About City of God:
The City of God project was produced by Grammy nominated, Dove Award winning Producer of the Year Ian Eskelin (Francesca Battistelli, Sidewalk Prophets, Chris August, Hawk Nelson), Grammy, Dove nominated producer/mixer Barry Weeks (Kelly Clarkson, Backstreet Boys, Francesca Battistelli), and Austin Cannon (Vertical Worship, Lincoln Brewster, Christy Nockels), who produced the "City of God" and "All Things New" remixes. City of God features songwriting collaborations with Eskelin, Grammy nominee Sarah Hart (Amy Grant, Celtic Woman, Matt Maher, Laura Story, Audrey Assad), and Dove Award winner, SESAC Country Song of the Year award winner, and CMA & ACM nominee Brian White (Danny Gokey, Mandisa, Rodney Atkins, Rascal Flatts), among others.
City of God runs the stylistic gamut from CCM pop and Americana to heartfelt worship. The Cashmans imbue each song on the album with an intimate spiritual vitality that comes from spending time in the Word. But more than that, the project as a whole lays a firm foundation of worship and discipleship.
For the Cashmans, who met in 2004 when they were both playing their songs in the Boston music scene, and who dated while ministering, discipleship is far from being just a tagline or byword--it has become a long-term commitment and a way of life.
"Britney and I are both products of personal discipleship, which is why we have such a heart for it," Jonathan Cashman explains. "That is the focus of "City of God," and a number of the other songs on this album. As followers of Jesus, this is our response to the gospel--going into the harvest and engaging in the Great Commission."
The compelling, cello-embellished contemporary pop-folk ballad, "City of God," co-written with Hart (co-writer of Amy Grant's "Better Than a Hallelujah"), is an intense call to action. We will go, to the world He so loves / Oh, we will go, building the city of God, Jonathan and Britney declare as they encourage listeners to come along on this journey of faith. Fans will also enjoy a thumping, drum-and-bass embellished EDM (Electric Dance Mix) bonus track version of the song, and they can look forward to a music video version, which is slated to release in conjunction with the CD.
The Cashmans collaborated with Hart on several other songs on City of God, including the gentle acoustic anthem, "Harvest," the contemporary hymn, "The Glory and the Grace," and the up-tempo praise song, "Let Everything Praise."
Jonathan and Britney Cashman co-wrote the bouncy, can't-get-it-out-of-your-head pop tune, "All Things New," with Grammy nominated songwriter Ian Eskelin (Jeremy Camp's "I Will Follow" and Francesca Battistelli's "My Paper Heart"). "It is another picture of the Gospel," Britney Cashman explains. "Jesus makes all things new. It sounds like a simple concept, but when you think about what it really means, being made new is a pretty incredible thing." City of God also features a spunky dance remix of "All Things New" that will compel listeners to get up on their feet.
Britney takes over lead vocals on the driving rock anthem, "Your Love," co-written by Britney, Jonathan and Brian White, and on the heartfelt piano ballad, "Surrender."
"Britney wrote 'Surrender' quite a while ago, and it has touched more people than I can count," says Jonathan. "It has become somewhat of an 'ender' song for us. We frequently end concerts with this song because it is so powerful in reaching people's hearts."
"The whole concept of identity is hugely important," Jonathan says of the acoustic guitar-driven "Children of God." "When you know who you are in Christ, when you know you are not just some mistake but that you are actually a child of God, it changes everything. Not only do you know who you are, you know what you are to do. You were created for a purpose. That's really the story behind 'Children of God.' It's a gospel-centric tune based around the first chapter of the Gospel of John."
"Reaching" is an upbeat, stompy-pop tune that encourages listeners to use one hand to reach out to God and the other to reach out to hurting hearts.
Britney wrote "Home" unexpectedly and late in the game, when the recording process was nearly complete. Consequently, the song almost didn't make it onto the album. "Home" was birthed during a time of major changes for The Cashmans when they felt called to sell their home and move back to Nashville to further their ministry. Growing up with the challenges of a broken home, Britney says moving often represented a sense of insecurity and a lack of stability in her life. "I was reminded by our heavenly Father that in the shelter of His presence we are home," Britney says. "It was a special moment for me personally as I wrote the song, and it has been really sweet to see how it has impacted and resonated with listeners. I'm really glad the song made the final cut on the CD."
