The One21 Essential 100 Pt.16

essential100 copy

The One21 Essential 100 is a collection of albums that represent the best in creativity, innovation, and originality in music. This is not a “best of” list, nor is it influenced by album sales, or even popularity. Our attempt with this series is to highlight the gems, those rare albums that push boundaries and encourage new ways of thinking; both musical and philosophically. In our opinion, the music highlighted in this series is the “good stuff”.

Simply what this is going to be is a list of 100 albums from Christian music artists that we think you should own. Like our website, most genres will be represented, and some of the albums will be from as far back as the 60s, to as current as 2009. Each week we will post five albums, in no real order, with descriptions, album artwork, and places to buy the music.

Check out Pt.1
Check out Pt.2
Check out Pt.3
Check out Pt.4
Check out Pt.5
Check out Pt.6
Check out Pt.7
Check out Pt.8
Check out Pt. 9
Check out Pt.10
Check out Pt.11
Check out Pt.12
Check out Pt.13

Check out Pt.14
Derek Webb Stockholm Syndrome
Stockholm Syndrome
Derek Webb

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
There are many things about Stockholm Syndrome that are not surprising, despite its reputation. It is not surprising that Derek Webb would try to further himself as an artist and musician by constructing an album completely outside his “safety genre” by shedding his singer/songwriter sound and instead adopting electronic dance beats. Think more Thom Yorke than Bob Dylan. It is also not surprising that not only did Webb change genres, but that he would produce an album that sounded like progressive electronic had been his style his entire career. He excelled. It is not surprising that the album would be diverse, it is not surprising that the album would be controversial. Yet, Stockholm Syndrome never ceases to surprise.

For many reading this right now, you may have already heard about the dark cloud surrounding the album concerning the track “What Matters More”. For most, the one curse word uttered in the second verse of the song has completely overshadowed the fact that not only is Stockholm Syndrome an amazing album of music, but it is an important album that will ever change the face of modern Christian music. If Stockholm Syndrome had been awful, or even mediocre, or even just “good”, the amount of conversation surrounding it would never have occurred. The simple fact is that Derek Webb has created a classic, one that challenges and entertains, and it will be talked about for many years to come.
Highlights: Black Eye, The Spirit vs. The Kick Drum, Heaven, What Matters More

Norma Jean-Bless The Martyr & Kiss the Child
Bless the Martyr & Kiss The Child
Norma Jean

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Bless The Martyr & Kiss The Child is a atom bomb of an album. Not many CDs in the metal/hardcore community are considered classics the moment they come out, but this one was. Norma Jean’s first album took the term “metalcore” and reinvented it, and the effects have been felt in the scene ever since.

The album is brutal, dark, driving, and creative. Norma Jean made a complex and interesting album without making the music itself complex. The riffs are simple, the recording is flawed in places (it was recorded live in studio), and sound is unpolished. Yet, Bless The Martyr & Kiss The Child was light years from its peers, it was able to take those elements and make them significant. The mistakes made the album feel more personal, the bombastic song structures were only made possible by the simpler parts. Everything just came together in such a perfect way.

The album made Norma Jean THE band to beat, and since then they have become one of the most prominent figures in the metal/hardcore scene. Bless The Martyr & Kiss The Child is the finest work by an incredible band, and there are very few who can take that away.
Highlights: Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste, I Used To Hate Cell Phones But Now I Hate Car Accidents, The Human Face Divine, Face:Face

Enter The Worship Circle Village Thrift Circa 2003
Village Thrift Circa 2005
Enter The Worship Circle

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Enter The Worship Circle is a collection of artists who come together and create modern worship music. In many of their incarnations, they have appeared as a group of hippie/folk artists who create songs for God out of drum circle sessions and late night sing alongs. Village Thrift: Circa 2005 is something completely different. Somehow, these artist were able to take the communal feeling of the drum circles and translate that into driving, electronic dance songs.

