Few acts score a No. 1 album before they receive their driver license. Joining that short list is Fervent Records tween act pureNRG . The trio's new project, "The Real Thing,"  debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart and bowed at No. 20 on the Billboard 200.
PureNRG members Caroline Williams (14), Carolyne Meyers (14) and Jordan Yates (16) have been riding the fast track since debuting in 2007 with a self-titled set. "The Real Thing" is their third studio album, and the group has also released a Christmas CD, a remix collection and three DVDs.
"We had a lot more input on this album [and were] able to make up different parts of the songs," Yates says. "We were definitely more comfortable with our producers and the singing."
Meyers agrees. "As we move forward, we're learning more about our voices, who we are and what to sing," she says. "We chose songs we felt would spread the message of God to people and songs we could really energize."
The young act is known for its energetic stage shows, incorporating complex choreography and acrobatics. PureNRG has toured extensively, opening for Casting Crowns  on last winter's Christmas trek, performing on the multi-artist Winter Jam tour earlier this year in the United States and playing spring dates in Norway.
Word Label Group senior VP of marketing Tim Marshall says pureNRG's appeal to parents looking for a faith-based alternative to mainstream pop music has spurred sales. The album has sold 24,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"Consumers have caught the vision that this is the group who is going to carry the mantle for faith-based tween music," Marshall says. He notes that label executives are in discussions with Word's parent company, Warner Bros., about mainstream opportunities for pureNRG.
Both major chains and independent retailers have been supportive of the group. Word's merchandise department developed a special coloring/activity book that was sold exclusively through the Lifeway chain. Meanwhile, Family Christian Stores partnered with the label on a presale campaign that started in April and ran until the July 14 street date.
"It was exciting to work with Family Christian," Marshall says, "because we were able to work with its nonprofit organization, the James Fund." Aiding widows and orphans around the world, the fund has discovered that one of its biggest needs for kids, specifically in Mexico, is shoes.
With that in mind, a portion of the monies raised during the pureNRG presale campaign was donated to the James Fund. (Family Christian declined to specify the percentage the charity received.) PureNRG-accompanied by Marshall and manager Stacey Jennette-will travel to Mexico in October to personally deliver shoes to needy children. "We're going to be able to hand out thousands of shoes that were purchased because of the presale campaign," Marshall says. "People wanted the record and they knew buying it would impact someone's life. Kids helping kids, what an amazing picture."
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