The latest craze in the US is Youth Praise in the Christian community

YOUTH praise, also known as modern worship music, has become the latest craze in the American Christian music record industry with labels releasing dozens of new albums. Since the release of the Delirious'/Cutting Edge albums and the number one CCM chart success of the Sonicflood debut, the floodgates have opened. CCM Update magazine report that of the 13.6 million Christian music albums sold so far in 2000, praise and worship music constitutes 3.2 million sales, ahead of black gospel (1.3 million), children's (2.1 million) and Southern gospel (1.6 million). Approximately half of the Top 20 albums listed on SoundScan's Praise & Worship to-date chart are youth/modern worship albums. Essential Records will release the multi-artist 'City On A Hill* album and the worship project 'Offerings' by rock team Third Day; Ardent Records will release a 3-volume set 'The Ardent Worship Series' featuring All Together Separate, Tim Suttle & Satellite Soul and Skillet; ForeFront is putting out 'Eterne: Never Be The Same' featuring artists from the USA, Australia, South Africa and Europe; and Worship Together (EMI Christian Music Group's praise and worship label) are mining the modern worship gold from the UK including Matt Redman and Delirious?.

The three record companies long established as the market leaders in the older easy listening/soft pop style of worship music have all been investing in the quickly expanding market. Integrity have established their Vertical Music label, home to such worship leaders as Lincoln Brewster, Jamie Smith and Darrell Evans; Maranatha! Music have so far released nine under their Worship Underground arm; while Vineyard Music has started the Y Worship imprint specifically to cover the youth/modern worship services within the Vineyard churches.

Said Dennis Disney, marketing consultant to Here To Him Music, which has added youth/modern worship bands to its roster, the USA industry's enthusiastic move into youth worship is a "need creates demand" scenario. "What was missing in a big way," he said, "is that worship was never really packaged in a musical language kids could embrace. They would learn worship songs at camp, but there wasn't much they could pop into their CD players at home with their friends, crank it up to II and jump around to it."

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.