While the “village of voices” effect is still there, much of Village Thrift: Circa 2005 integrates the seemingly opposing musical styles into a beautiful product that makes you want sing and jump up and down at the same time. Every song a little bit more bizarre than the last, you will hear choir vocals, looped samples, hip-hop, drum’n’bass, house techno, and worship all in the same place. It may sound strange, but it works, and makes for songs that are as fresh five years later as they were when I first heard them.
Highlights: Make Me Feel, All You Angels, Wake Up Sleepy, How Sweet

Scott Blackwell- Walk On The Wild Side
Walk On The Wild Side
Scott Blackwell

The hottest DJ in 1970’s New York, Scott Blackwell opened Palladium in the 70’s, working seven turntables at once to create a mind boggling tsunami of dance beats. Once Scott Blackwell turned his back on the New York fast lane for a relationship with Jesus he disappeared for a while. He returned with a bang in 1982 pioneering Gospel dance music and forming the first gospel dance label NSoul Records.

Walk On The Wild Side is the first full length accumulation of his work, after a decade of remixes and EPs. It is mostly straightforward House music, but one track stands apart. In “My King” Scott Blackwell took a public domain sermon from the Library of Congress and laid it over an infectious chill groove. Several acts, most prominently Raving Loonatics built entire albums on this style of delivering the Word into a club setting. Walk On The Wild Side set the standard for Christian dance music and Scott Blackwell continues to be the godfather of the scene.
Highlights: My King, Walk On The Wild Side, Keep The Fire Burning(Heaping Coals Mix)

cool hand luke Wake Up O’ Sleeper
Wake Up O’ Sleeper
Cool Hand Luke

Buy this album: Amazon
Hush, little boy, don’t say a word
Don’t you know Daddy’s got this one?
Hey, little boy, bury your sword
Jesus already won this war

The chorus of the opening song, “Heroes Will Be Heroes”, off of Cool Hand Luke’s 2003 CD Wake Up O’ Sleeper immediately sets up listeners for the band’s message. Surrender. With deeply introspective lyrics, soaring atmospheric guitars, and the broken whisper of frontman, Mark Nickes, Cool Hand Luke has evolved from their early screamo days to become a unique and progressive voice in Christian art rock.

The music of Wake Up O’Sleeper walks the line of driving progressive rock and straight worship music. Every given track on the album bleeds honesty, creativity, and conviction. Cool Hand Luke is one of those bands you “haven’t really listened to” until you are in a dark room by yourself, with a pair of over sized headphones as the speakers. At all times delicate, and at all times driving, Wake Up O’Sleeper has hence dictated what truly spiritual rock could sound like from that point on.

In 2003, I was tired. I had been at Cornerstone Festival all week, and it was a hot year. I had been going through a lot in my life at the time, a relationship that I had been very happy in had ended the night before I traveled to the festival. I was starting a new school in a few months, and I was struggling with where my life was going at the time. I had three more bands on my list to see, but in the heat of the afternoon on my last day there, all I wanted to do was rest. I wondered into a tent close to my camp site, and just sat down. The band playing was just walking up onto the stage and getting settled. The background music faded, and a voice came over the mic and said:
“We are Cool Hand Luke, thank you for worshiping with us”

I stayed in that tent for an hour and didn’t move, speak, or even stand up. I let the music surround me and just let myself relax. The majority of the music they played that day was from their newly released Wake Up O’Sleeper album. I looked around the tent to see the members of Underoath, Norma Jean, mewithoutYou, Pedro The Lion, and Nodes of Ranvier standing transfixed as I was. When I stood up, I felt rejuvenated, happy, and lighter. I have always remembered what Cool Hand Luke’s music did to me that day, and for what God did in my heart during their short set.
Highlights: Heroes Will Be Heroes, One Time, So It Shall Be, This Is Love

The One21 Essential 100 Pt.8

essential100 copy

The One21 Essential 100 is a collection of albums that represent the best in creativity, innovation, and originality in music. This is not a “best of” list, nor is it influenced by album sales, or even popularity. Our attempt with this series is to highlight the gems, those rare albums that push boundaries and encourage new ways of thinking; both musical and philosophically. In our opinion, the music highlighted in this series is the “good stuff”.

Simply what this is going to be is a list of 100 albums from Christian music artists that we think you should own. Like our website, most genres will be represented, and some of the albums will be from as far back as the 60s, to as current as 2009. Each week we will post five albums, in no real order, with descriptions, album artwork, and places to buy the music.

