The Choir (alternative rock band)
|Origin||Orange County, California|
|Genres||Christian alternative rock|
|Associated acts||Lost Dogs, Kerosene Halo|
The Choir is an atmospheric Christian alternative rock band currently comprising Derri Daugherty on guitar and vocals, Steve Hindalong on drums, and Dan Michaels on saxophone and lyricon. Long-time bassist Tim Chandler died in 2018, and guitarist Marc Byrd was the fifth member of the band between 2005–2014. As of 2021, the band has released 16 full-length studio albums, three EPs, five live albums, one single-disc compilation, one retrospective box set, and is still actively recording new material.
Southern California period (1983–1993)
The Choir was originally formed as Youth Choir in the early 1980s by Derri Daugherty and Steve Hindalong. Daniel Amos bass guitarist Tim Chandler introduced Hindalong to Daugherty, who was the band's roadie and sound man. Hindalong and Daugherty quickly became friends, and Youth Choir was part of the Calvary Chapel Christian punk and alternative music scene, which also included the bands Undercover, Crumbächer, Altar Boys and 4-4-1.
The band's first official recording was the track "It's So Wonderful", released in 1983 on the compilation album What's Shakin', which also included early work from Undercover, Altar Boys and The Lifters. This song was one of the few times that lead singer Derri Daugherty wrote both lyrics and music; as the band developed, the majority of The Choir's lyrical output would come from drummer/percussionist Steve Hindalong. As Youth Choir, they released their debut album Voices in Shadows in 1984, with Mike Saurerbrey on bass; their first EP Shades of Gray followed a year later, when Dan Michaels joined the band.
The Choir made a high-profile move to Myrrh Records in 1986 with their next release, Diamonds and Rain. Dropping the "Youth" from their moniker, they would be known as The Choir from that point forward. This was followed by three more albums for Myrrh, which featured musical contributions from an array of Christian performers, including Charlie Peacock, Mark Heard, Steve Griffith of Vector and Gene Eugene and Riki Michele from Adam Again. The Choir's lineup also changed. Tim Chandler was the primary bass player until 1989's Wide-Eyed Wonder, as Robin Spurs replaced him on that album and tour, but she left the band during the recording of 1990's Circle Slide. Mike Sauerbrey returned to the band briefly for these recording sessions. Chandler would rejoin the lineup for the independently-released Kissers and Killers. Spurs would not play with the band again until 2017, when she performed on the Wide-Eyed Wonder reunion tour.
The Choir toured extensively during this time, notably as the first band on stage at the inaugural Cornerstone Festival in Chicago in 1984. They also performed at the Greenbelt Festival in England in 1986, and opened for Russ Taff on his nationwide tour in 1989. References to the band's tour experiences would remain an ongoing source of lyrical inspiration. During their Southern California period, The Choir's music was described by the Los Angeles Times as "magical songs that combine strains of murky psychedelia with pure pop." Billboard praised the band for its "dark poetic leanings, effects-laden guitars and strong melodic hooks". Hindalong's lyrics became known for their vulnerability and honesty, particularly about the challenges inherent in romantic relationships and the simple joys of family life.
Initial Nashville period (1994–2009)
With much of the contemporary Christian music industry centered in Nashville, the band opted to make a permanent move there. Derri Daugherty and Steve Hindalong were both married with children, and the alternative Christian music scene in Southern California was no longer as active as it was in its mid-80s heyday. By contrast, the CCM industry had begun flourishing in Nashville in the early 1990s. The Choir's first release after arriving in Nashville was Speckled Bird, a reworked version of Kissers and Killers that added five additional songs recorded in Nashville. Their next album, Free Flying Soul, released in 1996, would bring the band their most notable industry accolades to that point, as they were awarded a GMA Dove Award for Best Modern/Alternative Rock Album. Five years later, they received a nomination for Best Rock Gospel Album at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards for their album, Flap Your Wings, released in 2000. Celebrating this, The Choir released a boxed set of their entire musical output called Never Say Never: The First 20 Years, which included a bonus CD of unreleased B-sides and remixes.
