Internationally acclaimed recording artist and classically trained violinist Jean Watson on Thursday announced the release of her new album, Sacred, releasing on Oct. 19 from Truthfulmusic Productions and Elevate Entertainment.
Produced by celebrated, multi-Grammy and Dove Award-nominated Christian music pioneer Billy Smiley for Northern Shore Productions, the new album features eleven new and ancient songs of the Church, featuring guest performances from the likes of guitar maestro Phil Keaggy, cellist Matt Slocum, and legendary vocalist Matthew Ward.
"I have always dreamed of recording a 'hymns' project, but I never imagined that my dream would be fulfilled in such grand style," Watson says. "Producer Billy Smiley caught my vision to set ancient and modern hymns in a 'Celtic Woman' style, and amazing artists Phil Keaggy, Matt Slocum, and Matthew Ward graciously added their talents. The result was literally Sacred--a powerful worship experience that I can't wait to share with the world!"
Smiley adds, "Jean and I have been working together for quite some time, and this has all culminated into one of the most exciting projects I have ever been a part of with her. Sacredbrings the old and the new together in such a way that everyone can be touched when they hear this special music."
On Sacred, Watson expands on the ethereal, Celtic-flavored musical direction that was so prevalent on her previous album, Wonder, and pushes its boundaries even further to embody the world music sound she says fans have been clamoring for. However, Watson says she refuses to be boxed in by artificial constraints and adds a multitude of fresh new sounds that will no doubt surprise and delight longtime fans, hopefully creating new ones along the way.
Examples of songs featured on the new record include the opening track, "Ubi Caritas/Gather Us In," which launches with a haunting, lyrical Gregorian Chant, undergirded by lithe piano and understated strings. On "Doxology," known by the older generation as the "Old 100th," Watson puts a fresh twist on a song where most people are only familiar with the single verse usually sung in contemporary worship services.
Other songs include "Prepare the Way," which was inspired by the classic hymn "Lift Up Your Head, Ye Mighty Gates." She also reworks the centuries-old hymn, "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say," into a yearning, soaring Celtic aria.
Cellist Matt Slocum makes a guest appearance on the graceful, lyrical "St. Patrick's Breastplate." An 18th-century poem by Richard Hutchins was the inspiration for the delightfully whimsical "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree," which equates Christ with the Tree of Life.
The unmistakable voice of Matthew Ward graces the updated version of the beloved hymn, "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee." "Fairest Lord Jesus" takes on a wistful charm as Watson's evocative vocals are enhanced with sweet violins and the unmatched guitar artistry of Phil Keaggy.
"I am thrilled to be able to share these wonderful older songs of the Church with a new audience," Watson says. "The words are so rich, and the message so powerful. I hope the music will reach hearts that may not have yet been impacted with their story of grace, love and mercy."
With a music video for "St. Patrick's Breastplate" shot in Ireland currently in the works, Sacredis available for pre-order now here.