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Kevin Max (Artist)

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Kevin Max Smith (born August 17, 1967) is an American singer, songwriter, and poet. He is best known for being a member of the Christian pop group dc Talk. As a solo artist since 2001, he has recorded Five full-length studio albums, one Christmas album, and four EPs. From 2012-2014, He was the lead singer of the group Audio Adrenaline.

BiographyEdit

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Kevin Max

Early yearsEdit

Born Kevin Max Smith, he legally shortened it to "Kevin Max" in 1997, as a tribute to his adoptive father. Kevin was himself adopted by the Smith family and grew up in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. His adoptive brother was named Derek. Kevin showed incredible vocal and musical talent early in his life. Renowned for his unusual vibrato and multiple octave range, his voice grabbed attention immediately. His talent grew while at Grand Rapids Baptist High School (now known as NorthPointe Christian High School) and later at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. While at Liberty, Max started a band called 'Connection' and was known around the campus as 'the rock singer.' Max was dismissed from Liberty University for unknown reasons following the first semester of his freshman year. He returned the following semester and shortly thereafter joined the Christian music group dcTalk. Max also shortened his name to avoid confusion with Kevin Smith, the filmmaker.

dc TalkEdit

While at Liberty University, he met fellow dc TalkGroup bandmates: tobyMacGroup ("tobyMac") and Michael TaitSoloist. They formed dc Talk and went on to achieve great success in both Christian and mainstream music. The band went on to win four Grammy Awards, 16 GMA Dove Awards, and other recognition. However, they decided to take an extended "intermission" in 2000.

SpiritualityEdit

In recent years, Kevin Max has attempted to create a name for himself apart from dc Talk. While he does not shy away from vocally defending his faith, he has expressed a desire to create art with a universal appeal. He insists, "My music is for a Christian and a Buddhist to pick up and still enjoy, as well as for an atheist. But it is there to prod and ask questions: What is my worldview? What do I believe in, and why do I believe it?"

Stereotype BeEdit

Max's first solo album, Stereotype Be System^Link Label^Disc, released on August 28, 2001, was praised by Allmusic for "combining pop, rock, and world music to create a versatile and intriguing project." Artists Adrian BelewSoloist, Larry NormanSoloist, and Tony LevinSoloist contributed to the album. It became a turning point in Max's career, as the project was a foreshadowing of Max's own brand of style and alternative music. He would become known as the 'enigmatic' and 'independent' voice of the band, creating work that would take on many different directions that skewed far from the initial sounds and lyrical content of the dctalk music.

Further projectsEdit

While Stereotype Be has developed a considerable cult following, it wasn't well-received in the Christian music market. Soon after its release, Max was dropped from his Christian label, Forefront Records. Undeterred, Max began to slowly build his solo career through live shows and word-of-mouth. He released independent albums via his website, including an EP entitled Between the Fence & the Universe System^Link Label^Disc and a spoken-word collaboration with Adrian Belew entitled Raven Songs 101 System^Link Label^Disc, both in 2004.

In fall of 2004, Max's word-of-mouth strategy finally began to pay off. He played the title role in the Visalia Theatre Company/Hutson-Cavale Productions revival of the classic Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Later that year, he signed a new deal with Northern Records and released a second full-length album, titled The Imposter System^Link Label^Disc, said to "contain...a sound that recalls the passion of early U2, the soul of Jeff Buckley, and the ambiguity of Blur, on October 18, 2005. He released a Christmas album, titled Holy Night System^Link Label^Disc, in time for the 2005 Christmas season.

In April 2007, Infinity Music announced that Kevin Max signed onto their label for his next project. The Blood System^Link Label^Disc, was released on December 26, 2007. According to Max, "The Blood is not a classic hymns cover project or a white/homogenized version of black gospel or soul music. It's a sensitive and stylized adaption of the music that was at the root of rock and roll, blues and popular culture."

In February 2008 Kevin Max starred in the independent film The Imposter. Kevin plays a character named "Johnny C", a singer who becomes addicted to OxyContin and loses his family and job as a Christian music star. The movie also features Tom Wright and Troy Baker.

In 2009 Max released Crashing Gates System^Link Label^Disc through dPulse records and was critically praised as returning to his experimental side in the rock and pop genres.

"Like Lennon, Max was formerly part of one of the premier bands in his particular genre (and, similarly, sometimes thought of as the most outrageous member), and has faced the task of becoming a solo artist in his own right with a degree of artistry and creativity that has eclipsed that of his more commercially-oriented former band-mates. Crashing Gates, a seven song EP, is a half-hour (give or take) of streamlined, hard-hitting, intelligent, well-informed rock and roll flavored with a dash of Euro-pop and plenty of soul. The music has a similar energy to Lennon’s classic Plastic Ono Band solo project, which also featured a stripped-down rock unit of drums, bass, guitar and keyboard. Crashing Gates starts off with Jonathan Smith’s opening drumbeats on the lead track, “Traveler,” a tight, punchy, economical song and a good introduction to this band (it sounds like a band project) which powerfully delivers seven songs featuring the distinctive Max factor of Kevin’s signature vocals and intriguing lyrics."

Early 2010, Max began to change the direction of Cotes d' Armor System^Link Label^Disc ( a remix project) with label dPulse records and included UK Electronica band PWEI (Pop Will Eat Itself) on production, announcing a double vinyl and disc selection. The single 'On Yer Bike' was produced by industry veteran Tedd T known for his work with alternative rock band MUTEMATH. Currently the project boasts remixes done by Graham Crabb of PWEI and members of 3kStatic.

