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For King & Country at EMU, 3 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2019

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Six years after its debut album For King & Country continues to rule.

The duo of Australian-born, Nashville-based brothers has become a force in the Christian pop world, with three studio releases -- including 2018's "Burn the Ships," which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart -- a pair of Grammy Awards and a track record as a major concert act.

The pair -- Luke James Smallbone and Joel David Smallbone -- is still on the road celebrating "Burn the Ships'" success (including a version of the single "God Only Knows" with Dolly Parton), with smooth sailing towards its next planned project...

• Though happy "Burn the Ships" hit the top of the charts, Luke Smallbone, 32, says by phone that he and his older brother try not to focus on that kind of thing. "I think charts, radio charts and charts of sales, they can distract you a little bit. You never really get into music thinking, 'Man, I hope I'm gonna be No. 1!' You get into it because you love it. So you have to make sure you don't get too caught up in it. You’re grateful for it and you take it as encouragement. You take it as a pat on the back, that you're headed in the right direction -- 'Hey, continue what you're doing, 'cause we like it.' But it's not the reason we do what we do."

• The Dolly Parton version of "God Only Knows," whose original version was the first single from "Burn the Ships," was inspired after Joel Smallbone watched the 2015 film "Dumplin'," for which Parton wrote the music. "We loved what she did for that (film)," Luke says. "We have two really good friends who work in her management office and we thought, 'Hey, it doesn't hurt to ask.' So we did, and the song kind of connected with her in a really powerful way. She knew it also could be an opportunity to reach into some new listeners, and vice versa. Two or three days later we got the greenlight and it just kind of worked out. She really enjoyed the song, and I guess a couple days prior to us calling she told her manager she wanted to write some more faith-based songs and get back to her roots. So the song fell in her lap and it was a match made in heavy. And to be able to work with her and get to know here a little bit was wonderful. I'd never heard anybody say anything negative about her, ever, and now I know why. She's truly a wonderful person."

• Next up for the Small bones is a film project called "The Drummer Boy," which they're working on with another brother, Ben. "It's about two brothers who ended up on the opposite side of the Civil War. It's based around three Christmases, and it's a musical, so we've been working on music for that -- quite a lot. I'm not going to be in it; Joel probably will be, but I don't care to do that. I enjoy being in the shadows, to a degree. If I can hide behind the scenes making things happen, that's where I'm happiest."

For King and Country performs at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27 at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center, 779 N> Hewitt Road, Ypsilanti. $20-$200. 734-487-8198 or EMUtix.com

Web Site: www.emutix.com

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