“MercyMe is an American contemporary Christian music band founded in Greenville, Texas. The band consists of vocalist Bart Millard, keyboardist James Bryson, percussionist Robby Shaffer, bassist Nathan Cochran and guitarists Michael Scheuchzer and Barry Graul.
The band formed in 1994 and released six independent albums prior to signing with INO Records in 2001. The group first gained mainstream recognition with the crossover single, “I Can Only Imagine” which elevated their debut album, Almost There, to double platinum certification. Since then, the group has released six additional studio albums (four of which have been certified gold) and a greatest hits album, 10. The group has also had 13 consecutive top 5 singles on the Billboard Christian Songs chart, with 7 of them reaching No. 1. MercyMe has won 8 Dove Awards and has had numerous Grammy Award nominations. On April 8, 2014, the band released its eighth studio album titled Welcome to the New.
Formation and early years
Born into a family as the son of Southern Methodist University All-American player Arthur Millard and the brother of a football player, MercyMe’s lead singer, Bart Millard wanted to become a football player, yet his football career ended when he injured his ankles in a high school football game. As a result of his injury, Millard took choir as an elective. During his freshmen year in college, Bart had to endure the death of his father. His youth pastor, who had moved from Texas to Florida, invited Bart to work with his youth group’s worship band. Millard accepted his invitation and went on to work on the video and sound systems for the group. On a day when the band’s lead singer got sick on stage, Bart took the challenge of singing for the group. James (Jim) Bryson played piano for that band and later went on to play with Bart Millard and the worship band on a trip to Switzerland. This trip became the cause of Millard and Bryson’s consideration of playing music full-time. Millard and his friend, guitarist Mike Scheuchzer, moved to Oklahoma City to form MercyMe with Bryson. The trio set up a studio and a “living area” in an old abandoned day-care center. Bassist Nathan Cochran and Drummer Robby Shaffer joined the band later on, accompanying the band on releasing six independent projects before signing with INO Records in 2001. Unlike their first three major label albums, their earlier indie projects tended to orient more towards rock rhythms. The group’s name, “MercyMe”, originated during Bart’s time as a youth ministry intern in Florida. Concerned that her grandson was home whenever she called, Bart’s grandmother would exclaim, “Well mercy me, why don’t you get a real job?”