Cover image for Encyclopedia of contemporary Christian music
Encyclopedia of contemporary Christian music
Powell, Mark Allan, 1953-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Peabody, Mass. : Hendrickson Publishers, [2002]

Physical Description:
1088 pages ; 24 cm + 1 CD-ROM (4 3/4 in.)
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML102.C66 P68 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music

On Order



This groundbreaking work covers both major and minor Christian music artists and those associated with Christian music from the 60s to the present day, highlighting their influences, their struggles, and their achievements. Powell treats each artist or group with a balanced, intriguing, and fresh look into their background and discography. Every entry summarizes critical response to the group, and provides band member lists, complete discographies, lists of awards, artist website addresses, and biographies of the artists. The fun, easy-to-read writing style provides fans with accessible information on their favorite artists, while also encouraging them to greater appreciation of the stylistic breadth and historical depth of the music they have come to love.

The CD-ROM features a searchable version of the complete text for both Windows and Macintosh systems, as well as live links to artist-websites, album information, and music clips.

Mark Allan Powell has done a great service - not only to the vibrant scene we often call Christian rock, but to the rock and roll world in general and to the church. While it is true that many of us Christians have developed and relegated ourselves to a subculture, there are many artists living and working in this evangelighetto that have made and are continuing to make relevant and very beautiful art. Yes, some music made by Christians can truly be labeled trite and propaganda, but there is a vast universe of musicians who are fusing their faith with their art in an outstanding way. This encyclopedia helps legitimize those remarkable artists that, up until this point, were clustered away as legends in an unknown and ignored genre. Treating this art with the respect it deserves, along with the occasional but warranted criticism, does a great justice. Good art deserves to be appreciated and this book helps save my voice from having to shout as loud to get people's attention for it.
Doug Van Pelt, Editor, HM Magazine

Powell's Encyclopedia is exhaustive, all that you'll ever want to know about the artists and history of Christian rock. This is a noble work - honest, fair and complete - paying respect where it is also overdue, and honoring the genre's true artists alongside its most successful sellers. Careful to value the art of pop music, Powell's greatest contribution is the thoughtful theological insights and honest critical voice. I wish I'd written it.
Brian Quincy Newcomb, pastor of Christ UCC, Maplewood, Mo., and freelance music writer, contributing regularly to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and CCM Magazine

Mark Allan Powell has accomplished a most formidable labor of love with the publication of this Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music. With a fan's zeal and a scholar's dedication to research and accuracy, Powell has treated the music made by these artists - dismissed for too long by too many in the music business and the church - as a valid, and often vital chapter in the ongoing history of popular music and Christianity. Thorough, informed and opinionated, Powell's refreshing take on the music and its messages is an important contribution to this sadly overlooked phenomenon.
Thom Granger, author and former editor of CCM magazine

I wish this book had been available when I was working on mine. How Powell managed such comprehensive coverage is beyond me. This is certainly the defining volume of every recorded work our community has released. I am impressed and overwhelmed. So many of these works existed way under the radar and then disappeared almost instantly. It s important that they be remembered and archived for future generations. As a fan, and aspiring historian, I thank Mark Allen Powell from the bottom of my heart.
John J. Thompson, Founder; True Tunes Etc., and Author of Raised By Wolves: The Story of Christian Rock and Roll

More than a reference book, The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music is a fascinating commentary on the ch

