Elissa Leander Tipps and Becca Leander Nicholson, the British-American sister duo of the band The Sonflowerz blessed about 200 members of my church, Calvary Chapel of Quakertown, PA with an acoustic night of worship on Sunday, March 25, 2012. The Sonflowerz are from Colorado Springs. They began their musical collaboration in church fourteen years ago. The duo has released five albums, including their latest new full length album By Faith, on September 13th, 2011. With the release of their album, All Over The World in 2008, they received outstanding response from their singles “My Adoration,” “Legacy,” “Edge of My Seat” and “More Than I Think I Am.” In 2007, The Sonflowerz garnered praise for their “GMA Vocal Duo of the Year” award at the GMA in the Rockies Competition and their subsequent hit songs have established them as one of Christian music’s top female bands. The Sonflowerz were looking for an opportunity to reach listeners with their music, message and ministry by providing a night of worship. This night was created with the band’s fans in mind, providing an intimate night of worship and fellowship. They also led worship at both of our morning church services, blessing us with the beautiful and reverent leading of worship staples, “Your Grace Is Enough,” “Our God,” “Mighty To Save,” “O Lord You’re Beautiful,” “The Wonderful Cross,” “Unchanging” and their original song, “My Adoration.” Hearing my wife and daughters singing “My Adoration” really touched my heart. Elissa and Becca returned that evening to join our church for our fellowship dinner and then conducted a concert that included celebrating The Lord’s Supper. It was an incredible night.
After a cool introductory video, they opened with “My Heart Is Alive,” which was also released as a single prior to the release of their current album and is one of many standout songs on By Faith. The song has an upbeat tempo similar to “All Over The World” and although they were both playing acoustic guitar, they provided the strings and percussion parts through an iPad which was a great enhancement and filled the room with sound. The capacity crowd was on their feet and worshiped along with the catchy chorus, “My heart is alive for the first time, It’s the start of a bright day, My heart is beating for something more real than I can feel, I can’t deny my heart is alive!” Personally having three young daughters, I was very excited for the opportunity for them to be led in a night of edifying songs from two great female role models. Their next two songs really hit home for anyone who struggles with identity issues, especially girls who are bombarded with negative and unhealthy expectations from society. “More Than I Think I Am” features the transparent and vulnerable opening lyrics, “You see beyond the masquerade, behind the pretty face, You search beneath my skin, right to my heart, You see the beauty, the love that lives within me and everything I’m meant to be, Cause I can’t see it all, But You, You see it all” which leads to the uplifting chorus: “You see me lovely, You see me beautiful, Past my perception of who I am, You see me worthy, so irreplaceable, More than I think I am.” Amen to that! My daughters are more precious than anything in the world to me and to their Heavenly Father, and this song is a great anthem to celebrate the biblical Truth from Psalm 139, that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
“Made To Shine” was next, and Elissa announced that it “was another song for the girls, and sorry guys, but this is their night.” All of their great songs clearly and prayerfully reflect a worshipful response to God, with catchy music and lyrics and all of the songs include encouraging takeaway messages such as “God’s Love is burning like a fire inside of you, and no one can take that away” in “Made To Shine.” I recently had the great opportunity to interview Elissa and Becca about their next song, “The Face of Jesus” for a “behind the song” devotional which you can read here: http://www.newreleasetuesday.com/article.php?article_id=802. The song is based on their recent Compassion International trip to El Salvador. They showed some photos from their trip including the two people that the song references who show “the face of Jesus.” I greatly enjoy the story-song which starts with a description of an expectant mother and a young boy who lost his mother each finding the greatest love written on their faces in a ‘pay it forward’ style message declaring “Jesus, Jesus, a shelter from every raging storm, Jesus, Jesus, His grace will heal the pain of any thorn, we are His hands and mercy, to reach out in His name, your life can be the way to finally see the face of Jesus.” Great song and great message. While listening to this song, I am challenged to practice “letting our light shine so that others may praise our Father in Heaven.” That’s how we can show God in us to others. Also, look for God in the “least of these” as Jesus tells us, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.” The Good News of the Gospel is that we don’t have to pretend we’ve got it all together. That is certainly an area of sin in my life. I find myself wondering how I can “do” more to earn love from God and people. Only in the Name of Jesus and putting our faith in His sacrifice on our behalf can we be free from sin, shame and hypocrisy.
