Gospel Music Subgenres

Christian Country, Celtic Gospel

Christian Country

Christian Country music is a section of Gospel music that is defined as “music that is written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life. The songs tend to deal with life’s problems and God’s answers to those problems. ” (Christian Country Music) This form of gospel music came out of mountain music, cowboy music, and planation music from the South. Today Christian Country music is still primarily popular in the South and sometimes referred to as Southern Gospel Music. Many of today’s mainstream Country Music stars like Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, and Rascal Flatts have that gospel feel to some of their songs. For example, Carrie Underwood began her career with the very popular song, Jesus Take the Wheel, Brad Paisley did a duet with Dolly Parton called When I Get Where I’m Going and Rascal Flatts have a number of songs like, God Bless the Broken Road and He Ain’t the Leaving Kind that express their faith in Christ and how they look to him for guidance through their struggles. Country Music as always been, at least somewhat intertwined with gospel music, for example, The Grand Ole’ Opry, country music’s longest running and arguably most famous show always contains a gospel music segment in every show.
An online source about Christian Country Music says that, “In the past, most Christian country music was recorded by groups with southern gospel flair.” (Christian Country Music) The most well-known of these recording artists would be The Oak Ridge Boys and The Carter Family, who all became popular in the early twentieth century. Christian and Country music have always been based together out of Tennessee, the Country Capitol of the World, where, in Dolly Wood, the Gospel Music Association has its Hall of Fame.

Celtic Gospel

Celtic Gospel is predominant in in European countries such as Ireland. “Celtic gospel music is a hybrid of traditional southern gospel music infused with Celtic influences. The songs are usually derived from the black gospel canon, but the arrangement is usually distinctly Celtic.” (eHow) The Celtic flair that is essentially added to “traditional southern gospel” derives from folk music as early as the 17th century. The main difference would be the instruments played that give the Celtic music its “flair”. The fiddle is the main instrument used in Irish music and in Celtic gospel it is a prominent player.

By Caitlin Price

1. "Christian Rap Music Index - ChristianMusic.com." Christian Music, Gospel Music, Christian Rock Music, Praise & Worship, Church Music - ChristianMusic.com. Web. 1 Apr. 2011. <http://www.christianmusic.com/genres/christian-rap-hiphop-music.htm>.
2. "Gospel Radio Stations." Internet Radio Stations. Web. 1 Apr. 2011. <http://www.internet-radio.org.uk/stations/gospel/>.
3. Hawbaker, Harley, ed. PneumaticTire Christian Rock Music. Christian Rock History. Google, Amazon. Web. 1 Apr. 2011. <http://www.pneumatictire.us/christianrockhistory/id1.html>.
4. Jones, Kim. "Top Christian Rock Bands - The Best Christian Rock Bands." Christian Music and Gospel at About.com - Christian Music Reviews, Artist Information & Concert Schedules and Music News. Web. 1 Apr. 2011. <http://christianmusic.about.com/od/modernrockandalternative/tp/essentialmodernrockers.htm>.
5. Christian Country Music. 2011. 29 March 2011 <http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Christian_country_music>.

Christian Rock, Christian Rap

It is common knowledge that music genres are not permanent throughout time. Artists are constantly modifying music to better suit their creative and expressive needs. For example, gospel music, though generally seen as traditional, is not excluded from this factor in any way. Over time, gospel music has developed a variety of subgenres that range from country to rap to rock. Christian rock and Christian rap have become important aspects in modern music. Some refer to this type of music as “Urban contemporary gospel” and it has become a widespread means of communication and expressing one’s faith through modern popular music.
The roots of American Christian rock go back to early 1900s. A mixture of blues, jazz and folk was the motivation for artists to incorporate their faith into their music. “By the 1920s a recording industry for gospel, blues, jazz, folk, classical and country-western had emerged” (Christian Rock History) New, extraordinary inventions of the time, like the radio, helped spread the new sound across the nation. “Once World War II had been won in 1945, all forms of music exploded into more American homes, as great prosperity and innovation hit the nation.” (Christian Rock History) This contributes to today’s radio and overall success of modern Christian rock bands.
Bands such as Abandon, Audio Adrenaline, Switchfoot, UnderOath, and Relient K have been producing number one hits on the radio for some time now. At this day and age radio is not the only thing that is increasing the success of these bands, but also the growing popularity of iTunes, Pandora, YouTube and downloading mp3s online. There are a number of ways for an artist to have their songs heard. “Their music is written to express either personal or communal belief regarding Christian life.” (Gospel Radio Stations). The lyrics are meant to be very deep and insightful to those who have similar beliefs or who may be looking for something to believe in. “Music is an artist’s way of spreading the message of hope because it can be powerful enough to reach out to people outside of the church that don’t know Jesus” (Top Christian Rock Bands). But not all of the lyrics are direct in a song. There are a number of artists who indirectly put the Christian in their rock so that their music is versatile to Christians and non-Christians.
Subgenres of gospel vary across different cultures and societies. While some may listen to or create Christian rock to express their faith, others identify more closely with Christian rap artists. Some popular rap artists include Antonious, Toby Mac, Out of Eden, and “Grammatical Revolution in the Spirit” aka Grits.
“The lyrics of this genre are often more playful, poignant, and even more challenging than those of other genres.” Artists urge listeners to grasp the deeper meaning of their diction through the use of metaphors and abstract ideas (Christian Rap Music Index).

By Jennifer Weyrauch

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License