Started by Carswell’s Christian band NewSong 18 years ago as a way to reach new audiences, Winter Jam has grown into one of the most successful tours around.
Winter Jam features Christian music’s best and brightest artists and provides a powerful platform for ministry across the country, promoters say.
After packing Philips Arena for the last two years, Winter Jam has moved to the largest venue in Atlanta for this year’s concert.
“When NewSong started this tour almost 18 years ago, we did one city and we didn’t charge tickets, we just let people pay at the door,” Carswell said en route to Greenville for this year’s concert there Friday night.
Now with concerts planned in 2014 in 60 cities on the east and west coasts, Winter Jam is the biggest tour in the world for the first quarter, he said, drawing a total audience of 550,000 nationally last year.
“We are praying for a big crowd this year. We want everyone who comes to be able to be a part of this,” Carswell said of tonight’s concert.
In addition to Carswell, a founding member of NewSong who provides vocals and songwriting for the Grammy-winning Christian band, two other members live in Cherokee County.
Billy Goodwin, who sings lead and plays the guitar, lives in Ball Ground and Jack Pumphrey, on drums and vocals, lives in Canton.
Two members, Russ Lee and Matt Butler, are from Nashville and the other two, Mark Clay and Rico Thomas are from Adairsville.
The group is known for songs such as “Christmas Shoes” and “Arise My Love,” and has just produced its 18th recording, “Swallow the Ocean.”
While fans of NewSong are expected to line up to pay the $10 per person charge at the door for the concert, the event offers plenty of other entertainment.
Tonight’s Winter Jam concert will feature special guest appearances from 19-year-old Duck Dynasty star Reed Robertson and Grammy nominated multi-Dove Award winner David Crowder. University of Georgia head football coach Mark Richt will also appear at the Dome tonight.
Other performers are Grammy-nominated Newsboys and groundbreaking Grammy-winning rap/hip-hop recording artist Lecrae of Atlanta.
This year’s tour also features Tenth Avenue North, Thousand Foot Krutch, Plumb, and Colton Dixon, as well as a message from national evangelist Nick Hall.
From 10 a.m. until concert time tonight, the inaugural Jam Zone is a free, expo-style event in the World Congress Center. Showcasing a live performance stage, zip line, chainsaw carving, rock climbing wall, interactive and inflatable games for kids, more than 85 booths of local businesses and exhibitors, and food and merchandise vendors, fans will also be able to interact with the tour’s artists at the Winter Jam autograph booth.
Another first for this year’s event is a daring stunt by famed high wire artist Nik Wallenda. The seven-time Guinness World Record holder, who crossed the Grand Canyon on a tightrope without a safety harness last year, is slated to walk untethered across a high wire suspended in the Georgia Dome during tonight’s mega event.