The Jesus Music

The Jesus Music ★★★★½

Consider this my personal "Summer of Soul". The way so many people in 2021 have raved about the importance of that documentary, I feel that way about "The Jesus Music." In charting the history of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), a genre of music (and magazine) that defined my childhood and young adult years and greatly impacted my relationship with Christ, this film goes all the way back to the hippie years of the 70's and explains how rockers who loved Jesus slowly began putting "Jesus lyrics" to their music and created something entirely new. From there it travels through the decades hitting style changes and confronting industry-level changes and struggles along the way.

I absolutely love that there are dozens of Christian artists featured and interviewed from rock to metal to pop to hip-hop to gospel to contemporary worship and more. The unique perspectives and experiences show just how varied CCM really was. I also appreciate greatly that the film doesn't completely dodge some of Christian music's issues. It talks about the controversy of being called devil music, about crossover artists who achieved fame finding great challenge in handling that, the unforgiving nature of the Christian audience, the problems that come with the industry exploding as a business, and even fairly exposes the whiteness of the space and racism faces by some.

The doc doesn't really dive into anything current, but honestly the state of Christian music today could probably warrant an entirely separate exploration (and I'd love a sequel that does so). It does move fast, covers a lot of history, and is both entertaining and extremely informative, whether you're like me and can belt out these artists' lyrics still today or you've never even heard of them before. My heart is very happy that this exists. Now excuse me while I go break out my Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay, DC Talk, and Delirious albums and reminisce a bit.

2021 Awards Cycle Ranked

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