Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

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When talking about the genesis of contemporary Christian music there is one name that always emerges: {{Larry Norman}}. Larry Norman is the most recognized of those who helped birth the genre of music that has become such a huge industry today. Norman's beginnings however, were not aimed at creating a new genre but in making music about his faith that would be sold in the mainstream.

Norman was born in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1947, but when he was three his family moved to San Francisco. After finding his father's ukulele at age five, Norman began writing some songs. "When I was nine I was writing a lot of songs and I started actually writing them down," Norman says. "I guess the songs I was writing and letting my father hear were pleasing enough that he entered me into the national television show called 'Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour.'"

By 1965, Norman was singing with some friends in college, which led to the formation of Norman's secular band, People. "I have great memories of being in People," says Norman. "I was the only Christian in the band. But they let me write my songs and they would sing them. Capitol Records didn't like what I was doing but the band was very supportive."

The band's single "I Love You" came out in 1967 and started to chart in 1968. Norman continues, "On one national chart it peaked at #13 and on another it went even higher. Our record was Number One in every market at different times. We just followed the song around the country for about six months. But Capitol put the first People album together in a different fashion than I wanted it," Norman continues. "I left the band the day the album came out in 1968."

Ironically, in 1969 Capitol Records signed Norman back as a solo artist. In 1969 Norman released Upon This Rock, which included "Sweet, Sweet Song of Salvation," and abruptly ended his time with Capitol for the second time. Norman had released Street Level, and Bootleg when MGM offered him a contract in 1971. In 1972 Norman released his classic ==Only Visiting This Planet== which contained "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus," The Outlaw," and Reader's Digest," among many other great songs. He followed with another album, ==So Long Ago In The Garden== in 1973.

Next Norman created his own label, Solid Rock Records, which was distributed by ABC. This led to Norman being released through Word Records, which at the time was owned by ABC. His first album on the label was ==In Another Land== which according to Norman, "seemed to have some impact on Christians even though I didn't think I was making albums for Christians."

Then in 1978 everything seemed to change for Norman. "I had an airplane accident in 1978 and I just stopped putting out records. I had a brain injury that affected my mental abilities. So about that time my father quit teaching and started running the record company for me. The only thing he could put out were things that were already on tape in their final form like a live album called The Israel Tapes, and an album called Roll Away The Stone. It was a pretty dry period through the eighties."

In the 80s, Norman released a number of sub-standard albums, due in part to his many health problems. One such project was Omega Europa. "If you have ever heard the record you know it's pretty bad. It's as bad as The Israel Tapes. I did a solo album called ==Totally Unplugged==. At the time I felt these were the last times I would be able to perform. It was embarrassing to read comments about losing my ability. I was really embarrassed about having lost some of my mental abilities."

"In 1990 I got healed from the head injury I had from the plane accident," Norman declares. "I was in England staying with Dave Marquis who had played bass for Eric Clapton and a man was visiting Dave. This man started telling me God had told him that there was something like wires disconnected in my brain," Norman says recalling this miraculous event. "He laid his hands on me and boom--all this noise inside my head, incredible heat, and I immediately came out of the brain damage. I went back to America and started writing songs. I was amazed. I felt rusty but I was amazed I could do this stuff again."

"Today, I feel better and I am cranking out lots of projects," Norman says with enthusiasm. " I have a new album in the studio called Copper Wires. Those are mostly new songs but I did include a version of the People song from 1968, 'I Love You.' Shouting in the Storm is a live album with a band at the Flevo festival in Europe. It has lots of the old songs with a few new ones thrown in. My newest album is The Vineyard. It is a double live album. It is just me and a guitar."

In spite of the lackluster projects of the eighties, {{Larry Norman}} has produced a considerable body of work that dramatically affected the direction of Christian music in the early seventies. And now with a new lease on life, what is Norman up to today? "I am still doing concerts and playing in Europe," says Norman with enthusiasm. "This year I will be in America more. I will be at the Creation festival. I am working mostly on releasing old stuff on CDs and not so much on concerts."

For those interested in finding out about Norman's schedule and new products, they can log into on the Internet.