Women in Contemporary Christian Music

by: 

Kim Ousley
Mar 31, 2007

Women are taking the Christian music industry by
storm, especially roles where men have traditionally
been leaders, such as owners, producers, songwriters
and singers.

Not just content to stay in the shadows, women like
Jennifer Knapp, Jaci Velasqez, Stacie Orrico and
Superchick are impacting women and girls in arenas
that Sandi Patty and Amy Grant do not reach, although
these two women broke barriers in the industry when
they appeared on the scene back in the early 80s. Now
a whole new generation is creating a whole new place
for women the music industry.


Kathryn Darden, editor of www.ChristianActivities.com,
started a group called Women In Christian Music as a
place for women who work in the Christian Music
Industry to share news, info and leads and to
fellowship and network, as well as encourage one
another. This group is open to women who are
currently involved in some aspect of the industry and
include artists, managers, publicists, journalists and
other professional occupations involved in Christian
music.

“Women have always had a big impact on Christian
music…in the beginning as artists like Evie, and now
leaders of corporations,” said Darden. “The 80s and
early 90s saw a lot of women launching their own
companies.”

She points out that women also head many departments
at major labels now. “Traditionally, women have been
found in public relations departments…now the number of
women taking leadership roles in this industry are too
numerous to mention.”

Darden credits artist such as Amy Grant for shaping
the way in the industry as a young girl in the 80s.
“To this day, a new young female singer is frequently
touted as “the next Amy Grant”, who has become the
measuring stick for any young woman entering the
Christian music field.” Examples that Darden gives
stretch from the inspirational operatic style of Sandi
Patty to the rock of Margaret Becker to Leslie
Phillip’s unique sound in the 80s.

“These women were among the pioneers that paved the
way for future women to not only sing well but have a
say in their careers. This helped pave the way for
other artists like Crystal Lewis to open her own
company and do things her own way and succeed.”

Crystal Lewis, Dove Awards winner and Grammy Awards
nominee in the contemporary Christian music industry,
runs her own company, Metro One Music with husband
Brian Ray in southern California. “I think totally that men probably feel a little
inferior sometimes because women get so much of the
attention,” said Lewis. Singers like Evie and Amy
Grant paved the way for her and many women in the
industry.

She expresses her opinion that the Christian music
industry in unique in that women have always had an
equal share and equal say in what’s going on. She
points out that people have gravitated to women
singers as far as solo artists, more than men.
Shannon Walker, head of the media relations department
at Integrity, Inc., states that women are definitely
taking more active roles in the music and business
sides of the industry. “At least that appears to be
the case from my perspective. More women are involved
in A & R and management than ever before. Also, there
are numerous female artists representing all of the
genres—gospel, pop, southern gospel, urban, praise and
worship.”

Walker credits Darelene Zschech, one of Integrity’s
own artists, as a groundbreaker in the area of praise
and worship music.
“Darlene is probably the premier female worship leader
in the world,” said Walker. “And, as you may know,
worship music and the music industry has been a
male-dominated world until recently.”
More women groups are also appearing on the Christian
music scene. Groups trying to break into the music
industry have many stereotypes to shatter, especially
if family and work are involved. But to Amber Aimen,
Carrie Beth Young, Monica Hayes and Rana McIntyre of
the local group Walking In Faith, this is only the
start of a new and promising career in the ministry of
contemporary Christian music.

Recently promoting their first CD by putting on a
concert at the Paramount Theatre, a local theatre in
their hometown of Anderson, Ind., the group showed
their talent for harmonizing and ministering through
the music. Clothes with bright, vivid colors and a
local dance troupe, DFX (Dancers for Christ) to back
them up, these women showed you could have fun and be
a Christian, too.

For a group that got together two years ago, doing
church and social functions such as local fairs, they
seem to have come a long way quickly.
“We are presently contacting a variety of record
labels recently…we are keeping our fingers crossed and
hoping someone will grab us and more doors will open,”
said Monica.

Carrie, the only single one in the group, hopes that
their audiences will first see God’s love through
them. She points out they appeal to a wide audience,
both young and old alike. The other three members of
the group are married, two with children. This
becomes a balancing act while the group seeks a career
in music.

“Because we have four families, each one of us knows
our families are first and set boundaries, putting the
Lord at the center of our priorities,” said Carrie.
“It kind of works itself all out,” said Amber. If
it’s in your heart, God will provide a way.”

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