Christian music boasts its own video shows, radio stations, awards, publications and web sites. The change itself hasn't been overnight. It has taken many years. It has required sacrifices from artists who weren't afraid to go against tradition and wanted to make music that kept up with the changing times.
The Beginning of ChangeThe "Jesus Movement" of the 1970's was when things really started changing and Christian music began to become an industry within itself. Some of the pioneers of the times were:
- Larry Norman - A true pioneer in Christian alternative rock since the 1960's, he is called the "father of Christian rock" by many.
- Marsha Stevens - The leader of Children of the Day is called the "mother of contemporary Christian music" by The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music.
- Nancy Honeytree - Nancy carries the nickname the "First Lady of Jesus Music", as she was one of the few female artists to emerge from the Jesus Movement.
- Chuck Girard - He was one of the first Contemporary Christian artists, getting his start in a church in California.
- The 2nd Chapter of Acts - This popular group released sixteen albums over a sixteen-year period.
These artists, and others like them, took the music that spoke of Jesus and merged it with the times. Christian music became more "user friendly" and revival was sparked.
By the early 1980's the Jesus Movement was dying out and another group of artists were coming to the forefront. Rock and metal music, already popular in the secular industry, was finding a home in the world of Christian music. Some of the earliest rockers were:
- Petra - This group put the rock into Christian rock music.
- Stryper - Many credit Stryper as being the first genuine Christian metal band and as the first Christian band to cross the Christian / secular borders.
- Bloodgood - A pioneer of heavy Christian metal, this band appealed to some that had never listened to Christian music.
- Undercover - This punk band brought a new sound that differed from the Christian rockers or the Christian metal bands.
The Genre Stretches FurtherThe 1990's saw the dawning of an even broader scope for Christian music. Rock, rap, metal, urban gospel, contemporary country and pop were represented in a big way. The industry, which had previously been promoted by smaller, independent labels, stepped into the big time as larger, secular labels bought out many indies. Much like Cinderella's pumpkin turning into a fine carriage, the small promotional budgets the indie labels had afforded turned into mega mass promotions with the heavy hitters. Some of the artists that stepped into the international spotlight of the 90's were:
- Carman - Billboard Magazine recognized his influence in Christian music by first naming him the "Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year" in 1990.
- dcTalk - Their fourth album, Jesus Freak, achieved the highest first weeks sales of any Christian release in history.
- Kirk Franklin - His debut release was the first gospel album to sell over one million units.
- Steven Curtis Chapman - He had eleven of the top 100 songs on the end-of-decade Christian AC airplay chart.
- Third Day - Billboard magazine called them "not only one of the best Christian bands of the '90s but one of the best rock bands, period."
- Amy Grant - This artist truly crossed the boundaries when she crossed over into mainstream music with Christian songs.
The 21st CenturyY2K came and went with none of the "end of times" predictions being fulfilled and music grew even more. Sub-genres, sounds that could keep pace with mainstream and plenty of new bands are pouring out of the 21st century. Some of the favorite artists of our day are:
- BarlowGirl - Three sisters with a great rock sound and no fear of sharing their beliefs.
- Casting Crowns - This band has been the most played artist on all Christian radio formats combined and is the fastest CCM artist to have its first two CDs certified Platinum.
- Jeremy Camp - Before turning 30, Camp already had three Gold albums and nine #1 back to back radio hits.
- Relient K - They're on radio, video games and TV!