Next up was “By Faith,” and their current album is filled with great harmonies, vertical worship lyrics and every song is an offering of praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus. No song better captures the essence of this great album than the title track, “By Faith,” which is one of my favorite songs from last year. The song is based on the biblical Truth of Hebrews 11:1:”Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Elissa and Becca are truly anointed singer-songwriters and I love singing the bridge along with these talented sisters at the top of my lungs, “Though my eyes cannot see, I know You are with me, You are with me” which flows back into the gorgeous and catchy chorus which ends with “In You I put my hope.” Amen to that! You can read more about that song here.
My five year old daughter Bethany personally requested “How Great You Are” and “Legacy.” Some of their songs could be added to church worship services including the next song, “How Great You Are.” My daughter recently memorized the bridge of “How Great You Are” and has many nights gone to bed singing the bridge “let my whole life be to You a sacrifice” which has completely moved me and I love her child-like faith that Jesus describes in The Bible. I’m a big fan of transparent and vulnerable lyrics, and By Faith is chock-full of that type of prayerful song, which was co-written with and features Jared Anderson from Desperation Band After that worshipful moment, our pastor led us in celebrating communion and as we prayed over the elements, Elissa and Becca led us in singing “How Great Thou Art.” “Legacy” opens with the stirring lyrics: “I have a friend who died for Jesus in Nepal, Simply a servant responding to God’s call, Who would have guessed the day he left would be our final goodbye, Just 26 with such a passion for the lost, Sold everything just to lead them to the cross, He never knew the price to follow through would cost him his life.” The song moves me to tears every time I listen to it and each of my daughters has asked to watch the compelling music video many times: http://www.newreleasetuesday.com/videodetail.php?video_id=3843. The bridge sums up the theme of our calling as Christians: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” The chorus is completely captivating, catchy and a worshipful response to die to ourselves: “I wanna love enough to give, give enough to die, Die enough to live my life for such a Sacrifice, I wanna follow in the truth and walk the road that leads them to You, And by Your grace, let it be enough.” Amen!
After that poignant moment, the night ended on two more upbeat songs, “Dearly Loved” which also addresses our identity as “dearly loved” in Christ and “All Over The World,” which Becca announced was her favorite song and is a call to evangelize as the crowd got back on our feet and all sang out “Yeah nothin’ can stop the music from playing everywhere we go, There’s a fire inside us, We gotta let it out, We gotta let the whole world know / Sing it loud, oh All over the world we’re gonna sing, gonna sing, All over the world it’ll be heard that Jesus saves, All over the world, All over the world, Until everyone sings His Name all over the world.” The song fires me up to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
“The Sonflowerz didn’t have a traditional beginning for a band,” explains Elissa. “Our first ‘concerts’ were invitations from churches to lead worship in our hometown of Colorado Springs. From there we performed in local coffee shops and almost anywhere that would have us! I was about 15 when I picked up the guitar and began playing and singing. Writing songs quickly followed in devotional times while playing guitar and worshipping God.” Elissa and Becca are truly anointed singer-songwriters and I love singing this song along with these talented sisters at the top of my lungs. If you like songs that are filled with biblical Truth and enjoy bands like Point of Grace and BarlowGirl with female harmonies, then look no further than The Sonflowerz. Their newest album By Faith is filled with great harmonies, vertical worship lyrics and every song is an offering of praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus. Don’t hesitate to bring them to your church or event. You’ll be greatly blessed by their radiance and worshipful and uplifting songs.