(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn)
Rap artist Lecrae, who became the first Christian hip-hop musician to take home a Grammy for his album "Gravity" on Sunday, said he hopes people will begin to understand that his faith is a part of who he is as a person and artist and not simply a musical genre.
"To me it's a testament of years of laboring to break down barriers in music and culture," Lecrae told The Christian Post via email about winning the award for Best Gospel Album. "Hopefully people will listen and understand what I do creatively and how my faith is a part of who I am, not a genre."
After winning the award, Lecrae thanked God and his family of devoted fans for his accomplishment on Twitter. He tweeted, "Just won a Grammy. I dedicate it all to the Unashamed fam all over the planet. 1.1.Six-To God be the Glory."
Lecrae told CP he was not sure about having any formal celebration, but said, "Obviously we are grateful but there is a long way to go and a lot of work to do. This is a milestone on what has been and will be a long journey."
Music industry observers recognize that the Christian and Gospel niche or market is growing rapidly in the last few years. Nearly 23 million albums under the Christian/Gospel genre were sold last year, according to the Nielsen Company.
At the Grammy Awards event, Matt Redman led all Christian/Gospel winners with two awards for his song "10,000 Reasons [Bless The Lord]." The song was honored as Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Performance and it tied with Israel Houghton's "Your Presence is Heaven" for Best Contemporary Christian Song, BREATHEcast reported.
Other winners in the Christian/Gospel categories include Mary Mary's "Go Get It," for Best Gospel Song, Toby Mac's Eye On It for Best Contemporary Christian Album.
"The walls have come down considerably over the past few years when it comes to the divide between the Christian audience, the Christian market and mainstream consumers," said Billboard Magazine's Deborah Evans Price, as reported by The Huffington Post. "When you have artists like Toby and Lecrae ... that draws a wide audience, not just from the people in the church pews, but from the people hanging out at the mall."
At a Christian leadership conference last year, Lecrae said that believers should not be afraid to engage with people in non-traditional ways.
"I think we don't engage culture because we're scared. We don't want it corrupting our kids. I think we're scared because ultimately we're still caught up in a sacred-secular divide," said Lecrae, who is also a ministry leader, during the Resurgence Conference (R12) at Mariners Church in Irvine, Calif., last October.
"We are still caught up in the reality that everything is broken up in two and if you go too far here you are going to get messed up," he said. "There is a sacred-secular divide that hinders us from impacting culture."
When asked what he would like to see happen next with his career and ministry, Lecrae said, "I think I've already being doing it. Nothing is going to drastically change. We are still moving in the direction we have always been."