As the children of Israel followed Moses toward the Promised Land, so too did a gathering of today’s most influential country artists who dedicated themselves and their talents to an endeavor that will long be regarded as a sacred musical journey.
It’s taken four years for perhaps one of the most innovative and inspirational entertainment works to ultimately come full circle. With unyielding commitment, heart and soul, The Prince of Egypt is now at hand.
In addition to the animated feature film spectacular, slated to open in theaters nationwide on December 18th, the music which coincides with the long-awaited picture is undeniably as miraculous. The Prince of Egypt, a stirring film about the life of biblical hero Moses, marks the only motion picture in history to produce three simultaneously released albums — a feature soundtrack plus two “inspired by” discs (The Prince of Egypt – Nashville, featuring country artists, and The Prince of Egypt – Inspirational, featuring pop, urban and gospel performers).
Along with such nationally renowned artists as Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, Amy Grant and BeBe & CeCe Winans, a host of the most praised and well-respected performers in the history of modern country music have banded together to create a unique album of 17 entirely new songs solely inspired by The Prince of Egypt film. Ironically, each song represented on all musical works was actually written after the picture was produced to match the several scenes throughout the movie.
The all-star lineup powering the James Stroud-produced The Prince of Egypt – Nashville disc on DreamWorks Records features 13 platinum-selling artists. Included in the stellar performance roster are such long-established superstars as Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Randy Travis (in a duet with Linda Davis), Clint Black, Alabama, Wynonna, Charlie Daniels and Pam Tillis, whose cut was produced by Marty Stuart, to newer favorites like Faith Hill, Toby Keith, Mindy McCready, Steven Curtis Chapman and Alison Krauss. Additionally, one of country’s newest future stars, making her national debut on the release, is 15-year-old Jessica Andrews. The young singing sensation is tapped to make her national television debut appearances on TNN’s Crook & Chase on November 16th and on Prime Time Country, along with other contributing country artists, on November 17th. Krauss’ “I Give You To His Heart” is already in the hands of national radio with a video currently running on CMT, and Wynonna’s powerful “Freedom” is being issued this month, also supported by a video.
Music City also numbers contributions from three of Nashville’s ace tunesmiths, Gary Chapman, Mac McAnally and Beth Nielsen Chapman.
Each artist who bowed graciously to the unique musical challenge left both the studio and the preview screening of the film with new personal vision, as well as a newfound respect for truly grasping the intense power of music:
“When I saw it (The Prince of Egypt), the wind was knocked out of me,” admits Wynonna. “It was so beautiful and big. I forgot it was animated because it’s brilliant and real to life. This isn’t anything like I’ve seen before. The song, ‘Freedom,’ itself, is so simple, and that’s what I love about it. You’re not going to learn anything new here. But you’re going to see yourself in the song, and hear it and think ‘freedom — what does that mean to me?'”
“I think that of all the biblical movies that have been done over the years,” says Vince Gill, “that this one will be really special because of the animation. And I just think it’s a really sweet and pure way that the story of Moses can be told to not only adults but to children, and in a way that they both will enjoy. ‘Once In A While,’ the song I’ve written is about hope, it’s about dreams. The chorus states ‘Don’t ever stop believing in the truth; you might think that dreams don’t come true, but once in a while they do.'”
“I’m happy about the song,” says Clint Black of the song “Slavery, Deliverance and Faith,” “because it helped me to grow as an artist. It was a wonderful and different experience to record and write a song like this.”
“I think it is exciting that this animated movie has such a powerful message,” admits Mindy McCready. “The timing is perfect. Seeing this movie and feeling the music will bring people together. Truly, this is the ‘Greatest Story Ever Told.’ People will be touched.”
“I was inspired when Moses started realizing what he was, that he was not of Egyptian blood, but he was Hebrew,” explains Charlie Daniels. “He was a son of a slave woman. And he saw the misery that these people were putting up with and that he was of their blood. He couldn’t stand to see it. And when he got to feeling that he was the one that God was going to use to bring these people out of slavery, what an awesome feeling that must have been, and that’s basically what our song, ‘Could It Be Me,’ is about.”
“We are honored to be among the artists chosen to contribute to The Prince of Egypt project,” admits Teddy Gentry of super group Alabama. “The entire work was an inspiration from start to finish.” Randy Owen adds, “Writing the song, ‘The Voice,’ for The Prince of Egypt was a labor of love. We are proud of our contribution and also for the chance to work with producer James Stroud. Hopefully, we captured in song the spirit we felt in our hearts.”
