrace the music, not just Christians,” Lecrae said. “I want them to listen to it … and have them walk away inspired to be more, to do more, to give more, and to be what you’re created to be.”

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Tickets can be ordered at showarecenter.com.


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