But these artists stand on the shoulders of their forefathers – literally in cases such as the Butler family – a generation of artists whose purpose in creating “Jesus Music” was to have that music heard by a generation of  unbelievers and provide hope and transformation. And today, older and wiser, they have advice to give to their musical offspring:  “It seems like we need to rethink many things,” said Coomes who has recently started a non-profit company to mentor artists called Music Compass. “It’s time to ask the 5 ‘W’ questions: who, what, where, when and why? We’ve accomplished a lot over the last 35 years; but, as my friend Reggie McNeal says in his book, 'The Present Future', ‘We need to get outside the bubble.’”

Many artists are doing just that. And like Moses who himself never made it to the promised land but was at least given a glimpse of Canaan from a distance, today some of these Jesus Music era artists look on with satisfaction as their children and children’s children take their music and beliefs to all, for all to hear.

Church Celebration

Artists of faith in the mainstream may generate that “wow” factor that’s something special, but Christian music’s blue-chip artists remain those who serve, primarily, church audiences day in, day out — Point of Grace, Nicole C. Mullen, Avalon, Selah and FFH come to mind. They’re to this genre what General Electric and Coca-Cola are to Wall Street — symbols of quality, sound investments paying dividends no matter which way the wind blows. And if last year’s Dove Awards were any sort of tipping point, a new crop of blue chip names may be emerging.

Making huge gains is Atlanta’s Casting Crowns. The Dove-nominated, seven-piece outfit packs churches coast to coast. It touts a platinum record, three No. 1 singles, a platinum DVD — plus 3 CCM’s Readers’ Choice Awards in major categories, to name a few.

“Our passion is to see the body of Christ both walk with God and use the gifts He’s given them to bring glory to Him,” says Casting Crowns lead singer Mark Hall when asked about being called to “build up the saints.” “Our ministry is no more noble or spiritual than anyone else’s. We glorify Him when we bloom where we’re planted.”

And Jeremy Camp’s high-stakes decision-making appears to be paying off. Though he accumulated six No. 1 singles with his rock debut, Stay, Camp chanced a career identity crisis by following up with "Carried Me: The Worship Project." Image czars cringed; the church cried hallelujah. Insiders are whispering Jeremy — both a Dove Award-winning “New Artist of the Year” and “Male Vocalist of the Year” — is as versatile as one Michael W. Smith.

Still cultivating its initial public offering is BarlowGirl. The band’s self-titled debut has traded hotly over the past year, spinning off the breakout single “Never Alone.” This month it hopes to make good on at least one of four Dove nominations — all while being an all-girl band, the rarest of species in Christian music.

Give ‘em all an “Amen.”

— Gregory Rumburg

© 2005 CCM Magazine.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.  Click here to subscribe.