the story
Brad Paisley and Sara Evans

"It's hard to get into Hollywood and it's even harder to get out"

Little_richard

That's what a friend of mine told me this week.  It is hard to get out of Hollywood and it's hard to get Hollywood out of you, once it's there.  Another friend told me last week, "Nashville has changed  more people than people have changed Nashville."  Those cities have the ability to devour Christians (and families) alive, but Christians should be able to thrive in these environments, especially seeing whereas they played a major role in creating the present expressions of pop culture.

"You let loose, the piano was talking, the drums walking. People were shouting all over the place. And if you didn't understand what it was, you thought you were in a rock and roll concert. That's the way the black Gospel was when I was a boy.

We called the church the sanctified church. He sings, 'I'm so glad Jesus set em free, I'm so glad Jesus set me free, singing Glory, Hallelujah, Jesus set me free!

Then they had that holler (he hollers) You know I loved that Woooo... they were just screaming, I said 'My Lord.' It made my big toe shoot up in my boot!"  That's how Little Richard, born in 1932 and one of the originators of rock and roll described the church services of his youth.

Quincy_jones Quincy Jones, who has been nominated for 25 Grammy awards and the producer of Thriller, the best selling album ever had this to say about the origins of rock and roll, "You're talking about music that was bred in Africa to the Black Church and over to Gospel, which turned into blues and jazz and country music. And it cross pollinates and that's the way it ought to be. That's how it started."

The music today we know as rock and roll, rhythm and blues and soul find their origin in the music of the church.  Tom_petty Everybody knows it, even those with no apparent connection to the church or Gospel music. Tom Petty speaking of the roots of rock and roll said, "You know rhythm and blues was a big part of it, but then you start mixing in the country, the good country, really swinging country and Gospel, can't forget Gospel."

So many in popular music started in the church and had the roots of their music based in the church including Whitney Houston, who was raised a Baptist, but had some exposure to the Pentecostal church as well. When she was a young girl she was a soloist in the Jr Gospel Choir at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. Her godmother is Aretha Franklin, another great and influential artist with her roots and beginning in the church.  Although the church birthed the genres and became the platform for so many young and new artists, it seemed like the church was not able to keep them, and for many they were not able to stand the wiles of the world on their own.

James_brown Names of great and influential artists that started in the church and had the church as their early influences include James Brown, the godfather of soul and the hardest working man in show business. James Brown started in 1955 with Bobby Byrd's group The Gospel Starlighters.  Dionne Warwick grew up in the church, her father was a promoter of Gospel singing groups. She originally sang Gospel including at an early performance at the Apollo Theater.

Curtis Mayfield, author of "People Get Ready" and later "Superfly" had his start and early influence from the church. He began singing in church when he was 10 and started a band called the Impressions with fellow church members that had a series of hits including the song "Amen" which the Impressions sang at his funeral in January of 2000.

Jerry_lee_cousin_of_swaggert

A whole host of early rock artists had their start and influence from the music of the church. Jerry Lee Lewis grew up learning to play the piano with his cousins Mickey Gilley and evangelist Jimmy Swaggert. Jerry Lee attended an Assembly of God school where his mother was sure all he ever would do was sing songs for the Lord.

Elvis Presley, the best selling artist of all time had his start in the Assembly of God church and never forgot his roots, although he struggled immensely between the worlds.

The list goes on and on... we'll cover some more and talk about their lives in future posts.

Istock_000002655417xsmallThe big question is why can't the church hold on to her children?  Is it that there is a hostile relationship between the entertainment industries and the church? Is it that there is no agreement, only distance between the church and the entertainment industry? Are all entertainers doomed to living without a church to attend or to be part of?  Let it rip!

Comments

christa

In my experience, there is a real fine line with performance of any kind...with who is getting the glory...God or the one performing. In my own wrestling with the question of if I should pursue my love for the arts or if it was selfish, and therefor not of God, I read an excellent book Roaring Lambs by Rob Briner. It revolutionized my thinking on this subject. I suggest the read. “Bob Briner would have told you, 'Absolutely!' Roaring Lambs is Briner's manifesto of our proper stance regarding the 'culture-shaping arena.' Christians can and ought to be the movers and shakers of social change -- 'roaring lambs' who infiltrate and make an impact on their workplace and world with their faith. Roaring Lambs was written from Briner's personal experience as an Emmy Award-winning television producer. It takes you into the work world strategies anyone can use.”

Andrew

I think that there will always be tension in this arena, as long as the entertainment industry is aimed at giving the world what they want (thats how you sell records, movies, anything). That means pop artists sell sex, romance, and relationship (Stephen Arturburns(sp?) three love addictions), among other things. If these Christian people stop giving the people what they want and instead start giving them what God wants them to have, they loose sales, record deals and many other things. So it comes down to the question posed by Christa... Who gets the Glory?

jp

Thanks for the book recommendation "Roaring Lambs." I bought the book awhile ago intending to read it, but never did. I'm starting it now.

Lisa M.

Ditto to the previous comments - couldn't say it better! I would add that, in the days of the performers discussed, their radical pop musical styles were typically rejected as unable to mesh with "the church" - pretty ironic - and so in order to "do their thing" musically, they had to go elsewhere. They then became the idols in the secular world and everything gets mixed up from there. Now, praise God, all styles of music can be used to praise Him; churches that recognize and embrace this maintain their youth/young adults much better than those who don't - thank you Joe/CC of SECT!

