Rock and roll, rap and country in the name of Jesus: the boom of Christian music
From Lauren Daigle to rapper NF through heavy rockers Skillet: the sound of Christian music clears the charts
Christian artists were a niche phenomenon, a speck of sand in the gear of the music business, but since the beginning of 2019, the niche, once relegated exclusively to the rankings and playlists of the sector (the so-called Christian Charts), has become mainstream, very mainstream.
It was clear at the beginning of summer that the wind was about to change when the white rapper Nathan Feuerstein, aka NF, 28 years old from Michigan, climbed over everyone, including Billie Eilish, the pop phenomenon of the year, in the ranking most important in the world, or the Billboard Top 200. A ghost for radio and media (“He has a record number one in America, but his sound is miserable,” wrote the New York Times), but an idol for millions of teenagers bewitched by his raw rhymes towards his overdosed mother (“Why didn’t he want to see your children grow up? I wonder if those pills were so important …”) and by his approach to faith (“Lord forgive me, I’m a sinner, thanks for giving me music as medicine “) in a musical context, that of hip hop, which has always celebrated the stereotype.
There is another system of values behind the boom artists who no longer have you he died and modesty in calling himself openly Christian. One who depopulated among under 18s supports him without words. His name is Chance The Rapper and his most popular album, The Big Day, is an ode, a monument to marriage: “My wife and I have a life wonderful that has faith in God as its pillar, “says the artist from Chicago, the city where he was born and to whom he has just donated one hundred thousand dollars for a public school reintegration program. The long wave of Christian artists in free exit from the ghetto of Christian Music knows no gender boundaries.
This is confirmed by John Cooper, leader of Skillet, a hard rock band from Tennessee who puts “the message of Jesus” at the center of his songs. “Rock isn’t just depravity. I say it strongly even if every time I go to a radio for an interview there is someone who tries to embarrass me, to make easy irony, to discredit what we say in the songs by claiming that being believers is incompatible with the iconography and the rock and roll lifestyle. They are just old prejudices …”.
Lauren Daigle comes from the depths of Louisiana, the face of the Christian Music that wins: her latest album, Look up child, has been at the top of the Christian Charts for 47 weeks. A triumph that made it first a national and then an international case (in 2020 there will be its first world tour). Lauren has as reference points the songs of Adele, the pop country sound of Nashville and a narration, that of her life, snubbed sufficiently by the media, but adored by the people who recognize themselves in the verses of her songs. “At 15, an immunodeficiency syndrome kept me segregated at home for two years. A single speck of dust or even a sneeze could have been fatal. The faith saved me, I was healed and I started to build what I am today “says the world hit vocalist You say (” Lord, you make me feel loved when there is nobody around me, you make me feel strong when I feel exhausted “).
He does not have many friends in the newspapers and on TV that count Daigle: the relationship with his audience is direct and made of concrete actions. Like his visits to an Ohio women’s prison where he played and prayed with the inmates inviting them to be reborn through the faith or the financing of the Restore program, a system of family homes for girls involved in prostitution and pornography. Celebrities redeemed or who admit to believe and practice without if and without but like and are the symbol of a new cultural approach in the star system. Like Justin Bieber, a past as a teen idol between such things, and who now, after sold out in arenas and sports halls all over the world, performs in church intoning “Lord, I wouldn’t have it never done without you. “
This was how Katy Perry started, when she still called herself Katy Hudson and recorded gospel songs. It was a flop and then he decided to go on the side of pop breaking the charts to the scream of “I kissed a girl and I liked it”. A triumph that plunged Keith into embarrassment, a severe evangelist preacher who, in the face of the perplexity of the faithful, merely said: “Pray for her”.