Christian music has a history of
musicians “crossing over” to and
from other genres. Here are five
names worth mentioning.
Mark Farner – Grand Funk Railroad’s
lead singer and guitarist enjoyed success on the Christian charts between
Grand Funk reunions during the early
‘90s. Farner even recut “Some Kind of
Wonderful” with a Jesus-bent – much
to the dismay of many die-hard Grand
At the end of the day, we want to be grounded in the church’s traditions, because they’re tried and true. But we
also want to be reaching forward to the most innovative symbols – music, dance, sights and so forth – to stretch
our imaginations. If we’re not doing either of those things, we’re probably not doing a service to faith,” says First
Lutheran’s Richard Bruxvoort-Colligan.
Rick Cua – The former Outlaws bassist
(“Green Grass and High Tides Forever”)
has had a prolific career in Christian
music. Without a doubt, his best album
to date is 1986’s Wear Your Colors, a gui-tar-driven collection of upbeat rockers.
For more technologically-inclined guitarists, digital modeling and guitar processors
may offer the best solution for achieving
good tone while keeping the volume down.
Perhaps one of the most visible proponents
of digital modeling is Lincoln Brewster, who
uses Line 6’s POD in both the studio and on
stage. Whether in a strictly preamp capacity, or as a complete guitar solution, digital
guitar modeling looks to play a larger part in
the church environment, as churches work to
bring as many aspects of worship – including
volume levels – under control.
However, the sheer volume of the electric
guitar isn’t the only obstacle worship leaders
are grappling with. With the electric guitar
comes distorted signals and a different level
of showmanship than the church has been
accustomed to. Images of Pete Townshend
strumming in wild windmills and Jimi Hendrix
kneeling above a flaming guitar have
become societal touchstones, and when the
guitar enters the church, two distinct cultures
– those of rock n’ roll and Christian tradition
– must coexist. As the electric guitar continues to enter worship services, the question
of what is appropriate, in terms of everything
from solos to gain levels, is a popular one.
The publishing of a book of sermons in 2003,
entitled Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching
the U2 Catalog recently highlighted the
growing collusion of mainstream secular
music and the church.
The fine line between worshiping with
instruments and coming off as a rockstar is
a delicate one for many musicians to walk.
“There’s a lot of different opinions on the
topic – is the guitarist just showing off, or is
it for God? We’ve been in situations where
people have accused us of being more
concerned with the technical instead of the
spiritual,” says Britt Stein. “But essentially it’s
the same as in secular music; if a solo or a riff
adds something to the song, then it should
be there. As long as it doesn’t take away
from the worship, there’s no problem.”
Perhaps Lance Winkler of Church of the
Resurrection best sums up both the questions facing guitarists in a modern worship
setting, as well as the place of the instrument within the church: “I know when Kevin
Rogers, a local worship leader, plays a solo,
he’s playing to the glory of God. I hear the
guitar as a clarion call, an emotive sound. It’s
a heroic sound that can really move people.”
Gordon Kennedy – The former axe man
for White Heart, a popular Christian rock
band that reached its creative peak when
Kennedy and a handful of other eventual
crossover musicians powered the lineup
in the late ‘80s, went on to become an
A-list session player, writer and producer. Kennedy co-wrote Eric Clapton’s
“Change the World,” which won the
1996 Grammy for Song of the Year.
Rick Derringer – The talented guitarist who gave us tunes like “Hang on
Sloopy” and “Rock and Roll Hootchie
Koo” was born again in 1997. He has
since released two Christian rock albums,
titled Aiming 4 Heaven and Still Alive
Dann Huff – One of many Huff family
members who made a mark in Christian
music, Dann played lead guitar for White
Heart before Gordon Kennedy. Dann
is better known for his session work on
hundreds of albums and for producing
acts like Megadeth, Wynonna, Faith Hill,
Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and Carrie
Underwood among others.
Head online to view questions and
answers about North Point’s music
ministry, as well as to read extended
interviews with the members of Cross Talk.
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