In spite of the difficulty of lost sales, there was reason to be hopeful for the future, as 2004 saw the emergence of new luminaries in Christian music. In fact, a “changing of the guard” was evident at the GMA Music Awards, as Stacie Orrico and Jeremy Camp were voted “Female” and “Male Vocalist of the Year,” respectively, and relative newcomer MercyMe was named “Artist of the Year” and “Group of the Year.” With no disrespect intended, perennial favorites such as Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith went home Dove-less, indicating that Christian music had embraced this newest flock of artists. But no new artist fared better than Casting Crowns, a group led by a Georgia-based youth leader, Mark Hall. Its debut album, the first release from Beach Street Records, is nearing platinum status, making it 2004’s No. 2 best-selling release (after No. 1 Switchfoot’s "The Beautiful Letdown"), and Christian music’s fastest-selling debut ever.

Contemporary Christian music has always been about telling an old story in a new way. With new artists making new forays into television, radio and movies with great new music based on a Christian worldview, 2004 has indeed been a landmark year. Maybe next year the “bubble” will finally burst.

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