Deep Gratitude and a CD Cover Controversy!

Today marks the end of our third Kickstarter campaign. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and filled with excitement about it all: getting these particular scriptures in the hearts of my kids and yours, getting to make all this new music with excellence, and partnering with a wide and deep community of believers to do it all together.

Since we hit two stretch goals, we’ll be making 2 new animated videos, as well as hosting a Kickstarter Supporters Only live online concert later this year.

There are so many pieces to the puzzle in any recording project. We have completed the funding, we will be recording through mid-September, and we are now moving to artwork. Our illustrator, Zach Franzen, has begun drawing for the cover, while Roy Roper is designing it. And now there is controversy in the ranks at Slugs & Bugs,  as two possible (very similar) covers have risen to the top. Now it’s time for YOU to weigh in.

Which one is your favorite? Option 1 or Option 2?

Option 1
Option 1
Option 2
Option 2

Days 6 and 7 In the Studio

Day 6:  I SO wish I could play you guys a clip of the song we recorded yesterday. It is my favorite song on the record so far. Unexpectedly, it evolved into a sweeping, moving composition – I had a hard time getting through it just singing those powerful words on a scratch vocal.

The scripture is from Isaiah 40, and I wrote it for a young friend of mine in Singapore.

Do you not know?

    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

I can’t wait to play it for my friend Jeremy and his family, and I can’t wait to play it for you guys. Ben arranged beautiful string parts, and together we figured out a really extraordinary vocal harmony arrangement.  If you are a Kickstarter supporter, you’ll hear a rough version soon enough. Otherwise, I guess you’ll have to wait till the CD comes out.

“Do You Not Know” was the only song that we got to on Day 6. It’s also the day Ben and I found out that we were nominated for a Dove Award for Sing the Bible Volume 1. So it was really an astoundingly great day.

Day 7: This was a day of two halves. The first half of the day was a total riot. The song for 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 is officially hilarious.

If you have the Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies CD, do you remember the “Yo ho ho!” vocal parts in the song Dreams? Well, we were inspired by those old pirate voices and we set the stage in colonial America. We were also inspired a bit by the great Randy Newman. Here’s the passage:

2 Corinthians 9:6-7
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give whatever you have decided to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
The second half of the day, we stalled for most of the afternoon trying to find the arrangement for the song we’re calling Stars. Here’s the passage:
Philippians 2:14-16
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.
We tried and failed at three different stylistic approaches, and then at about 4:00 pm, Ben suggested we try a baritone sax on the intro melody line. We had tried acoustic guitar, an aggressive bass tone, a marimba and a piano, but none of them had worked. Praise God in Heaven, the baritone sax was perfect. We found our footing on that tune, and ended the day on a high note (ironic pun indented).
See you tomorrow!

Dove Award Nominee!

Hey Slugs & Bugs Family,

Yesterday we heard some some super fun news, you guys. Sing the Bible Volume 1 has been nominated for a Dove Award for Children’s Album of the Year! Woohoo!

Ben Shive and I spent all day in the studio yesterday working on Volume 2, but we took a moment to celebrate (over some Thai food) and reflect on all the people that helped make that music come alive. I feel like I could burst with gratitude.

Thank YOU all who continue to listen and support and spread the word about Slugs & Bugs. I am so grateful. 

A couple other things…

First, I posted a video of Amy and me singing a brand new Slugs & Bugs song on our facebook page this morning. Please stop by and let us know what you think!

Lastly, there are only two “Family Song” rewards left available on the Kickstarter page. If you’re interested in having a Scripture song composed for your family, grab one of those while you can. Our campaign ends this Monday at NOON!

Thanks everyone, and have a great weekend!!


Here’s the short link to our Kickstarter page:


Day 5 in the Studio (Chipotle and Homemade Cookies)


I mention the food because that may have been the best part of our day.

Today was a struggle! We did settle on a form for Hear, O Israel, and we did find a nice tempo and a new key for Let Your Light Shine (F). But otherwise, today was marked by hours of mostly unfruitful attempts at inspiration. We chased more empty rabbit trails than Elmer Fudd. 

Ironically, lunch was inspiring in more ways than one. While sharing Chipotle on Ben’s back porch, he shared about an insight/conviction that the Holy Spirit brought to his attention while mowing the lawn.  It reminded me of an Utmost I had read that morning. That was about when Beth (Ben’s wife) brought out the cookies.

