Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music

by Mark Allan Powell

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Retail: $29.95
Size: 7.5 x 9.25 inches
Binding: paper
Pages: 1088
Pub Date: 2002
ISBN: 1565639006
ISBN-13: 9781565639003
Item Number: 36791
Categories: Religion and Culture; Christian Living

Product Description

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Awarded a 2003 Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research for Best Research in Recorded Popular Music

This groundbreaking work covers both major and minor Christian music artists and those associated with Christian music from the ’60s to the present day, highlighting their influences, their struggles, and their achievements. Powell treats each artist or group with a balanced, intriguing, and fresh look into their background and discography. Every entry summarizes critical response to the group, and provides band member lists, complete discographies, lists of awards, artist website addresses, and biographies of the artists. The fun, easy-to-read writing style provides fans with accessible information on their favorite artists, while also encouraging them to greater appreciation of the stylistic breadth and historical depth of the music they have come to love.

The CD-ROM features a searchable version of the complete text for both Windows and Macintosh systems, as well as live links to artist-websites, album information, and music clips.

“Mark Allan Powell has done a great service - not only to the vibrant scene we often call ‘Christian rock,’ but to the rock and roll world in general and to the church. While it is true that many of us Christians have developed and relegated ourselves to a subculture, there are many artists living and working in this ‘evangelighetto’ that have made and are continuing to make relevant and very beautiful art. Yes, some music made by Christians can truly be labeled trite and propaganda, but there is a vast universe of musicians who are fusing their faith with their art in an outstanding way. This encyclopedia helps legitimize those remarkable artists that, up until this point, were clustered away as legends in an unknown and ignored genre. Treating this art with the respect it deserves, along with the occasional but warranted criticism, does a great justice. Good art deserves to be appreciated and this book helps save my voice from having to shout as loud to get people's attention for it.”
—Doug Van Pelt, Editor, HM Magazine

“Powell's Encyclopedia is exhaustive, all that you'll ever want to know about the artists and history of Christian rock. This is a noble work - honest, fair and complete - paying respect where it is also overdue, and honoring the genre's true artists alongside its most successful sellers. Careful to value the art of pop music, Powell's greatest contribution is the thoughtful theological insights and honest critical voice. I wish I'd written it.”
—Brian Quincy Newcomb, pastor of Christ UCC, Maplewood, Mo., and freelance music writer, contributing regularly to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and CCM Magazine

“Mark Allan Powell has accomplished a most formidable labor of love with the publication of this Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music. With a fan's zeal and a scholar's dedication to research and accuracy, Powell has treated the music made by these artists - dismissed for too long by too many in the music business and the church - as a valid, and often vital chapter in the ongoing history of popular music and Christianity. Thorough, informed and opinionated, Powell's refreshing take on the music and its messages is an important contribution to this sadly overlooked phenomenon.”
—Thom Granger, author and former editor of CCM magazine

“I wish this book had been available when I was working on mine. How Powell managed such comprehensive coverage is beyond me. This is certainly the defining volume of every recorded work our community has released. I am impressed and overwhelmed. So many of these works existed way under the radar and then disappeared almost instantly. It’s important that they be remembered and archived for future generations. As a fan, and aspiring historian, I thank Mark Allen Powell from the bottom of my heart.”
—John J. Thompson, Founder; True Tunes Etc., and Author of Raised By Wolves: The Story of Christian Rock and Roll

“More than a reference book, The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music is a fascinating commentary on the church in America since the late 1960s. For those of us who were part of the Jesus movement, this is a documentary on ‘our’ music. For all observers of the genre it is THE encyclopedia that provides a substantive historical context for today’s industry. Powell’s success at providing a comprehensive list ‘of artists associated with contemporary Christian music’ is exceeded only by the monumental size of this amazing undertaking. It takes an academic to create a useful tool of this nature. It takes an artist to make it enjoyable. Powell has demonstrated that he is both.”
—Rick Edwards, Editor of CCM magazine


"In what may be the first-ever reference work of its kind, the 1,000-page Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music profiles Christian musicians, songwriters and producers, in addition to secular artists whose faith has influenced their music. Author Mark Allan Powell (who is actually a New Testament scholar of considerable repute) says he wandered into a Christian bookstore five years ago and discovered that more than a quarter of the shelf space was devoted to contemporary Christian music. There was not, however, a single book on the subject a lacuna that will be amply corrected by this enormous, funny, informative tome. Powell is a man of considerable opinions, whether he is defending Amy Grant's album Behind the Eyes as possibly the most painfully honest recording ever produced by any artist or arguing about the impact of Rich Mullins's tragically short career. On a basic level, the book will be utilized as an encyclopedia by people who confuse Jars of Clay with Point of Grace. But in a more profound way, readers who appreciate Powell's assertion that contemporary Christian musicians are actually amateur theologians whose perspectives are helping to shape Christian history will marvel at this book's stunning combination of breadth and depth."
— Publishers Weekly

"Powell, a professor at Trinity Lutheran Seminary and former pastor, has created a work for a genre that, though popular and widespread, has received little reference coverage. Even in other music reference works, such as Salem Press' Popular Musicians (1999), this form of music is pushed into the categories of pop, rock, or gospel. Powell defines contemporary Christian as a musical style that was developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s and known then as "Jesus music." Since that time, it has evolved and borrowed from other popular musical styles such as metal, rap, rock, and ska. Gospel of any variety and other types of Christian music (hymns, sacred music, instrumentals) are excluded.

