Standing the Test of Time : Being a Christian RNB Musician
What is Christian Rhythm and Blues Music ?
A Christian RNB musician plays music that many people find enjoyable to listen to because of its uplifting nature and Christian RNB musicians continue to be popular.
Christian rhythm and blues, which is also known as gospel RNB and rhythm & praise music, is a genre of music that combines Christian lyrics with the traditional style of rhythm and blues music.
R&B music is incredibly soulful and allows the listener to feel the emotions that the artist is trying to convey. This makes it a perfect style for Christian musicians because Christian music strives to create a personal connection between the listener and God.
The History of Christian Rhythm and Blues Music
Rhythm and blues music can be traced back to the 1940s and 1950s in African American communities. The term was used to market the increasingly popular jazz-rock style of music that had arisen with a heavy influence from lyrics in the ‘blues’ genre.
Christian RNB quickly followed suit, the main difference between the two being that Christian RNB musicians incorporated lyrics that exemplified the beliefs of Christianity.
However, in the 50’s, R&B lost popularity in favour of hip hop. This is because many people believed that the genre was ‘just a bunch of love songs’. In the 70’s, the term ‘rhythm and blues’ made a return and was also referred to as ‘funk’ and ‘soul’ music.
Christian RNB music is now an incredibly popular genre for people of all ages, nationalities and beliefs. Quite a few popular Christian RNB musicians will even incorporate hip-hop into their music, a trend that has been followed since the 80’s.
Popular Christian RNB Musicians and Bands
There are many popular Christian R&B artists, some of the most well-known being: Mary Mary, Uncle Reece, Koryn Hawthorne, Kirk Franklin, Sean C. Johnson, J. Moss, Kanye West and The Soul Stirrers.
An interesting aspect about RNB is that many musicians, Christian or not, will make both Christian and non-Christian RNB music. This is because musically, RNB and Christian RNB is essentially the same, and you can only tell the difference if you listen closely to the lyrics.
Christian RNB musician, Kanye West, has made a huge impact on the Christian RNB music community.
His Christian RNB album, ‘Jesus Is King’ made history by simultaneously topping 5 separate Billboard charts and occupying all 10 spots on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs and Gospel Songs charts. This brought about an incredible amount of attention on the Christian RNB genre, causing it to gain further popularity from both Christians and non-Christian fans.
Following the popularity of Kanye’s foray into Christian music, other artists have also tried their hand at breaking into the Christian RNB music scene with varying degrees of success and in some cases, criticism.
Popular Christian Rythm and Blues Songs
Christian RNB musicians continue to dominate the charts the world over, including current hits like: ‘Won’t He Do It’ by Koryn Hawthorne, ‘Love Theory’ by Kirk Franklin, ‘I’m Blessed’ by Charlie Wilson, ‘Even Me’ by Darlene McCoy and ‘Glory’ by Deitrick Haddon.
The music video for ‘Won’t He Do It’ is a great example of how Christian music can be fun and upbeat while maintaining Christian values. Koryn manages to convey messages of Jesus’ love through her use of dance and the rhythmic beat to the music, appealing to a wide audience of mostly younger people, who access music videos.
How Christian RNB Music is Received
Like all sub-genres, critics have mixed views; there are as many positive reactions towards Christian R&B music as there are negative, particularly by Christian traditionalists.
Some Christians believe that Christian music should not be mixed with genres such as R&B, rap and rock. Like their objections to other genre mixes, this is because they believe that Christian music should focus solely on the praise and worship of God and not be mixed with abrasive music.
In the past, non-Christian artists have received a negative response from the Christian community for experimenting and releasing music that is a combination of the two genres.
However, there are also many Christians who enjoy listening to Christian RNB musicians dole out their soulful tunes, singing their praises to God.
Many fans of RNB who converted to Christianity as adults were pleased to learn the genre was still available for them to listen to only with a Christian message.
Christian RNB remains an ever popular and ever-growing genre of music, finding fans in both Christians and non-Christians alike.