The Development of Christian Music

-Griffin Wacker, Contributing Writer

Christian music is slowly but surely gaining more and more of America’s attention as the years progress. Tennessee Ernie Ford is definitely the first catalyst of the gaining popularity of Gospel music. He drug numerous fans into the world of Gospel by eventually selling 16 million records of “16 Tons” in 1958. As the genre gained popularity, the Grammy Foundation decided to add the first Gospel award to the Grammys in 1961. Charley Pride, the next key catalyst in gaining Gospel popularity with America, won multiple Grammys in both Country and Gospel music in the 1970s and 1980s, which spread around fans to other corresponding genres and even attracting more fans with his gimmick of being the only successful black country singer of the time. Now, even Gospel showing itself in the form of Rap, its supposed counterpart, shows nothing but a steady rise in the popularity of Christian music.

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Many people think the gaining popularity is because Christian artists are conforming to today’s style of music. “When analyzed, the music is getting more and more similar. While they still aren’t exactly the same style, Christian music is much closer today than it was in the past few decades,” Beth Haley, Director of Fine Arts and chorus teacher at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School said. Haley and Logan Anthony, a graduate student studying music at the University of Montevallo, tend to agree when Anthony said, “Just compare Rich Mullins to ACDC, Randy Travis, or James Brown. None of them are anywhere close to similar. But today compare Matt Maher to some country artists or light rock bands. While there are obvious differences, unlike before there are obvious similarities as well.”

There are a variety of other reasons theorized of why Christian music is gaining popularity. One is that artists today are less focused on being a successful Christian artist and instead focus on being a good artist that plays music that preaches the Gospel. Tom McDonald, theologist and Gospel music enthusiast, agree with this line of thinking. “Oh it’s not just music; it’s all forms of media: music, books, websites, and movies, whatever. The difference is noticeable when the person is trying too much to be Christian, rather than being Christian and focusing on making good material. If you’re a good Christian, that will show through your work if you make the work good.” Phillip Mark Golden, a freshman at Mississippi College, thinks it’s a slow massive conversion to Christianity in America. “God’s people tend to flourish and flock to him when they’re persecuted. The Christian faith is under attack in this country and history is repeating itself. It happened in the Roman Empire of the early Church and it’s happening now.” Golden said. “It’s becoming ever popular to be Christian where it’s not popular to be a Christian.”

Whether it is one, none, or all of these reasons, the fact stands that Christian music is gaining popularity. This is evident when musicians like Lecrae, For King and Country, Needtobreathe, and MercyMe attend a ceremony as credible as the Grammys, and if it keeps on the track it is on, Christian music is only going to get more popular.

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