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Contemporary Christian music (or CCM or "inspirational music") is a genre of popular music which is lyrically focused on matters concerned with the Christian faith. The term is typically used to refer to the Nashville, Tennesseemarker-based pop, rock, and worship Christian music industry, currently represented by artists such as

Avalon, BarlowGirl, Jeremy Camp, Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, David Crowder Band, Amy Grant, Natalie Grant, Jars of Clay, MercyMe, Newsboys, Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, Michael W. Smith, Rebecca St. James, Third Day, tobyMac, and a host of others.The industry is represented in Billboard Magazine's "Top Christian Albums" and "Hot Christian Songs" charts, and by Radio & Records magazine's Christian AC (Adult Contemporary), Christian CHR (Contemporary Hit Radio), Christian Rock, and Inspirational (INSPO) airplay charts, as well as the iTunes Store's "Christian & Gospel" genre.Not all popular music which lyrically identifies with Christianity is normally considered Contemporary Christian Music. For example, many punk, hardcore, and holy hip-hop groups deal explicitly with issues of faith but are not a part of the Nashville industry. Also, several mainstream artists such as Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Lifehouse, and U2 have dealt with Christian themes in their work but are not considered CCM artists.


Contemporary Christian music first came onto the scene of popular music during the Jesus movement revival of the late 1960s and early 1970s. One of the first, popular "Jesus music" albums was Upon This Rock (1969) by Larry Norman initially released on Capitol Recordsmarker. Unlike traditional or southern gospel music, this new Jesus music was birthed out of rock and roll and folk rock music.The pioneers of this movement also included 2nd Chapter of Acts, AndraƩ Crouch and the Disciples, Love Song, Petra, and Barry McGuire. The small Jesus music culture had expanded into a multimillion-dollar industry by the 1980s. By the 1990s, many CCM artists such as Amy Grant, dc Talk, Michael W. Smith, Stryper, and Jars of Clay had found crossover success with Top 40 mainstream radio play. Currently, Christian music sales exceed those for classical, jazz, Latin, New Age, and soundtrack music .


Contemporary Christian music has been a topic of controversy in various ways since its beginnings in the 1960s. The Christian college Bob Jones Universitymarker prohibits its dormitory students from listening to CCM. Others simply find the concept of Christian pop/rock music to be an unusual phenomenon, since rock music has historically been associated with themes such as sexual promiscuity, rebellion, drug and alcohol use, and other topics normally considered antithetical to the teachings of Christianity.

See also


Further reading

  • Alfonso, Barry. The Billboard Guide to Contemporary Christian Music. Billboard Books, 2002.
  • Romanowski, William D. Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture. Brazos Press, 2001.
  • Young, Shawn David, Hippies, Jesus Freaks, and Music (Ann Arbor: Xanedu/Copley Original Works, 2005. ISBN 1-59399-201-7.

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