Christian Country music is a format of gospel music, first created in the 1980s, during the surge in popularity of country music on mainstream radio.
Christian Country music tends to be lyrically similar to Southern Gospel music, although it is usually more sentimental and focuses a lot more on family life. Southern Gospel is based on four part harmony and is performed predominantly by male singers, whereas Christian Country is mainly performed by solo artists or mixed male/female groups.
Christian Country follows the migration of mainstream country music. Over the years, country music has migrated toward a contemporary or pop sound. Christian Country’s main appeal is to country music lovers. It is not always accepted by Southern Gospel music fans, who have, for several generations, equated four part harmony with “sacred music.” However, some Christian Country artists are also very popular with Southern Gospel audiences, like The Isaacs, Jeff & Sheri Easter and David L Cook who competed against the Easters in 1999 for a Dove award for Christian Country Album of the Year.
Christian Country music differs slightly from Country Gospel. Christian Country singers consider themselves “Christian artists”, and seldom achieve mainstream country success. Country gospel is usually gospel songs recorded by secular artists. While there is little difference between the sound of Christian Country and mainstream contemporary country music, country gospel usually has a more traditional country sound. Since the early days of country music, artists have put a gospel track on their albums. Even the HEE HAW show released some country gospel albums. Hank Williams, Porter Waggoner, Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Randy Travis are some secular artists who have recorded extensively in country gospel.
The term “Christian Country” was first coined and used in broadcasts by Rob Green (known to listeners as Les Roberts) in the early 1980s.
Musicians and Bands
David L. Cook
Jeff & Sheri Easter