Casting Crowns scored the highest sales debut in Christian music history, selling 167,432 copies of its latest album, Until the Whole World Hears, in its first week. That put them in the top spot of the Nielsen SoundScan Contemporary Christian Album Chart and at No. 4 on Billboard's Top 200.

"I can't express how thrilled and humbled I amby what Casting Crowns has achieved this week," said Provident Music Group President and CEO Terry Hemmings in a statement."Knowing that this is simply an extension of their church ministry makes these numbers significant in so many ways. There is much to learn from the consumers' response to the music and message this band is delivering."

Patty Griffin goes gospel

Critically celebrated troubadour Patty Griffin has recorded roots music, Americana and alternative country throughout her decade-plus career. Now, after a recent tour with Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller, Griffin is preparing to release a gospel album featuring both of those spiritually-provocative performers, along with Mike Farris, Julie Miller, and Shawn Colvin as guests. Downtown Church releases January 26, recorded without any overdubs during sessions at Nashville's The Downtown Presbyterian Church, where Griffin sang from the pulpit).

Pillar frontman pens book

Pillar leader Rob Beckley is teaming up with American Bible Society to pen Confessions, a companion book to its recent CD of the same name. Beckly is gearing the text toward teens and the most prevalent issues they're facing, such as sexual issues, self-image, and spiritual questioning. The book lands January 14 digitally on its official website, followed by a physical edition at the band's 2010 tour dates.

Creed readies first concert DVD

Following their recent reunion tour and studio CD release Full Circle, the newly reunited Creed drops its first ever concert DVD December 8. Creed Live includes past hits like "Higher," "With Arms Wide Open," "My Sacrifice" and "Bullets," plus new tunes like "A Thousand Faces" and "Overcome." Besides the varied set list, expect a documentary loaded with interviews and behind the scenes footage, plus a candid photo gallery.

Leeland/Heath tour comes home

After 43 cities and 50,000 fans, the Leeland and Brandon Heath-led Follow You Tour came home to Nashville last week. Throughout the journey, the performers raised more than 1,000 Food for the Hungry child sponsorships, but also sought to actively stir the spirits of the downtrodden. "We see our calling as a band as two-fold: reaching out to the poor and reaching the 'up-and outers,'" said Leeland Mooring in a press release. "America's a rich nation, but we're spiritually poor. We want to see God bring a personal revival in the hearts of Americans and transform our nation."

Keys' TV blitz

Socially conscious singer/songwriter Alicia Keys is slated to drop her fourth studio CD The Element of Freedom on December 15. To mark the occasion, the 12-time Grammy winner is making the media rounds—The Oprah Winfrey Show over Thanksgiving, followed by performances on NBC's Christmas at Rockefeller (Dec. 2), The Late Show with David Letterman (Dec. 14), The View (Dec. 16) and The Today Show (Dec. 17).