Upon their arrival in Nashville, Dan Michaels went into artist management, including managing The Choir, while Derri Daugherty and Steve Hindalong continued to contribute to and produce numerous side projects, including the Lost Dogs, and most notably, the City on a Hill worship music series. The lead song from the first album in that series, "God of Wonders," written by Hindalong and future Choir guitarist Marc Byrd, proved to be one of the most successful contemporary worship songs of the early 2000s, and The Choir has often performed that song live since. (That album also received a Dove Award for Special Event Album of the Year in 2001.) In 2005, The Choir officially added Byrd to their lineup and released O How the Mighty Have Fallen, produced by Byrd and released independently on the band's own Galaxy21 label. On August 19 of that same year, The Choir played the Broken Records Reunion, a 20th anniversary concert at Mariners Church in Irvine, California, along with 4-4-1, Altar Boys, Crumbächer, and Undercover.
Ongoing creative activity (2010–present)
After a five-year recording hiatus, the Choir released two full-length studio albums in 2010. In June, the band released Burning Like the Midnight Sun, which received positive reviews. Jeff Elbel, in the Chicago Sun-Times, called the album "a late-career triumph," and remarked that it was the band's "second exceptional album in a row, and its best since 1990's landmark Circle Slide." In November, the band released de-plumed which featured cellist Matt Slocum of Sixpence None the Richer. A collection of acoustic reinterpretations of one song from each of their 12 prior studio albums, it was released shortly after Daugherty and Hindalong embarked on a multi-city acoustic tour as a duo version of the band.
The Choir's next studio album, The Loudest Sound Ever Heard, was released in May 2012. Later that year, the band toured in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Chase the Kangaroo, playing the album in its entirety, followed by a selection of tracks from Loudest Sound. For this tour, the band performed as a trio with bassist Tim Chandler. Then in July, the full lineup of The Choir closed out the final gathering of the Cornerstone Festival, in commemoration of their inaugural 1984 performance.
Shift to crowdfunding (2013)
From this point forward, The Choir would shift to Kickstarter and PledgeMusic as their primary way of recording and releasing new studio albums, re-releases of older studio albums, and solo work by Steve Hindalong and Derri Daugherty. This process not only generated the studio releases Shadow Weaver in 2014, Bloodshot in 2018, and Deep Cuts in 2021, but Kickstarter stretch goals generated the Christmas-themed Peace, Love & Light EP in 2013 and the live album Live and on the Wing in Music City in 2014. During this time, the band remastered and re-released Circle Slide and Wide-Eyed Wonder, and followed each re-release with a short tour during which the entire album was played in its entirety. Mike Roe of The 77s filled in on bass for the Circle Slide 25th anniversary tour in 2015, while bassist Robin Spurs returned to the band to perform on the Wide-Eyed Wonder anniversary tour in 2017. Hindalong's second solo album, The Warbler, was released in 2016, and this was followed by Daugherty's latest solo release The Color of Dreams in 2018. Later that year, long-time bassist Tim Chandler died on October 8, 2018.
Post-Tim Chandler work (2019-present)
Beginning in mid-2019, the band began releasing non-album singles at the pace of one every other month, starting with a cover of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" and followed by "Mystical World", their first original composition after Chandler's death. In March of 2021, The Choir shifted to Patreon where they continue to release new tracks exclusively for subscribers, including a 2021 re-recording of "Render Love" for the Electric Jesus film soundtrack. Deep Cuts, also released in 2021, was the band's first studio album without contributions from Chandler, as bass duties were split between session player Chris Donohue and bassist Steven Mason from Jars of Clay.
Each band member has worked on numerous projects outside the Choir.
Derri Daugherty and Steve Hindalong have produced and recorded several worship albums featuring other Contemporary Christian music artists, including their own At the Foot of the Cross series. Volume One: Clouds, Rain, Fire was released in 1992, and the song "Beautiful Scandalous Night" would later be re-recorded by the Choir eight years later for their Grammy-nominated Flap Your Wings album. The follow-up Volume Two: Seven Last Words of Christ was released in 1995. Hindalong would later produce the successful City on a Hill series of worship albums in the early 2000s, co-writing the well-known song "God of Wonders" with former bandmate Marc Byrd.
