BROOKSVILLE — With the hope of attracting a young audience, First United Methodist Church's youth ministry will host an award-winning Chicago-based female band at the church Sunday.
Meanwhile, organizers of a Christmas concert Friday at Grace World Outreach Church are aiming to attract an audience of all ages.
BarlowGirl will appear at 6 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist.
"We don't have a lot of concerts in Brooksville for younger people," said Laura Ice, the church's youth director. "We're really trying to reach out to the youth here and to that young adult age group."
Ice said the kind of music presented by BarlowGirl will introduce youth to a kind of music they will enjoy. She said the group's target audience is probably ages 13 to 28.
"This music speaks to them, because it is rock music," Ice said. "It's Christian rock along the genre of Relient K or Newsboys or Casting Crowns. We want youth to see this as an alternative that they can be listening to."
While the concert isn't advertised as a Christmas event, Ice said there will be some Christmas songs, along with praise and worship songs.
BarlowGirl consists of three sisters. Rebecca, 31, is a guitarist and background vocalist; Alyssa, 29, is a pianist and bass guitarist who splits time as lead vocalist with Lauren, 27, who is also a drummer. All are daughters of Vince Barlow, former children's minister at the huge Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago suburbs. The girls got their start performing songs their father wrote.
According to a publicity release, the trio's single, I Need You to Love Me, set a record with 13 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Christian Hits chart in 2005, and Never Alone was "Song of the Year" on both Christian Rock and Christian Hits radio charts in 2004. That same year, BarlowGirl was named bestselling new Christian artist.
The Barlow sisters have served as youth ambassadors for the National Day of Prayer. They are also known for their stand on purity.
Ice appreciates their message.
"We want BarlowGirl to reach out to the at-risk youth in the community, because they really have a strong message of trusting in God and staying on the right path," she said, noting that she is chairwoman for the teen pregnancy prevention committee of the Hernando Youth Initiative. "So it's something in my heart."
Tickets have been provided to youth from local shelters.
Organizers are hoping that the Christmas concert being hosted at Grace World Outreach Church at 7 p.m. Friday will attract an audience of all ages.
The How Many Kings tour at Grace World Outreach Church will feature Dove Award winner Down Here, Shawn McDonald and Hark the Herons.
"It will be mainly Christmas music," said Julie Cleveland, administrative assistant to the church's music pastor, Bryan Warren.
"It's going to have all the Christmas hymns and traditional music and also new Christmas music that the artists have written and sung."
Cleveland said the church youth are interested in Shawn McDonald and his music. And Down Here has awesome music, she said.
According to his website, McDonald grew up in Oregon as an angry, rebellious teen who was a drug addict and dealer.
"(He was) looking for any and every way to escape his pain and a dysfunctional home," says the site. "In 1998, at just 20 years old and at the end of his rope — and facing nine felony counts on a drug bust — McDonald cried out to God … and started turning his life around. He hasn't looked back since."
Down Here is made up of four men: guitarist and co-lead singer Marc Martel, guitarist and co-lead singer Jason Germain, bassist Glenn Lavender and drummer Jeremy Thiessen. The group recently won two awards at the Gospel Music Association Awards ceremony in Canada. Their latest recording, On the Altar of Love, is billed as being "pop-friendly" and "thoroughly passionate, but never preachy."
Hark the Herons has Down Here's Lavender joining with longtime friend Kalyn Allan, both of Cambridge, Ontario, at the concert. The duo produced an album, Under Skies, in 2010 and recently released a music video, New Start to Start.
"We're hoping that we'll give everyone a great night out to enjoy a Christmas event," Cleveland said, "and to just share the spirit of the season while relaxing and having a great time listening to some great music."