Blog: Launch of the UK Official Christian & Gospel Albums Chart

Mar 12 2013

Journalist Sam Hailes attended the launch of the UK's Official Christian & Gospel Albums Chart in London on 11th March 2013 and shares his thoughts in this blog...

Passion makes all the difference.

It was on the way back from last night's historic event where Christian music finally got its own chart that one industry professional pointed this out to me: "The Edge could play an amazing guitar riff, but when Bono picks the guitar up, it doesn't sound the same." The comment was not a critique of Bono's guitar skills but an observation about the way passion drives music.

Christian music is overflowing with passion because it's not just the music that gets us excited, it's the person we're singing about.

Speaking at the launch, MD of the Official Charts Company Martin Talbot said that he has overseen dozens of charts "but I've never experienced the enthusiasm we’ve had from the Christian and Gospel labels".

Later a representative from the same company told me she was staggered at the level of camaraderie and relationship within the Christian music world. Her comments reminded me of John 13:35 when Jesus said: "They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another".

When the Official Charts Company launches a new chart they do it properly. When industry experts "discovered" (that's their word, not mine) the Christian music scene they were gobsmacked. People simply didn’t realise such a huge market existed.

  • More people go to Church every week than people who went to the London Olympics.

  • Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons was the 4th biggest download of sheet music 2nd only to Adele in the UK.

  • 300,000 people went to Christian concerts and festivals in the UK last year.

  • Katy Perry's songs were played 1.4 million times on the radio last year. Chris Tomlin's songs were played 3.12 million times in churches.
Christian music has come a long way in recent decades. No longer is the genre synonymous with poor quality cringe-worthy songs. In any genre there'll be bad apples, but for the most part Christian music is top quality, and it's getting better all the time.

The first Number 1 on the UK's Official Christian & Gospel
Albums Chart was Hillsong United - Zion
Critics of the new chart worry a Christian ghetto is being created. But nothing could be further from the truth. Thousands of people sing Christians songs in the UK. Yet this beautiful picture of unified worship across backgrounds, races and denominations that Christians take for granted at events like Spring Harvest and Soul Survivor is hidden from the general public’s view. Having a Christian chart which is recognised and backed by a mainstream music organisation proves that Christian music is not some kind of strange side show for religious people, but a serious collection of great sounding, positive songs.

The Christian music industry is arguably set apart from how the secular world has traditionally operated. If you talk to the top worship leaders and record label bosses you will soon notice a common character trait. Real, genuine humility. I've interviewed many people within the Christian music industry yet I can't think of anyone who has come across as only being interested in promoting their music. When they say they want to serve churches by providing songs that help people to worship, they mean it.

There's a deep level of friendship even between representatives of "rival" organisations in the Christian music world. You could even argue the industry is often more like a family than an industry.

This chart has been a long time coming. I'm told there's been plenty of debate behind the scenes as to what constitutes 'Christian' music. The organisers of this chart are not oblivious to some of these tricky questions. Some of the finer details are yet to be worked out. But what's important and what should be celebrated right now is that Christian music has moved out of the ghetto. It's been recognised as a legitimate, well-produced and relevant genre of music. If you're a Christian this should excite you, and if you're not I hope it encourages you to look into this world of great music. You don't have to believe to belong. Let the future begin...

By Sam Hailes
Follow Sam on Twitter: @SamHailes
Thanks to Sam for the use of this article.

Join in the debate about the new Official Christian & Gospel Albums Chart on the Forum!

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