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A primer on Contemporary Christian Music
"Christian" music has been around as long as Christianity itself.  The book of Psalms, in fact, was written not just as prose or poetry, but as a songbook for the Jewish people.  Paul and the other apostles often passed the time in prison by singing, a fact that is noted throughout the book of Acts. 
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Jaci Velasquez
In I Corinthians 15:33 the Bible teaches, "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'"  Jesus himself said that those who follow him were to be in the world, but not of the world.  And yet how much time do we spend listening to the radio, enduring sexual innuendos, bad language, and sometimes even threats of violence because 'it's got a good beat'?

But enough preaching.  'Contemporary' Christian music is a fantastic alternative to the traditional pop, R & B, hip hop and even heavy metal music.  You can now find groups in just about every musical style that write excellent music with positive lyrics we can enjoy without worrying about what the artist is 'really' saying. 

So now the big question:  where to begin?  Unless you are one of the lucky ones who live within the vicinity of a Contemporary Christian radio station, chances are you probably haven't heard much Contemporary Christian music.   How will you find something you're sure to like?
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Steven Curtis Chapman
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Jars of Clay (click on picture to see at full size)

One way to get started is by purchasing a compilation CD.  The WOW series (WOW 1997, WOW 1998, and WOW 1999) feature the most popular CCM artists for each respective year and are some of the most wide-ranging compilation CDs in Contemporary Christian music--running the gamut from pop to rock to gospel and R&B.   Some other CDs you might want to take a look at include the Touched by an Angel Soundtrack, the Prince of Egypt Nashville and Prince of Egypt Inspirational CDs, (all three of which feature Contemporary Christian artists alongside pop, gospel and R & B greats) and My Utmost for His Highest, a collection of inspirational Contemporary Christian music from some of the most popular CCM artists.

However, if you're musical tastes aren't all that wide-ranging, a compilation CD may not be right for you.  Here's a short list of Christian artist and the 'pop' artists they might be compared to:

  • Chosen -- Abbakethwa:  This group is a little tough to describe.  The closest description I could give is South African R & B gospel.  Addicting music, though.  Anyone who likes Boyz II Men must check these guys out.
  • dcTalk -- Jesus FreakAlthough this group has been around for sometime, I still think that this is their best album.  By far, it is their most popular--even had a Top 40 single (Just Between You and Me).  A must for anyone who likes a harder edged rock/pop sound.
  • Audio Adrenaline, Third Day:  More hard-edged CCM rock--a little stronger than dcTalk.   Anyone who likes the current rock sound should take a listen to these guys.
  • Steven Curtis Chapman -- Heaven in the Real WorldThe reigning king of CCM music.  Has more albums than I care to get into here, but Heaven in the Real World is by far his best.  I played my tape until it died, and by then I had the songs memorized.  His music has a similar feel to Kenny Loggins--very much 'adult contemporary'. 
  • Jars of Clay -- Jars of Clay:  The middle ground between dcTalk/Audio Adrenaline and Steven Curtis Chapman.  The songs have a more folksy/rock feel with a lot of really good acoustic guitar.  Comparison?  I can't think of any; this group's sound is pretty unique.
  • Jaci Velasquez -- Jaci VelasquezThe LeAnn Rimes of CCM music.   Teenager with a huge voice (has a featured song on the Touched by an Angel Soundtrack CD).
  • World Wide Message Tribe -- Revived:  The only way to describe this band from Manchester is Christian House Music.  Great lyrics plus an amazing groove--and I don't even like house music!  I have a friend who DJ's a lot of Christian parties.   Guess what he's getting next Christmas?  *g*
Links to other CCM pages:
Back to the Attic
The Listening Lounge -- Listen to all sorts of Christian Independent and new music (RealAudio required)
Christian Swing Music -- For those who are getting into the swing dance craze.
CCM Magazine Online -- The online equivalent of one of the CCM industry's major magazines.  If you want to learn more about the artists or the music, go there first.
Yahoo! Contemporary Christian Music Links
Email me at: cranesnake@bigfoot.com
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