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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 10: ANDREW PETERSON

I have been wrestling a little bit over this last week about my choice of artist that I’m going to delve into today. And while I’ve said countless times in blog posts previously that popular need not be the same as influential, nor should it, in this artist’s case, popular is indeed not what this artist is (if you look at popularity in the mainstream pop market). But, having said that, upon listening and thoroughly delving deep into the music and mysteries that this artist speaks of, boy can I say that singer-songwriter and Christian artist Andrew Peterson, is by far one of the most influential artists that has ever graced Christian music in the modern era (2000 and onward). There, I said it. Andrew Peterson, though his name unrecognisable in terms of mainstream music, is indeed known quite well within the confines of CCM and music about the Christian faith. It is in this blog series that I have managed to hopefully give a portrayal of many different styles and musical genres, across various time periods. Influential artists within the Christian music ‘genre’ (if you can call Christian music a genre!) were always going to be present on my influential artists of all-time list; because frankly, I am a Christian and Christian music is and always will be a great form and source of encouragement and inspiration, whether or not the listener is of the faith, or not. And so, upon amassing who I was going to discuss about within my list of 100 names (and ever evolving names, I must add!); it stood to reason that a non-negotiable artist to explore would be Andrew and his music. Since exploring Andrew’s music around 5 years ago, my musical tastes have been stretched, altered, challenged, and even matured because of such delving, and this past week, I’ve come to appreciate a style within the Christian industry that isn’t necessarily discussed or even musically envisaged. Call it being safe, sticking close to radio format songs; whatever the case, an artist like Andrew Peterson and the music style that he incorporates (folk rock, roots rock, country gospel) is rarely promoted even within the Christian industry, because, to put it bluntly, Andrew’s music is different.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the Next 5-10 years – Week 1: Maren Morris

Is there any criteria for what determines an influential artist? Influential albums- sure we can figure that one out. Just think about an album that has changed you from the inside out, or one that has sentimental value to you, or one that you’d just know has shaped you beyond the shadow of a doubt (you wouldn’t be the person you are today if that particular album wasn’t recorded and released!); and that’s it. Maybe there are around 20 or 30 albums that you hold dear, that you believe to be higher above all others. But as for the extent of influence an artist has over society as a whole or individuals, across time, all genres and transcending countries, religions, beliefs, value systems and creeds; that’s a big, big mouthful to fully grasp and a gigantic pool of artists to choose from. I guess you’d say that the criteria is different depending on what you value in an artist, whether it is lyrics or music or the artist’s private lives and if it matches up with what they’re singing about… and that’s probably the reason why Jon is in the midst of writing about 100 artists, and even then it’s not a perfect list. The other day though, I started to think about the artists that were not part of Jon’s list, whom were deemed to be seemingly not influential enough. There were obviously some older artists whom Jon found others to be more influential for one reason or another; however if we’re only thinking of influence in the regard that an artist has to be a veteran of x amount of years or x amount of albums, then I’m certain we’d miss out on exploring and listening to a number of up and coming artists whom in the future could be equally as influential or even more so than The Beatles, Queen, Abba, Elton John, Whitney Houston and others. So, I’ve started up a mini-list of 20 artists. By no means is it perfect, but it’s a snapshot of artists whom I reckon will take the world by storm in the coming years. Artists whom I reckon may not necessarily be popular, but still impact in a society where listeners are bored with songs at the drop of a hat. Maren Morris is the first artist that I’ll be delving into and exploring, and boy does she have plenty of remarkable songs that are relevant to society that need to be shared with the whole world!

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 9: MARTINA MCBRIDE

Just a couple of weeks ago, I delved into the realms and musical genres of country music, discussing about Carrie Underwood, and her relevance and influence in today’s society, the history of music as a whole, and just the overall arching umbrella of inspirational music that can encourage and impact. Here we are, just two weeks later, again delving into another country artist- Martina McBride. Never in my own wildest dreams did I ever think I would listen to country music. Sure, I heard a few songs from Carrie Underwood here and there, and I always knew that CCM rockers Third Day somehow skirted the fine line between southern Rock, CCM and country quite a bit. But if you were to let me know a year ago that in a year’s time, I’d be listening to artists like Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride, I’d be laughing, wondering what planet you’re from. Because for me, Martina’s music has only been thoroughly listened to on a regular basis this last week or so- her music, though so iconic and monumental over the years for so many listeners, has somehow been swept by the wayside unintentionally by myself… until now of course! Martina’s career is as long as it is respected and revered- a mainstay and icon in not just country music alone, but in music overall. An eye-opening occasion for myself (I didn’t know country- or even to a lesser extent country-inspired, can be such a positive experience for myself), Martina’s music is a generation behind Carrie Underwood, starting her career in the 1990s, and releasing albums at a steady pace from then till now…and that’s ok. In all serious, Martina’s style is very similar to that of CCM icons Natalie Grant and Amy Grant, and while Martina’s stint in the music industry has led to much success over the years, it has been her extra-album activities, like her love for cooking and the recent unveiling of her new cooking TV programme, that has solidified her standing as one of country music’s reigning singer-songwriters and performers, and all-round inspirational people, after all these years!

