Lifting up Uplift: Christian music festival returns to Vail’s Ford Amphitheater | SummitDaily.com

Lifting up Uplift: Christian music festival returns to Vail’s Ford Amphitheater

Randy Wyrick
rwyrick@vaildaily.com

VAIL — The Uplift music festival is a God-sized deal, said John David Webster, who should know.

Webster, his wife, Kirsten, and a cast of several thought of the classic lyric by Christian rocker Larry Norman that asked, "Why should the Devil have all the good music?"

The Devil should not, they reasoned. And so they launched Uplift, a contemporary Christian music festival in Vail. It returns Sunday evening to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.

It draws thousands of people from all around Western Colorado and the Front Range and some of the top talent in contemporary Christian Music.

Three years ago, Uplift became the first Christian concert at the Ford Amphitheater that anyone can remember. Lots of churches and other organizations have done all sorts of events — mostly wonderful — but nothing of this scope.

God smiled on it, and so did everyone involved. Sponsors pick up the tab for hundreds of tickets. Youth groups roll in from all around the region, from the Front Range to Grand Junction.

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"We just try to stay out of God's way," Webster said.

It wasn't one of those start-small-and-let-grow efforts. Like we said, it's God-sized. Christian music superstar Jeremy Camp topped the bill the first two years.

Miracle man

Phil Wickham, another of the top names in Christian music, headlines this year's lineup.

Wickham is something of a miracle himself. A few years ago, he didn't know if he would ever sing again. He canceled a string of concerts because of throat trouble. Doctors discovered a polyp on his vocal cords. He couldn't sing, and might not again, the doctors said. In fact, he couldn't talk for a month.

"I was upset," Wickham said. "I was afraid for the future. It felt like my identity was being stripped away."

He hit his knees and asked God for a little guidance. God was happy oblige.

"There have only been a few times in my life where I felt, undeniably, his voice speaking to me. This was one of them," Wickham said. "He said my identity is not in what I do, but it's in who he says I am. He said 'I'm your father. You're my child. Trust me.'"

He wrote his seventh album, "Children of God," during all that.

"I still didn't know if I was going to be able to sing a whole record of them. But I had a freedom and a lightness in my heart," Wickham said. "The way I feel about the record, that excitement and freshness, I feel like it's my first record all over again."

Bonray: A family affair

Bonray, the other half of the twin bill for Uplift is a group of siblings, a classic family band.

"Even if we weren't related, we'd probably be best friends in a band," Zac Bonner said. "We get to work together and face life together. Everything from song writing to performances are born out of the same pool of inspiration, emotions and truth."

The band is Zac, Jesse, Jake and Morgan Bonner.

They've been on the road most of this year in support of their newest EP.

"It's a dream come true for us to play music and do it for a reason," Morgan Bonner said. "The heart of our band is our relationship with Jesus. We love what we're doing and want everyone we come in contact with to be encouraged and see the hope and purpose that is waiting for them."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

If You Go …

What: Uplift, a contemporary Christian music festival.

When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3.

Where: Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, 530 South Frontage Road E., Ford Park, Vail.

Cost: $40 reserved, $20 general admission.

More information: Phil Wickham is the headliner, with special guest Bonray. For tickets and information, go to http://www.upliftvail.com or take your chances at the gate.

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