“The Prince of Egypt is going to be a classic,” proclaims Reba. “It’s going to be something that my grandchildren will watch. I’m very proud to be a part of this project, because it’s a part of history, it’s a part of our past. Gary Burr and Sonny Russ came up with a beautiful song (for me) called ‘Please Be The One,’ and the first time I heard the song, it reminded me of the time when Moses was walking through the desert; he was so confused, he didn’t know what or where he belonged. He knew he didn’t belong in Egypt, and he was walking and singing, and I know he was saying to himself, ‘Deliver me. Please be the one to help me, lead me, guide me.’ ‘Please Be The One’ was just like yes, this is the one to sing for the album. It was perfect.”
“It’s a real story,” says Linda Davis of The Prince of Egypt. “The story of Moses and there’s so many elements to his life. A lot of people think, ‘Well, that was then.’ But what’s beautiful about this story is that it applies to today. I think it’s what makes it timeless, because it’s a story that lives on. It’s ever relevant.”
“I loved the fact that it brought scripture to life,” admits singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman, who penned and performs “Heartbeat of Hope.” “Even though it was animated, the film is so incredibly done that I felt that I was watching the story unfolding; it made it more real to me.”
“Moses tried to take care of his brother until the bitter end, all the while trying to do God’s will,” explains country newcomer Jessica Andrews. “I walked away from the movie inspired by his story, yet overwhelmed at seeing his life told on film.”
“I think the best songs just fall into place and they’re sort of channeled,” says Pam Tillis. “It was neat because Marty (Stuart, who produced Pam’s “Milk And Honey”) is a real spiritual person. We said a little prayer that our song would be anointed and we went to work. And also, Marty has a great little warehouse with all different kinds of cool memorabilia and instruments. So I used Mother Maybelle’s old guitar and he had Johnny Cash’s guitar from the 50s, and it made the whole project feel like real magic.”
“The part that inspired me was the love between him (Moses) and his brother,” says Toby Keith, who wails out the phenomenal “I Can’t Be A Slave.” “Basically, it was like ‘no matter what happens between us, you got your people and I got mine, but we’re brothers and friends.’ I saw the movie and was completely blown away by it. It could be here forever.”
“The name of the song is ‘I Give You To His Heart,'” states Alison Krauss. “And it’s from the viewpoint of Moses’ mother when she has to give up Moses so he won’t be killed. She sends him down the river. It’s a love song. It’s heartbreaking when you think of somebody, a mother or whoever, giving up somebody for their own good. I think anybody could understand this song.”
“My song, ‘You Are My Light,’ is about the journey and learning to embrace every twist and every turn and every crest of a hill and valley is really what it is all about,” says Gary Chapman. “The hand of God literally leading them; I’m still in wilderness land, but underneath all of that is the belief that the destination is not necessarily the singular point, the journey is equally as important. That’s what I tried to say in the song. It’s just incredible to be inspired by any work of art, whether it’s a great painting or a great song or a great movie. And this one does it. It really, really does.”
“The song ‘Make It Through’ relates to what the Bible tells you,” explains Randy Travis. “When times get hard, lean on what the Bible has taught you. Live in the Word, so to speak, and you will make it through. There are many things in the film that will inspire us all. The courage it took for Moses to do God’s will by leading the people out of Egypt. That could inspire anyone. We all have certain talents and gifts and they’re God-given and I believe he expects us to use them in the right manner.”
“I believe the film will, for people such as myself who go in thinking, ‘I know this stuff,’ I think it will shed a new light on what’s most important, to be gathered from those stories,” adds artist Mac McAnally, who penned and performs “The Moving of The Mountain.” “And also, it will expose a whole generation of kids who are not really exposed yet to the Old Testament.”
“It’s a deep film that inspired the songs,” states singer/songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman, who sings “Godspeed.” “And I know that when I was there, different artists were getting up and talking about the songs that they were going to write and how they were inspired by what they saw. It was interesting how everyone picked a slightly different scene that touched them and that would be the spark for something.”
“When I heard the song ‘Somewhere Down The Road,’ written by Amy Grant and Wayne Kirkpatrick, it just felt right for this project…the message it conveys,” says Faith Hill. “It’s exciting to be a part of an album like this and to also be a part of a DreamWorks animated feature. It is truly a timeless piece of work.”
“It’s not necessarily a country album,” concludes critically acclaimed producer James Stroud. “It’s a Nashville album. It’s a Community album. It’s a group of artists that live in Nashville. A group of writers that work there, producers and creative people that have seen the film and have been touched by it and inspired by it. And they get together. And whatever comes out of their hearts and their minds and through their pencils and through their voices is what it is. And so we’ve tried to be real careful with that, and be very tender with each artist and say, ‘Look — if it’s not country, it’s okay. If it is country, that’s alright, too. But go where your inspiration leads you.’ That’s what our intention was and I think that’s what makes this album so special. Because it’s not processed, it’s not planned, it’s inspired.”
It’s The Prince of Egypt. See the movie and hear the music. You will be touched by its power.