CCM & Friends Retrospective

by Jason Warburg


In these days of Afro-Cuban-Filipino reggae-pop-metal-house music, it sometimes feels as though there are as many genres of music as there are varieties of religious belief in the world.
One musical genre born of belief, however, has transcended its peers both in terms of sheer popularity and in terms of the breadth of musical styles that coexist under a single umbrella -- the umbrella of Contemporary Christian Music, or CCM.
CCM, launched, most would agree, with the advent of "The Jesus People" in the late 1960s and "fathered" by early artists such as Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, and Mark Heard, has exploded since the early 1980s because of a handful of influential artists.

Artists like Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Bebe and CeCe Winans, and Sandi Patty broke the genre to the mainstream scoring those much coveted "crossover" hits. Of course, like any other genre, CCM has had its share of cookie-cutter artists that have given CCM a black eye, but these early pioneers also led to such genre-straddling, and critically-respected acts as Jars of Clay, Switchfoot, MaryMary, dcTalk, and Jaci Velasquez.

As the DV staff discussed a CCM retrospective, we debated. Our staff is no more monolithic in terms of belief (or non-belief) than we are in terms of musical tastes. And while no one disputes the significance and richness of CCM as a genre, we wanted to be inclusive. After all, while CCM has grown into a vibrant, varied, and commercially successful genre, it's hardly the only music of faith around.

In that spirit, we present our June CCM & Friends retrospective. Thirty days, twenty-six CCM reviews, and each Saturday, a review of popular music from an alternate, non-Christian faith.

So, from the mainstream to alternative to gospel to Christian hip-hop to progressive worship music to other music that is faith-based, this month the Vault will cover the spectrum. Though we've been covering CCM for years, most of these reviews will appear on the Vault for the first time.

Founded in January 1997, the Daily Vault has featured more than 5,300 reviews of more than 2,500 artists covering almost the entire musical spectrum, written by a volunteer staff from around the world. Previous Artist Of The Month retrospectives have spotlighted the work of artists from Tori Amos to Frank Zappa, including the Beatles, David Bowie, Garth Brooks, Led Zeppelin, Madonna, Pearl Jam, Radiohead and many others. Themed retrospectives have included punk, hip-hop, dynamic debuts, classic jazz, women who rock, Broadway musicals and classic soul.

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