New Life Singers Pack Thunderground for CD Release, Concert

September 13, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau 

Grand Canyon University’s New Life Singers kicked off a typical weekend for them with the official release of an atypical CD, “Captivate,” before a capacity crowd Thursday night in Thunderground on campus. 

The choral group is scheduled to perform tonight at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Faith & Family Night, which is sponsored by GCU, and will sing at a Scottsdale church on Sunday. The 16 members are accustomed to bouncing from one venue to another, logging more than 100 performances over the course of a year. 

New Life’s new album should put to rest the notion that this is a four-part, a cappella outfit that can’t raise the roof. 

OThe 10 songs on “Captivate” — five originals and five covers — will satisfy a broad range of tastes along the Christian music spectrum. Backed by their five-piece band, the group performed eight of those songs Thursday, also throwing in their popular cover of Maroon 5’s “Payphone.” 

In only three years under the steady direction of Gabe Salazar, New Life has grown into a tight ensemble of performers, about two-thirds of whom aren’t even music majors. 

That’s not to say that they don’t have the vocal chops for the job. They most certainly do. 

“We all bring something different to this,” says sophomore Riley Erin, “and I think the collaboration is better because of that.” 

Erin, a theology major from Phoenix, might be the best example. She shares writing credits on two of the album’s songs, the galloping “Song of Freedom” and the beautiful title track. And her father, Doug Engquist, oversaw the recording project while helping to write six songs. Among the covers, a soaring, awe-inspiring arrangement of Jared Anderson’s “Great I Am” is particularly powerful. 

The album, Erin says, “is current and fresh, and people will enjoy it no matter where they’re coming from.” 

BJ Putnam, a Phoenix worship pastor who has a host of music-industry connections, produced the album, which was recorded after New Life came off the road from a two-week Western tour in May. The album includes current and former members of the group, and some of the alumni were in the Thunderground audience.

“Captivate” is available for digital download at iTunes and Amazon, and New Life is selling CDs for $10 apiece. For more information about New Life, go to

Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or

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