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Beyond the gospel borrowings which influenced the core composition of rock 'n' roll, the genre first appeared in the form of the Jesus rock craze in the early 1970s. Rock musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell played a seminal role in this new religious consciousness. However, the movement was embroiled in controversy from the outset; many clerics felt that the use of a rock beat (not to mention the dramatic liberties taken with biblical storylines) to spread the Christian message was inherently sacriligious.

The genre was revived in the early 1980s as part of the missionary zeal of the Christian right, acting in concert with the then ascendant conservative political movement. Despite concerted efforts to market major artists to the mainstream popular music audience, their impact was generally limited to Christian Contemporary radio and retail outlets (e.g., religious bookstores, chain-stores geared to small town consumers such as Wal-Mart). The genre's lack of creative spark had much to do with this state of affairs; it tended to be a bland rehash of dated rock cliches. Those CC artists achieving a modicum of mass market success--most notably, Amy Grant--did so by tempering the overtly Christian tone of their recordings.


Top Artists and Their Recordings

Code of Ethics--Code of Ethics (1997)

DC TalkóJesus Freak (1995)

Amy Grant--My Father's Eyes (1979); Never Alone (1980); In Concert (1981); In Concert, Volume Two (1981); Age to Age (1982); Straight Ahead (1984); Unguarded (1985); Lead Me On (1988); Heart in Motion (1991)

Jars of Clay--"Flood" (1996)


Stryper--The Yellow and Black Attack (1984); Soldiers Under Command (1985); To Hell With the Devil (1986); In God We Trust (1988); Against the Law (1990)

This Ain't Hollywood