Music / Television

No God at the #Grammys?: Religious Music and the Prime Time Recording Academy

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:

Matt Redman: “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)WINNER (Backstage Comments)

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:

Go Get It”: Erica Campbell, Tina Campbell & Warryn Campbell, songwriters (Mary Mary) WINNER (Acceptance Speech; Backstage Comments)

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:

10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”: Jonas Myrin & Matt Redman, songwriters (Matt Redman) WINNER (TIE) (Acceptance Speech)

“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:

Gravity: Lecrae WINNER (Acceptance Speech)

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

Eye On It: TobyMac WINNER (Acceptance Speech)

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?

9 thoughts on “No God at the #Grammys?: Religious Music and the Prime Time Recording Academy

  1. I don’t think that not praying to god is a bad thing. . Praying to an entity is far fetched and somewhat ridiculous in my eyes. I’m not trying to knock anyone’s beliefs…….but I think you could have come up with a different angle on this story. Maybe if you presented it as it’s own story….without the lead in regarding the grammy singers. I would have been far more interested in the story without the questioning of “why not thank god.” It seems that you are insinuating that everyone should pray to your god……and that seems a bit hypocritical………and VERY christian to me. The grammys are to congratulate singers for their voices………..and NOT a prayer pulpit. Of course, this is my own biased opinion…….and the rest of the article was really good……..just think god needs to be left out of some things.

    • Thanks for the thoughts! To clarify, the point was not “why not thank god,” but rather to highlight the overall lack of any overt religious/spiritual reference throughout the program. Carrie Underwood’s “Thanks” was the only religious moment, Christian, Hindu, or otherwise. It’s actually more common to hear religious thanks on stage (even if just obligatory “and I thank God” comments). With only one spiritual statement on stage it made the lack of prime time recognition of a large sector of the industry that much more noticeable. Odd.

    • I am always bothered when people thank God, when it was people who made something happen. Athletes do it all of the time. I don’t mind if you are religious, but the idea that some all-powerful deity cares who wins and loses meaningless (in the grand scheme of things) competitions is ridiculous.

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  4. people are getting their awards and what is even wrong with thanking God like what really???!! i think this is highly unfair that just other artists get to get their awards on the official ceremony.. like why?? just because they are Christians.. this made me really like furious!!! they are making equal efforts as the secular artists are!!! this is definitely not fair and it should be changed.. people don’t even know who Lauren Daigle, Toby Mac, Chris Tomlin and many other amazing artists are.. like open your brains.. you guys support everything and why can’t you just support the 2 or 3 Christian artists just thanking Jesus.. this needs to definitely change soon!!!

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