Check out Pt.1
Check out Pt.2
Check out Pt.3
Check out Pt.4
Check out Pt.5
Check out Pt.6
Check out Pt.7

Enter The Worship Circle- Second Circle
Second Circle
Enter The Worship Circle

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
100 Portraits, joined by like-minded artists such as Will Hunt of Apt.core, return with more of their original and down to earth worship-oriented songs… this time with the same name, simply being distinguished by the sub-title Second Circle. Several of members of the Enter The Worship Circle collective have often traveled to third world countries to share their talents in the outreach efforts of indigenous churches. In recent visits to India, they were inspired by the native instruments and songs found among the village churches, and in fact documented some of the sounds they encountered, mixing select portions of those samples into the new recording.

Driving Indian rhythms intertwine with fresh, intimate, uninhibited expressions of love and worship to create this ground-breaking album, using instruments such as tablas, dumbeks, an amazing sitar, and who knows what else. With all original songwriting, even a few seemingly improv lyrical inspirations captured during the live studio recording, Second Circle allows you to join the musicians in their realization of how deep, wide, and amazing the love of God is. This collection of passionate songs reflects a desire for simplicity and spontaneity in worship, with its use of basic instruments and genuine expression. Hand percussion and acoustic guitars, simple arrangements, and a new world of looping-rhythm sections blend throughout every track creating a beautiful tapestry. Every once in a while something truly different comes forth from creative wombs by the grace of God, with power enough to change the way you think about music, worship, life… this is that something.
Highlights: I Cannot Hide My Love, Tiny, Praise Awaits You

Hundred Year Storm- Hello From the Children of Planet Earth
Hello From The Children Of Planet Earth
Hundred Year Storm

Buy this album: itunes
Utilizing clips of greetings in over 50 languages used in NASA’s Golden Record, clips of John F. Kennedy talking about the space race, a Florence Nightingale quote dating all the way back to the 1890’s and sound clips from a space launch gone awry; Hundred Year Storm creates an inventive soundscape that takes space rock to a new level. Soaring melodic guitar symphonies, industrial sounds and soaring vocals build to a cathartic explosion of beauty, asking listeners to consider Who Else might be with us in this world.

“All This Time” and “Where Beauty Never Dies” are haunting songs of separation and longing. “Yesterday Had It All” is a pleading love song that would make Jeremy Enigk proud. But it is in the three pillars of the CD that Hundred Year Storm display their unique vision. The title track “00:01”, the centerpiece of the recording “Golden Record” and the closer “Pilot’s Last Broadcast” define the sound of Hello From Children Earth. Blending the samples noted above with haunting atmospheric instrumentals Hundred Year Storm create post rock guitar symphonies that will haunt you and cause you pause. When we asked guitarist and lead singer Bill McCharen how to best listen to Hundred Year Storm he said, “with headphones”. We agree.
Highlights: 00:01, All This Time, Yesterday We Had It All

The O.C. Supertones - Supertones Strike Back
Supertones Strike Back
The O.C. Supertones

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
With the decline of grunge music in the US in the late 90s, the landscape was searching for its next big musical movement. It came in the form of ska, a hybrid combining elements of reggae, punk, pop, and big band music. In 1997, this movement introduced one of its best, and what would become one its most successful bands with the album Supertones Strike Back. The O.C. Supertones exploded into the scene like a lightning bolt….if lighting bolts had brass sections.

On its surface, Supertones Strike Back is simply just a really great ska album. It is lots of fun, every time you listen to it, skanking and pogoing will be a constant temptation. While the band exhibited many of the typical ska techniques, they were able to set themselves apart for a few reasons. The first major one was vocalist Mojo’s rap/sing/yell vocal style, from the first 30 seconds on Supertones Strike Back, Mojo attacks every song like it’s the last song he would ever sing, and you cant help but fall in love with his light-hearted yet deeply passionate lyrics.

