by Davin Seay for the Music Channel at crosswalk.com

Just what the world needs: another Christian record company

Observers of the modern music scene might well be forgiven for heaving a weary sigh with the news of a new Christian record label elbowing its way into an already crowded and highly competitive arena. At a time when everything from new groups to production companies to web sights of every description are created overnight to service smaller and smaller segments of the Christian music audience, the wisdom of yet another company clamoring for attention might seem, at best, dubious.

But, in the case of Sovereign Productions, there is a discernible difference, not only in the content and quality of the Placentia, California-based company, but in the founding principles on which this young, pioneering venture have been built.

"It's important that we not construct tabernacles around the past, but continue to move forward, working from the foundations laid in the last twenty-five years of contemporary Christian worship." So says Carl Tuttle, founder and CEO of Sovereign Records on the vision that undergirds Sovereign's approach to creating groundbreaking new musical expressions for the modern church.

For historians of Christian music, the name Carl Tuttle is a familiar one indeed. Widely known as the "father of Vineyard worship," Tuttle's standing in the Christian music community rests on such classic compositions as "Hosanna," "Oh, Lord Have Mercy" and "All The Earth Shall Worship," and two solid decades of experience as a worship leader and pastor, much of it as a Senior pastor and Worship Leader at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Anaheim, Calif.

It was in 1997 that Tuttle resigned his post at the Vineyard to pursue the unique vision of a record label that would facilitate a rising generation of musical ministers in creating worship for the new millennium. Two years later, working with another Vineyard veteran, worship leader Scott Malone, who now serves as the company's A&R ears, Tuttle founded Sovereign Productions. The fledgling label is now celebrating its debut release, {{Kate Miner}} - Worship ==Live From The Strip==, a powerful and potent indication of the philosophy propelling Tuttle and the Sovereign venture to visionary new heights in contemporary worship music.

"Sovereign is in the business of strengthening, encouraging and building the body of Christ through producing fresh, passionate and relevant worship resources," Tuttle explains. "What we've seen over the past decade is that, by and large, worship music has quit moving forward. We've been stuck worshipping the way things were. The result is a depletion of quality and content and I think that anyone who follows the music knows exactly what I mean. It's not uncommon these days to buy a worship album and maybe find only one or two songs that are in any way memorable. There is simply too much product, too many musicians and writers putting themselves under the gun to meet record company deadlines and too much business as usual in the way we produce records and publish songs. Sovereign is out to change all that."

Working with a small staff, augmented by a network of relationships that extend over a quarter century in the worship community, Tuttle brings extraordinary expertise and genuine enthusiasm to the formidable task of taking worship into the 21st century. "The message of worship never changes," he asserts. "But the medium does. What we're after is making an impact on a new generation that is looking for a musical expression that speaks to them."

Along the way, Tuttle unashamedly announces his intention to "become one of the big guys." Naming the Vineyard Music Group, Integrity and Maranatha Music as among the pioneers in creating a worldwide worship community, Tuttle has positioned Sovereign to build and expand on that firm foundation. "You've got to give them credit for what they've accomplished," he admits, "but at the same time, we need a new vision for a new century. We're looking to create a different paradigm, a different way for an artist and a record label to come together."

please continue to part two