Sometimes I wonder about the toil that it must take on someone who is a person of faith, but is ministering a lot (I don’t know if ministering is the right word, maybe creating their skills and expertise is probably better) within the confines of ‘mainstream’ media if you will. The media that seems to hate on Christianity everywhere you turn (I know that’s a big assumption, but that’s other thing to talk about in another post…not here!). What happens to a person’s soul if you are immersed into a culture that may or may not be what you initially think it is? What happens when what you stand for doesn’t necessarily line up to what the world says you should stand for…what then? I’ve been listening to a lot of music and artists these last 20-something weeks or so- some by people of faith, some by people who are not. And what I’ve found common amongst all the music is a need to be loved and accepted, to find purpose and meaning, to have music as a reminder to us all that whatever we’re going through, there is hope and light at the end of our journeys, moving from the mundane to the magical, the uncertain to the uncanny, from the hopeless to the happy. OneRepublic are such a band that have explored a lot of themes that I myself have been obtaining over the last few months, and then some- some may call them as artists who are following the step of Coldplay and U2, others say that they are reminding themselves of other under-the-radar artists like Lifehouse and The Fray.
‘…when we were making Evanescence I was a normal kid, going to school. But I guess not normal in the sense that I spent almost all of my free time working on making music. I’d be up until three in the morning, with headphones on, on my keyboard. My mom would complain in the morning that all she could hear all night was ‘thump, thump, thump’. But I just loved it. Being a composer, honestly, was my original dream. That’s why it’s so beautiful that I get to work with David Campbell and all these brilliant musicians on Synthesis [the latest album] – people who went to [music] school and didn’t cheat their way…I didn’t fit into a clique. For the most part I hung out by myself a lot. I really enjoy being able to be quiet and think…[now] it’s interesting. I almost feel like that wasn’t a choice [using sexual images to sell records] – I had to be who I was. What rock’n’roll is to me is being yourself, unapologetically, and not changing to fit within the machine. Being a female in the music industry a lot of the time means being overly sexualised. It was just kind of an easy, cheap way to get people to pay attention to you. I was like, that’s not who I am, and I’m not gonna pretend to be anything that I’m not…’
Over the past 6 months, you may have noticed a new series on our site- for those of you who are avid followers and are paying attention. You see, my brother Jon has been embarking on an ambitious project for our site. He’s writing about 100 influential artists (and then 20 more on top of that who are in a class of their own!) and delving deep into their discography, analysing why these artists are influential and have shaped (or are shaping) music as a vast sonic landscape over time and across their own genre. It’s a big mouthful to even comprehend- and Jon’s writing about 1 artist per week; so while I might leave you to peruse Jon’s new blog series here (with the intro post and ‘contents’ page here!), let me just say that as I have embarked on this expansive music journey with my brother (via osmosis!), listening to music that he has, and being inspired and challenged by music that I’d probably never listen to in a million years; I’ve kind of noticed a trend. And that trend is just my opinion, and what I have observed and concluded to be the case- but it’s in no way indicative of what you may perceive or believe. So are you waiting to hear my deep, profound revelation, that many of you might know already? Here goes! It’s that… I believe that music from the 90’s and early 2000’s (but especially 90’s!) had so much heart, soul and passion in them, seemingly more-so than music today!
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve gained a bit of insight over these last few months. And it is this- there is no pattern to how I listen to my music, or rather, what genre of music that I like. Even when I was enjoying a lot of CCM during my younger days, I’d listen to a wide variety of styles- rock, pop, worship, acoustic, folk, singer-songwriter…basically anything that wasn’t screamo. Now here as I branch out into different music styles and appreciate music in a general sense of the word, I see the exact same thing- virtually no pattern as to how I enjoy my music, or what I do listen to. Phil Collins, prominent in the 1980s, delivers to us an eclectic mix of pop-rock mixed with a high energy drum-beat undertone, while Kelly Clarkson is your traditional pop-rock with an inspirational edge in there. Owl City is close enough to EDM that I did embark upon, while Andrew Peterson utilised a lot of acoustics and focussed a lot on the lyrical side of things. Add to that the hard rockers of Skillet and DC Talk, and the ever poignant and motivational Tenth Avenue North; and you see that my musical tastes have broadened much over the weeks and months ahead. That is, until I’ve searched deeper into the patterns behind my very own choices for these blog posts thus far. There is indeed a pattern. Out of 26 artists I’ve decided to write about thus far, quite a fair number (5) are of the country variety. Yes, there, I’ve said it. Unknowingly, and maybe even unintentionally, I’ve favoured country music ahead of basically every other music genre thus far, inclusive of this artist I’m about to delve into today- Faith Hill. And there’s nothing wrong with country. Far from it. In fact, upon listening to music time and time again this year, I’ve noticed that country music in particular tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves a lot more, and that’s ok. Never have I initially thought that I would resonate a lot of country music, yet I have. Artists like Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, The McClymonts, Shania Twain, and now Faith Hill, have all influenced the genre of country over the years, and by and large, have shaped what music is currently today as well. Maybe not so much The McClymonts, but considering that they are indeed an Australian country trio, and they have been charting top honours for best country band every year since their release of their debut album 12 years ago, makes their inclusion very much more settled and certain. Nevertheless, here I am with another post discussing Faith Hill and her music- and to be honest, I don’t really know much about her life…and maybe that’s a good thing. All I know is that she’s married to country artist Tim McGraw, released 8 studio albums, and is now declared one of the best country artists at the moment.