More importantly, Supertones Strike Back was a ministry album above all. In most cases, when Christian bands would try to insert blatant gospel lyrics into new genres, the result was in most cases slightly awkward, and …..I dare say lame. Ska was a different kind of music though, at it’s core it was supposed to be happy. You were SUPPOSED to be upbeat and sing loud! Supertones Strike Back may be the purest 90s ska album ever created then, because there is no greater joy than that found in Christ, and The O.C. Supertones were hear to tell you at the top of their lungs….and their horns.
Highlights: Unite, Resolution, Supertones Strike Back

Iris Dement-The Way I Should
The Way I Should
Iris DeMent

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
The Way I Should, Iris DeMent’s third album is a legendary break away from her previous lyrical style. Her first two albums were introspective and personal; The Way I Should is highly political, attacking hypocrisy and class warfare in the United States. Iris DeMent‘s twangy Arkansas soprano and detail-filled lyrics are sharply original. Listen to “Wasteland of the Free” as DeMent rages about the hypocrisy of preachers who don’t behave in a manner befitting their status, politicians dependent on corporate finance, wealthy businessmen opposed to minimum wages, children with guns, children with poor reading ability and going to war over oil. That’s quite a lot to pack into one song.

Iris DeMent’s has the voice of mountain honey – sweet, strong, earthy and pure. She can play down home on the porch with just a guitar or rock it with a full band. Her lyrics are prolific and reflective the range of songs on this landmark recording spans folk, country and rock, with themes of romance, child abuse, politics and personal vision. Each song is wrapped in the complex, heart-felt, stunning lyrics and voice that underlines Iris DeMent‘s uniquely compelling music career.
Highlight: There’s A Wall In Washington, Wasteland Of The Free, Keep Me God

Zao-Liberate Te Ex Inferis
Liberate Te Ex Inferis (Save Yourself From Hell)

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
For anybody who wasn’t there, I need to clue you in on something: without Zao we wouldn’t have good Christ-centered metal. They simple changed the game, and they are still one of the MOST ripped off bands in modern extreme music today. While the band’s previous effort, Where Blood And Fire Meets Rest, introduced us to the Zao sound, it was Liberate Te Ex Inferis that permanently embed the band in the minds of metal fans of all ages.

It is hard now to explain how important this album was, because after this, like I said before, this is all anybody wanted to sound like. The album was very dark, first and foremost; most band’s in the “Christian metal” scene at that time were essentially making worship songs that just happened to be played as metal. Zao took a different approach; they wrote songs that reflected the human struggle with salvation and divinity. Because of this, the songs rarely shine, but continue to plunge deeper and deeper into chaos. The other was just the SOUND of the album. It had a grimy, distorted feel that only added to the semi operatic writing style of the band. Liberate Te Ex Inferis ends up sounding like a struggle with the Devil, played over an old radio. A warning for the masses.

There is an ongoing debate as to which of the Zao-Trinty (the three albums that made Zao a house hold name for most: Where Blood Fire Meets Rest, Liberate Te Ex Inferis, and Self-Titled) is the “best” Zao album. We chose this one because it lands somewhere in between the vicious nature of Fire, and the creative songwriting of Self-Titled. It is still the best of the genre that they helped create, and man it still hits just as hard over 10 years later.
Highlights: Savannah , If These Scars Could Speak , Desire The End

eMusic Is The Coolest

One of the biggest surprises since we have started One21music is the lack of interest our readers have shown in eMusic.
Download 25 FREE songs at!
This was the first ad we put on our site. We thought people would flock to get 25 free songs. No one has explored the trial subscription, so I thought I would give you a testimonial from an excited subscriber. But first let me explain eMusic.

eMusic is the #1 site for independent music, with a library of over 4,500,000 MP3s.  eMusic sets itself apart from other well-known subscription music services (such as Napster and Rhapsody) because eMusic customers truly own the music they download.  The files available for download are in the MP3 format, making them fully compatible with all digital music players, and free from digital rights management Hippo software restrictions such as expiration dates, or copying or CD burning limitations. eMusic’s MP3′s play on any portable music player (including the iPod and Zune), can be downloaded to unlimited computers as well as burned to CD.

Here is how it works.  You can subscribe to download  25 to 100 songs each month based on the subscription level you buy.  The base subscription is 25 songs ($11.99 per month), then grows in 25 song increments (50 songs for $14.99, 75 songs for 19.99, 100 songs for $24.99).  eMusic offers about 25 different plans bu these are the most popular.

I have been a subscriber for over a year and my co-founder has been a subscriber for about nine months.  We love, l-o-v-e, eMusic.  Ian maintains a list of over 100 CDs and uses up his subscription on the first day it is available.  I like to save my downloads to use over the month.  Today is May 8th and I have already downloaded 65 of my 100 songs, so I am not such a good saver.

