I Am They
I AM THEY, a
pop-acoustic worship group, stands as a modern-day altar to the Lord. The
members themselves are the testimonial stones - each with their own stories
of trial and triumph.
Originating in Carson
City, Nevada, I AM THEY has roots as a worship team based out of a community
of various area churches. The band's five-piece, pop-acoustic-worship sound
is anchored by three-part vocal harmonies. The group, made up of Abbie
Parker (vocals/harmonium), Jon McConnell (vocals/guitar/keys),
Matt Hein (vocals/guitar/mandolin), Justin Shinn (keys/banjo) and
Sara Palmer (drums) represent I AM THEY - inspired by John 17.
"In that chapter," shares
Sara, "Jesus is praying for his disciples and refers to them as 'they.' He's
praying and saying things like, 'Sanctify them. Make them holy. They are not
of the world because I am not of the world.'
He's really interceding
for His disciples. We are disciples of Christ and being disciples is just as
important today as it was back then. We're still here for the same purpose
on the same mission with the same calling, bringing people to the Lord and
spreading the news of the Gospel to people.
We really wanted to
incorporate that into our mission as a band, saying that anybody who is a
believer in Christ is a 'They.' They are a disciple as well, so we can stand
together in that and really bring people into the 'I AM THEY' family because
we are all family in Christ."
"Scars," the first
single from their Trial and Triumph album is currently #5 on
Billboard's Contemporary Christian Music charts.
Matthew Hein, although having grown up involved in ministry and
surrounded by the truth of the gospel, had found himself trapped in an
addiction to pornography. From the age of thirteen this was something he had
hidden successfully, but as a leader in his church and newly engaged to his
fiance Tori, he knew it was time to reveal this inner battle. He
confessed this sin to his fiance, his pastor, and God himself, expecting to
lose everything - but the rejection never came. Instead of losing all he
had, Matt felt the freedom he had wanted for so long, like he could breathe
again. This heavy rock he had carried is now a part of an altar.
Sara Palmer, after finding out her marriage was over, barricaded
herself in her closet, and cried out to God to take her fears. Her sense of
self had been so tethered to her marriage that she didn't know who she was
outside of that relationship. The Lord began to show Sara her true identity.
She saw a mountain before her. A huge immovable fear. But through faith,
this mountain was moved and God showed Sara who she really was. Sara brought
a piece of this mountain with her and laid it on the altar.
Justin Shinn, after hearing cops knock on his door, and flushing
pounds of heroin down the drain, left his house that day in handcuffs. At
just twenty years old, Justin was one of the biggest drug dealers in his
county. Justin's mom was also arrested because of cocaine he had stashed in
her dresser. Seeing his mom in handcuffs through his jail cell window was
Justin's rock bottom. The judge looked down on him, questioning whether he
was even a salvageable member of society. He got down on his knees and
prayed to God for the first time in years begging him for change. And God
changed his life. Justin began to get involved in his church and eventually
started leading worship again. The musical instruments he had pawned for
drug money he bought back. The Lord brought music and worship back to his
life and the heavy chains of his addiction were finally laid at the altar.
Abbie Parker, after walking through a divorce and moving back into
her parent's home, fearing the disappointment of her family and her friends,
asked God, "How did I get here?" In her childhood bedroom, Abbie remembered
who she was as a daughter, a sister, and ultimately a child of God. She no
longer placed her identity in her successes or failures but in God Himself.
Abbie had felt the weight of failure, but God saw her as His own. She was
able to walk free, and leave the heavy lie of failure on the altar.
Jon McConnell, on New Year's Eve, found himself in a bar he had
played music in for years, to a crowd who had heard his songs over and over.
He felt stuck as yet another year rolled in and he was doing nothing new.
God didn't seem to be using him how he had expected. So he quit. He gave up
on doing music in his own strength. He let go of everything he had been
chasing and put it before God. Shortly after this moment of surrender, Jon
received an opportunity to sign a deal with I AM THEY. Jon let go of his
ambitions, surrendered his life, and laid it down on the altar.
