Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Your Struggles Are Their Struggles; Success Hasn't Sidetracked Christian Pop Band Casting Crowns from More Humble Tasks

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Your Struggles Are Their Struggles; Success Hasn't Sidetracked Christian Pop Band Casting Crowns from More Humble Tasks

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN TIMPE

His pop band has sold more than 2 million records in two years, but forget about finding a trace of gee-whiz awe in Mark Hall's voice.

Casting Crowns picked up a Grammy in February, and last week the Gospel Music Association named it group of the year for the second time. He gives no audible smirk.

The band added 46 more dates to it Lifesong Tour, including Saturday night's stop at Veterans Memorial Arena. Not impressed much.

That's because right after the show, Hall will fly home to Georgia so he can get going Sunday morning and do his real job.

Hall serves as pastor to 400 students at Eagle's Landing First Baptist Church south of Atlanta, where most of his Casting Crowns bandmates help out. They squeeze in the touring, the music, the accolades when they leave after every Wednesday night's service and before they get back early Sunday morning.

Hall, 36, is the frontman and songwriter for Casting Crowns (their latest debuted in September at No. 9 in the country, right behind Hilary Duff and right in front of Jay-Z protegee Rihanna). But he won't forget that there's more to life than licks and lyrics.

Trying to give an interview over the phone while Mom's at the doctor and you're watching the 6-year-old will do that. So will a certainty that you have a divine appointment to help a church reeling from a week of death and illness.

"My mind is always kind of here," he said. "[Success] didn't mean I was supposed to suddenly drop everything to be a rock star."

If you assume this ministry-mindedness means Saturday night won't be the typical arena show, you're right. In addition to Christian singer/songwriter Nichole Nordeman, the night will include a word from tour pastor Tony Nolan (who grew up in Jacksonville, as did Casting Crowns rguitarist/vocalist Juan Devevo).

Which is not to say the music will take a back seat. …

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