Several weeks ago One21 Music posed fifteen questions to a number of music artists in the Christian music scene, ranging from the light-hearted to the deeply spiritual. We received many responses, some very helpful, and some…. not so much. Some of the answers were short and sweet, some were extensive and eloquent. Many expressed frustrations with the current landscape of the music industry, while others were hopeful for a future of uncertainty. We heard from guys who had been performing for years, and bands that are just now starting to get their names heard. From indie rock to hip-hop, from hardcore to worship, the Christian music scene spoke back to us. Realize that these answers are by the people making the music that you are listening to, and these are un-edited and real. The opinions expressed don’t always reflect ours, but we aren’t perfect, right?
Need to catch up?
Read Pt.1: What Do You Love About Music?
Read Pt.2: What Are Some Of Your Favorite Albums/CDs?
Read Pt.3: What Is The Best Thing About Making Music?
Read Pt.4: What Is Your Opinion Of The Music Industry?
Read Pt.5: What Impact Has The Digital Age Of Music Had On The Industry?
Read Pt.6: Who Is Jesus Christ To You?
This week we explore a question that we have debated a lot on this site. In fact, this question explores what is perhaps one of the most controversial and important concepts when it comes to faith and music. For our site, we have defined what we consider Christian music, and then have even gone farther to clarify the many parts of that definition. For most people, and especially music lovers, the concept of what makes music “Christian” is a big deal. In all reality, most of us that talking about it are speaking from the outside in, so this week we ask people making the music what their definition is. As with all of our Voices Of The Underground episodes, the answers are very diverse, and most will surprise you. Alright, enough talk:
What is Christian music?
Amy Courts (independent pop/folk artist)
I believe Christian Music is – in real terms, not industry terms – anything that flows from the hearts of the redeemed. As one who’s struggled to find a fit in both the “Christian” music world and the “Mainstream” world, I’ve become more and more convinced that being a Christian artist has less to do with how many times I mention “Jesus” in any given song, or how many songs per album are about God, church, Jesus, heaven, or the Bible. Instead, it’s about a faith that filters into and seasons everything I am, say, and do. My faith in Christ and relationship to Him is not “a” thing or even “the” thing that tops any list of priorities. It is the filter through which all priorities find their place. Because I am a Christian, in my heart, my songs will be flavored by my faith. Because Christ is my King, and His heart is for the least of these, my actions will be on behalf of of those He cherishes.
Mahogany Jones (independent hip-hop artist)
Music that is Christ centered. Music that the subject matter doesn’t have to be Christ, but it’s solution or resolve is Christ.
So if I write a song about relationships or about my job- the context needs to be about how I handle either in relationship to my relationship with Christ.
Bryan (bass player for Forefront Records pop/rock band Abandon)
Music that glorifies our God. Plain and simple. It isn’t a fad or even a “genre” in my opinion. I believe that if you are a Christian and you are an artist, your art should reflect your love for your savior, no questions asked. He created you, so anything you create should bring him glory.
Brandon (bass player for independent pop/rock band Say You Will)
Christian music is music that is glorifying to God in any way. Even if it doesn’t say a word about God.
Vito (half of Asthmatic Kitty indie/folk band The Welcome Wagon)
I think this is a term that should be defined by whoever is using it at the time. It’s not a term I use, thus I do not have a working definition of it. I have terms I do use that are similar, for example, “church music.” I am the pastor of a church, and it is my duty to select music for our church to sing and hear in the context of our worship service. I have a set of criteria that I bring to that task that helps me to choose that music. So that’s a definition—“church music”—that I could give.
But “Christian music” is not a term I use, so I can’t define it.
Dowd(guitar for Tribunal Records metal band A Thousand Times Repent)
I think it is a way to make more positive music that is based around Jesus in any genre. I don’t think any genre should be left out. I think you can do straight death metal and be a Christian band if you want. We need those options available to kids.
Dewey Lybecker( independent solo singer/songwriter)
I think Christian music is music that reflects life from the perspective of a person that has a personal relationship with God. The good and the bad..
Frankie (vocalist for Infantry Records hardcore band Our Proclamation)
Well, there’s a lot of debate about this. Can you be a Christian band and have songs that aren’t about God? Or do you have to sing about or praise God in everything you perform?
Honestly.. It makes no difference to me. We get lost in the title of “Christian” that we lose our relationship with Christ. I’d rather play music about Christ than Christian music.
Seth (singer for independent hard rock band Endeverance)
To me I honestly don’t think there is a thing as “Christian Music”. I think there is a thing called “Worship Music” which is played in churches every week, but the rest of everything that is called “Christian Music” to me is just plain music…I mean I look at it in the way C.S. Lewis did, as Christian’s I think we should just make music, but do it a million times better than non-Christians…and just leave it at that…
Johanna Miller (keyboardist/singer for South Pawl pop/rock band Fellow)
Christian music should always direct our thoughts toward God and living a Christ-like life. It’s not limited to strictly church worship songs.
Dominic Balli (independent Reggae/hip-hop artist)
To me, “Christian” describes who I AM. I am a Christian. I play Rock Reggae music. “Christian Music” is the only genre in Popular music that is defined not by a style of music but by lyrical content. When someone asks me, “What kind of music do you listen to?” And I say, “Christian Music.” That could mean anything from Project 86 to Mary Mary to Jeremy Camp, to Cross Movement to Fernando Ortega. So what is Christian Music? It’s music where the lyrics are Christian in content.
David (singer for independent nu-metal band Echocast)
My personal opinion is that “Christian Music” is music consisting of songs either about the Lord or worshiping the Lord… But at the same time, if an artist writes songs that are more or less autobiographical or are putting their personal thoughts and feelings across, and that artist is a Christian, then Christian ideas and principals are going to come through in individual songs…
So, at the end of the day, the jury is still out. Maybe we as a body of believers will never be able to solve this debate, but we will continue to seek out what the answer is in our own lives. Join us next Thursday as we talk about the Christian music industry.