Out of these trials came
songs of deliverance and worship. I AM THEY's sophomore album Trial &
Triumph opens with a shout of new joy and assurance with their track
"My Feet Are On The Rock."
Along with this joy is a feeling of candid honesty. After walking through
the valley, the band is sharing all that the Lord has shown them. The track
"Scars" is an anthem of rescue. We all tend to hide the ugliest parts of our
lives. We bury our bruises under layers of perfectionism and pride. I AM
THEY is peeling back those layers, not hiding their scars, but gratefully
wearing them as marks of their own redemption stories. This latest album is
an audible communion. A musical supper of remembrance of not only what
Christ did for us on the cross, but of what He is still bringing us through
today. It is a call to join the band in laying down the burdens we carry, to
link arms and walk together as followers of Christ through trial and
I Am They's
Official Music Video
Billboard Emerging Artists
I Am They
Welcome to Emerging
Artists Spotlight, a new Billboard series where we highlight a musician or
act who has recently made a debut on the Emerging Artists chart. Whether
they are new to the industry, or have been around for a while but are just
starting to have a chart impact, the intention is to showcase where they are
here and now. This pick is pop-acoustic worship group I AM THEY, who
debuted at No. 30 on the chart dated March 9. They have risen to #5.
I AM THEY have carved out places for themselves on numerous Christian
Billboard charts over the years, but their recent single "Scars"
making such waves that it's become the group's highest-charting hit ever.
The piano-based ballad, which appears on their sophomore album Trial &
Triumph, is a gospel song that carries a message of redemption, as
vocalist/guitarist Matt Hein explains.
"It talks openly about
pain and the stuff we face in life as human beings, but then challenges us
to recognize the beauty in our scars. I think that's relatable to a lot of
people out there," he says. Indeed, the song is at a No. 5 peak on the Hot
Christian Songs chart, and is still gaining momentum.
The band also considers Trial & Triumph to be their most
introspective record yet, showcasing their collective experiences of
"incredible highs and painful lows." Says Hein, "It pours out an honest
anthem of our own journey, [including both] victory and loss. The process of
surrender requires a lot of trust; it's about letting go of the past and
reaching forward to what lies ahead with open hands." That heartache and
relief is tangible throughout the record, which also reached No. 23 on the
Top Christian Albums chart.
However, I AM THEY's message isn't limited to a song or an album -- each
band member lives a philosophy of honesty and trust, daily. "Life can feel
short, unfair, and just as painful as it is miraculous. Our music faces
these realities head-on, offering relief through a source that's greater
than any of us," adds vocalist Abbie Parker. "When we're honest about
our shortcomings, we open a door to everyone to admit their struggles, which
is the first step to find healing and peace."
The members of I AM THEY hail from various cities and towns around the
U.S.: Matt and Justin are from Carson City, Nevada, while Jon is from
Humble, Texas, Abbie is from Morton, Illinois and Nicole is from Yakima,
Passion outside of work: "Unity. More than ever before in my
life, I see a world that is fiercely divided and people that choose to walk
away from each other instead of learning how to love each other through our
differences. We are also very passionate about Blue Bell Cookie Dough ice
cream." -- Matt
"I have been building a few businesses, encouraging people to see
their full potential, and pursuing my love for film and photography." --
"I've become passionate about my own mental health, and have committed
to care for myself this year through therapy. It's incredible to see
yourself change in real-time, and this simple practice has allowed me to
treat myself with greater compassion and grow in empathy toward other
people." -- Abbie
"The recording process and learning how to produce music at a
professional level. I would love to someday help artists who can't afford a
big studio recording and give them a commercial quality product without it
being a financial burden for them. A lot of people helped us out early on
and I would love to pay it forward someday." -- Justin
"Developing intentional personal and vocational core values for
myself. It's made me a better human." -- Nicole
What's next: Working on the next album, playing festivals in
Switzerland, Amsterdam and the UK, recording Christmas singles for the first
time, heading to Scotland to see Justin (keys) get married, and a first-ever
headlining tour in the fall.
~ from billboard.com ~