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Contemporary Christian Music Watch
It's fall, one of the most beautiful times of the year. The leaves are starting to fall off the trees, young men are dreaming about football play-offs and bowl bids, children are dreaming of what they'll be getting for Christmas and EMI Music buys another Christian record company. That's right, EMI Music has acquired Star Song Communications. In 1992, EMI purchased Sparrow to enter into the Christian music market. As part of the deal, Star Song will operate as a separate label within EMI and maintain its creative autonomy. The current CEO of Star Song, Stan Moser, will continue to manage Star Song.
Jim Fifield, President and CEO of EMI Music, said, "This step underscores EMI's commitment to the rapidly growing Christian music segment. Star Song's extremely diverse and strong artist roster will complement Sparrow's and the combined strengths of both companies will create tremendous new growth opportunities." Fifield also commented on the successful sales of Sparrow product since they joined the EMI Music team.
Star Song was established in 1976 and currently has a roster including Twila Paris, Newsboys, David Meece and Phillips, Craig & Dean. The company also has the libraries of Petra, White Heart and The Imperials. Star Song is also in a distribution agreement with ForeFront Communications home to DC Talk, Geoff Moore & the Distance, Audio Adrenaline and Rebecca St. James. Plus they represent one of the fastest growing Southern Gospel labels, Chapel Music owned by Bill Gaither.
In another big agreement, Word Records and Music has purchased all of Marantha! Music product masters and their entire print library. Maranatha! Music will continue to create and develop masters for Word's ownership and also to be distributed under Word's new praise worship label Word/Maranatha.
Liberty Records and Benson announced plans to market 4 HIM and Michael Sweet to the general marketplace. Liberty and Benson will release 4 HIM's single for "For Future Generations" to both the Christian and mainstream marketplace. The companies are hoping the dual release will help create big sales for the single and the album. "For Future Generations" will also be available on a cassette single with the title cut "The Ride" on the flip side.
Michael Sweet's first release to the general marketplace will be "Tomorrow, Tonight" with edits of three different songs from his self-titled album. Liberty and Benson hope that "Together," "Ain't No Safe Way" and "All This and Heaven Too" will whet listeners' appetite to buy the entire album.
Liberty President Jimmy Bowen says, "I can't recall a time when people were as hungry as they are now for music with real meaning and moral integrity." Bowen says people don't want music that preaches, but that inspires and guides. The Liberty CEO also says his company's proud to contribute its know-how and enthusiasm to the growing demand for this kind of music.
Michael English is back, but not coming back! So he says in a recent interview with Billboard magazine. In the October 14 issue of Billboard, English said, "When everything happened with me everybody's question was, 'When should we allow Michael to come back?' And I'm not coming back. It's a really tough decision for me, but I don't want to be controlled by the contemporary Christian industry . . . . That would be a major hand on my neck, because I messed up and 'now we're going to tell him what he needs to do.' And I think I'm going to let God do that."
Michael also said he wanted to step out of the spotlight quietly and get his life straightened out and go through some restoration, but his record company would hear nothing of it. English believes that it was Warner Alliance's statement to the public that made everyone freak.
Curb Records is releasing their first Michael English single since signing him to a deal recently. It's a duet with Wynonna entitled "Healing," which is the featured soundtrack of the upcoming movie "Silent Fall."
Louisville's Larnelle Harris is currently working hard on the road this fall, but won't be making an appearance at this year's Young Messiah Tour. He'll be taking a break from the road this winter for hip replacement surgery.
Some other Louisvillians have been working hard these days. Straight Company recently performed at the First Annual Church Night Gospelfest at Opryland in Nashville. The a cappella group is back in the studio wrapping up work on their second album scheduled to be released in March.
A few weeks ago I got the chance to travel to Indianapolis with other Christian radio music directors and programmers to hear Sandi Patty's latest album Find It On the Wings. We traveled to the Bill Gaither studios in Anderson where Sandi sang a few tunes from her album and we listened to several other cuts from the project. I must say I was impressed with the heart that Sandi has for her fans and those who need spiritual healing. You can feel joy, healing and love throughout Find It On the Wings. You can also hear a wonderful duet with Peabo Bryson on "Make It 'Til Tomorrow." There are also two or three cuts that Word and Epic want to release to the general marketplace, one of which is the title cut. Sandi stressed that she would not compromise her standards and convictions.
While we were on the trip, we also heard from Janet Paschal. During a Saturday morning breakfast we listened to her new project Journey of Grace and saw the first video/single "God Is Up to Something." Janet's new album is filled with hits and heart-felt vocals like I've never heard from her in the past. Word's goal on Janet is to get her more Christian AC radio exposure and I think they will!
I want to close out by saying "thanks" to those involved with the Louisville Music News for allowing me to write this column. It's fun and a learning experience every month! You have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy getting ready for Christmas!