These downloads are just like buying the CD’s or downloading songs from iTunes, except they are cheaper and you own them.  If you really like music, or if your CD store is the electronics section at WalMart or if you are just cheap; eMusic is for you.  I downloaded , on their release date, the highly acclaimed new CD from Beirut for @$2.75, the EP from Bon Iver for $1.00 and M.Ward’snew one for $3.50.  Beat those prices WalMart and iTunes.

But more than convienence and thrift, eMusic has great services to help you find music you will love.  You can browse by genre, editors’ picks, new music, free tracks, advance releases, members ratings and any combination of those categories.  eMusic has music journalists writing artist and genre features and reviews.

Finally, eMusic has an extensive collection of songs and CDs from artists we have profiled on One21music. See the list below.

I encourage you to at least give eMusic a try.
Download 25 FREE songs at!

By the way, eMusicalso has a similar service for ebooks if you like to listen to ebooks
Heard any good Audiobooks lately? Get one free!

One21Christian Music Artists on eMusic

Jason Upton
August Burns
Iris Dement
The Ambassador
Josh Garrels
Cold War Kids
Fiction Family
Enter The Worship Circle
Bodies of Water
Cool Hand Luke
Kirk Franklin
Brooke Waggoner
Buddy Miller
Nicole C Mullen
Pigeon John
Bosque Brown
Paper Route
The Welcome Wagon
Kate Miner
Bradley Hathaway
Jeremy Egnik
Mute Math
Bill Mallonee/Vigilantes of Love
Brooke Fraser

The Many Facets Of Christian Music

Ever since we started The One21, we have been learning a lot. From the vast amount of  new talent we come across, to the trends in music and entertainment we have been able to identify, this company has allowed us to learn new things daily about the world of music we love so much.  We have tried to share those trends with you, and explore what the digital age of music has done for the underground music movement. We have attempted to expand the knowledge of the music out there being made by believers.  We have tried endlessly on this site to change the perception of what most people think when they hear the term “Christian music”, and bring you a whole new world of music that exists outside of the mainstream Christian industry.

It is in that last idea that we have run into the most trouble.  We feel that this website and the database of music we are building is our calling, our ministry to you, the person reading this.  We feel that we have a responsibility to give you as much information about the artists we talk about so that you can make the most informed decision on what music you allow in to your life and those around you. On the other hand, we also feel that we have a responsibility to artists we talk about. We don’t want to force any artist to label themselves as something they don’t want to labeled as.  The choices that an artists make in their career are their own, and it be irresponsible for us to (forcefully) change those decisions ( we REALLY want Kate Minor to come back to music, and I REALLY want Damien Rice to become a believer).  So how do we talk to people about music that is made by believers without forcing those artists to be pigeon-holed into a scene they want to exist outside of.

This struggle was put center stage recently as we attended SXSW. A band that we have featured on this site (I’m not going to tell you who it is, don’t ask), had a very strong reaction to us wanting to interview them and talk about it on the site. They told Chuck “well we are Christians, but we defiantly don’t make Christian music”, and were still debating this issue when I walked past them ten minutes later. Some of the members seemed upset that since we were a site that covered Christian music, that talking to us would change the perception of their band in the general public. However, all the research we had done on the band not only revealed that they were believers, but the majority of their lyrics centered around the dark picture the church paints of Christ versus what He truly is. We felt a little awkward because in a way we had tried to make them something they didn’t want to be, which is their call, not ours. The outcome is that they didn’t talk to us, even when Chuck attended their show a few nights later.

Later that same week, Chuck presented our pastor with a signed copy of a CD, from one of the hip-hop artists we interviewed, for his ten year old son who is really into hip-hop at the moment.  Our pastor thanked Chuck, but said that he needed to listen to it before his son could have it.  That seemed strange to me for a moment, but then he explained that another Christian hip-hop artist had frequently used the word “hell” (in the correct context by the way), a word that shocked and offended his young children who had been told NOT to say that word. It occurred to me that a lot of people can’t just listen to ANY artist who says that they are a Christian, even with ideologies that match up, subject matter is still an issue.

