Does the 'Christian Music Genre' Still Exist?

"Does the 'Christian music genre' still exist?"

One of the nation's top U.S. evangelical schools will pose this and other questions at an upcoming two-day journalism conference.

On Thursday and Friday, "Music and Media: Where does faith fit?," hosted by the journalism department of Biola University, will try to discuss how Christian music fits in today's mainstream media while at the same time offering students skills to move into the music industry.

With the popularity of Christian music growing and artists beginning to emerge into the mainstream, some people contend that Christian music is no longer applicable to be labeled as a genre.

The notion of "cross-over" has become something of a misnomer for some artists and bands that are unashamedly Christian in their personal lives, but are subtle about their approach to lyrics and their choice of where their music is recorded and where it's played in concert, explained Michael Longinow, chair of the journalism department at Biola University, in a news release.

A highlight of the event will be a teleconference held with Jay Swartzendruber, the editor of CCM (Christ Community & Music) Magazine, who will give a broad perspective on the subject. The magazine head will also explain why he is adding a descriptor below the masthead of his publication, pointing out how the genre has changed.

Other events during the conference include information on marketing, worship media, entertainment media, and new media, such as MySpace and YouTube.

The event coordinators have also invited a variety of guest speakers such as Lou Carlozo, staff writer for the Chicago Tribune; and Chris Willman, senior writer for Entertainment Weekly, who has written cover stories on artists such as Coldplay, U2, Outkast; and several others.

According to a news release, CCM first originated in the 60s, and was categorized as "Jesus Music." Today, CCM music is featured among many of today's popular artists and has become mixed into everyday music.

Several Christian artists have had their beginnings at Biola, including groups the Cold War Kids, Thrice and The Colour, all who went on to sign with major record labels.

As reported by Biola, the private Christian university in La Miranda, Calif., "provides Evangelical students with biblically centered education, equipping them in mind and character to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ in any professional setting."

The conference officially began at 9:30 a.m. Thursday with the first session starting at 10:45 a.m. It will end Friday with a musical performance and a contest awards announcement.

On the web: conference web site.