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 It is, however, also posted to Please email suggestions or corrections to I've received a few replies, but would be thrilled to get some more suggestions, especially

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. 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. 2. "Music made by Christians." Not exclusively of "christian" themes.
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 Love.

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 Paul Overstreet). 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 music.
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 CDs.
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:
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 (

Last updated: 25 October 2001

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