Posted by: lisa | May 1, 2008

American Idol and Gospel Music

Here is a quote from ChristianExaminerOnline :

Each season, Fox’s “American Idol” has at least one contestant sharing a Christian testimony, but this year the faith factor kicked it up a notch with the finale of the “Idol Gives Back” special in April. The show’s finale had the final eight contestants singing (minus the first verse that starts “My Jesus, My Savior”) popular praise song “Shout to the Lord.” The next night, the group sang the song again, this time with the first verse.

And here is a quote from Reality TV Magazine :

However, the finalists sang a modified version of the song. Instead of singing the verse that goes “My Jesus, My Savior,” the finalists sang “My Shepherd, My Savior.” Jesus was replaced with the word “shepherd.”

The change was likely an attempt by American Idol producers to lessen any controversy among people of different religions. However, the modification of the song seems to have created controversy as well.

Several AI contestants have gone on to perform Christian music and Phil Stacey, Mandisa and Chris Sligh performed at the 2008 Dove Awards with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.

Mandisa: Nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008. Mandisa was nominated for two Dove Awards (“Female Vocalist of the Year” and “New Artist of the Year”) at the 39th annual GMA Dove Awards in 2008

Jordin Sparks: GMA (Gospel Music Association) Academy, Washington, D.C., Overall Spotlight Winner & Country/Southern Gospel First Place Winner, 2004

George Huff signed with Word Records to release a gospel album and has since had mild success in that genre

Chris Sligh: In September of 2007, Sligh announced on his blog that he had signed with Blanton, Harrell, Cook and Corzine, the management company that has handled Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith through their entire careers and now handles Bebo Norman, Aaron Shust and Point of Grace.

In November of 2007, Sligh stated in an interview with the Way FM nightly show Total Axxess that he had signed a solo deal with Brash Music, an Atlanta-based independent label that is distributed through Warner Bros. ADA distribution and Word Distribution on the Christian side. Brash Music has seen great success with Aaron Shust, who won Dove Award for New Artist of the Year and sold over 200,000 albums. Sligh also officially started working on his debut label album, which, according to his blog, will include 12 songs.

The debut album, titled Running Back to You, is being produced by Brown Bannister, who has won multiple Grammy and Dove Awards for his work with artists such as Amy Grant, Third Day and The Afters. Other producers include Stephen Leiweke, who helped produce Jars of Clay‘s debut album and Will Owsley, a guitarist and producer who has worked with Shania Twain and Amy Grant, and was lead singer of the band Owsley. Sligh’s album will be released on May 6, 2008 by Brash Music. The first official single, “Empty Me,” was added to radio playlists in February 2008.

RJ Helton: released a Christian album, but sales were lackluster.

Although several past contestants have gospel roots and growing limbs, the question is, “Have any other Gospel songs been sung on American Idol?” Mandisa sang “Praise You” by Mary Mary in the Season 5 Finals. There have been no Southern Gospel songs that I can find. Brandon is right, we should take what we can get and pray it opens the door to people hearing the Word of God and choosing Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

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