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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Greg Hansen, left, and Steve Lerud are co-owners of Eagle Springs Records, which was started as an effort to provide values-centered and uplifting music.

Making music can be as simple as stringing notes together and as complex as making those notes convey powerful messages. There are thousands of possibilities, hundreds of genres and styles, countless artists who all make music.

But what does that music make of you?

That's the question Greg Hansen and Steve Lerud ask. They know the answer for themselves: The best music is values-centered and uplifting — what they call "positive music."

"Positive music makes the world a better place," Hansen says. "It may or may not be religious music. That's far too narrow a classification. It can be any genre, any style."

But there is a very real place for that kind of music, he says. "Positive music is what many people are already listening to. It's what most people want more of — without the offensive lyrics and loud, obnoxious noise."

To generate more of that kind of music, Hansen and Lerud have formed a new record label, Eagle Springs, which will record, produce, distribute and promote "positive music."

Already, they have been working with a stable of talented and varied artists.

There's singer Sara Bethany Ham, for example. "She's more contemporary," Hansen says. "We're not reaching kids. We need artists like her that can be exemplary to youth."

There's Las Vegas singer/songwriter Julie Baird. She's somewhere between musical theater and Mormon sacrament meeting, Hansen says, and has broad appeal.

There's Dan Beck, who has "such an amazing voice, everyone wants to write songs for him," Hansen says.

And there are lots more. Eagle Springs has been about 10 years in the planning. Both Hansen and Lerud have been involved in the local music scene for even longer, and both are winners of multiple Pearl Awards, given by the Faith Centered Music Association, for their work in producing and engineering music. Both have worked in the national industry. The walls of Lerud's studio are lined with pictures of artists and albums he's worked with. Hansen, too, has worked with the likes of Disney, PBS, Andy Williams, Sony Music and David Foster.

But they've had a dream of having their own label that can broaden the impact and influence of positive music and bring new voices into the mix.

Right now, most of what they are doing falls into the category of sacred/inspirational music. And while they hope to continue to make that music, they would also like to become involved with everything from jazz and country to New Age and classical.

To that end, they've also established Jukebox, an interactive Web site that is part of yourLDSneighbor

hood.com.

On the Web site, artists can promote their music, and listeners can vote on their favorites. For a $75 membership fee, artists can post up to three songs at a time for a posting fee of $5.

"All the producers in the industry can listen to what's there. And sort of like 'American Idol,' the audience can rate what's there," Hansen says. "At the end of the year, we will compile a CD of the 12 top-rated songs, which will be produced at no cost to the artists."

It's a way, he says, for independent artists to be heard. For many, "independent music has become the way to go," Hansen says. There are only a few record labels in the local market, and they have signed maybe two dozen local artists. "But some of the most successful artists — like Peter Breinholt, Ryan Shupe, Sam Payne, Kurt Bestor — they were all independents."

Often, to get a start, an artist "has had to know someone," Hansen says. "This opens it up, gives everyone a way to be heard."

It's going to help producers, too, Hansen says. "It can take them past hoards and hoards of demo tapes that are sometimes hard to go through."

The power, he says, is shifting to the hands of the people. "It's moving beyond the brick-and-mortar stores to a whole new indie scene."

The amazing thing about the Internet, he says, is that Jukebox can have worldwide reach. "The technology is there. Wouldn't it be cool to get a sitar player from India or get someone from Asia or Brazil?"

Hansen expects that many of the artists who sign up for Jukebox will be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but that is not a requirement, he says. Anyone who is making positive, uplifting music is welcome.

"Christian music is now a $4 billion industry, and now a lot of those companies are being bought up by the big labels, and they are giving it more of a pop sound," Hansen says. "But it shows how many people want this kind of music."

Jukebox and Eagle Springs will provide as much as they can. "If you look at what's out there, Lerud says, "you see that there is a need for more positive messages. I like to listen to all genres of music, but we need people who speak with a positive voice in all genres. People need to know there's a place to go to find this kind of music so they don't have to dig through everything."


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