Shake Word Promo
John Schlitt's new album, Shake, finds him with a gold album, two
Grammy Awards, multiple Dove Awards, and numerous other accolades
already under his belt as Christian rock's premier vocalist, Petra's
lead singer, and former lead singer for Head East. Having sold
millions of recordings with Petra and Head East, Schlitt doesn't
rest on his past successes, nor does he play it safe musically.
Instead this rock icon marks his own territory, mixing pop and rock
music with a message!
Stepping out on his own almost three years ago, Schlitt began
accepting requests for solo artist concert appearances. As his solo
career developed, it caught the attention of Nashville-based Word
Records. Word recognized Schlitt's capabilities as a vocalist and
front man for their top-selling band Petra, and began to discuss
solo artist possibilities. 'John wanted to make his own mark,' said
Word Records A & R Director Bubba Smith, 'And this is no junior
Petra recording. Rather, a fresh new recording that's all John
In his first attempt at songwriting, John wrote the number-one hit
'Just Reach Out' on Petra's 1994 release. On his debut release, John
showcases his versatility, not only as a vocalist, but as a
songwriter, co-writing 9 of the 10 songs on Shake. 'I just felt that
God has given me a lot to say, and being involved in the songwriting
on Shake allowed me to communicate what's on my heart,' says
Relishing his creative freedom as a solo artist, Schlitt purposed to
stretch musically 'I've had more fun on this record than on any
other record I've ever done, because I was responsible for it. There
is a lot to me that I've never been able to do with Petra, only
because Petra doesn't need all those facets. But this was a chance
to try different things and stretch it.'
To make his solo aspirations gel musically, Schlitt called on a
diverse group of well-known producers and musicians. The producers
recruited for the project included: Mark Heimermann, Greg Nelson
and, two highly accomplished musicians turned producers, Dann Huff
and David Huff. Heimermann, who played keyboards and sang back up on
several tunes, teamed up with Dann Huff to produce four songs, Dann
and David produced three songs and Greg Nelson produced three songs
'While there are three or four very different styles of music on the
record, and three different producer teams, the record still
maintains a unified feel,' says Schlitt. 'This producer combination
is absolutely the full spectrum of where I am. If you could look
inside me and know my musical taste or musical genre, then this
record is it.'
Expanding his musical identity, Schlitt set out to include on Shake
styles of music that crossed several different genres. Teaming Mark
Heimermann with Dann Huff to co-produce the song 'Let It Show'
accomplished this goal and became one of the most intriguing songs
on the album. 'The vocal style started out most unnatural for me,
but the words came easy.' 'Let It Show,' with its driving percussion
and its heavy rock guitar punches, encourages listeners to let their
Even when they shake you
Really try to brake you
That's the time to let it show
Inherent with John Schlitt's music there is a message. 'I'm an
encourager. I want Christians especially to realize that we have
more power. We need to cut through the bondage of what the world has
conditioned us to think, act and do, and start functioning the way
God wants us to. God's waiting for us to do our part.' And Schlitt
does his part by participating in events such as the True Love Waits
campaign for abstinence before marriage, by acting as a spokesperson
for the relief agency Compassion International, as well as by
encouraging hundreds of thousands of fans annually while in concert.
Even with his album title John sends a message. Schlitt entitled the
album Shake, because he wanted it to convey the duel meaning of the
energy of the music and urgency of the message. 'It's using music
that gets people excited, but also shakes things up. I don't pretend
it's going to change the world, but it may do its part.' John came
up with the concept for the album title while reading in Hebrews:
'Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens ...
so that what cannot be shaken may remain.' Hebrews 12: 26 -27
A strong message is further found in the rock anthems, 'Carry The
Burden' and the opening cut 'Wake The Dead.' 'Some people call this
the dead generation. That dead generation is waiting to hear the
life giving message that only these Christian kids can give because
they know the answer. They need to let their light shine - let
people know how being a Christian has changed their lives.'
Another area Schlitt wanted to explore with his first solo record
was bringing his message through a more of a pop music feel. 'I
didn't want the album to be all rock. Greg Nelson has always been to
me the epitome of an inspirational, adult contemporary producer.'
With Greg's guidance in the studio, John felt comfortable exploring
his vocal range. 'I didn't even know I had that range,' claimed
Schlitt of the lower range featured an the opening of the powerful
gospel ballad, 'The Road To Calvary.' With so much energy and gritty
power found even in his lower voice range, to his soaring rich voice
on the song's chorus, John challenges us to contemplate Christ on
that road to Calvary.
One of the highlights for John on the album was working with his
daughter Kari on the ballad 'One By One.' 'I wanted my daughter to
be part of this record. Not do I only love this song, but just to
have her as part of that background team (made up of well-known
studio vocalists Donna McElroy, Vicki Hampton, and Kim Fleming) is
always going to make that song very special to me. I will I never
Family is a priority to John. Residing in Franklin, Tennessee, John
and his wife Dorla, are very committed to raising their four
children, Kari, John Jr., Christopher and Krey. But family life
hasn't always been an important element for John. During his stead
as lead vocalist for Head East from 1973 to 1980, John says he went
from a kid who just wanted to sing and entertain people to an
alcoholic and cocaine addict who was willing to put music and his
career before anything - including his own health and his wife and
family. 'I was willing to sacrifice everything that was really
important for the promise of fame and fortune. Head East and its
success was my entire focal point for seven years,' John reflects.
In 1980 John left Head East because of the group's internal
problems, but he did not give up his dreams of fame and fortune.
After a failed attempt at starting a new band, John became so
depressed that he considered suicide. During this time, John's wife,
Dorla, started to attend Bible studies and church regularly. Soon
afterward she led John back to the faith of his childhood. 'Not only
did God for- give me for all I had done, but He also gave me back my
life, my family and my chance to sing again,' said John.
For four years, John worked at odd jobs, including digging drainage
ditches, sweeping floors, and working in an oil shale mine. After
rising up the corporate ladder and becoming head engineer at a
mining company in 1985, John received a call from Bob Hartman who
asked him to join Petra as lead singer. Having heard the group, John
knew it was time to combine his new found faith with the music and
message of Petra.
After nine years and six successful albums with Petra and future
Petra albums already in the works, John has now expanded his
ministry to include his own solo career. 'This project won't take me
any further than what God has planned, but it was what I was hoping
for - from the album cover to the producers to the final project as
Concert after concert in cities throughout the world, John Schlitt
succeeds in connecting with exuberant fans who have come to expect
from him a powerful performance along with a non-compromising
message. Whether touring with Petra, or on his own solo tour,
Schlitt continues to exemplify his faith and position as Christian
rock's premiere vocalist, while the aftershock of Shake will be felt
Mike Keil & Assoc.
Jeff Roberts & Assoc.