Most LDS music for women, or just generally, is very.....dare I say.... sedate. At least, that is to say, what I can find at Deseret Book. Which is perfect is you want something gentle to listen to. But. How great it would be if there were more selections that were powerfully uplifting and empowering and that I felt like playing on days besides Sunday when I want to feel encouraged and energized! (Besides choral and orchestral works) We have a lot of what might be considered 'worship' music, which is so important, but we could use more of the 'everyday' variety.
Hm. What to do? What to do?
Enter: contemporary Christian music.
I don't mind listening to music from people of other faiths/churches different from mine.
If you think about it, how much time does a person spend listening to the popular music on the radio or downloads from a favorite band or musician? Chances are, those musicians most likely do not share many religious or spiritual beliefs or even moral standards (in many cases) and often the lyrics in most popular music, when really listened to, do not reflect our true standards and purpose in life as followers of Jesus Christ.
What a gift, then, is music made by everyone who considers themselves a Christian and lives in accordance with Christ's teachings. Music has the power to lead us to Christ or away from him.
I think this topic is very timely for young people, teenagers and young adults, as well, because many of them are seeking exciting music but all too often only find what is easily available and are missing out on the great stuff that is 'out there' but not always easy to find! I know that was definitely the case when I was where they are now.
I admit, when I was younger, I had the music I listened to on Sunday....and then I had the music I listened to on other days. And most of it was what everyone else was listening to and, to be honest, it was not music that invites the Spirit. Since that time, my taste has changed as my heart has changed. I want the Holy Ghost to be my companion, so I want to choose music that I like that does not drive the Spirit away. It has made a tremendous difference in how I feel emotionally--letting that stuff go left me feeling lighter and seeing the world in a much more positive way. I can't go back because I enjoy the new world of music I have found so much more than that other stuff.
I have a special person to credit in finding newer, better music to listen to on a more consistent basis. My husband introduced me to the exciting genre of contemporary Christian music when we were dating, about 10 years ago.
Some of his favorite artists include Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Bebo Norman, Nichole Nordeman, Caedmon's Call, Cindy Morgan, Chris Rice, Sarah and Shaun Groves, FFH (they put on a great concert), Point of Grace, Rebecca St. James, and Watermark. I enjoy these and other artists' music as well, in addition to my own taste in other genres such as bluegrass, jazz, classical and fiddling music.
For our very first date, he took me to a concert. Nichole Nordeman was in town and that night there were at least 2 practicing 'Mormons' (common nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) swaying and singing along! (She puts on a terrific concert!) When I think of anyone who might be shocked at that thought, I giggle now. I remembering watching as she pounded out the songs she was so passionate about on the piano keys. I was enthralled with her strength of character and desire to share her feelings about the Savior. Her music was poignant, introspective and, at times, funny.
For Mother's Day this year, my caring husband gave me the gift of a CD, Women of Hope, from Deseret Book (he takes hints well! Great guy!). I popped it in and listened away...and then laughed as the fourth track started to play. It was one of my favorite songs from Nichole Nordeman, entitled "Legacy". (Which can be found in the playlist on the bottom of this blog)
Why did I laugh? Because here were LDS women's voices singing one of the first songs I listened to when I first started to listen to contemporary Christian music. I smiled. It was good to hear! (Although, I, ahem, like Nichole's better) I know Kenneth Cope also did a whole CD covering contemporary Christian songs. There are artists, like Cherie Call and Hilary Weeks, and a few others who are innovating contemporary LDS music. I hope more LDS artists will continue to broaden and get lively.YLDSR is a great place to find LDS music online (thanks to my sister-in-law who shared that with me).
I am not alone in my opinion and desire to hear more music, distinctly LDS, with more 'pep'. Convert to the LDS faith since 1998 and well-known artist, Gladys Knight, mentioned the same thought to the late President of the LDS church, Gordon B. Hinckley. He encouraged her and she created the Saints United Voices choir.
I was privileged to see and hear them when they were in our city about 5 years ago when they were singing selections from the One Voice album. (You can listen to tracks here) When they sang "Blessed Assurance", I was thrilled! Here was another woman, and member of the same church with the same beliefs as me, leading a diverse group of men and women singing songs that not only uplifted and inspired me, but gave me goose bumps and just made me feel like electricity was running to my finger tips. It was energizing! I felt the spirit there in that church building, confirming the truth of not just the message of those songs, but the experience. There is room for diversity and uniqueness in the Lord's kingdom.
I am grateful for my husband who introduces music to me that speaks to his heart and his sense of musicality. It was one thing that attracted me to him when we first met and still is one of the best things we have in common as "old married people", LoL. (Pay attention, young people! The music you listen to has the power to attract the right kind of person to you, and vice versa!)
I feel fortunate to be able to enjoy and appreciate the testimony and strength that come from musicians of all walks of life and faiths with whom I share values in common. For one thing, my playlist is practically endless! Plenty of music for ANY day!! The music these artists create can act as a binding agent, love, for the truths we both accept and honor and enable us to celebrate together the uniqueness and diversity that the act of following Christ teaches us to embrace. We don't all have to think the same, or sound the same, to be followers of Christ. I have found that whether I want to be calmed or energized, there is (an appropriate) song for that!
Now, if you are curious or would like to listen to a few songs we enjoy at our house, don't hesitate to press 'play' on the music player below. There is some awesome music there!
How have you been impacted by empowering music? What positive experiences have you had while listening to music from people of faiths or backgrounds different than your own? What criteria do you consider when choosing what you listen to?