In one sense, From Grace to Glory: The Music of Todd Agnew is a greatest hits collection. Though Todd would be quick to clarify: “No one needs a greatest hits anymore. You can just build a playlist on iTunes. And what’s a hit song anyway? My mom likes all of them.”
But the project does function as a “best of” collection. Its cornerstones are four huge songs from his first two records: “Grace Like Rain,” “This Fragile Breath (The Thunder Song),” “In The Middle of Me,” and “My Jesus.” Added to the collection are four outstanding songs that have had great impact but were not radio hits: “Isaiah 6” (Reflection of Something), “Our Great God” with Rebecca St. James (Better Questions), “Did You Mean Me?” (Need), and “The One You Want,” co-written with Jason Ingram (How To Be Loved).
In another sense, From Grace To Glory is a collection of the songs Todd wishes you had. There are many tracks not found on other Agnew records. “When Love Comes To Town” is a cover of the U2/B.B. King collaboration from the U2 tribute album In the Name of Love: Artists United for Africa (2004), with proceeds benefitting HIV/AIDS relief. “Beautiful” is a track from the Reflection of Something sessions. Todd recalls: “We had cut a worship song called ‘Beautiful’ by Nathan Cochran, a wonderful artist in his own right and bass player in the group Mercy Me. Nathan had given us permission to record his song, but after we recorded it, he called back to ask if he could reserve the song for his pending solo project. We wanted to support Nathan’s new opportunity, but I really loved tracks we had recorded. So I wrote all-new lyrics and melody for the song, which became ‘Unchanging One.’ For From Grace to Glory, we went back into the studio and restored the original version of ‘Beautiful,’ which folks will hear for the first time.” “This Is All I Have to Give” is a song from the Do You See What I See record that originally had a lead vocal by Vince Lichlyter from Jonah33. After playing it live for many years, Todd went back and recorded his own vocal on the song. Best-selling author Ted Dekker asked Todd to write a song for his novella, The Martyr’s Song. The original version of “Martyr’s Song”—produced by Matt Bronleewe (Jars of Clay, Plumb) and inserted in the sleeve of Dekker’s book—is included in From Grace to Glory. One other unreleased gem from the Better Questions sessions is Todd’s piano/vocal demo for “On A Corner in Memphis.” Todd recalls, “No matter what we did in the actual tracking session, we couldn’t recreate the immediacy and pathos of that demo, which is tagged with Mark Cohn’s ‘Walking in Memphis.’ This track is a fun look behind the scenes in the studio.” One of the tracks that didn’t make the final cut of Todd’s Need record was “His Eye Is On the Sparrow.” As the team combed through unreleased tracks from the vault, “Sparrow” stood out as exceptional, just needing one more thing to make it really special. Trulah Maloy, a talented student at Memphis’ Visible Music College, added a spectacular vocal to make ‘Sparrow’ a true duet.
In another sense, From Grace To Glory is a story of family and friends. Todd married his wife, Jenny, in 2008. They have built a life, family, and ministry together, first in Austin and then moving to Dallas. Through these relationships, God taught Todd about receiving love, which led to the song “The One You Want,” co-written with Jason Ingram and the rest of the How To Be Loved record. Many know the story of the song Grace Like Rain, co-written with one of Todd’s best friends Chris Collins. The two got back together to write one of the two new songs on this project, “Nearer Home.” The lyric is taken from a Puritan prayer book The Valley of Vision, and Todd says it’s one of the easiest songs he’s ever written. It has been a fan favorite at live shows for the past few years. The two new songs for the record were produced by new friend Jeff Quimby, whose impressive production credits includes work with Lincoln Brewster, Kari Jobe, Big Daddy Weave, and Paul Baloche. Quimby understood the contemporary worship world as well as what made for good CCM radio. Todd and Jeff then assembled the same core of players that joined him at Ardent more than 15 years ago [Kim Trammell on drums, Dave Smith on bass]. In addition, the new tracks include the talents of old friend Jeremy Redmon from Big Daddy Weave, and new friends David Leonard from All Sons and Daughters, Mark Trussell on guitar, and Jeremy Mayfield on keys.
In yet another sense, From Grace To Glory is a story of teachers and students. Over the last few years, Todd has watched the final chapters of many of his own mentors: Dana Key (DeGarmo & Key/Ardent Records A&R, 2010), John Hampton (Grammy award winning engineer at Ardent and producer, engineer for many of Todd’s projects, 2014), and John Fry (owner/founder of Ardent Studios and Ardent Records, 2014). However, the move to Dallas and the encouragement of his wife enabled Todd to pursue a lifelong dream and he is currently finishing a Master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. Under new teachers at DTS and new leadership at Ardent (Pat Scholes, CEO, Ryan Wiley, general manager, and Ken Steorts, label oversight), the next generation of songs is being birthed. The first of those is the modern worship hymn “Glory to Our Great Redeemer.” Todd remembers, “I’d been wrestling with all the biblical imagery for salvation. Which one was the most accurate? I took this question into my soteriology class (that’s the big word for the study of salvation). My professor helped me start to wrap my head around it: ‘What if the truth of salvation is so big that God uses ALL sorts of different images to help us understand it?’ So this song talks about ransom, redemption, adoption and more. Our worship grows deeper as we understand more fully all God has done on our behalf.” Additionally, Todd has taken on an instructional role at Visible Music College, teaching theology and worship leadership. Todd hopes to pass on the learning, wisdom, and experience to the next generation of worship leaders, artists, writers, and ministers.
From Grace to Glory: The Music of Todd Agnew looks different from different points of view. From any point of view, it is the story of God loving and leading a young man to accept the grace given him and teaching him to extend that grace to others. “From Grace to Glory is the gospel. We come to faith by grace. We live our lives by grace. We enter eternity by grace. And—from first to last—it’s all for God’s glory…that his character and mercy might be revealed and worshipped both now and evermore.”