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 8: OWL CITY

Owl City has always been, and always will be, a band that has such polarising views from listeners who either approach his music in one of two ways. There’s the first group, that love his music, that are die-hard fans, and appreciate every unique lyric and every nuance and imagery present in his music. Because there is quite a bit. Then there’s the other group, that casually like Owl City and listen to them once in a while, but with the drop of a hat, they’d criticise or have something harsh to say if the music isn’t up to a certain standard. And frankly, there’s been times during Owl City’s music career thus far where I’ve felt like the first group, and other times where all I want to be is to be the second group…but I can’t. Because in all honesty, Adam Young, the man behind Owl City (yes, this is a one-man-band!), has created a moniker and pseudonym that has received a lot of praise (and lack thereof) throughout the years.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 7: CARRIE UNDERWOOD

I don’t think I have ever been a great big avid fan of country music, if I’m completely honest. Sure I would hear a few songs from time to time, but for me, it wouldn’t be a genre of music that I’d actively seek out and listen to, throughout my years on this earth. If I am being completely honest, I much prefer the safe confines of CCM and pop, compared to the country music that has the great big southern drawl, and the songs full of…well, full of disappointment and heartache, I would surmise, right? Maybe it’s just me, but prior to this week, I had a conception on what country music would be like- songs about relationships, heartbreaks, mess-ups, songs about trucks, girls and guys, having a good time, songs about God and Jesus and faith, songs about…well, anything that would sell records, right?

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 6: JOSH GROBAN

To say that I am 100% prepared to write about this artist would be a lie. Because I’m not. Frankly, with everything that has been happening this week, from work to what has been suddenly portrayed on the news, the research for this artist has been minimal, to say the least. Nevertheless, what I have heard (and what I will continue to hear) has blown my own expectation of the genre of classical opera/pop that this artist is famous for, right out of the water. When I was younger, I used to have an aversion to anything of that musical variety. Not really sure why, but if I’m going to be completely honest, I’d say that I was too much in my CCM bubble not to notice the great quality music that exists (and continues to do so) outside the confines of whatever is to be sung on Sunday mornings at church service…I’m sure you get the picture, right? Music is a gift from the Lord, and it is up to us as stewards of this gift to bring hope and encouragement into the light, and to bring to listeners a sense of camaraderie and unity in times of difficulty, to ask questions that may not have been asked if it had not been for the music. There are many genres of music, and many people stand tall within their own genres. As I’ve discussed in these blog posts in previous weeks, artists like Michael W. Smith places a firm stamp on the CCM/Christian pop ‘genre’, while bands like Switchfoot and Lifehouse influence heavily on the rock music scene. Avril Lavigne’s music imprints a mark on pop/punk while Delta Goodrem is very prominent in Australian music. And so which artist stands out amongst the opera/pop genre? Well, Josh Groban, of course!

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 5: LIFEHOUSE

To say that I’m a very big avid fan of indie rock band Lifehouse is a very, very big overstatement. Let’s just say that for many, many of these artists I’ve placed here on my influential of all time list, I’ve barely listened to. And yes, apart from a song here and there from this guitar driven rock band (‘Hanging By A Moment’, ‘Broken’, ‘Everything’, ‘All In’, ‘Between the Raindrops’, to name a few), I haven’t really explored Lifehouse…until now of course. And we all know that this year-long project for me is as much as it is introducing to the world artists that I think have influenced and shaped music history, as it is very much an introduction for me into the realms of music that I may not have touched or even experienced, had it not have been for this project altogether. Nevertheless, Lifehouse as a band is very much like Switchfoot in a similar respect- they are indeed a band that deliver songs that probe at the human condition, asking questions that are deemed to be too personal, or even too taboo, to discuss in forums and public settings without music as the helm and delivery of transferring such ideas.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 4: DELTA GOODREM

