Contemporary Christian Music Watch
By Jim Galipeau

Well, 1992 is officially history! This past year will be remembered as the year voters decided to break 12 years of Republican dominance in the White House. The media called it Decision '92, while some of the voters said the media were attempting to alter our decisions with "biased" reporting. During '92, we experienced Hurricane Andrew, the Rodney King verdict, the Olympics and the starving in Somalia.

Meanwhile, the Christian music industry had several changes and also experienced what some would call "growing pains." Perhaps two of the biggest stories were the changes of ownership at Word and Sparrow. Taking over Word in a $72 million sale was publishing giant Thomas Nelson, while Sparrow was purchased by EMI Music/Liberty. Late last year Zondervan announced its intention to sell the Benson Music Group.

In artist news for '92, Amy Grant's Heart In Motion was certified triple platinum, while Take 6's first album, Take 6, reached platinum. In the gold-record department, put down Michael W. Smith's Change Your World, Sandi Patti with Another Time, Another Place and ReturnBy the Winans.

The month of June brought some revelations from Cornerstone magazine regarding the ministry of comedian Mike Warnke. The article questioned Wamke's testimony, saying he lied about once being a Satanic High Priest. Cornerstone also brought to light Wamke's alleged moral and business failures. The story was the beginning of an avalanche that ultimately led to a suspension of business relations between Wamke and Word's Dayspring label.

There will be a few artists beginning the new year on a different label. Steve Camp left Sparrow to sign with Warner Alliance, Newsong jumped from Dayspring to Benson and perhaps the biggest coup came when Carman decided to desert Benson for a deal with Sparrow and its new parent company, Liberty Records. Rumor has it that Carman and several other Sparrow artists will be marketed to mainstream radio and retail.

Mainstream radio also had three contemporary Christian artists with number-one songs in '92. Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and Kathy Tracolli all had number-one songs as well as other tunes that did well on the charts.

During the 34th Annual Grammy Awards, Russ Taff, Steven Curtis Chapman, BeBe and CeCe and the Gaither Vocal Band received Grammys. Amy Grant performed her number-one song "Baby, Baby" and was also nominated in four major categories: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Vocal Performance/Female and Album of the Year.

At the 23rd Annual Dove Awards, Amy Grant took the Artist of the Year award and was also honored when the song she co-wrote with Michael W. Smith and Wayne Kirkpatrick, "Place in This Wor1d," won Song of the Year. Steve Curtis Chapman once again took the honors for Song Writer of the Year.

Contemporary Christian music lost a pioneer when Mark Heard died August 16 from complications of a heart attack he experienced back in July following his performance at the Cornerstone Festival. There will be a benefit concert January 9 at Belmont College in Nashville featuring several Christian artists. Some of those performing that night include Bob Bennett, Bruce Carroll, Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill, plus eight other individuals and groups. All the proceeds from the concert will go to ease the $90,000 worth of medical bills accumulated while Mark was hospitalized.

Finally, Carman will bring in 1993 with something new and something old. Carman's first release on Sparrow/Liberty is due sometime in March. The Absolute Best will feature one new cut produced by David Foster. "Serve the Lord" will appear on Christian radio well before the album, with a release this month.

It's only a few weeks into '93 and I'm still writing 1992 on all my checks. It will be March before I remember it's a new year! Despite my forgetfulness, I'll remember to keep you informed of happenings in Christian music. Oh, I almost forgot! Bryan Duncan will have a cold reception when he comes to Louisville on January 15. No, it won't be from his fans. Bryan will be performing following an IceHawks game that night. Call the IceHawks for ticket information. The concert will be free with your paid admission to the hockey game. I think that's everything except to wish you a "Happy New Year."

WJIE Music Pics

I Will Be Here for You Michael W. Smith

In Christ Alone Michael English

There's Somebody Out There Ron David Moore

Why 4 Him

It Just Takes Time Larnelle Harris

The Less Traveled Road Phillip Sandifer

Anything Kellye Huff

The Basics of Life 4 Him