Here’s a riddle for you. What has 19 Grammy awards, 5 Academy of Country Music Awards, and has recorded and played with the likes of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Amy Grant, Allison Kraus, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant, Yo Yo Ma, Dolly Parton, Chris Tomlin, and Garth Brooks?
Stumped? It’s the studio band for the newest Slugs & Bugs project, Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs. Sing The Bible marks the fourth installment in Randall Goodgame’s wildly funny and creative, theologically substantial, and infectiously singable Slugs & Bugs series. The high level of artistry on the Slugs & Bugs CDs is changing the game for children and family music, but for Randall Goodgame, that only scratches the surface of what sets Sing the Bible apart.
“It represents a huge shift for the Slugs & Bugs series, because the lyrics on Sing The Bible are all word-for-word Scripture. Now, when families tell me they've memorized the whole CD, I'll know that means 63 Bible verses, plus the names of all the books of the Old and New Testaments. However, the Bible passages are all about how we live day-to-day with Jesus, and my grand hope is that these songs will help parents embrace and even celebrate their own moment by moment need for Jesus in front of their kids, so that they can have real, honest conversations about what a life of faith looks like: loving, listening, following, failing, repenting, and returning—often all in the same day.”
The most musically mature of the four Slugs & Bugs projects so far, Sing The Bible heavily features celebrative African rhythms and melodies, and boasts the joyful supporting vocals of the African Children’s Choir on several tracks. And while the seventeen songs that comprise the project also range into pop and bluegrassy territories, the focus is all centered on the goal of influencing families.
“There are three things parents hunger for that Slugs & Bugs serves well,” Goodgame (himself a father of three) observes. “We want a healthy relationship with our kids, we want to have fun with them, and we want them to know their place in the world. Because of the attention to musicianship and song-craft on Slugs & Bugs CDs, parents can enjoy the music along with their kids instead of having to merely endure it. The songs are either joyful, silly, or deeply meaningful, and sometimes all three at the same time. As families listen to the songs together, the music helps facilitate fun, shared experiences and deep, meaningful conversations.”
Slugs & Bugs had its genesis in the early 2000’s, when Goodgame was a Nashville singer/songwriter, releasing CDs of his own and penning a slew
of songs for Caedmon’s Call and other notable artists. He and good friend Andrew Peterson were touring together and both lamenting the lack of quality music available for their young kids. So during downtime on the tour, they began crafting some silly songs of their own. The informal collaboration led to the 2007 release of what both assumed would be a small side project: Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies.
After its release though, Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies took on a life of its own, generating a growing buzz, and drawing a strong response from parents and kids alike. It even led to the creative duo penning silly songs for VeggieTales episodes (songs like the now legendary “Monkey”). In 2009 Randall put together a Slugs & Bugs concert series designed specifically for families to enjoy together, and found his calling. With Andrew’s full blessing, Goodgame became sole captain of a new brand, and Slugs & Bugs Family Music was born, releasing A Slugs & Bugs Christmas in 2010, and raising $24,000 through Kickstarter for a third CD titled Slugs & Bugs Under Where? in 2011. Sing the Bible was also funded through Kickstarter, setting a record for children’s music by raising over $44,000 from fan support.
The live show has continued to connect with families, and as word has spread, Slugs & Bugs now performs 70-80 concerts a year. Says Goodgame, "The goal of the live shows are for families to have fun together, and to learn how to better live out the gospel together.”
Though Sing the Bible represents a lyrical shift for Slugs & Bugs, their commitment to “excellent silliness” remains, as exemplified through a few notable guests. In addition to the African Children’s Choir and the star-studded studio band, best selling author Sally Lloyd-Jones (Jesus Storybook Bible) appears as a scripture reader and provides hilarious dialogue on the song “Alien.” Additionally, Goodgame’s own children share the lead and bits of humor on a number of tracks, as do, quite mysteriously, Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolfman.
Perhaps Sing the Bible is best summed up by Goodgame’s former Slugs & Bugs collaborator, award winning author and songwriter, Andrew Peterson.
“Randall Goodgame, one of the best lyricists out there, has done something astonishing—he’s made a catchy, heartfelt, beautiful record that feels entirely original, and yet he’s using ancient words composed by the best writer there ever was. I can’t think of another collection of songs this joyful that has also made me cry in the car. Just like Narnia, Sing the Bible is at least as much for the grownups as it is for the kids.”