Act of Congress Reveals How New Album of Hymns is the "Soundtrack of Our Lives"

Act Of Congress

Genre-bending acoustic quartet Act of Congress brings its unique blend of pop, folk, gospel and bluegrass to The Hymns That Made Us, a full-length album available at digital and streaming outlets everywhere via and through Centricity Music's new distribution arm, Residence Music.

This self-produced album, The Hymns That Made Us, was mixed by four-time GRAMMY Award winning Ryan Freeland (Bonnie Raitt, Ray LaMontagne) and reimagines timeless classics that invite listeners to worship with thanksgiving, confession, prayer, lament and praise.

Q: Thank you for doing this interview with us. Why do you call yourselves Act of Congress? 

TIM CARROLL - When we first started it was difficult for 4 full time musicians to find a time to practice, someone mentioned it would take an "Act of Congress" to find a time to connect and it stuck. Even tho politics is very polarizing these days, I feel that music is the exact opposite, it can bridge the divide and hopefully bring people together across all the differences that separate people from each other.  

Q: As a group, you have released 5 albums. Can you share with us a few of the highlights of your career so far?

ADAM WRIGHT - We've completed five tours as U.S. Cultural Ambassadors with by the U.S. State Department including independence day entertainment for Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and a feature performance at Jordan's celebrated Jerash festival.The band also plays with symphonies around the country. That is my favorite type of performance. We have a Christmas show and a "Bluegrass and Blue Jeans" show with patriotic, pop/bluegrass, originals, and gospel music. 

CONNIE SKELLIE - We are always honored that anyone would take their time to come see us perform. We always hope that those who attend a show will leave inspired and hopefully feel a sense of joy that carries them on to wherever they are going next.  

Q: Why did you decide to release an album of hymns?

ADAM WRIGHT - Collectively, we are all believers and have grown up singing these timeless songs in our local church contexts. We feel like writing an album around hymns was an authentic and natural expression for us as a band. Personally, hymns are like an anchor. They evoke joy and help me to weather the brokenness I see inside me and around me.. Built on solid biblical truth, these songs remind me of the great hope we have in Jesus and root me deeper into his Word.

Q: Many of these hymns are familiar; how did you put a fresh spin on them?

CONNIE SKELLIE - Picking and arranging the hymns that made us was a bit different than our Christmas and original music approach.  We felt it was ok to explore the space and let the lyrics shine. A lot of times there would be a bass part idea and the song would form around that specific instrument. Other times centered around the mandolin chop. We wanted to make sure the integrity of the lyrics was forefront and center. Making sure we didn't overdo the arrangement was key. 

TIM CARROLL - We each come from pretty different musical backgrounds: a mix of classical, rock, bluegrass, jazz.   It's also fun that nothing is off the table. We just like to try and make the song as interesting to us as possible.  Hopefully that translates to the audience as well.  

ADAM WRIGHT - A strength for us as a band is taking a song or an idea that is familiar to people and presenting it in a fresh and unique way. Our Christmas catalog is a great example of this, and we wanted to try for a similar approach with these hymns. Arranging an Act of Congress song is kinda like building a house. You start with a very simple, but foundational idea, and find creative ways to continually build and dress it up (chord substitutions, adding atypical harmonies, meter changes, exploring ways to musically emphasize a lyric or phrase) until the "house" is complete. I find that our songs often feel like a  journey to our listeners.  

Q: Your website mentioned that these hymns have been the "soundtrack of our lives." Can you recall an instance where hymns ministered to you?

CHRIS GRIFFIN - "Come Thou Fount" is a pivotal hymn for me. Early in my post-college years I was transitioning from the secular life I had grown up in following Christ. Musically I was in an exploration phase listening to Christian songs and practicing melodies that were foreign to me in my childhood. "Come Thou Fount" in particular was a song I would sit on my front porch swing, in our tiny first home and practice on my guitar. I enjoyed trying various chord progressions and alternate melody examples, but I think in the end the lyrics were actually soaking in.

TIM CARROLL - "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" is one of my favorite hymns. It meant a lot to me when I was younger and helpful for me to try and not let anything in life (good or bad) distract me from Jesus, almost a beacon or call to keep my focus on Jesus.

Q: How do you hope these songs will minister to your listeners?

ADAM WRIGHT - I'd like for these songs to become signposts for people to the grace of God in Christ. The music we've created is a vehicle for the most amazing, redemptive story the world will ever know. We want others to know and believe it. 

CONNIE SKELLIE - Life is hard, lonely, difficult, expensive, seemingly hopeless, I'm hoping that these hymns of the faith bring a ray of light and hope to people that I know only Jesus can illuminate and provide.

TIM CARROLL - Rest, encouragement and joy.

CHRIS GRIFFIN - Encouragement of faith and a reimagining of these timeless lyrics. 

Q: I believe you have other new music coming out this year. Can you share with us what fans can expect?

CHRIS GRIFFIN - We are all involved in different local churches in the Birmingham area but as a band we're just now finding the intersection of our faith and the music we make. We've spent this year co-writing new songs with some of the best writers, producers and artists in Christian and Gospel music. One of the gifts of this band is an ability to package the Gospel in a fresh creative way and we can't wait for people to hear this new music.

The Hymns That Made Us is the first in a cascade of fresh music to be released this year from Act of Congress. For all the latest Act of Congress tour, music, news and more information, go to and


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