So on one side, we have believers who are making music, but do not want to be part of the Christian music world, and on the other side, we have people who need help with finding the right artist that helps them live their faith.  On the one hand we know of a lot of Christian artist who hardly ever talk directly about their faith in their music, and on the other we have a responsibility to present music that lines up with the ideologies that exist in Christianity. The dichotomy bothered me all week until we met with Tre9, a Houston hip-hop artist and founder of, who spoke in our interview with him about hip hop artists being relevant to the audience that they are trying to reach.

79975“You’ve got to know as an artist who you are going to target your message to. Obviously if you want to disciple Christians then you need to make music relevant to them. Which would be music: quoting scriptures, having heavy spiritual content; but if you want to reach people that don’t have church knowledge and maybe don’t even read their Bible then you need to bring it down to their level. So, that may require you to do music that shares your life story more often, and maybe closes with the fact that you found fulfillment in Christ, but you’re not so heavily focused on making sure you get a scripture in there. Throw a Jesus here; throw a God, a Holy Spirit there. Throw the word redemption. You know sanctification; these words that the world doesn’t understand. You want to make music that is relevant to where they are at mentally and even spiritually.

When I say relevant, you’ve got groups like P.O.D. who are way into the world, but are making relevant music to their audience, and look at them, they are global. They have penetrated a market that they couldn’t penetrate when they were labeled a Christian artist. I think that’s good. A lot of people think they are sell outs because they don’t preach the gospel in their music, but for me I feel that this world needs Godly principles, they need the Bible interpenetrated in today’s language so that it’s relevant. So, if P.O.D. makes a song about ‘I feel so alive’, but they don’t say it’s because of Jesus; I think that person will eventually become a follower of P.O.D.; listening to their music, going to their website, researching and finding out “Hey, these guys are Christians. So that’s what they mean by ‘I feel so alive’.” So they don’t have to put it into a song for me. Now, a lot of people would disagree with that but, we need wholesome music. We need songs that deal with drugs, and the dangers of drugs; songs that deal with abstinence. These songs don’t have to say anything about God.  God is in that, God wants people to live an abstinent life, God wants people to avoid drugs. So, I’m ok with making music that is relevant to that market or that particular group of people. Going into public schools we can’t do Christian music, especially during school hours. You can’t just go in there preaching about Jesus. So, if you are going to make music relevant to a school; if it’s an elementary school, then you need to write some stuff elementary level. Junior high, High school…so that’s what I mean by relevant.”

I was blown away. This was a concept that had always been in the back of my mind, but I had never heard put into words.  I also realized that this line of thinking could be applied to all music, not just the world of hip-hop.  As I thought about it more, I became aware that this was how the whole scope of the Christian music scene fit together, even the artists that wanted to exists outside the borders of what is traditionally thought of as Christian music.  This is how we can talk about really good music that is being made by believers, but not really overtly spiritually, and then turn around and talk about worship music in the same breathe.  It is because in “Christian music” there are different forms of it, but all of them are written from a world-view of Christ.

In the end, I propose that all music, written from a foundation of hope and faith, that God can use to touch people’s hearts, can be divided into three categories:

The Spiritual- this is music that is made by believers, and is mainly intended for believers.  This music uses language and subjects that believers understand, and is made mainly for the purpose of worship, education, and encouragement. This music will use a lot of direct Biblical scripture, or discuss the literal concepts within the Bible. The gospel message is OBVIOUS to anyone. This music is meant to celebrate and discuss God and His teachings. This is were the majority of worship music will exist, as well as artist who talk about heavy Biblical truths.
The Ambassador
Becoming The Archetype
Third Day
Derek Webb
Jason Upton
Shane and Shane
Enter The Worship Circle
Toby Mac
For Today

The Message- the music in this category is evangelical in nature. It is made by believers for everyone. While it deals with strong Biblical truths, the music is made to appeal to both believers and non-believers alike.  The messages are meant to talk about address the need for Christ and the struggles that people go through before the come to know Him, and the relationship that exists afterward. Sometimes the message is obvious, sometimes it isn’t.  Most artists talk about their faith not only through their lyrics, but also from the stages that they play from (be it a church or a bar stage). This category is a musical response to the great commission.
August Burns Red
A Plea For Purging
Project 86
Joy Whitlock

