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Heaven Sent?

Caedmon's Call strives to be heard above the Christian rock din

"Aaron is one of the most unbelievable songwriters I've ever heard, but he sings like Kermit the Frog," says Webb, who, like Buell, bassist Aric Nitzberg and organist Randy Holsapple, came aboard a bit later in Caedmon's Call's evolution.

The band took its name from Caedmon, a seventh- or eighth-century figure who, according to legend, would run away whenever called upon to sing in public -- that is, until God got a hold of him. From then on, whenever Caedmon opened his mouth, his voice was so heavenly that no one else could duplicate it. The band lineup was pretty much secure by 1995, when Caedmon's Call recorded the 12-song release My Calm, Your Storm and a subsequent EP, I Just Don't Want Coffee. Combined, the two releases sold a respectable 40,000 copies. When not touring various parts of the nation by bus, the band honed its chops with local performances at Second Baptist Church on Woodway.

A breakthrough for the band came in 1996, when Musician magazine proclaimed them one of the year's best unsigned bands. Soon enough, the group had inked a deal with Warner Brothers' Christian subsidiary Warner Alliance, thanks, in no small part, to W.A. artist Wayne Watson's son Neal, who hipped label reps to the band. Earlier this year, Caedmon's Call recorded its self-titled debut CD in Decatur, Georgia, with producer Don McCollister (R.E.M., Indigo Girls). What happened next took everyone by surprise: Within the space of a single week in the spring of '97, Caedmon's Call bolted to the number one slot on both Billboard's Contemporary Christian and Heatseekers charts. Not long thereafter, the single "Lead of Love," would become a number one Christian-radio hit -- no small feat for a relatively unknown band of twentysomething churchgoers.

Yet, even with all that success, the group hasn't lost touch with its congregation. Through a band-run web site (www.caedmons-call.com), a Warner Alliance site (wbr.com/caedmonscall) and their own e-mail (ecaedmon@aol.com), the members of Caedmon's Call regularly chat with fans from all over the world. "Most of the time, it's not even about the music," Webb says. "I get into a lot of serious discussions with people about anything you can name."

And while we're on the subject of name games, one member of Caedmon's Call may be changing her name in the credits of the band's next release. Young and Glenn, who have known each other since they were kids -- when they first performed opposite each other in a production of Bye, Bye Birdie at Second Baptist Church -- got hitched last month in a ceremony that included a nuptial jam with the rest of the group.

"The kids get back from their honeymoon just before Christmas," Webb chuckles.

After that, the band will tour the country in support of Intimate Portrait through the spring, and perhaps head to Europe in the summer.

"Right now, the band is exactly where we want it to be, and we want to play in front of as many people as possible -- whatever their [religious] feelings are," Webb concludes. "After all, the reason Jesus was able to reach the world is because he was out there in it himself. I mean, he hung out with everybody.

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