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The Impact of Christian Music
Contemporary Christian worship band MercyMe has been singing for the Lord for over 13 years. Their album "Almost There" brought on the hit "I Can Only Imagine," which, despite mentioning "Jesus" throughout its lyrics, infiltrated mainstream radio stations. It was a significant achievement because up until then, most Christian artists who found mainstream success did so with lyrics that weren't purely Christian. The group was nominated for a Grammy for their album "Coming Up to Breathe" in the Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album category, and they are up for two Dove Awards for "Group of the Year" and "Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year".
This song by MercyMe is the very song that ushered my late husband into God's bosom, after succumbing to his battle with liver cancer. It is a beautiful song describing the glory and the joy that awaits every believer when they die. I remember that day when we were met by the doctors who were taking care of him, and we were told that there was nothing more that they could do for him. As soon as they left, weak, yet brave, my husband asked that the song he had come to love so much, be played. I remember feeling numbed, but watching my husband with eyes closed, and with a smile on his face, listen to the comforting lyrics, as if he had already entered the promised City. There are many many more untold stories like this, of lives touched, healed and moved by the power of Gospel music.
Sandy Patty-How Great Thou Art
Sandy Patty is one of the first Christian artist whose music brought great encouragment to my young faith. It was a blessing to be able to watch her live twice and enjoy those nights of worship and praise. Her rendition of beloved hymns such as "How Great Thou Art" were so uplifting and precious. And there were others like Amy Grant, Cece Winan, and Jacqui Velasquez.
Gospel music is and will always be a profound and integral part of the Christian journey. In 1980, I embraced the Christian faith, after struggling with many painful personal issues. It was a long search of finding inner peace, meaning and purpose to what i thought was a hopeless and miserable existence. I tried everything to fill a 'void' in my heart, no human relationship, no fortune, nor fame could provide. When i made a full surrender to follow Jesus Christ, i never looked back. Till this day, there is no iota of regret, ever on that decision. My life has been changed radically and miraculously.
But, what is Christian music? Put simply, they are songs that expresses either personal or a communal belief regarding believers love and faith in God. The themes include praise, worship, penitence, and lament. They come in various forms which vary widely across the world. Like other forms of music the creation, performance, significance, and definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Christian music is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes.
To quote Matthew Turner, editor of Contemporary Christian Music magazine, he says "I think the biggest thing that has been detrimental to Christian music is calling it 'Christian music'". "I think it's music. It's great music from people of faith that just so happen to follow Jesus Christ."
Christian music used to be subdued in churches or synagogues, but in the last two decades, this has all changed. A drumbeat has risen. Artists like Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith climbed the charts of top contemporary Christian music, and then sang top-40 hits that made it radio and MTV. It's not just a passing trend. In Nashville, long thought of as just the home of country music, contemporary Christian music has taken up residence, too. Artists live and record there. Their work helped the industry sell nearly 50 million albums last year — making contemporary Christian music more popular than jazz. Christian/Gospel recorded music sales are almost half a billion annually! Over 56 million unitsof Christian/Gospel CDs, cassettes, digital albums, and digital tracks were sold in 2008. Christian/Gospel digital album sales were up over 38% in 2008, while digital tracks were up over 37%.
Shout to the Lord-American Idol
Who is listening?
They sang one of the most popular Christian songs "Shout to the Lord" for a finale number in American Idol. Christian Research indicates that by the middle of last year, 2.14 billion people made up the world’s Christian population – a 140-million-person increase from five years earlier. Christians, therefore, now make up one-third of the world’s population of 6.45 billion people. This increase is attributed to the “huge continuing growth” in Asia and Africa, 2.6 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. However, the rate of Christian population is decreasing in Europe. Out of all Christian groups, charismatic independent churches are growing the fastest, at 2.4 percent per year. Dr. Brierley, Executive Director of Christian Research, noted that charismatic black churches in the United Kingdom have also seen rapid growth.
