Driven by a passionate spiritual and musical message imparting faith, hope, love and a commitment to ongoing musical excellence, five piece vocal powerhouse Veritas brings a fresh, dynamic twist to the contemporary classical genre which includes superstar groups such as Il Divo, Il Volo, The Tenors (formerly The Canadian Tenors) and – by extension – The Three Tenors whose success together started it all, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti.
Since their official debut concert in Albany, Georgia in September 2012, Veritas – which multi-talented members include Jeff Anderson (first tenor), James Berrian (baritone), Andrew Goodwin (second tenor), Jordan Johnson (first tenor) and Lucas Scott Lawrence (bass) – have performed more than 200 shows everywhere from Washington, DC and Atlanta to Colorado, Tennessee and Alaska. Now headlining regularly at Performing Arts Centers and diverse venues across the country, the group has a full tour lineup scheduled throughout 2014 and 2015, including a special holiday performance at Carnegie Hall.
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Releasing its highly anticipated full length album in September, 2014, the self-titled debut offers fans a unique musical style fashioned from a fusion of artistic excellence and creative pursuit with performances that promise to inspire an audience of any distinction.
“One of the reasons we chose the name Veritas, the Latin word for ‘truth’ was as a nod to the group Truth that gave us our start,” says Lawrence. “It’s also, of course, tied to the message we share about God’s simple truth. That is the essence of our message, that He loves us.”
Though Veritas has self-produced two previous EPs – including a holiday project called Christmas Time – that are available on their website and at concerts, the group’s new 10 track collection marks the first time the five singers have worked with arrangements and tracks that are completely original. The 45 piece orchestra (including 35 strings) which the group recorded with in Nashville became a foundational part of the full production.
“It was amazing to have the opportunity to work with producers, arrangers and engineers who are as devoted to the success of this project as we are,” says Lawrence. “They have all worked extensively in the classical crossover genre. Besides bringing so much experience to the table, they were open to the group’s ideas for vocal and orchestral arrangements. It was great to work so cohesively together.”
“One of the big moments for all of us was entering the studio and hearing our voices surrounded by the power of a 35 piece string section,” he adds. “All of the dynamics fit perfectly. It was an exciting culmination of everything we have been working towards.”
In addition to hearing the live orchestra for the first time and recording the initial vocal tracks with noted producers Phillip Keveren and Kent Hooper, Goodwin says that the most inspiring part of the process of creating the Veritas album was working with the group and the A&R executives at Fair Trade Services, to emerge with a multi-faceted set list, chosen from more than 100 songs that captured the message of faith, hope and love that is the group’s foundation. Interestingly, and representative of the group’s forward thinking and demographically diverse mindset, the only two songs of the 10 on the album that the group has been performing regularly in concert are “The Lord’s Prayer” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (from the legendary Rogers & Hammerstein musical “Carousel”).
Many of the other tracks will be familiar to audiences from diverse contexts, including MercyMe’s “I Can Only Imagine”; Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons”; Switchfoot’s alternative rock smash “Dare You To Move”; Michael W. Smith’s “Agnus Dei,” (featuring “Mighty Fortress” and “All Hail The Power of Jesus’ Name”); an American Anthology of “America The Beautiful,” “God Bless America” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and John Legend’s “If You’re Out There,” which the R&B icon originally recorded with the Agape Choir. “The Love of My Life” is a glorious vocal adaptation (with lyrics by Randy Cox) of Edvard Grieg’s 19th Century “Peer Gynt” Suites, classical pieces originally inspired by Henrik Ibsen’s play of the same name. A special moment on the project is the inspirational original song “The Hand That Holds The Storm.”
“The set list shows the diversity of what we do, and allows us to showcase the uniqueness of a sound that lets every member’s vocal talent shine,” says Lawrence. “The common thread that goes through each song conveys our message and purpose and, for those who have not seen us perform, reflect what a Veritas concert sounds like. We are so happy that we made an album that everyone could enjoy, mixing brand new material and fresh adaptations of older pieces along with familiar songs done with arrangements specific to what we do as a group.”
While all the members of Veritas have the same vision for the group and seek to convey the same overriding message, the group’s powerful chemistry emerges in part from five distinctive personalities that bring different musical/cultural tastes, sensibilities and experience to the mix.
Veritas evolved from an original collective of top level singers at the University of Mobile when Roger Breland, the founder of the legendary group Truth, (whose rotating personnel over the years included future stars Anthony Evans, Natalie Grant and members of 4Him and Avalon ) decided to assemble a new Truth ensemble to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the group. Breland chose three University alumni (Goodwin, Johnson, & Lawrence) to join the male vocal line along with Jeff Anderson from Atlanta, with the intent of launching Veritas upon completion of the anniversary tour. Before beginning its own concert tour, James Berrian (also a UM alumnus) joined the group and Veritas’ fast moving career was launched.
“We like to say in our concerts that the greatest desire of the human heart is to be loved…, our music is all about sharing that love, that hope that connects to God’s perfect love,” says Lawrence. “Whether it’s to family, friends or through any relationship in life, the only reason we can share love with each other is because God shared it with us first.”