Daugherty, Hindalong and Dan Michaels have all released solo works, with Daugherty also releasing an instrumental ambient project under the name Clouds Echo in Blue. Daugherty has been a member of the contemporary Christian supergroup Lost Dogs since 1991, with Hindalong joining the group after the death of Gene Eugene. Daugherty is one-half of Kerosene Halo, a duo project with 77's frontman Michael Roe; they have released three albums to date. Before his death in 2018, Tim Chandler was the bass guitar player for Daniel Amos (and that band's side project, the Swirling Eddies) for many years, pre-dating his work with the Choir. Bassist Robin Spurs later joined Rachel Rachel and toured with them in the early 1990s. Byrd was a member of Common Children, then later he and bandmate Andrew Thompson formed the post-rock band Hammock in 2005. Byrd has also recorded with his wife Christine Glass as Glassbyrd. Michaels has recorded saxophone for, and performed on tour with, a variety of other artists including Adam Again, Crystal Lewis and Bryan Duncan.
- Derri Daugherty - lead vocals, guitars
- Steve Hindalong - drums, vocals
- Dan Michaels - saxophone, lyricon
- Mike Sauerbrey – bass guitar
- Robin Spurs – bass guitar, vocals
- Marc Byrd - guitars, vocals
- Tim Chandler - bass guitar, vocals
- Bill Campbell - guitar, bass guitar
- Billy Sammons - guitar
- Michael Roe – bass guitar
- 1985 Voices in Shadows (as Youth Choir)
- 1986 Diamonds and Rain
- 1988 Chase the Kangaroo
- 1989 Wide-Eyed Wonder
- 1990 Circle Slide
- 1993 Kissers and Killers
- 1994 Speckled Bird
- 1996 Free Flying Soul
- 2000 Flap Your Wings
- 2005 O How the Mighty Have Fallen
- 2010 Burning Like the Midnight Sun
- 2010 de-plumed
- 2012 The Loudest Sound Ever Heard
- 2014 Shadow Weaver
- 2018 Bloodshot
- 2021 Deep Cuts
- 1986 Shades of Gray (as Youth Choir)
- 2005 3-Song "Rough Mix" New Song Sampler
- 2013 Peace, Love & Light
- 1997 Let It Fly
- 2000 Live at Cornerstone 2000: Plugged
- 2000 Live at Cornerstone 2000: Unplugged
- 2014 Live and on the Wing in Music City
- 2015 The Livestream Bootleg
- 1995 Love Songs and Prayers: A Retrospective
- 2001 Never Say Never: The First 20 Years
- 1985 "I Can't Take It" b/w "Here in the Night (live)" (7-inch single; as Youth Choir)
- 2004 "Travelin' Light (demo)" (music download)
- 2006 "The Sun Also Rises" (streaming)
- 2010 "Babe in the Straw" (music download)
- 2012 "Shadow of the Cross" (music download)
- 2013 "Beautiful Girl" (music download)
- 2019 "In the Air Tonight" (music download)
- 2019 "Mystical World" (music download)
- 2019 "Kathie's Garden" (music download)
- 2019 "Counting Stars" (music download)
- 2020 "What You Think I Am (Reimagined) [featuring Leigh Nash]" (music download)
- 2020 "The Real WWW" (music download)
- 2021 "Render Love (2021 Version)" (Patreon-exclusive music download)
- 2021 "Alone" (Patreon-exclusive music download)
- 2021 "My Father's Son" (Patreon-exclusive music download)
- 2021 "One Man Band" (Patreon-exclusive music download)
- 2021 "Let It Ride" (Patreon-exclusive music download)
- 2021 "Wings on Fire" (Patreon-exclusive music download)
- 2021 "Angry World" (Patreon-exclusive music download)
- 2021 "Old Man Winter" (Patreon-exclusive music download)
Appearances on other works
- 1983 What's Shakin' ["It's So Wonderful"] (as Youth Choir)
- 1989 The Myrrh Radio Collection, Volume 1 ["Someone to Hold Onto"]
- 1993 Brow Beat: Unplugged Alternative ["Wilderness" (acoustic version)]
- 1993 Third Wave ["Kissers and Killers"]
- 1994 Can You Dig It? ["Kissers and Killers"]
- 1994 Strong Hand of Love ["Tip of My Tongue"]
- 1995 Contemporary Adult Music for the 90's ["Wilderness"]
- 1996 Orphans of God ["Tip of My Tongue"]
- 1996 Seltzer: Modern Rock to Settle Your Soul ["The Ocean"]
- 1998 Grab Bag Candy Sampler, Volume 1 ["Flowing Over Me" (demo version)]
