TUPELO – More than 9,200 flocked to the BancorpSouth Arena for this year’s Winter Jam, the nation’s biggest annual Christian music festival.
Arena officials had to turn long lines of fans away when the building reached capacity. It was huge names like tobyMac, Hawk Nelson and NewSong that drew the big crowd in.
Up-and-coming Christian singer Francesca Battistelli warmed the crowd up with songs like “Beautiful, Beautiful” and offered an encouraging testimonial.
NewSong performed next and had the crowd singing along to tracks like “Arise My Love” and “Rescue.” The group also threw in snippets of songs like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Shout” for fun.
Hawk Nelson walked out on stage to the thumping beat of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” before tearing into “You Have What I Need.”
Lead singer Jason Dunn told the audience about why the band was there.
“We are truly, madly and deeply in love with Jesus,” he said as the crowd cheered. “I promise you he will change your life.”
The group also performed “Bring ‘Em Out,” “Everything You Have Ever Wanted” and “One Little Miracle.”
A trip worthwhile
The Deans, Jamison and Mandy, made their third trek from their hometown of Muscle Shoals, Ala., to come to Winter Jam. The couple are youth leaders at their church and brought some of their students along with them.
“Hawk Nelson is their favorite,” Jamison said.
Though Hawk Nelson won plenty of screams from the audience, headliner tobyMac won the most cheers for the night.
Guest speaker Tony Nolan schooled the crowd on death, delivering both funny and serious messages.
“Death runs in my family,” he joked before adding, “The point is not, are you ready for death, but are you prepared for death?”
The Afters won over fans by performing their hit “Ocean Wide,” which has been featured on the TV show “Grey’s Anatomy.”
The Afters’ lead singer Joshua Havens gave an uplifting message to the audience.
“There’s only one love that’s perfect,” he said. “God loves you, even when you don’t love yourself.”
Sheena Barnett/Daily Journal