Country Christian FAQ v. 2.01
Revised January 1995
(I gave this web space a while back, but I
don't maintain it. As far as I know, nobody is maintaining it. If
you know of someone maintaining this, or are interested in doing so,
please let me know. -Miles)
This FAQ was written for rec.music.christian. It is, however, also
posted to rec.music.country-western. Please email suggestions or
corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org. I've received a few replies, but
would be thrilled to get some more suggestions, especially
- Descriptions of the artists listed - their musical style
(gospel, bluegrass, traditional country, new/pop country);
lyrical qualities ("Christian music" or "music made by
Christians"); similar artists or those who have influenced
the person or group.
- Artists not listed here, particularly those performing
"music made by Christians," in contradistinction from
"people who make Christian music." (read on if this is confusing)
I want some Christian music in a country style. Where
do I turn? Who is out there to listen to?
What makes music "Christian music" is an occasional matter of
debate in r.m.c. There are really two ways of looking at the question:
What's the difference? Plenty. But I'll just illustrate the difference
by refering to a popular pop artist who was a queen of "Christian music" and
who now produces "Music made by Christians" -- Amy Grant. Her early career
(Amy Grant, Father's Eyes, Never Alone, Age to Age, Straight Ahead)
fit into the first caterorization. Then she started producing albums that had
lyrics that were not so specifically "Christian" [yes, the quotes are there
for a purpose] - Unguarded, Lead Me On, Heart In Motion and House of
1. "Christian music." By this I mean music of "christian" themes (worship of
God, songs about the role of God in an individual's life, etc.) distributed
almost exclusively through "Christian" marketing channels (e.g, advertising in
magazines such as Christianity Today; sold in "Christian" bookstores).
2. "Music made by Christians." Not exclusively of "christian" themes.
My hope in creating this list was to concentrate on the second
definition - music made by Christians.
My purpose was not to encourage people to live in a Christian ghetto, but
to identify Christians who are working in one field of work.
Naturally this requires the delicate task of making a judgment
call on who qualifies as a Christian, for the purpose of this list.
Admittedly this is a haphazard process. I look for those whose lyrics
reflect what might be called "biblical values," as well as something else
which indicates a proclamation of faith in Christ, whether on liner notes,
interviews, etc. I presume that other readers who suggest artists for this
list use a similar logic. (If you have a better way of identifying
Christians who do music, please let me know). In fact, most of the
artists on this list were suggested by someone other than myself.
I don't know much about country music. Therefore, the categories
given below will sometimes be inaccurate. Some may debate whether artist X
is bluegrass or southern gospel, etc. Those who are in the know are
invited to send in corrections to my categorizations.
I am not recommending any artist on this list (except
I am only listing the suggestions of others.
Those seeking more information about "Christian country" music
may find the following resource useful:
Christian Country Research Bulletin
720 Lakepointe Road
Gross Pointe Park MI 48230
(313) 822 0024
CC - Country Christian
MC - Mainstream Country (gets play in not-specifically Christian markets)
SG - Southern Gospel
- Dennis Agajanian
- CC. Heard him on Christian radio, for what that's worth.
- Brian Barrett
- CC. Looks lik a newby, with a self-titled CD. Christian in sense 1.
- Brush Arbor
- CC. Currently 6 member country/western band which have been around since
the early to mid 70's. They just released their 7th (?) album called
"Brush Arbor", this time with Benson. Their greatest hits album called
"Brush Arbor Favorites" (R&L records, 1992?) remakes many of their great
country songs from their Myrrh albums of the early 80s and their live
album called "Live: Centerstage" (Light records, 1985) has the best
country sound of their older work. Their latest CD includes songs
written by Bruce Caroll and Don Schlitz (see below)
- The Bishops
- Anthony Burger
- Glen Campbell
- MC/CC. Reportedly had a conversion experience sometime in the 70s or
80s. I'm Not familiar with his music. Best known for 'Rhinestone Cowboy"
and "Witchita Lineman."
- Bruce Carroll
- Hard to classify. Folksy singer. Good lyrics. Some albums are marketed
as "country christian," such as Walk On.
- Carter Family
- Going even further back, the Carter Family sang and recorded some of the
best-known Christian country music beginning in the late '20s.
Everybody's heard "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," but A.P. Carter also
wrote "Anchored in Love", "Fifty Miles of Elbow Room," and several other
gospel standards that will be familiar to anyone who loves bluegrass
- Johnny Cash
- MC. Traditional country singer. Best known for "A Boy Named Sue." A
legend in traditional country.