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Powell, a professor at Trinity Lutheran Seminary and former pastor, has created a work for a genre that, though popular and widespread, has received little reference coverage. Even in other music reference works, such as Salem Press' Popular Musicians (1999), this form of music is pushed into the categories of pop, rock, or gospel. Powell defines contemporary Christian as a musical style that was developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s and known then as "Jesus music." Since that time, it has evolved and borrowed from other popular musical styles such as metal, rap, rock, and ska. Gospel of any variety and other types of Christian music (hymns, sacred music, instrumentals) are excluded. The alphabetically arranged entries cover individuals and groups. Each entry lists all albums produced, with date and record company. An essay provides biography and evaluation as well as partial lyrics for significant songs and notes on performance style. Group entries name all members (including dates for when various members came and went), the instruments they played, and who sang the vocals. Entries conclude with lists of chart hits and awards. Powell drew upon every available issue of prominent and lesser-known Christian music periodicals, newspapers, and Web sites, then created a database of each artist and group discussed, interviewed, or reviewed in these sources. Some of the groups he includes are primarily known as rock or pop bands that occasionally have songs or albums with a spiritual nature, such as Moby and U2. Powell states that in these cases, he erred on the side of inclusion. More well known singers and groups have longer entries (for example, Amy Grant, the Winans, Jennifer Knapp), but even the less well known (for example, Phat Chance, Project 86, Jan Krist) have at least a long paragraph. Given the sheer volume of material, the relatively modest price of this work is a wonderful bargain. Add to that the unique coverage, and this volume is highly recommended for music collections and Christian schools.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In what may be the first-ever reference work of its kind, the 1,000-page Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music profiles Christian musicians, songwriters and producers, in addition to secular artists whose faith has influenced their music. Author Mark Allan Powell (who is actually a New Testament scholar of considerable repute) says he wandered into a Christian bookstore five years ago and discovered that more than a quarter of the shelf space was devoted to contemporary Christian music. There was not, however, a single book on the subject a lacuna that will be amply corrected by this enormous, funny, informative tome. Powell is a man of considerable opinions, whether he is defending Amy Grant' s album Behind the Eyes as possibly the most painfully honest recording ever produced by any artist or arguing about the impact of Rich Mullins' s tragically short career. On a basic level, the book will be utilized as an encyclopedia by people who confuse Jars of Clay with Point of Grace. But in a more profound way, readers who appreciate Powell' s assertion that contemporary Christian musicians are actually amateur theologians whose perspectives are helping to shape Christian history will marvel at this book' s stunning combination of breadth and depth. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A prominent theologian whose work usually focuses on the historical Jesus, Powell (New Testament, Trinity Lutheran Seminary) has compiled an exhaustive opus on popular Christian music dating from the 1960s to the present. Included are 1700 alphabetical entries on well-known singers, songwriters, and bands (Stryper, Amy Grant, BeBe and CeCe Winans, and Petra), newcomers (P.O.D., Creed), and more peripheral figures (Bob Dylan, Kansas, and U2). Each entry features personnel, a discography, a link to the official/endorsed web site (when available), a critical and biographical essay, a list of Christian radio hits (if any), and awards. Although entries on artists who have experienced personal tragedy or controversy sometimes contain a hint of "kiss and tell" tabloid flavor, the essays are thorough and generally superbly written. In his introduction, Powell also does an excellent job of defining Christian music. Rather than relying on the content of the music (which is often ambiguous) or the performer's faith (which is even more so), he leaves the act of classification up to the fans, observing that "such labels are always audience-driven and are based unapologetically on perception." To add even greater value to the modest retail price, a CD-ROM with audio clips, links to artists' web pages, and album information accompanies this volume. The only reference book of its kind, this is highly recommended for all public libraries and for academic libraries with contemporary popular music and/or sacred music collections.-James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In this first major alphabetical listing of 1,900 contemporary Christian musicians and ensembles, Powell contributes to the histories of both popular music and Christianity. He approaches his subject not as a musicologist but a clergyman. Essays provide biographical sketches, critical summaries of artists' works, personnel lists, and discographies. Coverage ranges from the 1960s to the present, including the Gaithers, Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, Glen Campbell, and Jennifer Knapp. The author provides sufficient cross-references and for several entries their official Web sites. He omits dates and places of birth from the beginning of entries, burying them instead in biographies, but makes a case for the necessity of this data in the biographies of Steve Chapman and Steven Curtis Chapman. Powell attempts a complete discography (difficult at best), omitting the manufacturer's number, whose inclusion would augment access and accuracy. A glossary provides concise definitions of various genres. A list of entries serves as a quick index. The accompanying CD-ROM provides keyword access to the full text and interactive links to the artists' Web sites. Useful for some undergraduate collections. R. Hartsock University of North Texas