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From the Publisher
"This hefty paperback's author, a faculty member of Ohio's Trinity Lutheran Seminary, adopts a rather informal style as he surveys almost 2,000 individuals and ensembles that have recorded Christian music in the past 30 years. The entries include a discography (album title, label names, and release dates are provided), memberships of the groups, biographical sketches, subjective evaluations, "chart hits," and awards. Websites are included and, in fact, updates are projected. The front matter surveys the history, while the volume concludes with a glossary, contents list, and a CD-ROM of the entire work (needing 15 MB of free space). No other undertaking in this area is known to exist, and the vast coverage appears to be quite comprehensive. The reference offers a large perspective on its subject, and the entries—while of scholarly value—are refreshingly chatty. This is an impressive endeavor."
"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."
— Publishers Weekly
"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."