Guy Sebastian, Jessica Maulboy, Rebecca St. James, Johnny Farnham, The Rogue Traders, Natalie Bassingthwaithe, Stan Walker, Human Nature, Shannon Noll, Kasey Chambers, Samantha Jade, Dami Im, Jimmy Barnes, Olivia Newton-John, Missy Higgins, David Campbell. What do all these music artists have in common? Anyone…no one? They’re all Australian! Yes that’s right, all these artists do not originate from America, like I’m sure many people could think right, because all good music comes out of America…am I right? No really, on a serious note, music doesn’t have to come out of America for it to be good, and much of these aforementioned artists in the beginning of this paragraph have all had moderate to very high success in both Australian radio and the Australian market, as with exposure and influence overseas as well. Rebecca St. James, originally from Australia, moved to America with her family in the 1990s and became a superstar from her early teens onward. The family, the Smallbones, also produced a duo band years later- Rebecca’s younger brothers Joel and Luke a.k.a. for KING & COUNTRY (more on both Rebecca and her brothers in two separate Momentous Mondays posts at a later date). Johnny Farnham, Human Nature, Kasey Chambers and Jimmy Barnes are all legends in their own right, and more recently, artists like Dami Im and Stan Walker have captured the international stage after winning singing competitions X Factor and Australian Idol respectively. But for me, there’s one artist that has been influential, not necessarily as popular, compared to any one of these artists I’ve mentioned, but nevertheless, has worked hard at their music, touching listeners and impacting an entire generation over the last decade or so. Delta Goodrem, basically a household name now because of her music career as well as a judge on the Australian singing competition show, The Voice; is, I reckon, one of Australian music’s most impacting and dare I say it, decade-defining, if you look at the years of the 2000s.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 3: AVRIL LAVIGNE

If I were to speak honestly, I’d say that I was never really a fan of girl artists/female fronted bands that bore its prominence and upbringing during the 2000s. During that time in my life, I was heavily immersed into CCM, in particular, bands and artists like Carman and Delirious?. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that, upon reflection, I thoroughly enjoy these two artists that I mentioned just then, and I would place them both, in a heartbeat, in my list of favourite artists/bands of all time, because of my early exposure to them and how they shaped my formative years as a teenager into who I am today as a person. Yet nevertheless, this is a post about influential artists, and though I firmly and unwaveringly believe that both Carman and Delirious? are influential in their own right throughout music history, I have found recently and discovered an artist that was indeed heavily impactful during the 2000s (and even now). Though I myself am late to the party in listening to them, I have been impressed with how they have managed stardom at such a very young age, and how they have carried themselves throughout the music industry process, from at the point of stardom till now. Drawing parallels, I reckon, to CCM/crossover artists like Plumb, and the early styles of Rachael Lampa and Stacie Orrico; Avril Lavigne began her fame journey at a tender young age of 17, and now 34, she has dominated the music market over the last 17 years or so. To say that she is an influential artist, not only to other new up and coming ones, but to listeners and those who are impacted by her music over the years, is very much an understatement.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: Influential Artists of All Time – Week 2: Switchfoot

If you were to ask me to name one band that has successfully shaped their craft and pioneered a movement where music was able to transcend both mainstream markets and CCM circles, I’d have to say Switchfoot. Maybe some people have heard of this 5 piece band from San Diego, California, maybe some people haven’t. Regardless, Jon Foreman (lead singer) and co. have gifted us with mountains upon mountains of songs that have had (and continue to have) the ability to speak to our souls, to challenge our very being when other conversations and introspective discussions have failed to do so. Switchfoot’s music, for me, is a reminder of the power that a song can have in a certain moment, and that creating a song almost gives you licence to speak about almost every topic that can be judged as being ‘taboo’ in a sense. Faith can be discussed. Doubt, uncertainty, love, loneliness, worry, hope, joy, and everything else in between; expect all these facets and themes of life to be present in songs, especially Switchfoot’s! Brothers Jon and Tim (bass guitar), and other band members Drew Shirley (guitars), Jerome Fontamillas (guitars and keyboards) and Chad Butler (drums) have unveiled a band that is honest and sincere, positive yet also confronting and challenging, all the while presenting to us songs that minister to our soul, even if we don’t really know it at that point in time!

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