Six gospel music Grammys, but where are the Jewish and Muslim awards?
Some Christian music industry insiders and outsiders have long complained that having a "Christian music" industry ghettoizes Christian artists who might otherwise have more mainstream appeal.
Now some folks way outside the Christian music industry—as in folks who make music based in other religions—are complaining that the Christian music world gets too much attention. Especially in the Grammy Awards.
"I understand that Christian music is a big genre and the majority of people in this country are Christian," Malik Mujahid, founder of the Muslim company Sound Vision, told The Dallas Morning News in Saturday's edition (the story is being picked up by other papers). "But there should be consideration of others, too."
Likewise, Linda Yelnick is lobbying for a Jewish music Grammy. "It's time we got there, musically speaking," she said. "It took Native Americans seven years to get a Grammy category. Jewish music is more visible and every bit as distinct."
Gospel Music Association president John Styll defends the Grammys' six gospel categories. "Grammys recognize music that touches consumers in substantial ways," he said. "If you have categories for every possible permutation of religion, they'd have to give out 200 more Grammys."
Styll's predecessor, Frank Breeden, agrees. "My advice to Hindus, Jews, and Muslims is to get their act together," he said. "Make music that people want to buy."
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Christian music accounts for 6.7 percent of total CD sales. "No other music with religious lyrics comes close in terms of market recognition, in part due to evangelical radio stations in most major markets," the News notes. "Still, sales pale next to those of mainstream pop and rock headliners. While top Christian rockers dc Talk chalk up lifetime sales of more than 6.5 million CDs, Eminem sold 7.6 million last year alone."
Actually, Muslim, Jewish, and other religious forms of music do compete—and often win—in some other categories, especially World Music.
Last night's ceremony saw few surprises as recent favorites continued to dominate, just as they have dominated recent Dove Awards. Third Day's Come Together won the Best Rock Gospel Album award, and Jars of Clay's The Eleventh Hour took the Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album award.
In the more traditional categories, a tribute album for James Blackwood won the Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album category, the Blind Boys of Alabama repeated last year's win in the Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album category with Higher Ground, Eartha's Sidebars won Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album, and The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir won the Best Gospel Choir or Chorus Album for Be Glad.
Christian kitsch—or at least mocking Christian kitsch—is in
"Ben Affleck, Pamela Anderson, and Ashton Kutcher have sparked a new fashion trend in Hollywood—religious t-shirts," reports TeenHollywood.com. Put away your "This Blood's for You" shirt, though. It's not just any T that's selling out in L.A. Specifically, it's Teenage Millionaire's "Jesus is My Homeboy" shirt. It's more a mockery of Christian T-shirts than an evangelistic effort, but creator Chris Hoy says, "They work for everyone from hipsters to born-again Christians, and stylists love their great cut."
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