Contemporary Christian Music Watch
By Jim Galipeau

So you want to buy a record company? Now's the perfect time since two major labels are on the sale block. Both Word and Benson have been put up for sale by their parent companies.

Word is currently owned by ABC/Capitol Cities. ABC purchased Word in 1974, then ABC was purchased by Capitol Cities in 1985, making Word the only CapCities company that is in the record business. Some are saying that fact may have played a part in CapCities decision to sell Word.

Word President Roland Lundy says the relationship with CapCities/ABC has allowed Word to grow and expand, thanks to the parent companies' financial strength. Overall, Lundy was upbeat and positive about Word's future.

Zondervan, which owns Benson, has announced its desire to separate itself from parent company Harper Collins. Zondervan President James Buick said that several months ago, Zondervan management approached Harper Collins with a buyout proposal. Zondervan is currently seeking business people interested in investing in the company.

Meanwhile, Benson President Dan Lynch said the detachment is viewed as a positive step and good for Benson to have ownership that has a similar mindset.

"Zondervan wants to develop independent owners and shareholders that are of like mind and Christian-based and to get the company back into that kind of orientation," said Lynch. He said Benson would not try to buy itself out of Zondervan.

In more news from Benson, the Forefront label has ended its distribution agreement with Benson for a distribution agreement with Star Song. Forefront products will be available from Star Song after July 1. Artists on Forefront include Eddie DeGarmo; Dana Key; E.T.W.; Geoff Moore and The Distance; DC Talk; Larry Howard; Jeoffery Benward; Audio Adrenaline and Iona and Karthi.

Petra's new album Unseen Power has been out for several months, but the band has been seen in the national spotlight. Petra performed at Farm Aid V in Dallas, which aired live on The Nashville Network. The band didn't soften the message as they played "Destiny," "Creed," and "Who is on the Lord's Side." Speaking of "The Lord's Side," the video for the song was shot on location at Christ Community Church in Nashville by NFL Films.

Norman Miller, the creator of the successful Young Messiah tour, may repeat with Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration. The production will feature such well-known artists as Stevie Wonder; Gladys Knight; Jeffery Osborne; Al Jarreau; Take 6; The Winans; BeBe & CeCe Winans; Larnelle Harris and many others. The centerpiece of the production is the contemporary version of "The Hallelujah Chorus" adapted and composed by Mervyn Warren and conducted by Quincy Jones.

A lot of artists are finishing work on new projects out this summer, like Ray Boltz, Michael W. Smith, Wayne Watson and Dayspring's new pop artist Maia Amanda with her debut album. Meanwhile, the long-awaited White Heart album Tales of Wonder has arrived and critic are saying it's their best work to date. also enjoyable are Rich Mullins' The World As Best As I Remember It, Vol. 2 and Geoff Moore and the Distance's A Friend Like U. (I understand Geoff's video for the title cut is awesome.)

New album's aren't the only things happening in artists lives. Michael W. Smith's new daughter, Emily Allison came into this world May 2 and on May 3, fellow keyboardist Chris Christian and his wife Shannon were the proud parents of a baby girl they named Savannah.

Kids of all ages were at Kentucky Kingdom for Christian Family Fun Day I and it was a blast! The next Christian Family Fun Day is July 11 with a special concert in the Summer Moon Amphitheater by Kim Hill and Band. In the meantime, Dallas Holm, Paul Smith and Michelle Wagner will hold a benefit concert Sunday, June 15, at 5 p.m. at Evangel Christian Life Center. Admission to the concert is free with a love offering to benefit Hannah's House, a crisis pregnancy center. Listen to WJIE for information on these and many other great concerts coming to Louisville this summer.

WJIE Picks

Sometimes By Step Rich Mullins

Take the Time Michael English

From Love To Love Babbie Mason

Amen! Praise and Glory Michael Card

Generation to Generation Benson Artists

This Love Margaret Becker

A Friend Like You Geoff Moore

Can't Live Without Jesus Jon Gibson

Shade for the Children Steve Camp

Two Different Lifestyles

BeBe & CeCe Winans