As LCU’s premiere contemporary a cappella group Best Friends announced its 2023-24 members, it passed one million total plays on Apple Music in the United States and has nearly totaled 3.5 million plays across all streaming platforms.
“While we were enjoying our annual retreat up at Pine Springs to get a jumpstart on learning music for our new concert set and album, I received the usual email that comes every week from Apple Music reporting on the week’s activity,” shared Dr. Philip Camp, the group’s director. “This email, however, really caught my attention.”
Best Friends music had passed 1,000,000 plays in the United States on Apple Music, a significant milestone in the era of music streaming. After further investigation, Dr. Camp tallied over 3.5 million plays across all platforms on which Best Friends has its music listed, including Spotify and Amazon Music.
“I believe this is a real tribute to the group and to the ability, vision, and leadership of each of the directors since 2006: Warren McNeill, Windy Babcock, and Gary Moyers,” he shared. “I’ve been blessed to serve as director since 2018 and have enjoyed every minute it, and I’m especially grateful for Nathan Anderson and Kristopher Schmitt who have recorded and mastered each album since Where I Belong (2011-2012).”
Anderson, who has been working with the group for over 18 years, said, “While 3-and-a-half million plays might not be a huge number in the grand scheme of online music streaming, it’s certainly a source of pride for the LCU community to have our students’ talent and hard work on display in this way.”
Anderson has not only worked as a co-director for the group for most of the last two decades—he has also arranged hundreds of the songs that Best Friends has recorded, alongside LCU’s own chemistry/music professor Dr. Byron Rogers. Beyond adapting popular contemporary Christian music from the radio for a cappella singers, a feat in its own right, Anderson has also been one of the main driving forces behind recording the group’s albums each year—and the fact that many of his arrangements have gone on to win national awards speaks to his talent.
“I cannot overstate the importance of our technical director Nathan Anderson to this group,” Dr. Camp emphasized. “His mastery of the technical side combined with his musical ability to coach the group through the tedious process of learning the notes sets the group up early for quick success each year. His work and leadership with the group’s sound system, recording, synchronized videos with lyrics for concerts, and his musical ability to arrange and adapt songs each year cannot be over-stated.”
Warren McNeill, one of the group’s former directors and Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations, echoed Dr. Camp’s statements. “We have been richly blessed to have amazingly talented students who have a heart for God to use their talents to glorify him and to represent LCU through the years. And we have had exceptionally talented and humble technicians who have worked behind the scenes to produce recordings that make their way into the hearts of people all around the world. Nathan has led this behind-the-scenes effort for many years, and it was his idea to make Best Friends recordings digitally available on these well-known platforms several years ago.”
Best Friends has already begun recording their next album to be released in the spring of 2024, which will feature all new songs for this year’s group. The 2023-24 cohort features the returning talents of tenor Robert Cantu, vocal percussionist Reid Freeman, sound tech Ben Haley, soprano Adrianna Langat, alto Raylee Moore, tenor Elijah Roark, and baritone Blaine Temple.
New additions to the group include bass Matthew Duvall, a freshman biblical text major from Amarillo, Texas; alto Jessie Holder, a sophomore early childhood education major from Childress, Texas; and soprano Ella Simpson, a sophomore integrated marketing communications major from Waxahachie, Texas.
Dr. Camp hopes to continue the group’s legacy of being recognized for their excellence, which includes eight Contemporary Acapella Recording Award (CARA) nominations in the last decade, including their 2019 album Risen which won Best Religious Album.
“I’m certain that the reason that BF’s recordings have been so popular on our streaming platforms is due to the quality of these recordings as also measured by the number of recent CARA nominations,” he said, “thanks to our talented students, the directors mentioned above, to our arrangers, and to our audio engineer Kris Schmitt.”
Learn more about Best Friends, their music, and upcoming concerts and tour dates.