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4him At Opera House

Fri., Sept. 29, 1995

In a whirlwind six-year career, contemporary Christian pop band 4HIM has already reached the top of its genre.

4HIM, the Christian music equivalent of rock’s R.E.M. or pop’s Boyz II Men, has spawned numerous best-selling albums, such as “Face the Nation,” “Basics of Life” and “The Season of Love”; yielded a slew of contagious hits, such as “Where There Is Faith,” “Why” and “Chisel Meets the Stone”; and has played to sold-out audiences everywhere.

In addition, the band has garnered four Dove awards for best new artists and for group of the year. It received the latter three straight years.

So what’s a band to do? Retire?

Not even. 4HIM continues to spread its Christian message to audiences, as young as 8 and as old as 80, across the globe. The quartet plays the Opera House with Kathy Troccoli and Clay Crosse on Monday.

Year after year, the band maintains an ambitious touring schedule. It’s on the road for some 225 days each year.

When it’s not on the road, the group usually is reaching out to someone.

As representatives for the American Bible Society, 4HIM went to Russia last year to distribute Bibles to the country’s poorest areas.

Not only did members of 4HIM hand out Bibles, but they also literally gave away the clothes on their backs.

“I gave away my clothes and everything I brought with me,” singer Andy Chrisman recently told an interviewer. “It was exciting to see firsthand what the American Bible Society was doing. We’d have a stack of Bibles and they’d be gone in two minutes.”

Being one the Christian music’s most successful bands has also brought additional challenges, such as striving to surpass the quality on previous efforts with each successive album.

Such is the case with the band’s fifth release, 1994’s “The Ride,” a vast progression from 1992’s “The Basics of Life.” The songwriting has improved. The harmonies have gotten tighter. The enthusiasm is brighter.

“This album is a lot more pop,” vocalist Mark Harris said in a press release. “There’s just more energy because of the producers and the direction we wanted to go. It’s more high energy.”

What’s refreshing about 4HIM is that it acknowledges life’s ups and downs on its most recent album, hence the title “The Ride.” Too many Christian acts don’t know how to deal with reality and therefore get bogged down in flowery, feel-good schlock.

Preceding 4HIM on the bill is Troccoli.

Like Amy Grant and a host of other Christian musicians, Troccoli crossed over into mainstream pop.

As a pop singer, she found moderate success. Troccoli is, perhaps, best-known for the hit “Everything Changes.”

This year, Troccoli turned back to contemporary Christian music with her widely acclaimed “Sounds of Heaven” album.

Up-and-coming Memphis singer Crosse opens the show. This year, the young singer released the follow-up, “Time to Believe,” to his hugely successful debut, “My Place With You.”

xxxx 4HIM Location and time: Opera House, Monday, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $22.50 and $16.50

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