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Published: Saturday, 1/12/2008

Faith notes: Christian rockers Family Force 5 like to have fun

Family Force 5 will appear in Lima for a Valentine's Day show. Family Force 5 will appear in Lima for a Valentine's Day show.

If you have not yet heard of Family Force 5, you will. It's just a matter of time.

The colorful five-man Christian rock band from Atlanta who describe their Southern brand of rock and hip-hop as "crunk rock" swept seven categories in CCM magazine's 2008 Readers' Choice Awards.

With more than 24,000 readers voting, Family Force 5 finished first in the categories of best artist, best band, most underrated artist, best live performance, artist you'd most like to see on the cover of CCM, mostly likely to be the breakout artists of 2008, and best Web site.

Trailing behind FF5 were such heavy hitters as tobyMac, Skillet, Casting Crowns, Leeland, and Thousand Foot Krutch.

Family Force 5 stands out in the Christian rock scene because the band's songs are melodic, energetic, and fun, the lyrics have spirituality without being preachy, and the musicians are extremely savvy entertainers.

"If a music store had a 'party' section and a 'firecracker' section, I think we'd be placed right between those," singer Solomon Olds, aka "Soul Glow Activatur," told CCM. "That's what I feel like our music is. It's very fun and very energy-oriented."

All five members have zany stage names: guitarist Derek Mount is "Chap Stique"; drummer Jacob Olds is "Crouton"; Jacob's twin brother, bassist Joshua Olds, is "Fatty," and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Currin is "Nadaddy."

The band got its start in the mid-1990s as The Brothers, then changed its name to Phamily before switching to Family Force 5.

The creation of man as depicted in "The Manga Bible." The creation of man as depicted in "The Manga Bible."
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FF5 was signed by tobyMac's label, Gotee Records, and its debut disc, "Business Up Front, Party in the Back," was released in 2006 to both Christian and mainstream markets.

The group made its Toledo debut last March at the Stranahan Theater, opening for tobyMac and Thousand Foot Krutch, and returns to northwest Ohio for a Valentine's Day show at The Axis in Lima - along with Falling Up, Spoken, and Toledo's own This Beautiful Republic.

If you want to party with FF5, you'd be well advised to get your tickets early.


NUMBERS UP: Palm Sunday falls on March 16 this year - as in 3/16 - and Thomas Nelson Publishers has taken the initiative to make the most of that numerical sequence.

The Christian publishing firm wants to distribute 316 million copies of a booklet called The 3:16 Promise, by best-selling author Max Lucado, who puts his folksy writing style into meditatations on the Gospel of John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

The booklet retails for $2.99 but Nelson is offering it for $1.99 to groups that buy 300 copies or more, and will include a free companion booklet, God So Loved You: A 40-Day Devotional.

More information is available by calling 800-933-9673 or online at www.nelsonministryservices.com.


ART FOR THE POOR: This week, a number of top Christian artists are meeting in Perthshire, Scotland, to write songs to help the needy.

Participants include Steven Curtist Chapman; Michael W. Smith; Israel Houghton; Darlene Zschech of Hillsong fame; Delirious? members Martin Smith and Stu Garrard; Matt Redman, and Graham Kendrick.

The group had planned to collectively write 10 to 12 songs and give all proceeds to Compassionart, a charity based in Littlehampton, England, that uses works of art to generate income to help the world's poor.

After just a few days, however, the group has exceeded its goal by writing 21 "strong" songs, Martin said.

Smitty added: "In a word, this week has simply been 'unbelievable.' It's incredible to be working with all of these artists for a worthy cause. Laying down your own agenda really frees you in so many ways, and this week has been a pure joy."

The songwriters, publishers, managers, agents, and copyright institutes all waived their rights to the music so that 100 percent of royalties will go to charity.

More information is available online at www.compassionart.co.uk.


DIFFERENT STROKES: Comic illustrator Siku, a Nigerian born Briton whose real name is Ajibayo Akinsiku, has put his artistic skills to work in creating a revolutionary new book, The Manga Bible.

Due for release Tuesday by Doubleday, The Manga Bible offers a radical new look at Scriptures using comic-book drawings and contemporary language.

For those unfamiliar with Manga, it is a Japanese art form that was inspired by Disney cartoons of the 1950s, according to Siku, and is quickly gaining fans worldwide.

The vivid, slashing style of Manga provided the artistic inspiration for The Matrix movies and can be seen in the "Final Fantasy" video games, according to Siku.

The Manga Bible takes excerpts of the Scriptures, condensing them down to their key concepts, and presents them in ways that teenagers and young readers can relate to.

More information can be found online at www.themangabible.com.

David Yonke is The Blade's religion editor. Contact him at dyonke@theblade.com.

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