In the Spotlight

There’s a song I’ve posted here and elsewhere for a number of years which I’ve always liked, and when I heard the story behind the name of the band The Afters, it just made me like these guys even more.

The song of course is Light up the Sky, which is a great way of showing that no matter what we’re going through, other’s are going through it too, and we’re not alone.

The band was formed in 2000 by a couple of guys from Mesquite, Texas where they worked at Starbucks.  Under their former names, the Screaming Mimes and then Bliss ,  the two guitarists/vocalists Matt Fuqua and Josh Havens along with  Jordan Mohilowski, Dan Ostebo, Brad Wigg, Marc Dodd and Niko Red Star got their start  at Dallas Seminary playing for their missions conference and at a local place called The Door. Word of mouth helped spread the group’s talent and they broke into the big time a few years later, appearing on MTV where they spent weeks on the top 10 TRL (Total Request Live) list.  The band headed out to California and the rest they say, is history.

According to Josh, the final name picked for their band, The Afters, has a couple different meanings. “We like to think of it as a term for how after, like in this life, for important events – whether it’s birth, death, ya know — life changing things – or things like 911 or the hurricanes we had in the past year. These events in our lives emerge and change people. After all those things, you can see God’s hand how God is always in control no matter what we encounter. And … it’s also a term for desert. There’s another cool meaning, like in parts of England and Ireland, it’s a term for something that happens after a formal wedding or a banquet and if you can’t afford the formal thing, you can go to the afters where everyone is invited.

The band scored a recording deal with Epic and released their major-label debut in 2005.  I Wish We All Could Win  was a hit on the Christian charts, making it to the Top 25.

In 2006, they won New Artist of the Year, and shortly after, their follow-up album Never Going Back to OK  debuted at #41 on the Billboard 200 chart, then reached No. 1 on the R&RCHR chart in March 2008.  R&R magazine ranked it as the most played song on U.S. Christian radio of the same year.

The album won a Dove Award for Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year(2009) at the 40th GMA Dove Awards. The title song was also nominated for Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year(2009).

If you listen to the stories behind some of their songs, you can hear how grounded they are in their faith and lives.

For example, listen to the story behind another favorite of folks here, Broken Hallelujah 

According to the group’s Bio, their 4th album, Life Is Beautiful,

Josh “said he was wrestling with an ordeal that tested him like no other—and this from a guy who, along with his wife and kids, survived a near-fatal car wreck several years prior.

“My son had some unexpected problems at birth and had to spend some time in the hospital ICU,” he recalls. “And I prayed that God would turn my trials into testimonies.”

The result: “Waiting for an Answer,” a song Havens says was inspired not only by his son’s struggles with a punctured lung, but also the children and parents in that ICU who coped with much more: “I don’t have to know how/ Or see you turn this around/ To believe in you now…”

“I had a friend who lost his child,” Havens continues. “He went through years of depression. I can’t even imagine going through that. But he said something to me I’ll never forget: ‘The thing that challenged my faith the most in the short term is what strengthened my faith the most in the long term.’ I hope to move through the struggles to find a deeper faith in God. I want to be the person who grows closer to God through the hard times.”

That spirit surrounds Life Is Beautiful, an album that dares to affirm all that matters through its every detail, right down to the artwork. The Afters solicited fans, friends and family to send in photos that answered the question, “What are the beautiful things in your life?” The album design assembles a collage of those pictures, much as the songs explore the facets of finding beauty in ashes, the everyday, and all spaces between and beyond.”

In a world where success is measured by the size of the crowds and concert ticket sales- the Afters seemingly quick success hasn’t gone to their heads much at all. They are devoted husbands and dads, and they’ve taken a break from  traveling so they can spend more time with their families. I love the commitment these guys make to what’s important.

Have a Blessed and Beautiful Day all!