The release of Mandisa’s first album in four years is reason enough for excitement, but friends and supporters of Trevecca have even more to look forward to. That’s because members of Trevecca’s own National Praise and Worship Institute Choir (NPWI) added their voices to one song on the project, which releases today.
Out of the Dark recounts the singer’s journey through depression. The songs reflect a willingness to be transparent and vulnerable about her struggle.
“My hope is that people will be on this journey with me,” Mandisa said in a press release about the album. “When I began, I was in a really dark place, but where I am today is so much better and so much lighter.”
About 17 Trevecca students provided background vocals for one song, “Bleed the Same.” The song features Mandisa, Toby Mac and a sample from a speech Kirk Franklin gave at last year’s Dove Awards, calling for Christians to be the voice of redemption and reconciliation in a divided culture.
According to Mark Hosny, the opportunity came about because of another faculty member’s relationship with Mandisa’s producer, Chris Stevens.
“John Thompson is friends with Mandisa’s producer who asked him if he knew a choir who could sing on a song called ‘Bleed the Same,’” said Hosny, director of NPWI.
Thompson, associate dean of Trevecca’s School of Music and Worship Arts, met Stevens while working at Capitol Records and stayed in touch over the years.
“Chris is one of the top songwriting producers in Christian music, and I worked with him quite a bit when I was at Capitol,” Thompson said. “When I told him about what we were doing here [at Trevecca] and mentioned the NPWI choir, he perked right up. He said he had this song and wondered if the choir would sing on it.”
Thompson and Hosny accompanied students to the studio on November 11 to track their parts.
“The message of the song really hones in on what’s happening in our society,” Hosny said. “Using their musical training and sharing their passion for the Lord made this such a great opportunity [for the NPWI choir members] to do something bigger than themselves.”
For NPWI choir member Rhiannon Peterson, the experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Singing vocals for Mandisa's new track was the first of many real-life experiences I was able to have because of Trevecca,” Peterson said. “It was so fun to be in a real recording studio in Nashville and work with professionals. It definitely was one of the highlights of my freshman year.”
This isn’t the first time the choir has been asked to record or perform with Christian artists. NPWI choir members provided background vocals on Casting Crowns’ 2016 release, The Very Next Thing, and joined NewSong on stage during this year’s Nashville Winter Jam performance.
Thompson hopes the recording and tracking capabilities built into the new Jackson Center for Music and Worship Arts will allow for more recording opportunities for the choir—and make the recording process a little easier for producers and musicians alike.
“I’m hoping we might be able to help by tracking a choir right here in our new building,” Thompson said. “Someone could bring their computer and just plug in right here in our studio, and we could help them without having to bring the whole choir to them.”
Mandisa’s album, Out of the Dark, is available today. Learn more and get your copy here.