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Monday, May 30, 2011

Comfort in the midst of the Fray...because we need a nice musical post now and then.

This post is dedicated to all colored people...

I am pleased that The Fray is having commercial success. While made up of all Christians who played in churches, the group decided their mission was to take songs about real life viewed through the window of faith and wisdom into the secular music world.

This concept is nothing new.   Kansas was a famous secular band whose members Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope became born-again Christians along with new member John Elefante.    Many of their songs had deep meaning without being 'preachy' but the group eventually split and reformed as more of a secular band.

Yes, even in 2009 Kansas still had game!

Perhaps you remember me mentioning Phil Keaggy and Larry Norman in past posts so I will not go into them now, but here is a sampling of a few Christian singers/groups who have had success "crossing over" with music that got lots of mainstream airplay, beginning with Jars of Clay:

Looks like the same stage and setup for the JOC concert we attended. Family Christian Bookstores was my employer while I was going back to college and I was the local music event coordinator. But I was shocked when me and the kids were given complementary valet parking and tickets for the front section (row three maybe?) where we were equally close to the lead singer and the big row of speakers. LOUD and awesome!

Amy Grant of course...who began making hit Christian music as a teenager in 1977 and hit number one in 1979 with "My Father's Eyes" on the Christian charts. See how she developed and changed styles over the years?

Beginning in 1984

On this one below, Michael W. Smith is playing keyboards for her just as he did early in both of their careers.

This last one is from 2008.

She had a bunch of songs that got airplay...then there was her old keyboard player Michael W Smith. He went out on his own and had a big hit Christian album, Eye 2 Eye, which included this song:

His next album began getting secular music station airplay. I think the guitarist is Tony Palacios from Guardian:

Here he is by himself:

MW Smith has written all sorts of hit Christian music, praise music for church and secular music as well. You probably remember this one:

Then there was DC Talk. A bunch of college kids from Liberty University. One an erstwhile honky rapper, one an African-American hard rocker and the third an artsy guy with a remarkable and memorable voice. All Christians who caught fire in the Christian world and then got all sorts of secular airplay:

When I took the youth group to Alivefest several years ago DC Talk was among the bands who played and they actually climbed up the stage curtains to the top of the stage, slid down, jumped into the crowd and all that stuff. Their energy was off the charts!

DC Talk split.  Michael Tait formed his own band and then became the new lead singer of the Newsboys.  Toby Mac formed his own band.   Kevin Smith has made three or four solo albums.

There are bands like Chevelle and Creed that have a Christian influence but are not really Christian groups.

Various bands like Switchfoot, Thousand Foot Crutch, Lighthouse and of course Stryper have been or are Christian bands looking to have their primary impact in secular music. Just for old times sake we should play some Stryper!

I should also mention Bloodgood, who did a series of rock operas across the world, always incorporating a storyline with their songs from beginning to end, like the attempt to free a junkie from drug addiction or the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ...

Ah, the incredible voice of Les Carlsen, Michael Bloodgood's fervent bass and the shredding of Paul Jackson!   Bloodgood always seemed to have a great lead guitarist, as David Zaffiro and Oz Fox also spent time as the lead guitarist but in these videos it is the great unknown Paul Jackson.  In fact, both Jackson and Fox combined for a short-lived reunion of the band in 2010.  Carlsen was known for playing the lead in the rock musical, Hair, and Bloodgood is now a pastor of a church.   Zaffiro went on to a solo career and especially as a producer for groups like Holy Soldier.   How many thousands of rockers came to see Bloodgood and came away with a belief in Jesus Christ?  

Sometimes we need to learn the hard way before we find Christ.   I will let DC Talk take us home...