We sometimes call this or that group/singer a 'Christian' while we do not call others as such. I've once asked here if a certain group could be considered Christian and received vastly different responses. On the other hand there are openly 'Christian' groups whose performances are so stupid one would not wish them be associated with Christianity. So, what are the defining qualities and how one can check if a certain group/singer/songwriter is Christian in their/his/her work
closed as not constructive by DJClayworth, wax eagle♦ Aug 23 '12 at 17:27
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Much like the definition on this site, the definition of a "Christian" artist tends to be "any group that claims itself as such."
Much of the rise of Western Music can be attributed to the harmonization of the mass and other sacred music - Bach would sign his work "S.D.G," sola Dei gloria - for God's glory alone - but he is rarely considered a "Christian musician." Robert Greenburg in How to Listen to and Understand Great Music delves much more deeply into the historical connection of the church and western music.
In contemporary times, "Christian Contemporary Music," including the likes of Michael W. Smith, Petra, Degarmo & Key, Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, and similar people, is itself a branding term that tends to encompass a certain style of music that often gets picked up by "praise and worship bands" at contemporary churches. Indeed Jon Acuff (Stuff Christians Like) mentions that these P&W bands often release their own CDs, and clearly fall in this category. Many of the luminaries of the band (e.g. Michael W. Smith) serve as Worship Ministers in their own churches.
Amy Grant, however, helped to define the term when she transitioned from being a "Christian" musician to a more mainstream one. (Russ Taff did the same move but didn't get nearly the same amount of press.) When she released "Baby, Baby," she did so explicitly under the guise that she wanted to do more mainstream stuff. In reaction, many Christians still wanted to claim she was a "Christian artist," despite Grant's desire to "move on."
From the NY Times, 5/11/02:
In 2009, Bob Carlisle's secular "Butterfly Kisses" won the coveted "Song of the Year" from the Gospel Music Association's "Dove Awards" - the premier CCM award. According to industry insiders, the GMA was embarrassed that a song without any "Christian" content was voted the coveted "song-of-the-year". To that end ...
(Reference, but be warned, it gets weird...)
In the end, "Christian" is as much a brand as an actual adjective. The wide spectrum of CCM has no branding authority, so it kind of is was it is.