- The Cathedrals
- SG male quartet, started in the early 1960's.
- Billy Crocket
- CC. Somone suggested this in email with me, but someone else doubted
whether he qualified as 'country.' Comments, please.
- Dan Cox
- MC. ??
- The Cumberland Boys
- Lisa Daggs
- CC. Reportedly similar to Anne Murray in style (country/pop)
- Charlie Daniels
- CC. Yes, THE Charlie Daniels. Reportedly had a "rededication." Latest
CD, "The Door," is traditional gospel with a "repent-or-perish" message.
- D.M.B. (Dixie Melody Boys),
- SG. A reader recommends their 80's stuff.
- Barbara Fairchild
- MC (then)/CC (now). She was a fairly successful country singer in the
70s or so. Had a big #1 hit with a song called "Teddy Bear." Lately she
has recorded exclusively gospel.
- Florida Boys
- SG. Another long-standing male quartet
- Flying W Wrangers
- CC. Christian music in sense 1.
- Cleve Francis
- MC. ??
- Lefty Frizzell
- Not usually considered Christian at all, although he probably could sing
gospel if he tried and likely put out an album or two as did almost
everyone else in his era. He had his best success in the late 50s and is
a Country Music Hall of Famer. He is usually credited with the
developing the note-bending singing style that has dominated traditional
country ever since. You hear a lot of Lefty in George Jones, Randy
Travis, Keith Whitley and John Anderson.
- Bill and Gloria Gaither/Gaither Trio
- Sometimes SG, sometimes christian pop
- Steve Gatlin
- CC. Of "The Gatlin Brothers" fame. One of their bigger hits was the song
"All the Gold," which talked about gold being in a bank in Beverly
Hills. On his solo CD Love Can Carry, the song 'You Beat All I've Ever
Seen' talks about how the Gatlins and concludes in the chorus about how
"all the gold in California" is nothing compared with knowing God.
Gatlin started his career in a gospel band (name, anyone?) before
getting into the Gatlin Brothers band. He started into the industry
as a song-writer and composer.
- Gold City
- Greater Vision
- SG trio
- Emmylou Harris
- MC/folk/pop. Has "the voice of an angel" reports one reader. She
regularly includes one or two gospel standards on her albums, but she's
recorded one album consisting entirely of gospel standards called "Angel
Band" that should be in any self-respecting Bubba's collection. See the
entry on Ricky Skaggs for information on a duet album with him.
- Bruce Haynes
- Kim Hill
- CC. This pop singer has turns out a country CD in So Far, So Good
- The Hinsons
- G/Bluegrass. Most famous song is "The Lighthouse." "Christian music" of
the Definition 1
- Ken Holloway
- C. (don't know if he gets secular station airplay, though)
- The Inspirations
- The Issacs
- James, Michael
- CC. Looks like he's distributed in christian markets, but with a style
similar to Paul Overstreet
- The Kingsmen
- SG quartet
- Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver
- Andy Landis
- CC. Andy is a lady singing in country/pop style
- Louvin Brothers
- From the 1940s and 1950s, traditional country industry. They produced albums
with titles such as "Songs Mama Loved" and "Old Fashioned Canvas Tent
Revival" (really, how can you go wrong? :-)).
- Susie Luchsinger
- CC. Reba's sister. Paul Overstreet has been a producer for her.
- Walter Mills
- Mercy River
- The Mullins
- Nelons, The
- New Journey
- SG, similar to the Talleys
- New Tradition
- Paul Overstreet
- CC/MC My favorite on the list. Lots of ballads about family life. Some
may not like his relatively high voice (about the range of Vince Gill).
He was part of a trio in the 1980's, with T. Schuyler and F. Knobloch
called "SKO." "Baby's got a New Baby" hit #1. Overstreet left the
trio in 1987. That same year he had a #1 hit "I won't take less than
your love," with Tanya Tucker and Paul Davis. Has written for several
"mainstream" country artists, such as Lee Greenwood ("I'll be Lovin'
You," on This is *my* country); Randy Travis ("Forever and Ever," "No
Place Like Home," "Diggin' up bones," "On the other hand.") Has song
backup vocals on other's CDs (Randy Travis, *Storms of Life*). Don
Schlitz is a frequent collaborator.