In February 2011, Max had formed a supergroup with Broadway singer Tony Vincent and longtime collaborator David Larring. The band is tentatively named "Bad Omens;" the three were writing songs when Tony Vincent decided to drop out to pursue theater interests, leaving the new band in a state of pause.

March 4, 2012, Max released Fiefdom of Angels-Side One System^Link Label^Disc, the first of two EP's to coincide with the forthcoming novel series of the same name. The overall project were chosen covers of popular synthesizer 80's and 90's songs set to lush Orchestration. Ology Magazine describes the work as 'A new wave mix-tape played at full volume through the Sistine Chapel.'

In August 2012, Max was asked to be the lead singer of Audio Adrenaline. The group released 1 album with Max, Kings and Queens (2013). In 2014 he announced He was leaving the band, as He felt that worship music wasn't were He belonged, He was replaced by Josh Engler (Formerly of Abandon). In 2014, Max released his first CD since He left Audio Adrenaline, Broken Temples.

Poetry and writingsEdit

Max is also a poet and an author, and several of his albums feature performance poetry. He has published four books, three of which are poetry books: At the Foot of Heaven (1994), The Detritus of Dorian Gray (2003) and PO.ET.RY (2005). The other is an autobiography of sorts titled Unfinished Work (2001), an in-depth look at the meaning of each of his songs from Stereotype Be. In addition, Max has a At the Foot of Heaven System^Link Label^Disc that accompanies his first poetry book At the Foot of Heaven, released in 1994 by Starsong Productions. In 2004, Max included poems from the book The Detritus of Dorian Gray in the spoken project with Adrian Belew titled Raven Songs 101 which was eventually distributed by alternative independent label dPulse records. Max's poetry is consistently found in his recording projects including dc talk projects Jesus Freak, Supernatural and several of his own solo projects, particularly Stereotype Be and Crashing Gates. He is currently working on a novel and graphic novel Fiefdom of Angels depicting the origins of angels before the creation of earth.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1997, Max married Alayna Bennett. They divorced in 2003. In April 2005, he married Amanda Lynn MacDonald, but stated in an interview that earlier the two had "a secret wedding and marriage vows were spoken and we had binding agreement together in front of a spiritual leader, but we decided to go with the public ceremony a little bit later." Their daughter, London Ava Kay Max, was born on October 7, 2005.They lived in Hollywood, California, until July 2006, when Max and his family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. In December 2006, Max announced on his website that he and Amanda were expecting the birth of their second child (a boy) in June 2007. He was born as Wilder Liam Max at 7:00PM on June 6, 2007. Kevin Max and family have moved back to Nashville where Max secured a new recording contract. On March 24, 2009, Kevin Max and his wife Amanda welcomed their third child, Knightly Christobal Max. In August 2010, Max and family moved back to Grand Rapids Michigan as a result of discovering that their second child, Wilder Liam, was diagnosed with low spectrum autism. The Grand Rapids Press covered the story on the front pages of the entertainment section, explaining in further detail, the reasons for Max returning to his home state. Fourth child Lady Charlotte Max was born on October 7, 2011, sharing a birthday with older sister London.

Ongoing worksEdit

Now, back in Grand Rapids Michigan, Max is settling in on his graphic novel series titled ‘Fiefdom of Angels.’ A soundtrack is being assembled to coincide and the novel which started it all is being edited and ready to send to publishers. The graphic novel series starts with the teaser issue which is unveiled this year during Art Prize 2001. Max plans to follow up the introductory comic with a three volume series, which will then be followed by the novel itself. There are further plans for ‘Fiefdom of Angels’ to be written into a screenplay and stage production. Max is currently releasing the first single from the soundtrack as a free download during Art Prize week, titled ‘Take A Bow.’

DiscographyEdit

SoloEdit

CollaborationsEdit

Guest appearancesEdit

  • Rich MullinsSoloist – "To Tell Them"
  • Michael McDonald – "Ain't That Peculiar"
  • {{Artist|Audio Adrenaline]] – "My World View" (Guest Vocalist), Kings and Queens(CD) (As lead singer)
  • Manic Drive – "Blue"
  • Jimmy Abegg – "These Daughters Of Mine"
  • TobyMacSoloist – "Atmosphere"
  • Playdough – "Sandal Sole"
  • JRemy – "Remedy"
  • 3kStatic – "Sugar Evolver"
  • SONICFLOOd – "Something About That Name"
  • Raze – "Forgive Me"
  • Newsboys – "Gods Not Dead", "I Am Second", "Man on Fire", & "The Living Years"

SinglesEdit

  • Be (2001)
  • Existence (2001)
  • Sanctuary (2005)
  • Get On Yer Bike (2010)
  • Exorcist (2010)
  • Take A Bow (2011)
  • Infinite (2014)

FilmographyEdit

  • Existence (ForeFront Records, 2001)
  • Seek Live (Northern Records, 2003)
  • Untitled (Blind Thief Publishing, 2003)

BooksEdit

  • At the Foot of Heaven (poetry/artwork, Starsong, 1994)
  • Unfinished Work (autobiography, T. Nelson, 2001)
  • The Detritus of Dorian Gray (poetry, Blind Thief Publishing, 2003)
  • Slip of the Ink
  • Divine Erotica
  • PO/ET/RY (poetry, Blind Thief Publishing, 2005)
  • Fiefdom of Angels (not released yet)

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