A catalog of original songs by UMobile students and alumni is being developed, meanwhile, by the label's publishing arm, University of Mobile Publishing.
Jeff Quimby, 8Eighty Records general manager, said the record label is the next logical step for the university's Center for Performing Arts/School of Music and its School of Worship Leadership, whose alumni include such Christian music artists as the group Big Daddy Weave and Chris Lockwood of 33 Miles. UMobile connections also include Dove Award recipients Kenn Hughes, assistant professor of music and director of instrumental studies, and alumnus Steven V. Taylor, a Nashville producer and a guest lecturer at the Alabama Baptist-affiliated university.
"We are developing talented Christian artists and worship leaders as students, and we were looking for opportunities to develop them beyond graduation," said Quimby, who also is the label's director of A&R (artists and repertoire). UMobile graduates are performing at churches and other venues throughout the region as solo artists and in groups including male vocal group Veritas; and university ensembles such as Voices of Mobile, Impact, Exit 13, RamCorps and Jazz Band have garnered attention through their national/international appearances.
Quimby will be scouting talent, producing, arranging recording sessions, and signing new artists. He brings extensive experience to the new label as a former A&R manager at Integrity Music, having been involved with albums that garnered Dove Award nominations and Christian radio hits including the No. 1 AC single "Everlasting God" by Lincoln Brewster. Quimby also has worked with such artists as Nicole Nordeman, Kari Jobe, Desperation Band, Michael Gungor, Jared Anderson and Margaret Becker.
A new recording studio under construction in UMobile's Martin Hall is expected to be complete by November and will include the latest technology to give students opportunities both to record and produce CDs in the same type of professional environment they will encounter in their music careers.
The name, 8Eighty Records, was proposed by a UMobile student who noted that the university campus encompasses 880 acres in north Mobile County, Alabama.
UMobile artist-in-residence Jason Breland is executive director of 8Eighty Records. Additionally, Breland is a recording artist and worship pastor at First Baptist North Mobile. The UMobile Center for Performing Arts/School of Music (CPA) Center for Performing Arts was started more than a decade ago by Breland's father, Roger Breland, now executive director of UMobile's College of Christian Leadership for training, developing and education the next generation of church leaders. Breland founded the groundbreaking contemporary Christian group TRUTH, which produced generations of leaders in Christian music including 4Him, Avalon, Natalie Grant, Steve Green, Russ Lee, Anthony Evans, Alicia, Kim Noblitt, and Dick and Mel Tunney.
The university's move into the record business is part of a new academic program in the School of Worship Leadership. Students may concentrate in areas such as music business, technology, film and theatre, and church ministry. The program aims to train worship pastors, media directors, studio musicians and engineers, film and stage performers, recording artists and songwriters.
"Our mission is to impact the church with worship and songs of faith through God's unique gifts and abilities of the student body and alumni from the University of Mobile," Quimby said. "Our purpose is to proclaim the wonders of God through concert, performance presentation publishing, recording, radio, television and internet communication."
Roger Breland, meanwhile, noted, "Our vision is that students will have the biblical foundation, the musical and technical tools, and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit necessary to fulfill God's call in their lives."
8Eighty Records' first album, "Our God is Faithful: Live Worship from the University of Mobile" recorded live at UMobile's Ram Hall, features eight songs that blend original material by students and alumni with covers of popular worship songs.
Quimby said the recording reflects "in every way an amazing night of worship by University of Mobile students singing to their Creator in an authentic expression of true worship. The energy in the room was incredible."
Songs like "Our God Is Faithful," "Jesus," "Sing to the King" and "We Will Sing" will move beyond the university campus, Quimby predicted, and gain widespread use in churches.
The title track, "Our God is Faithful" by UMobile alumnus Zach Adamson, "is a powerful song of hope and reminds us of the never-changing, steadfast love of our God," Quimby said. "The project's underlying theme, the faithfulness of God, is really a banner for and over the campus of the university."
Downloads may be purchased for $10 through www.8EightyRecords.com and CDs may be ordered for $10 by calling 8Eighty Records at 251-442-2553 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Songs will be available through iTunes on Sept. 17.
The record label is on the Web at www.8EightyRecords.com and on Facebook and Twitter.
Approximately 1,800 students are enrolled in the University of Mobile's 40-plus undergraduate and graduate programs in the School of Worship Leadership, Center for Performing Arts/School of Music, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Christian Leadership, School of Business, School of Christian Ministries, School of Education, School of Nursing and Center for Adult Programs. The university is on the Web at www.umobile.edu.
Kathy Dean is director of media relations for the University of Mobile. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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