- Graham Parsons
- Former Byrd, Flying Burrito Brother, and country hippie, he introduced the
19-year-old Emmylou Harris to the world on his albums "GP," "Grievous
Angel," and "Sleepless Nights". Gram had a propensity for writing beautiful
Christian music on Sundays and guzzling whiskey and sticking needles in his
arm on Mondays through Saturdays (a trend that, unfortunately, is not
limited to him in country music). But his duets with Emmylou are stunningly
wonderful, and their version of "The Angels Rejoiced in Heaven Last Night"
is about as sweet as harmony singing ever gets.
- Squire Parsons
- SG. Any relation to Graham Parsons?
- Perfect Heart
- SG from another quartet
- LuLu Roman
- I guess she's famous for "Hee-Haw," and has put out
some gospel albums.
- Don Schlitz
- Frequent co-author with Paul Overstreet. I don't think he sings
any, and don't know who else he writes for.
- CC. Husband and wife team. First album (Self-Titled) out in 1994.
- D>I've been told that the lead singer, Marty Rabon, is Christian. Others
have told me that all band members are Christians.
- Ricky Skaggs
- CC/MC. Ricky's well-known in the country music world, but he's recorded
some superb gospel music, particularly early in his career. A
knowledgeable reader recommends "Family and Friends", which finds Ricky
singing hokey country hymns with his ma and pa, and "Sweet Temptation,"
which finds Ricky and Emmylou Harris singing drop-dead gorgeous duets on
songs from the Carter Family, the Stanley Brothers, and Hank Williams.
His wife, Sharon White (see "the Whites," below) has appeared on his
- Ricky Van Shelton
- Raised by Christian parents, RVS recorded "Don't Overlook Salvation"
(DOS) for his folks. The fame and fortune of his success in the business
wasn't enough. Apparently he realized this sometime before DOS was
released. DOS is a CD of great old hymns, sung by a great voice. It
reminded me a lot of Marty Robbins.
- The Speers
- The Stanley Brothers
- Old timers in the country industry, they also many, many Christian songs
as well -- "Green Pastures" and "The Darkest Hour is Just Before the
Dawn" are probably the most famous.
- John Starnes
- The Statesmen
- Talleys, The
- B.J. Thomas
- This pop/country crossover artist, famous for "Raindrops keep falling on
my head" proclaimed a new faith in Christ sometime in the early 1980's.
He put out a few "Christian" albums, mainly upbeat in both musics and
lyrics. He's a great example, perhaps, of a
Star-Who-Was-Big-And-Became-A-Christian, and then faced expectations
from the Christian audience that could not be sustained. According to a
recent discussion in r.m.c., he has ceased identifying with the church.
- Randy Travis
- MC. For those who haven't turned their radio to a country station, or
turned on their TV lately, Travis is a MegaSuperStar in Mainstream
country. Does he claim to be a Christian believer? An r.m.c. reader has
mentioned "yes," but I have not seen this documented. In any case, he
has sung some songs that are at least compatible with a Christian
life-system, such as "Forever and Ever. The Christian Country Research
Bulletin identifies him as a "Mainstream Country Christian Artist."
- White River
- CC. Described by one person as "rodeo music," found only (by one reader)
on Christian radio stations. Another reported that this group broke up
in early 1994.
- The Whites
- SG/bluegrass, and gospel, and traditional country with close harmonies
and an acoustic sound. This is a family act. Father plays piano,
daughters play guitar. Sharon White is married to Ricky Skaggs.
- Hank Williams, Sr.
- MC. Old timer of the traditional country music industry. He wrote some
fine "religious" tunes such as "I Saw the Light," "House of Gold," and
"Mansions for Me" -- songs that you're just as likely to hear at a
little country church as on the jukebox. Comments about Graham Parsons
seem to apply here as well.
- Trisha Yearwood
- Someone suggested this on the basis of the fact that she includes a
scriptural reference on her CD's. I'm not familiar with her music.
Someone proposed that 'altheads' can listen to:
- T Bone Burnett
- Lost Dogs
- Julie Miller
- Victoria Williams
A few scattered songs that are at least - or may be-
consistent with Christian virtues:
- Garth Brooks
- Unanswered prayers
- Billy Dean
- You don't count the cost
- George Strait
- Love Without End End, Amen
FAQ provided by John R La Plante (email@example.com).
Last updated: 25 October 2001
Maintained by Miles O'Neal
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