Sending Christian Artists into the World - At What Cost?

Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson was born in Santa Barbara, California, the daughter of two pastors in 1984. In 2001, she released her debut self-title album, which was given a favorable review by Christianity Today. Another Christian music star was born, or so it seemed.

Then something happened. Katy Hudson was reborn. Not reborn as in born-again; she was already a Christian, child of two preachers, up and coming CCM artist. No, Katy Hudson was reborn by the secular music industry as Katy Perry, who is tearing up the bill board charts with her latest album, One of the Boys. This record has spawned two hit singles, "Ur so Gay" and "I Kissed a Girl."

They got another one, so it seems.

What is it about the recording industry and Christian artists? How many popular artists got their start singing in church or a choir, or recording Christian music? Amy Grant, anyone? of course, the answer is obvious. They don't call it mainstream for nothing. A producer comes to you and says that you can sell fifty thousand records doing CCM and five hundred thousand doing pop - that's a big draw for a young artist.

A post over on Christian Musician Forum got me thinking about this. There's such a big pull to "go secular" for our young artists. I remember a few years back being invited to a worship seminar at a church in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where Gospel Light is. Bridgeport has long been a bed of Gospel music. (Anybody hear of Youthful Praise?) One of the speakers at this particular workshop was Jonathan Dubose, Jr., a guitar player who has recorded with the likes of the Hawkins Family, the Winans, Andre Crouch, T.D. Jakes, Byron Cage and Kurt Carr. DuBose has also recorded with Little Richard, the Stylistics, Shiela E, El DeBarge and Harry Connick, Jr. So when this guy talked, I listened.

He spoke at length about the call of secular, mainstream music on him as a young Gospel artist. Coming out of Bridgeport, the enticement of fame and fortune was more than he could resist. He spoke in detail about it, how it affected him little by little, until he was all the way in. I think about that talk quite a bit. Similar thoughts were shared recently by Mark Hall of the Casting Crowns, in introducing the song "Slow Fade."

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made,
a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

I don't suggest that we keep our young Christian artists down, not by a long shot. I'd love to play my songs on a national stage. How else can the ministry be brought to the unchurched? How cool was it when MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine" was being played all the time on secular radio? But we need to make sure before we send them out (and worship leaders, this is on you, especially) that they are rooted, prepared and grounded in the Word. They need to be prayed over, prayed for and prayed about. They need backing, support and love, not leeching.

I hope they all make it to the bigs. But not if the price is too high.


  1. good questions Mike.

    the other piece that comes up for me is why do we expect musicians to do only "Christian" music? We don't expect mechanics to work only on christian cars or builders to build only churches. Why is it that in the church we expect that Christians who happen to be involved in some kind of entertainment must use it as a platform for preaching? Aren't there other ways to express their values (as we would hope the builder and mechanic do too) without having explicitly Christian lyrics?

  2. I guess that's a fairly gray line, Roy. Aren't as Christians we supposed to be witnesses? All things are beneficial, but not all things are permissable.

    I suppose in the end I'm speaking more of the lifestyle than the lyrical content, although both are relevant. Should a Christian be writing or singing songs about worldly issues? Should they, if not be preaching, then at least glorifying God for the gift they've been given? QUestions lead to more questions....

    Thanks for the comment!


  3. Why would a Christian singer want to sing about anything else? Worship songs are supposed to help people enter into the presence of God. Entertainment in latin actually means to detain you from entering in. My question to you Roy is.. do you want to entertain people and prevent them from entering into God's presence or do you want to lead them into God's presence?


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