The Light- this is the category that collects all the Christians who are out their making music, but are not necessarily talking about anything that is directly Biblical. This is just music made by believers. Most of the time, the songs have a indirect message pertaining to the artists faith. The artists in this category are not trying to speak to their beliefs, but are simply trying to make music , and their faith shines through from time to time.  The artists in this category most times exist completely outside of the Christian music radar, some of them you will know, but most you have never heard of. What is important to note is that while the music in this category is not overtly faith-based, it is music that is written from a heart changed by Christ, and can be used as a catalyst  people’s life.
Brooke Waggoner
Bob Dylan
Cold War Kids
Bodies Of Water
Buddy Miller

On our site, we are going to begin using these categories to define our artists better. You will begin to see them on our “Christian Artists To Know”, and as we build our database of artists, the categories will also be incorporated.

The idea behind these categories to allow all the many ways that music is made by believers to be viewed as a unified music scene. For the artists that sing honestly about thier life  and for the worship leader in the church, God uses all this music to touch people’s hearts.

Christian Artists To Know: Enter The Worship Circle

Enter The Worship Circle
Genre: Worship
Sub-genres: World, Folk Rock, Electronic
Location: Woodland Park, Colorado
Label: Worship Circle Records
Christian label: yes
Category: The Spiritual whats this?

Put an Enter The Worship Circle CD into the player, close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting around in your living room with a group of friends who have brought guitars and drums of all kinds.  You begin to play, pray and worship.  The Holy Spirit fills the room and you are carried away with joy and wonder about being in the presence of the Lord.  You have entered the worship circle.

The songs from Enter the Worship Circle are most often drawn from Psalms.  They are simple, intimate, spontaneous expressions of faith.  ETWC’s music is an invitation to join them in the honest, joyful worship of believers amazed at the wonder and intimacy of God.  According to their website, “the Worship Circle is an unfolding conversation between a small group and a present God”.

The conversation comes in a variety musical forms:

The Four Circles: The genesis of this movement started as a collaboration of Ben and Robin Pasley of 100 Portraits and Don and Lori Chaffer of Waterdeep.  The band’s lineup has changed throughout the recording of the four albums.  All of the Worship Circle recordings feature all original songs and a very talented collection of friends and fellow worshipers. The music is simple worship music created organically with guitars, violins and many percussive instruments (djembe, bombo, kanjira, tabala, dumbek, dholek, tongue drum, goat toes, cookie sheet) to create a relaxed hippie world vibe that draws the listener into a worship experience.


Village Thrift: The initial recording, Village Thrift: Circa 2005, was one of the best, most innovative recordings of that year.  Taking the creative and worship foundation of the Circle recordings, Ben and Robin joined with electronic artists to change the instrumentation from acoustic world to “borrowed (thrift) sounds” electronically manipulated.  The result is a singularly unique pop record that exalts the wonder of God.  The experience continues in an open, online remix project at Enter The Worshp Circle online


Chair & Microphone: As simple as it sounds, the Chair & Microphone series consists of one artist with an instrument (guitar or piano), a microphone and a worshipful heart. Volumes One through Three of this series have been recorded by Ben Pasley, Aaron Strumpel and Karla Adolphe, respectively.  These recordings are unapologetic conversations with God, with an invitation to the listener to find themselves inside of that conversation.  Volume One’s “Only Three” is a man’s, man’s worship song.  Here is Pasley performing “Memphis” from Chair & Microphone- Vol. 1.


Enter The Worship Circle is an essential piece of the modern worship culture. The group expresses it best in the liner notes inside the First Circle: “Singing Christian songs with enthusiasm is not worship, and neither is bowing reverently in a chapel. True worship can never be a rehearsal of someone else’s experience or tradition. We must hunger to touch God for ourselves!” Enter The Worship Circle’s music is an invitation to worship, a call to participate; it bids you be real before your God.

You can get Enter The Worship Circle’s music digitally on Enter the Worship Circle

You can also find their CDs on Amazon: Enter the Worship Circle(1999), Second Circle(2001), Village Thrift: Circa 2005(2005), Fourth Circle(2008), Chair and Microphone, Vol. 1(2003), Chair and Microphone, Vol. 2(2006), Chair and Microphone, Vol. 3(2008)