Christian Music Showcase Posts Sneak Peaks on YouTube

The Gospel Music Association (GMA)'s 33rd Annual Music in the Rockies gathering will be starting up on July 29, and promoters are allowing interested individuals a sneak peak into the activities through YouTube.

Music in the Rockies – a showcase event for aspiring, often unsigned, songwriters and artists in the Christian music industry – has teamed up with the Gospel Music Channel (GMC) and provided six video clips from last year's festivities which feature talent competition footage, concert clips and interviews with registrants.

"Ever wonder what exactly goes on in the Rocky Mountain town of Estes Park, Colo., every summer when the Gospel Music Association (GMA) takes over the Estes Park YMCA Center for the annual GMA Music in the Rockies?" asked organizers.

The event is a six-day conference that draws thousands of upcoming aspiring Christian artists. It features educational and professional development seminars, talent competitions and music concerts, most involving staple stars in the Christian music scene.

Several key figures were first heard as attendants at the conference in past years. Some include two contestants from this year's "American Idol" competition: 28-year-old Chris Sligh and 17-year-old champion Jordin Sparks in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Others are mainstays Chris Tomlin, Stacie Orrico, Rachael Lampa, Mark Lowry, Point of Grace, Babbie Mason, Matthew West, David Phelps, BarlowGirl, Michael W. Smith and Nichole Nordeman.

"Music in the Rockies is a unique experience unmatched in the music industry, drawing thousands from all over the world – all in pursuit of their dreams," explained GMA. "Some may be American Idol-sized dreams and others may be more modest, but all come to be heard and be inspired at the weeklong event."

A main attraction at the event, for both attendants and the general public, will be its weeklong performances from well-known Christian performers. Throughout the six days, 25 performers are expected to perform at the compound, including Dove and Grammy Award winners Natalie Grant, Aaron Shust, Michael W. Smith, Brian Littrell, The Crabb Family, Deitrick Haddon, Rebecca St. James, Sandi Patty, and Mark Schultz.

The main highlight of the event, however, is the annual GMA Academy Artist & Song of 2007 competition, which allows participants to showcase their skills to professionals and record labels.

More than $50,000 in prizes will be awarded in five general categories for Vocal Solo 2007, Vocal Group 2007, Band 2007, Instrumental 2007, and Song of 2007 (which enters the winner into the GMA Music Week's Songwriter Showcase in April 2008).

A special Disney's "Night of Joy" Best of Show Award will also send one recipient to perform in a slot at Walt Disney World's "Night of Joy," this September in Orlando, Fla.

The six YouTube clips will allow interested artists to see more clearly what the weeklong event entails. They were originally produced for GMC's "Gospel Insider" news program, and a GMC camera crew will again be filming this year's Music in the Rockies for another "Gospel Insider" program as well as for a new program debuting this fall, "The Kitchen Sink."

GMA organizers are encouraging people to sign up soon with early registration fees running up until June 27.

On the web: YouTube video clips at