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Citizen Way celebrates album release at Judson

Citizen WayÕ performs Thursday night ThompsCenter JudsUniversity Elgin.  April 24 2013  | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media

Citizen WayÕ performs Thursday night in the Thompson Center at Judson University in Elgin. April 24, 2013 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 28, 2013 7:55PM

ELGIN — For a band that played its first concert nine years ago in chapel at Judson University, Wednesday was “a really special day,” according to Ben Calhoun, lead singer of Citizen Way.

It was the day after Citizen Way’s album “Love is the Evidence” had dropped. And it was the day that album hit No. 5 among Christian & Gospel albums downloaded on iTunes.

It also was the day the band celebrated the release of “Love is the Evidence” with the Judson community with a release party at the Thompson Fine Arts Center on campus. That included a meet-and-greet and mini-concert in the Marjorie Thulin Performance Hall, packed out at capacity with about 135 people.

“I knew there was something special here. Music always has been a part of Judson — it’s part of our heritage,” Calhoun said.

The band’s song “Should Have Been Me” peaked at No. 4; and its latest single, “Nothing Ever (Could Separate Us),” debuted at No. 26 and is climbing the National Christian Audience radio charts, according to Judson.

All the songs on “Love is the Evidence” are based on the stories and people they encounter living in the area, Calhoun said. “All Things,” for one, was written after an interaction he and his daughter had with a homeless woman at a park in West Dundee. His daughter later said she was thankful for all the things she had, he said.

And through those songs, as in everything the band does, “We just want people to walk with Jesus and find out who they are in Him,” he said. “Hopefully, rock ’n’ roll will be the doorway to that.”

The two pairs of brothers in the band met at Judson, where both Ben and Josh Calhoun graduated, and Ben and David Blascoe had attended. All are married; and, according to the band, between the eight band members and spouses, six at one time went to the private Christian university.

Ben Calhoun “never left,” he said. He is an adjunct professor in the school’s music department, and the band practices at Dark Room Studios, the recording studio on campus, he said.

Calhoun said he had built that studio “out of old boards in the old library and old paint from the back of closets all over campus.”

“If we had time, each of these guys could testify this is the culmination of hopes and dreams and certainly hours practicing and a lot of prayer, especially, and God’s grace,” said Warren Anderson, director of Judson’s Center for Worship in the Performing Arts.

And the fact that all started at the local university excited Jamie Galen, 17, of Carol Stream, who attends Glenbard North High School and plans to go to Judson next year. She and classmate Alex York, also 17, arrived hours early Wednesday to stake out seats in the front row of the performance hall and take pictures of the band.

They’d heard Citizen Way’s music on the radio, and, Jamie said, “I like what they stand for.” Then they’d heard about the band’s album release party on Judson’s Facebook page.

“I like that they’re from here. It’s cool to think I’m going to be here, too,” Jamie said.

For more information about Citizen Way, or to purchase “Love is the Evidence,” visit

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