WANT TO GO?
Winter Jam 2012
With NewSong, Skillet, Sanctus Real and more
WHERE: Charleston Civic Center
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
TICKETS: $10 at the door
INFO: jamtour.comCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Contemporary Christian music isn't particularly controversial these days, at least, not like it was back in the 1970s and '80s.
Billy Goodwin, singer and guitarist for NewSong, remembers what it was like when his band started in the genre.
"When we started, back in 1981, it was not easy to sing music [that] style-wise churches weren't used to doing," he said. "We had an uphill battle, and for years, there were churches against anything that had a beat to it."
NewSong hosts and performs Friday night at the Civic Center during Winter Jam 2012, a contemporary Christian music show that features half a dozen musical acts, speakers and even an illusionist. The band founded the tour in 1995.
In a way, Winter Jam is a very modern take on the old big tent church revival. The music is different, but the purpose is the same: for attendees to strengthen their faith through the fellowship of music and the Gospel.
Popular music has roots in church music. Songwriter's borrowed styles and imagery and applied them in different ways. Scores of performers began their careers by singing and playing in hometown church choirs before discovering blues, country or rock n' roll.
Religious music helped shape popular music, but for years, churches resisted the influence of contemporary sounds, referred to such music as "devil music." They wanted nothing to do with it.
"Nowadays, a lot of churches have their own house bands," Goodwin said. "You can still play the drum after you become a Christian. It's pretty cool."
He doesn't know if there was a particular breaking point, but he believed that eventually church people realized that using music kids liked with "good" lyrics still honored God.
"The music was not a thing Satan had control over any more," he said.
To be sure, there's still some resistance to the idea. A few conservative churches still can't abide any rock in their religion, but most seem to tolerate it, even if they don't use contemporary music in their services.