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i43 Gospel vs christian

Well it’s been a month since we last talked...how ya durn?!!! I’ve been on the road for the past 3 months. Phoenix AZ, Houston TX, Denver CO and Omaha NE. While driving cross country, I’ve been listening to gospel, christian, r&b, rock, pop and country...basically everything. All that to say, there’s some hot Christian songs that should be played on Gospel radio and gospel songs that fit the format of Christian. And there’s gospel and christian songs being played on R&B stations....what?!!! Seems like the only artist played on all three formats is CeCe Winans. We know Tamela Mann, Kirk Franklin and Elevation Worship has also achieved the same feat. What separates Christian music from Gospel music? I bet your first thought is Christian is white and Gospel is black. It may look that way but it’s not 100% true. There are so many black singers and musicians on the Christians charts. And in the gospel world, Wess Morgan is the man. Others say it’s the sound that separates Christian and Gospel music. If that were the case then Todd Dulaney should be showing up on Christian charts and not Gospel. The clear cut difference is country rock sounds are Christian and Southern Black Traditional and Soulful Urban will only show up on Gospel. Praise & Worship and Christian Hip Hop tends to find their way across multiple platforms. So what separates Elevation Worship from Todd Dulaney? The almighty dollar controls who’s on what chart. Artist and labels have a marketing/promotion budget. It costs more to promote to Christian stations than it does Gospel stations. Why? Christian stations have a larger audience. Same reason it costs more to promote to R&B stations than Gospel Stations. So if you have a big budget to handle all 3 formats then it comes down to the relationships of the company and the stations. Having been part of the big crossover push of Bebe & CeCe Winans to R&B in the 90s, I can tell you first hand how it works... Bebe & CeCe signed to Capitol Records in 1987. They peaked at 12 on the Gospel charts and hit the R&B charts for the first time peaking at 49. On their 1988 album release of "Heaven" they hit number 1 on gospel and peaked at number 10 on the R&B charts. They slipped in to the top 100 pop charts peaking at 95. I was employed at Capitol Records as street marketing/promotions director 1991 to 1993 under Step Johnson. My main focus was hip hop but for the 1991 BeBe and CeCe release of "Different Lifestyles", the boss called for all hands on deck. His goal was to make BeBe and CeCe Winans mainstream. No matter the cost and by any means necessary is what we were told. That's when I discovered the dirty side of the music biz. That album and it's singles went #1 on both Gospel and R&B charts. It hit 74 on the pop charts but that's only because Step was not in charge of the pop music division at Capitol. Let me give you some facts on how major Step Johnson is... After Capitol Records he led the start up of Death Row and other black music at Interscope Records. Yeah all that went pop and then some. Using his same tactics, my close friend Positive K went number one with "Got A Man". Here's the simple formula. Pay the promoter who has the best relationship with key influencing radio stations. Not just one but several. A national, a few regionals and some local street teams in major markets. That's just for one format radio only. Gospel, R&B and Christian is 3 different formats. R&B promoters cost more than Christian promoters which cost more than Gospel promoters. Now you need a budget to promote to venues such as churches, concert halls, lounges, restaurants, etc. Again for three different formats with nationals, regionals and locals. Then a budget for TV, print, film and other misc mediums. This can all be done organic with very little money but that takes more time and the luck of going viral. Which is why I advise indie artist to use their money for recording and making videos. Stop chasing charts that are NOT mediabase or Billboard. This game is way bigger than forking over a few hundred dollars to promoters just to get your song on an indie chart. But do establish relationships with internet radio and indie charts. Every outlet counts no matter how small. Hopefully, you're getting an idea of how Gospel and Christian music gets separated. Let's blame it on the budget and the talent. Here's another factor. Fans of Christian music are open to Gospel music but fans of Gospel tend to shy away from Christian music. Ask a Black church choir to sing a Casting Crowns song and you will more than likely get push back. But go to a House of Blues Gospel Brunch with a predominately white audience and you will see folks having a good time! HOB Gospel is usually traditional/quartet black southern gospel. My mom loves HOB gospel brunch but does not like Tamela Mann or CeCe Winans. "They sing good but that ain't real gospel" is what we hear the southern old folks say. Play some christian hits and they say, "sound like rock music". Of course these are the same old folks that gave Kirk Franklin a hard time with his rap sound. So at the end of the day, a christian artist is a christian artist because that was his/her budget focus. Same goes for Gospel. Terrian is a young black artist who charts in Christian music. Her music fits very much into the Gospel radio world. I bet Ronica and The Blazing stars would rock the same stage of mega-churches that Elevation Worship perform on.


There you have it. The separation of Gospel and Christian music is all about the money. But it's ALL Gospel to us. For most of the day we play that good ol' down home gospel, and some soulful R&B sounding gospel. The Worship music and ballard type music can be heard on Ally Mo's "An Evening of Intimate Praise". Or you can hear the worship stuff on all Christian stations and all Radio One Gospel stations. For all that best of quartet, southern churchy and urban sounds tune into IAG Radio, itsallgospel.com


Issue43 music reviews

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