"The alphabetically arranged entries cover individuals and groups. Each entry lists all albums produced, with date and record company. An essay provides biography and evaluation as well as partial lyrics for significant songs and notes on performance style. Group entries name all members (including dates for when various members came and went), the instruments they played, and who sang the vocals. Entries conclude with lists of chart hits and awards.

"Powell drew upon every available issue of prominent and lesser-known Christian music periodicals, newspapers, and Web sites, then created a database of each artist and group discussed, interviewed, or reviewed in these sources. Some of the groups he includes are primarily known as rock or pop bands that occasionally have songs or albums with a spiritual nature, such as Moby and U2. Powell states that in these cases, he erred on the side of inclusion. More well known singers and groups have longer entries (for example, Amy Grant, the Winans, Jennifer Knapp), but even the less well known (for example, Phat Chance, Project 86, Jan Krist) have at least a long paragraph.

"Given the sheer volume of material, the relatively modest price of this work is a wonderful bargain. Add to that the unique coverage, and this volume is highly recommended for music collections and Christian schools."

"This hefty paperback's author, a faculty member of Ohio's Trinity Lutheran Seminary, adopts a rather informal style as he surveys almost 2,000 individuals and ensembles that have recorded Christian music in the past 30 years. The entries include a discography (album title, label names, and release dates are provided), memberships of the groups, biographical sketches, subjective evaluations, "chart hits," and awards. Websites are included and, in fact, updates are projected. The front matter surveys the history, while the volume concludes with a glossary, contents list, and a CD-ROM of the entire work (needing 15 MB of free space). No other undertaking in this area is known to exist, and the vast coverage appears to be quite comprehensive. The reference offers a large perspective on its subject, and the entries—while of scholarly value—are refreshingly chatty. This is an impressive endeavor."
Library Journal

"Although Rolling Stone describes the world of contemporary Christian music as a "parallel universe," there can be little doubt that, with annual sales approaching $1 billion and such artists as Amy Grant and Jars of Clay regularly crossing over onto secular charts, the Christian music scene is thriving. By 1998, according to Billboard, contemporary Christian music accounted for a larger share of recording industry revenue than jazz, New Age, classical, and soundtracks combined.

“Now, contemporary Christian music has its own encyclopedia. The massive and mind-numbing tome, with well over a thousand double-columned pages, provides more than any sane person should care to know about everyone from rockers Larry Norman and Whiteheart to pop artists Michael W. Smith and Sandi Patty, as well as Bob Dylan, who for a time told concert audiences that 'Jesus is the way of salvation.' The entries provide biography, discography, and a description of the musical styles of each artist or group, and the introduction offers a brief history of contemporary Christian music."
The Wilson Quarterly

“During the last three decades or so, the author muses, music has done more for the advancement of humanity that all Christian theologians together, and Christians, especially conservative Christians, have made a substantial contribution to the enterprise of popular music. The present encyclopedia has extensive entries on key figures (often singers) and names of performing groups. The most famous figure listed here is of course Bob Dylan (b. 1941), who in 1979 proclaimed himself a born-again Christian but later preferred to be silent on the matter.”
International Review of Biblical Studies

“One of Powell’s intentions was to document a significant movement in Christian music. Hopefully, he will develop additional insights into the conservative Christian subcultures from which CCM has emerged in future work. This book is fun to read and recommended as an excellent start in mapping the ever-expanding world of CCM.”
Religious Studies Review

“Contemporary Christian music polarizes congregations, dominates the sound of Christian radio, and fuels an enormous industry. The music, its artists, and its impact are an understudied but undeniably vital part of modern American Christianity. Mark Allan Powell’s Encyclopedia is a handbook brimming with information about the shaper of this flourishing Christian subculture. Its 1,900 entries (all written by Powell) detail the individuals and groups that reflect and influence the musical tastes of millions of Christians, Protestant and Catholic. Allan places secular artists who acknowledge the influence of their Christian faith on their careers side-by-side with the divas of Christian music. His working definition of contemporary Christian music is broad: it encompasses whatever fans think of as Christian, so the Christian connection may reside in the professed faith of the artist or in the content of the lyrics. The resulting compendium is an indispensable tool for anyone who proposes to study modern American Christianity. It offers valuable insights into the networks and contours of a remarkable Christian music empire that is also a secular force.

“Powell, a self-described outsider to the traditions he places at the heart of the Christian music scene, is Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary. From his perspective, the book is a contribution to church history, though it clearly serves multiple constituencies. Allan located the roots of contemporary Christian music within fundamentalism, and, more specifically, within conservative denominations that originated in the United States. Scholars are likely to wish for a longer introduction and a framework expanding on the religious roots of contemporary Christian music and its tie-ins to secular music styles and 1960s popular culture. Powell tantalizes readers with suggestions on these subjects, but his principal contribution is a stunning compilation of trivia and interpretation that offers access to an understudied phenomenon. Those uninitiated in the jargon specific to the genre will find the glossary helpful in navigating the text; web addresses and a CD-ROM with searchable text and links to artist’ websites and music clips enhance the book’s appeal.”
Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture

Author Bio

Mark Allan Powell has published articles on contemporary Christian music in Christian Century, Christianity Today, and Trinity Seminary Review. He is frequently interviewed in print and over the airwaves concerning the proliferation of rock, rap, and other popular genres of Christian music. He is Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and is the author of seventeen books, including the best-sellers Jesus as a Figure in History and Narrative Criticism: A New Approach to the Bible.

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