Welcome to the second installment of "It's Your Flava!", where we from time to time invite opinion and comments from visitors. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of GospelFlava.com
The flava on this second segment flows from Andre W. Mullen, also known as 'Dre'. Dre has his hands in many areas of Gospel music, demonstrating that he is more than just a fan. In addition to his staff position on the Gospel radio program "Spreading God's Message Thru Music!" (WGBB 1240 AM, Long Island NY), he also freelances as a marketing consultant for several independent artists and labels, including Twin Records with its flagship artist, Bervin Harris & Peculiar People. Dre is a graduate of the City University of New York at Brooklyn College, with a degree in Television and Radio Communications. Dre's opinions and facts are his own.
Submitted by Andre W. Mullen January, 2000
By many responses, we see that even though we all may enjoy “the Good News music”, we all are not too certain on its “hidden mechanics” (what makes it work vs. how it really works). We have seen Gospel music within the past 10 years grow dramatically, with Gospel revenues surpassing half a billion dollars and, according to SoundScan data, close to fifty million units scanned in 1997. We have seen the gospel embraced by many people, not only here in the United States, but across the world as well. We are bearing witness to the growth of Gospel music to phenomenal heights. The fact of the matter is, it has become a money-making engine. Is the image of the Gospel being compromised in order to bolster record sales? Has the Gospel been reduced to mere entertainment rather than ministry?
If we look at the ministry of Jesus Christ, we see that he did not “water down” his message to those whom he spoke with. He told the Pharisees and the scribes that they were hypocrites. He spoke to the disciples and all that he met about salvation. Christ did not beat around the bush. He made it plan as day.
So why is it that many Christians feel that there are some groups that have “sold-out” or “crossed-over” to the “greener pastures” of the secular music realm? Perhaps the answer to this question lies in the fact that many Christians feel that there are some artists that have “watered down” the message of the Gospel and that if the world likes it, then it’s not of God.
For so long we have criticized BeBe and CeCe Winans for their “passiveness” in putting forth the Word of God. Now recently, with the secular industry embracing more artists such as Kirk, Yolanda, and Hezekiah Walker and LFCC, it gives Christians the uncertain feeling that someway, somehow, the gospel is being contaminated. It is this controversy that has spawned a level of resentment concerning certain artists’ cross-over recognition and appeal. Despite the claims of many who believe that Kirk Franklin is “walking in the flesh” (like none of us have done it before? Don’t say that too loud or you may turn into a pillar of salt!), one cannot dismiss the fact that he has brought Gospel music to the forefront of the music industry, showing that God can indeed “stomp to this!”
Why do Christians feel that in order for a Gospel song to be a Gospel song, that name Jesus has to be laced all through the lyrics? Well, to put it in the words of Kirk and Men of Standard, there’s just “something about the name Jesus”. It causes change. It causes conviction. It causes redemption. It causes reconciliation. It causes and gives salvation. The name of Jesus is the catalyst for change. Without it, it’s like faith without works...dead.
If we do a comparison to how the Gospel was portrayed in the days of Jesus, we see that our Jesus was not one to charge people to listen to his most prized words which gave instructions on how to please The Father. In fact, by looking at his raiment, he was a man of nothing who did not even have a place to lay his head! Jesus went from place to place (FOR FREE!) to spread the Word of God to all those who would have an ear to hear. Jesus allowed for his precious gifts to make room for Him wherever he went. He lived for the Gospel. He suffered for the Gospel. He died for the Gospel. If we are Christians, shouldn’t we have the mind of Christ?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Gospel musicians/artists shouldn’t get paid for what they do because after all, that is their livelihood and the Bible does tell us that a man is “worthy of his meat” (Matthew 10:10). However, if the artist’s purpose is to MINISTER (which is should be), then they need to understand that ministry shouldn’t necessarily have a price affixed to it – that there may be times where, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, that God would lead them to a place to minister where there may not be that much money involved. The ministry of Jesus Christ was and is priceless, and if we are ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we should look at how we can plant the seed, not ONLY how we can make our money.
That is why there must be balance. In order for the people of God to be ready for the influx of souls wanting, yearning, desiring to know the Lord, then we as God’s chosen people must be ready to deal with this. The gospel isn’t JUST entertainment.
It just utilizes a vehicle, which is known also as entertainment music. It isn’t JUST about Kirk, Fred, or Tonéx getting up on the stage and singing a tune that may make you cry or dance. It’s about the Word of God’s life-giving power to those things that are dead in their sin. It’s about reconciliation and justification through the Word to those who need it. It’s ALL about the message behind the music the anointingthat breaks and destroys the yoke.
Segment One: Nathan Thomas (December, 1999)