I don’t know what your favourite music genre right now is. Maybe it’s CCM like me, and you are a fan of artists like Michael W. Smith, Tenth Avenue North, Newsboys, Skillet, For KING AND COUNTRY and Steven Curtis Chapman, to name a few. Or maybe you are fanatical about country music, and follow artists like Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, Shania Twain and Dixie Chicks. Then again, maybe old-school 1980s is your type- and why not, with artists like Michael Jackson, David Bowie, George Michael, Phil Collins, U2, The Police and Led Zeppelin, all anchoring the decade musically and sonically. Then again, you could be totally out of left field and be heavily into the classical music and follow great composers like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and the like. But whatever music you are into, be it the older style songs, or the newer current ‘relevant’ music that is currently on the radio; one thing is for certain- everyone knows Ed Sheeran, or at least a few of his songs. Or at least they should.
I’m tired, I’m worn, my heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes, I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left
Let me see redemption win, let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn cause I’m worn
Lyrical excerpt from the song ‘Worn’, from Tenth Avenue North’s 2012 album The Struggle
I don’t think I’ve ever begun a blog post with lyrics of a song from the particular artist/band of which I’m to discuss for that week. Either an introductory paragraph to set the scene, or even last week when I was discussing the relevance and necessity of Skillet, I started with a quote from the band. But never lyrics. That is…until now. For so long in the church I believe, I’ve felt, and maybe this is just my surmising and if I do have it wrong, I take it back and apologise, but from just observation, I’ve realised that people in a general sense, especially church goers, don’t like to admit that they are worn. That they are burnt out, or even still, that they even need help with their day-to-day lives. There are songs about praising God. There’re songs about the general Christian walk of life. There’s songs that are fit for radio, songs that are not fit for radio, but within and amongst all the songs that can be placed under the umbrella of CCM (Contemporary Christian music), rarely has there been a song (correct me if I’m wrong!) about being worn and tired, of being just…well, fed up. Not with life itself, but with the general happenings of it. I mean, who really actually, in their right mind, starts off a song with a vulnerable lyric ‘I’m tired, I’m worn, my heart is heavy from the work it takes to keep on breathing, I’ve made mistakes, I’ve let my hope fail, my soul feels crushed by the weight of this world’? I mean, who does that? Who lets the whole world know their innermost feelings in a song, from the get-go? Well, Tenth Avenue North of course.
Provident Label Group
Release Date: August 2nd 2019
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
‘…I think Christian music was still early on in it’s inception, people didn’t really know what it meant. I will say that Christian music has also changed and is very much changing very rapidly right now. There are some people that will kinda pre-judge the band; They go “Oh… it’s a Christian band, it probably sucks!”. There’s some of that. But, I think that Skillet has been around long enough that people get us. They know that Skillet is not, what I would call, ‘Preachy’. I think that we just sing a lot about spirituality. I’m very open about my faith. I talk about my faith in interviews and on stage. I’m not in any way quiet about it, but it’s more of a story telling. I’m telling my story, it’s my life. At every show, I meet people that say “Hey! I just want you to know that I’m an Atheist, I don’t get this Jesus stuff at all, but your music makes me feel better. It’s so positive and it got me out of a hard time” or what have you. I love those stories because I never wanted to be a person who only sings religion to people; That’s the opposite of what I want to do! I like that music should bring people together; I think that’s a really cool thing! So yeah, that prejudice still does kinda exist. Some of it rightly so, because there was a time when Christian music was very much ‘Preachy’ and very much only singing to Christian people. Whether that was the intent or not, that’s what was happening. That’s not what Skillet wants to do…’
‘…you have to remember this, Skillet came out in 1996 and there really wasn’t an internet! I mean, the internet was technically around in 1996, I had never heard of it. And it certainly wasn’t something that people found music on. It was a couple of years later that the internet really exploded. So, when we first started, we sold cassette tapes, mainly CD’s, but we had cassette tapes of our first records, first two records actually! I think that the internet has changed the entire landscape of music. There are goods and bads with that. One of the great things is that Skillet, well… not just Skillet, can be heard all they way around the world now. You don’t have to have a massive radio hit. It used to be that if you didn’t have a radio hit in Australia, then there’s no reason to go to Australia because nobody knows who you are! There have been some wonderful things that have happened. So, that’s probably the most life changing thing that has changed since the inception of Skillet…’
What do you think about when you think of the term ‘Australian Christian artist/band’? What comes to mind? Frankly, you immediately think about Hillsong (all its facets) and the deeply polarising nature of the megachurch and their music arm and ministry. Or you can think about Rebecca St. James, who raced to stardom way back in the early 1990s, and then went on to release several chart-topping albums, and is now an icon and a champion of abstinence with her own ‘purity’ song ‘Wait For Me’. for KING AND COUNTRY is another Aussie band that is getting traction, popularity and influence now, and ironically, both brothers in this duo are related to the once-popular Rebecca St. James…but yet, even though all these artists have been popular throughout the years, and do command great influence within the history of Christian music from the land down under; there is in fact one band that I firmly believe is responsible in staking a claim that Christian music not necessarily from the U.S., is firmly and very much ok. The Newsboys, who started their venture in the late 1980s as a band trying to make it on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia; are now entering into their 4th decade.