Skip to comments.Once mocked, Christian rockers now top the bill
Posted on 10/07/2004 8:47:53 AM PDT by nypokerface
NEW YORK (AFP) - Mocked by followers of mainstream pop music, evangelical rockers have kept the faith and become a huge business in the United States.
More than one billion dollars worth of gospel records are sold each year, and its market share of seven percent of all discs sold is more than for classical and jazz discs combined, according to industry figures.
Christian rock has become a force that even the US presidential contenders cannot ignore.
John Kerry has got heavyweight rock backers such as Bruce Springsteen and the group Pearl Jam backing him on a Vote For Change tour.
But at the Republican convention last month, Christian rock band Third Day and singers Gracie Rosenburger and Donnie McClurkin were star entertainers.
The convention's entertainment director, Frank Breeden, is a former president of the Gospel Music Association.
And the unusually pious beat heard in New York reflects President George W. Bush's drive to win the votes of the estimated four million religious conservatives who strategists believe failed to vote in the 2000 election.
It has been a long struggle for Evangelical rockers to win acceptance over the past two decades however.
Reverend David Wilkerson, a New York City priest, wrote in one book "The Cross and the Switchblade": "There is no doubt in my mind now -- rock music, as used and performed in Christian circles, is of the same satanic seed as that which is called punk, heavy metal, and is performed in devilish rock concerts worldwide."
But many Christian churches have now accepted rock, rap and even punk to get their message across.
"The Christian community has come to embrace all styles of Christian music, and appreciate that Christian rock in particular presents a great alternative for our young people," said Tricia Whitehead, a spokeswoman for the Gospel Music Association.
"With much of mainstream music continuing to push the envelope in terms of sexual and violent lyrical content, Christian music's inspiring and hopeful and wholesome lyrics stand in stark and refreshing contrast," she added.
According to industry figures, 47 million gospel pop and rock records were sold in 2003, up 10 percent from 1998.
The Christian Music Place directory has 3,241 registered groups, 115 of them punk and 71 rap.
Kanye West has been the first big Christian rap star who has had Evangelical chart hits such as "Jesus Walks".
He raises the discrimination felt by Christian rockers in the lyrics of the song:
"They say you can rap-about-anything except for Jesus
"That means guns, sex, lies, video tapes
"But if I talk about God my record won't get played, Huh?"
Now it does get played however. There are almost 1,500 Christian radio stations across the country and at the end of October Christian rockers will have their own MTV.
Gospel Music Channel, a cable network, plans to put out 24-hour-a-day videos of Christian pop stars like Third Day, Amy Grant, Point of Grace, Jaci Velasquez and Switchfoot.
Gospel music has "hit a maturity level that will support doing a cable channel," said Charles Humbard, president and chief executive of Gospel Music Channel.
"The music that (fans) love and enjoy has not been really treated as entertaining in an entertainment showcase such as the GMC will do."
He is already considering extending broadcasts to Europe and Africa.
But some un-Christian events are also happening, such as illegal downloading of Evangelical hits.
The Christian Music Trade Association has led complaints.
"Most of us would never even consider stealing something, say, a picture or a piece of clothing, from a friends house," said the group. "Yet when it comes to stealing digital recordings of copyrighted music, people somehow seem to think the same rules dont apply."
The original crap about rock music being from the devil was started by the KKK to keep black performers off the radio.
I'm gonna get some popcorn and await the arrival of the "Christian Rock Music is evil" crowd.
Sit back and enjoy!
Um, Rev? Please show me in the Bible where God tells us what our worship music should sound like.
As long as it is done in both truth and spirit, it is acceptable worship to the Lord.
David Wilkerson is not a priest.
He was a protestant pastor (don't know if he is still around). He had a ministry to gangs in NYC I think>
David is still alive and workin, He helped alot of kids in New York and is still doing coferences all over the world. He is over 70 years old now.
Hmmm. And if my memory serves me correctly, weren't many of the great hymns of yesteryear (which are still great and I love them) originally based on pub songs? Didn't they take popular "jingles" and put good lyrics to them? I think there is a place for traditional and contemporary in all churches (even both during the same service even, wow!) :-)
Naaaaah . . . I'll still mock 'em.
What is the group Sister Hazel?
I LOOOOOVEEE third day.. wish they would come back in this area for another concert.
I also love jars of clay. :)
Now, several decades later, I may have lost my ability to effectively judge, but there seems to be much more out there and of pretty good quality, lyrically & musically.
We have been to Wilkerson's church in Times Square and it is still alive and well. He has great contemporary Christian Music as part of the service. The Cross and the Switchblade had to be written in the early 70's as he began his ministry in New York. This reporter picked the wrong person to quote.
This is true. The words were set to melodies everyone was already familiar with.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.