And then we went back to the abyss.

Thankfully, neither of us became nervous or impatient, because we’ve both been there before. Making records is a little like parenting.  You get grey hair and ulcers trying to keep the first kid germ-free, but the third kid gets to crawl on the floor underneath the booth at Las Palmas. 

So, no sweat. Today was not the most productive day, but we gave it our best shot the same as every day. We’ll give it another shot tomorrow. Prayers appreciated.


This is the FINAL WEEK of the Slugs & Bugs Kickstarter Campaign. Please join Slugs & Bugs in the creation of Sing the Bible Volume 2! Click here for details and rewards. 

Day Four In the Studio


The instrument pictured here is called an mbira. My college girlfriend bought it for me in Zimbabwe. Three years later I married that girl, and we wrapped that mbira in newspaper with the rest of my small, odd instruments and moved to Nashville.

It’s fun to look at, so Amy has displayed the mbira on a shelf in every home we’ve shared in 18 years of marriage. Amazingly, I didn’t think to bring it into the studio for Sing the Bible Volume 1, even though the style was heavily influenced by the music of Central and Southern Africa.

Today, in a moment of inspiration, I made the 2 minute drive to my house from Ben’s studio (The Beehive), to pick it up along with some shakers from India and a Mel Bay ocarina, and we recorded my mbira for the first time!  It will be the first sound you hear on our Romans 8:28 song.

After tidying up that song we moved to “Hear O Israel” – referencing Taylor Swift’s “Mean” and Fun’s “Some Nights” for sounds and production ideas. Oh – also Ben introduced me to Andy Grammar’s “Honey I’m Good.” Evidently that song is huge but I had never heard it because I listen to the radio about once a year. Killer song, though.

I played some acoustic, sang some scratch vocals, and Ben found some “stomp” samples he really liked. We use samples to “rough in” sounds that we’ll probably replace later with real musicians, but they help as placeholders, and sometimes they work well in tandem with the real thing.

That’s all for now – already looking forward to Monday!

Day Three in the Studio

After day three, I came home and played the Ten Commandments song for my kids. Ben and I had taken some musical risks in the production, and I hadn’t felt great about the chorus melody, so I should have seen it coming when my kids responded lukewarmly. That night, feeling disappointment and gratitude in equal parts, I drifted into a fitful sleep.

I woke at 3:37 am wednesday morning, reimagined and rewrote the entire verse (which lists The Commandments) and worked on the chorus melody until I LOVED it. I finished with just enough time to brew the morning coffee and bring a cup to my slowly rising Amy.

I was nervous to bring all this up to Ben, but he took it like a champ and once he heard the changes, we both thanked God for my kiddos and their honest responses. The song is better because of them!

There’s not much else to report about Wednesday because we spent almost the entire day reworking the Ten Commandments song. I added ukelele and tambourine, sang the new vocals and then sent it to our “guest artist” who must not be named, but who may be be named later.

Wait – I can’t believe almost forgot! Frankenstein and Dracula also stopped by and put down some scratch vocals. They only had a minute so we recorded them together. Their vocal tones are very different, but both sounded great on Ben’s old Sony C37-P microphone.

In other news, it was the first day of 2nd grade for our son Benjamin, and he loves his new teacher! Our son Jonah also started this week (at a new school) and so far, so good.

More to come tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Day Two In the Studio!


Today we slowed down the pace and worked on two songs. We worked from 9 to 3 on the form and groove of The Ten Commandments song.  One interesting decision arose in how to sum up the Second Commandment. Here’s what the ESV says:

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Eventually, I decided on, “Do not worship man made things.” I know it’s incomplete, but we’ve got about 3 seconds, and that seemed to sum things up in a way kids could understand and parents could appreciate.

After figuring that out, I sang a scratch vocal. We decided to add an octave-up vocal double, and it was fun singing up high where the kiddos will be. This song will definitely have kids on it, as well as a special guest or two. After the Ten Commandments song, around 3:00, we moved to the Romans 8:28-39 song. Here’s the lyrics to that chorus:

And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love him
God works for the good of those who love him
for the good
for the good
for the good
for the good of those who love him

The rest of the song will be spoken word. Spoken by whom? We’ll get back to you on that.

Other side notes established today, Ben Shive does not drink caffeine. I, however, drink two cups of coffee every morning. We both reluctantly avoid cheese, making exceptions for pizza and homemade meals.

See you tomorrow!