- 2003 Contemporary Christian Hits: A Collage ["Grace"]
- 1989 Wide-Eyed Wonder Videos (music videos for "Someone To Hold Onto" and "Robin Had A Dream"; 32-minute band documentary)
- 1996 "Sled Dog" music video (included on enhanced CD for Let It Fly)
- 1996 Tattoo Video Hoopla (live performance from Cornerstone '96)
Solo releases by members of the Choir
- 1991 Reveal [EP] – Dan Michaels
- 1998 Skinny – Steve Hindalong
- 2002 A Few Unfinished Songs [EP] – Derri Daugherty
- 2003 Open Wide This Window – Glassbyrd (Marc Byrd and Christine Glass)
- 2010 "I Still Believe" [Single] - Derri Daugherty
- 2011 Clouds Echo in Blue – Clouds Echo in Blue (Derri Daugherty)
- 2015 "Child in the Manger" [Single] - Derri Daugherty
- 2016 The Warbler – Steve Hindalong
- 2016 Hush Sorrow – Derri Daugherty
- 2018 The Color of Dreams – Derri Daugherty
- Alfonso, Barry (2002). The Billboard Guide to Contemporary Christian Music. New York, New York: Billboard Books. p. 139. ISBN 0-8230-7718-7.
- Alfonso, Barry (2002). The Billboard Guide to Contemporary Christian Music. New York, New York: Billboard Books. p. 140. ISBN 0-8230-7718-7.
- Alfonso, Barry (2002). The Billboard Guide to Contemporary Christian Music. New York, New York: Billboard Books. p. 141. ISBN 0-8230-7718-7.
- "The Choir Partners with PledgeMusic for New Album". Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- "What our Friends and Cornerstone Family are Saying". Cornerstone Festival. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- "Who Killed the Contemporary Christian Music Industry?". The Week. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- "10 Questions with… Dan Michaels". All Access Music Group. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- "Broken Records Reunion". Take 2 Productions. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- "Join The Choir To Create A New Studio Album & Live Album by the Choir". Kickstarter. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
- "The Choir to Celebrate 25 Year Anniversary of Circle Slide on Tour". Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- "Steve Hindalong - The Warbler". Kickstarter. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- "Derri Daugherty - The Color of Dreams". Kickstarter. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- "In Memoriam: Bassist Tim Chandler (1960-2018)". MusicTap.com. October 10, 2018. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
- Cummings, Tony. "The Choir: The Nashville alt rock veterans making singles not albums". crossrhythms.com. CrossRhythms. Retrieved October 28, 2021.
- "The Choir". Patreon. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
- Powell, Mark Allan (2002). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers. p. 168. ISBN 1-56563-679-1.
- "God of Wonders". Ca.songselect.com. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
- Powell, Mark Allan (2002). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers. pp. 539–42. ISBN 1-56563-679-1.
- "Lost Dogs". TheLostDogs.com. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
- "Kerosene Halo". KeroseneHalo.net. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
- Powell, Mark Allan (2002). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers. pp. 226–32. ISBN 1-56563-679-1.
- McAdie, Bryan. "Rachel Rachel: An All Girl Rock Band Making an Impact Stateside". CR Mag 17. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
- Lloyd, Shari. "A Feature of The Phantom Tollbooth". www.tollbooth.org. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
- Powell, Mark Allan (2002). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers. p. 190. ISBN 1-56563-679-1.
- Conant, Andy; Palmer, Dave (2001). The Choir: Never Say Never: The First 20 Years. Brentwood (Nashville, Tennessee), USA: Galaxy 21 Music. p. 26. ISBN 0-688-12672-3.