Religious music is a huge industry. It has global fan bases that react viscerally to its messages and tunes, bringing in over a half-billion dollars a year in record sales alone. Yet it was not a part of Sunday’s three-and-a-half hour prime time Grammy Award presentation. Peculiar.
TV’s “biggest night in music” hosted by CBS boasted an array of musical talent from country to rap to jazz to pop. Digitally clever performances literally lit up the stage and powerhouse vocalists filled the night with beautiful sounds. Yet save for only Carrie Underwood’s personal “Glory to God” comment (in her award speech where she “thanks the Good Lord” – see it HERE) and the religious references throughout post-In Memoriam tune “The Weight” by rockabilly group The Band (performed by an array of artists – see it HERE) there were no televised references to the role of faith in music, let alone to the actual sub-genre of the industry.
Over 22 Million digital tracks in Christian/gospel music were purchased in the first half of 2012 alone, with more than 10 million full albums purchased – roughly the same number as rap albums, three times as many as jazz, twice as many as Latin, and more than twice the album sales for electronic/dance music. Yet the Grammy award winners for Christian/gospel music are almost never part of the “inclusive” scene heralded by the televised Grammys show.
Perhaps CBS and the Recording Academy are afraid of alienating viewers. Yet the religious listening audience is rather broad, with multiple Contemporary Christian/gospel stations on the airwaves in almost every town across America. One study even found that 28% of Christian radio listeners are non-Christians who still enjoy regularly listening to the “uplifting” music. Of course, there is no shortage of criticism from audiences who resist the provocative lyrics and ideologies often associated with rap/hip-hop or rock/pop music, but those artists command the prime time stage.
With worship singer Chris Tomlin’s “Burning Lights” album (single below) recently hitting No.1 on the Billboard 200 charts, there’s no doubt that this genre continues to make an impact on a listening audience yearning for its content. It seems unlikely that including even bits of such in the prime time show would create an uproar.
So while the televised award show was full of impactful music, well-orchestrated to keep viewers hooked for such a long score, it seems that the producers may have missed a note. To that end, congratulations to the following pre-telecast Grammy winners and nominees not seen on prime time:
Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance:
Casting Crowns: “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”
Tamela Mann: “Take Me to the King”
Mary Mary: “Go Get It”
Marvin Sapp: “My Testimony”
Best Gospel Song:
“I Feel Good”: Phillip Feaster, Fred Hammond, Jonathan Miller & Calvin Rodgers, songwriters (Fred Hammond)
“My Testimony”: Aaron Lindsey & Marvin Sapp, songwriters (Marvin Sapp)
“Released”: Donald Lawrence, songwriter (Bill Winston & Living Word Featuring Donald Lawrence)
Best Contemporary Christian Music Song:
“Your Presence is Heaven”: Israel Houghton & Micah Massey, songwriters (Israel & New Breed) WINNER (TIE) (Acceptance Speech)
“Jesus, Friend of Sinners”: Mark Hall & Matthew West, songwriters (Casting Crowns)
“When Mercy Found Me”: Jeff Pardo & Rhett Walker, songwriters (Rhett Walker Band)
“White Flag”: Jason Ingram, Matt Maher, Matt Redman & Chris Tomlin, songwriters (Passion & Chris Tomlin)
Best Gospel Album:
Identity: James Fortune & FIYA
Jesus at the Center Live: Israel & New Breed
I Win: Marvin Sapp
Worship Soul: Anita Wilson
Best Contemporary Christian Music Album
Come To the Well: Casting Crowns
Where I Find You: Kari Jobe
Gold: Britt Nicole
Into the Light: Matthew West
ADD YOUR VOICE BELOW! What do you think of this music? Should it have made it on the show? Would it have seemed too “serious” even for the Grammys? Or would it have been a welcome addition?