Linda

Reading everyone's comments kind of reminded me of the "About the Author" section I read yesterday on the air on WCSE for a new book we just started giving away written by Terri Blackstock entitled "TRUE LIGHT aRESTORATIONovel." It says, "With her success in secular publishing at its peak, Blackstock had what she calls 'a spiritual awakening.' A Christian since the age of 14, she realized she had not been using her gift as God intended. It was at that point that she recommitted her life to Christ, gave up her secular career, and made the decision to write only books that would point her readers to Him. 'I wanted to be able to tell the truth in my stories,' she said, 'and not just be politically correct. It doesn't matter how many readers I have if I can't tell them what I know about the roots of their problems and the solutions that have literally saved my own life.' Her books are about flawed Christians in crisis and God's provisions for their mistakes and wrong choices..." Wow! Sounds good to me! So now as I type I'm reminded of a very challenging verse that jumped off the radio at me today... 1 Corinthians 10:31... God bless & keep you all!

Linda

Reading everyone's comments kind of reminded me of the "About the Author" section I read yesterday on the air on WCSE for a new book we just started giving away written by Terri Blackstock entitled "TRUE LIGHT aRESTORATIONovel." It says, "With her success in secular publishing at its peak, Blackstock had what she calls 'a spiritual awakening.' A Christian since the age of 14, she realized she had not been using her gift as God intended. It was at that point that she recommitted her life to Christ, gave up her secular career, and made the decision to write only books that would point her readers to Him. 'I wanted to be able to tell the truth in my stories,' she said, 'and not just be politically correct. It doesn't matter how many readers I have if I can't tell them what I know about the roots of their problems and the solutions that have literally saved my own life.' Her books are about flawed Christians in crisis and God's provisions for their mistakes and wrong choices..." Wow! Sounds good to me! So now as I type I'm reminded of a very challenging verse that jumped off the radio at me today... 1 Corinthians 10:31... God bless & keep you all!

Linda

Reading everyone's comments kind of reminded me of the "About the Author" section I read yesterday on the air on WCSE for a new book we just started giving away written by Terri Blackstock entitled "TRUE LIGHT aRESTORATIONovel." It says, "With her success in secular publishing at its peak, Blackstock had what she calls 'a spiritual awakening.' A Christian since the age of 14, she realized she had not been using her gift as God intended. It was at that point that she recommitted her life to Christ, gave up her secular career, and made the decision to write only books that would point her readers to Him. 'I wanted to be able to tell the truth in my stories,' she said, 'and not just be politically correct. It doesn't matter how many readers I have if I can't tell them what I know about the roots of their problems and the solutions that have literally saved my own life.' Her books are about flawed Christians in crisis and God's provisions for their mistakes and wrong choices..." Wow! Sounds good to me! So now as I type I'm reminded of a very challenging verse that jumped off the radio at me today... 1 Corinthians 10:31... God bless & keep you all!

Linda

Reading everyone's comments kind of reminded me of the "About the Author" section I read yesterday on the air on WCSE for a new book we just started giving away written by Terri Blackstock entitled "TRUE LIGHT aRESTORATIONovel." It says, "With her success in secular publishing at its peak, Blackstock had what she calls 'a spiritual awakening.' A Christian since the age of 14, she realized she had not been using her gift as God intended. It was at that point that she recommitted her life to Christ, gave up her secular career, and made the decision to write only books that would point her readers to Him. 'I wanted to be able to tell the truth in my stories,' she said, 'and not just be politically correct. It doesn't matter how many readers I have if I can't tell them what I know about the roots of their problems and the solutions that have literally saved my own life.' Her books are about flawed Christians in crisis and God's provisions for their mistakes and wrong choices..." Wow! Sounds good to me! So now as I type I'm reminded of a very challenging verse that jumped off the radio at me today... 1 Corinthians 10:31... God bless & keep you all!

Jim

Thanks for the thoughts Joe! This subject hit close to my heart on more than one front. I have been close to the music world for most of my life and I have considered many of the same questions you raise here. But recently I have brought the question back upon myself. In my daily quest to walk with the Lord I have been considering if I am truly bringing my faith to my work place. Are the decisions I make in my career truly transparent of my Christian heart?
I'll let you assume that the answers to these tough questions are yes, but we both know better.
My point being, I think that what ever the lessons we can learn from the struggle to "go with the lord" into the music industry directly applies to each of our daily attempts to walk with him in our daily lives.

Just my 2 cents. Great Blog! Keep it up!

jp

Awesome comments Jim... Bringing Christ into the workplace is actually one of the goals I have for blogging. I hope to create fodder for water cooler conversations by talking about the interaction of faith and Christ in pop culture... I also hope to show how reasonable it is to follow Christ... We'll have to talk more abut Christ in teh workplace inteh future... Welcome to teh diaplouge!

c.j. Walsh

Let me say before I write this that I am not a big defender of the church. Maybe I should be, I don’t know, all I know is it has taken me a while to actually like being there. So, my writing this is somewhat of a surprise to myself. This question concerning the church holding onto its musicians would have to be rooted deeper into equipping a soldier for battle and the mindset of the soldier. There are so many levels to this question many of the answers are on an individual basis. Whether it be expectations not being met (real or imagined) , problems in the family ,the temptation of Satan rushing at them through fame, fortune , and the flesh,flesh,flesh. No armor being put on; but a lot is taken off! A partially dressed soldier is a sure target. . Your comment “between the worlds “hits a cord of thought in my brain; it’s like the Hokey Pokey dance, I put my right foot in I take my right foot out…. If you’re doing that dance at a Croc’s dinning convention, you won’t be shaking it all about for long.
As far as having a church to be a part of; maybe it is the church at fault in some incidences but let’s face it, we push away ,even from our best friends sometimes when we are regularly sinning and may not be at a place to want change. How many of us want to walk into church when we have been entranced by some sin we are not sure we want to let go of. It is also a question on life itself as a walker of our faith in Christ, a question of relationship versus religion, Alive or Dead? Maybe some of the people set out thinking they know Christ but only know an idea.

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