Christian music has a large genre that encompasses many artists and sounds--from traditional black gospel to religious rock, spiritual pop, and R&B. Many may be relegated to Christian radio and bookstores, but, a number of them have successfully made the crossover to the secular music mainstream. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the Christian/gospel category was one of only four genres that saw its overall album sales grow last year, proving that many artists of faith not only have an impact on other Christians, but also on music lovers everywhere.
Yolanda Adams-Amazing Grace
Top Christian Artists
Yolanda Adams: She is described as the "First Lady of Modern Gospel," She blends gospel music with an R&B feel. She's received awards, including several of the Gospel Music Association's, Dove Awards, an American Music Award, a Soul Train Lady of Soul Award, and a number of Grammys, including Best Gospel Song for two years for "Be Blessed" and "Victory."
Jars of Clay-Love Song for a Saviour
Jars of Clay: Many Christian bands who have successfully crossed over into mainstream radio have much to thank Jars of Clay for. In 1995, when the group released its self-titled debut album, one of the songs, "Flood," became a nationwide radio hit. Since then, the album has gone multi-platinum, and the band has gone on to win three Grammys.
Amy Grant & Michael W Smith
Amy Grant: The legendary Christian pop singer has conquered all facets of media--music, books, movies, and TV. Amy Grant's iconic status began in 1991 when she recorded hugely successful crossover songs on her album "Heart in Motion," especially "Good for Me," Every Heartbeat," and "Baby Baby," which became a number-one pop hit. Since then she's become the best-selling Christian Contemporary artist, having sold over 25 million records. In 2006 she hosted the short-lived NBC reality show "Three Wishes." That same year, her "Rock Of Ages...Hymns & Faith" won a Grammy--her fifth. Also in 2006, she became the first Christian music artist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Michael W. Smith: Christian contemporary music legend Michael W. Smith didn't start his career in front of a microphone. Instead, he used to pen hits for big-name gospel stars like Sandi Patty, Kathy Troccoli, and Amy Grant. Since then, he's become a Grammy Award-winning star in his own right, and made the transition to the big screen with 2006's "The Second Chance," He is active in Billy Graham Crusades and The Samaritan's Purse, a ministry headed by Franklin Graham. In 2006 he released the pop/worship album "Stand."
Cece Winans & Whitney Houston
CeCe Winans: Cece comes from music royalty. All 10 of the Winans children and their parents have achieved success in the world of gospel music. She has a number of Dove Awards and Grammys under her belt, including Best Gospel Performance and Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album in 2006 for "Pray," off her chart-topping album "Purified."
Note: Whitney Houston, a professing Christian, who has battled with drugs, now recovered, has just relaunched her career,with the released of two songs with very strong Christian theme.
There are plenty more artists, like Josh Groban, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood who continue be inspired to churn gospel songs. The rendition of the Celtic Woman "You Raise Me Up" is one of the most stirring versions i have ever heard. Il Divo's "Amazing Grace" is also quite compelling. I am one of those who bought Josh Groban's top seller album entitled "Noel", and it is one of the best Christmas albums yet.
Here is the list of the top 10 BEST-SELLING ALBUMS–in2008:
1. Noel— Josh Groban
2. I Can Only Imagine— Various
3. Thirsty— Marvin Sapp
4. Joy to the World— Faith Hill
5. Flyleaf— Flyleaf
6. The Altar and The Door— Casting Crowns
7. Peace On Earth— Casting Crowns
8. Revelation— Third Day
9. Fight of My Life— Kirk Franklin
10. WOW Hits 2009— Various
Celtic Woman-You Raise Me Up
It is biblical
The Scriptures is replete with commands for the people to sing to God. There are advantages to singing. It is one of the evidences of the filling of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18-21). It can lift our spirits above even the most adverse circumstances and help us to keep focused on our true identity, hope, and mission (Acts 16:25). Singing is a way of bearing witness to our deepest convictions, and of reminding those around us – believers and unbelievers alike – of the larger realities in which we live and move and have our being. And it can also be away of enticing others to inquire about the hope that we have as followers of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 3:15; Acts 16:30).