Sweet strings and acoustic guitars undergird the prayerful, meandering "Carried to the Table," the only cover tune on the album. Written by Leeland Mooring, Marc Byrd, and Steve Hindalong, the song draws on the story of Mephibosheth, the crippled grandson of King Saul, whom King David had carried to his table. "The table of the king covered Mephibosheth's brokenness," Jonathan explains. "It is such a beautiful picture of the Gospel, and how Christ's blood covers our brokenness, that we wanted to include it on this album.
"I love sharing my story when we do this song live," Jonathan continues. "I can relate a lot with Mephibosheth in the sense that I felt completely unworthy of the King's acceptance when, like him, I was picked up and carried out of my place of brokenness and shame. I came to Christ in my early twenties when Dave, the guitarist in my band at the time, became a Christian and started witnessing to me and our other bandmates. I thought he'd lost it, or gotten himself into a cult or something, because in my home state of Rhode Island, if you're religious but not Catholic, you're probably in a cult," Jonathan jokingly explained. "I was steeped in a heavy party lifestyle at the time, living out the whole sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll thing. I noticed a genuine change for the good in Dave which intrigued me... he was your average Dave one day, then this guy, this compassionate, loving, somewhat annoying guy who kept telling us about the love of Jesus and the gospel. This started us talking and I finally agreed to go to church with him. I reluctantly showed up at his small New England Assemblies of God church one morning, hung over from a long night of partying. During the worship, even though musically I thought it was horrible and my head was pounding, I encountered the presence of God. I felt like Mephibosheth did, like a dead dog in the presence of the King, so I really relate with this message."
The peace-inflected, piano-driven prayer, "Speak to Me," written by Britney Cashman and Rebekah White, closes the project. "Sometimes we feel like God is silent," Britney says. "Sometimes we feel distant from God, even though He is always speaking through His Word and through His people. When we are in those situations, sometimes we just have to press through in prayer. "Speak to Me" is a song I wrote during a time I personally really needed to hear from God. My hope is that through this song, others are inspired to express their hearts through prayer and to spend time in the presence of God through worship and the reading of His Word. He speaks, but often we just need to do a better job of listening."
"Our hope for City of God is that people will be introduced or reminded of the power of the gospel and will be encouraged to get engaged, and to take the Great Commission seriously," Jonathan says of the project. "The two pillars of our ministry are discipleship and worship. Britney's heart beats worship, and my strength lies in the discipleship arena, speaking and encouraging the church to get involved in the Great Commission. Worship allows people to experience the presence of God, but then there needs to be a purpose and plan to do something about it. That's where discipleship comes in."
The couple recalls their encounter with Kevin, a young man who had given his life to Christ just a few days before he reached out to their church's prayer line, where Jonathan was the Worship and Life Groups Pastor. Kevin had felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to confess his infidelities to his wife, and was distraught when she threatened to leave him.
"I knew this man needed prayer, but he also needed a lot more," Jonathan explains. "I invited him to a small group I had just started, and week by week, month by month, we prayed for him, listened to him, mentored him, discipled him, and became friends with him. It was rough going for a while. As you can imagine, Kevin's wife was skeptical. But I began to see a change in Kevin as he grew in his relationship with Christ, and eventually his wife saw a change in him, too. After about a year, she believed that the Lord had done a genuine work in Kevin, recommitted to the relationship, and committed her life to Christ, as well. That's just one example of what we've seen the Lord do through discipleship."
In addition to The Cashmans' music ministry, they are also published authors. Jonathan wrote the devotional book, 40 Days with the SAVIOR with co-author, theologian Andrew Sargent, PhD. Both Jonathan and Britney collaborated with Sargent on their latest book, GO!: Making 21st Century Disciple Makers.
While The Cashmans have toured approximately 150 days per year for a number of years, City of God represents their debut national release and gives long-time fans, as well as those who are just now discovering their music, a reason to rejoice.
"This is somewhat of a debut for us on the national stage," says Jonathan. "We are excited to get the music and message out there, and we hope people who hear us will experience Christ through the music."