“The Gospel According to Austin”

A Non-Profit 

 

The purpose of the Gospel According to Austin and these CDs is 3 fold:

  • To expose our great Gospel music heritage, and in so doing recapture the essence of what is quickly becoming a lost art form of the most spiritual music created in America… the very foundation of Country, Blues, R&B, Jazz, and Rock. 

  • To help get this great Gospel music into the streets where it can be enjoyed by the masses, instead of being tucked away inside the 4 walls of the Church.

  • To raise funds to help preserve & promote this vanishing art form.

 

This music is intended to be a celebration of traditional, undiluted Gospel music of all genre’s -- much like the Grand Ol’ Opry celebrates great Country & Western music of all types.  Many of the musicians contained herein are Christian believers, some have other faiths, and some may not know what they are.  But they all understand they have been given a gift, and they all relished this opportunity to give it back unreservedly, in the finest Gospel tradition.

 

Because Austin is the “live Music capital of the World” , there is a large number of musicians and music fans who are well schooled to appreciate the diversity of great music forms, genre’s, and musical roots.  Most of these people love great Gospel music… it’s cool!  Not Contemporary Christian music, not Praise & Worship music, not Sacred or Inspirational music… just plain old ragged, sweaty, broken hearted, joyful, sinner’s friend, Gospel music.

 

The music contained on this CD (and future CD’s) will be Gospel based songs representing a broad spectrum of musical styles, each performed by a different musician or group with an Austin presence.  We intend to explore the full spectrum of the Gospel roots of Austin’s musical fabric in this compilation… Gospel music that is agrarian, honest, soulful, gritty, spiritual, rockin’.  This CD embraces Gospel music’s diversity, and extends it across the many boundaries of race, denominations, religions and geography.  And in the finest Austin tradition, this CD is eclectic. 

 

Chester Baldwin of Mt. Sinai Baptist calls it “music that sticks to your soul”.  We call it “kick-butt Gospel” because it’s so fun and alive that it gives folks a liftin’ and the devil a kickin’ (there’s something about turnin’ the other “cheek” in the Bible).

 

These are not “religious” CD’s in the vein of typical Christian music.  The artists and cuts selected will intentionally represent a broad-brush of secular and church musicians from the Austin area.  Our criteria for asking artists to participate in this project is –

  • They have demonstrated a willingness and capability to pour out their hearts honestly to God in their own music form … whether from a saint’s, or a sinner’s perspective.

  • They are indeed talented, proven artists able to deliver great performances.

  • They warmly embrace the donation of the proceeds derived from this project toward the above stated non-profit purposes.

 

I have asked several of these top secular musicians (like the Imperial Golden Crown Harmonizer’s, or Malford Milligan) why they like doing Gospel music --- “because it’s so alive”   ---  “it’s feels like its what I was made for” --- “it’s just so fun”.  These are not religious people who profess Jesus or read their Bibles.  They are however “spiritual” people who know there’s a God in heaven, acknowledge they have been gifted by Him, and understand other spiritual laws/truths (e.g., we reap what we sew, God answers prayer, etc.).  They responded honestly, and accidentally communicate more truth than most sermons. 

 

When my wife and I embarked on this project, we had no great vision of what it would eventually be, or how it was to be used.  As Christians, we only knew that there was this great form of music called “Gospel” that was pretty much being ignored by the majority of Christian America  (supplanted by volumes of excellent Praise & Worship, and Contemporary Christian music).  But still alive and thriving in mostly Black congregations of America.

 

We also knew that this great form of music was the bedrock foundation of each of the secular American music forms – Country, Blues, R&B, Jazz, Rock.   As Austin continued to hold tight to its musical roots, we noticed that many secular music fans held a tremendous appreciation for “roots” Gospel music… they think it is COOL!!!

 

We did not understand this, but found it oddly true over the past 6 years.  Gospel music performed with great skill and enthusiasm is loved by un-Churched people.  By 1999, we became convinced that Gospel music, due to its honesty, rootsy, lively nature, had a strong appeal among secular Austinites.  At the same time, we perceived a general decline in the same qualities among Contemporary Christian music as it was tending toward rehashed, over produced models of recently successful secular music (or recently successful CCM music). 

 

 

This “good news” message, that was so eagerly embraced by the common sinners of His time, is not offensive to people today.  It is still “good news”.

 

It seems a bit strange that we have this great “Good News music”, highly admired by secular folks as an art form, but we tend to play and keep it inside the 4 walls of the Church (in order to keep it from getting adulterated, or worldly??).  As if this music and the Good News message is for Church people!!?

 

Over the years, it has also seemed strange that we fundamental believers (i.e., the Church) have held to the paradigm that we should get fish from rivers, ponds and oceans to jump into our fish bowls (churches) so we can fish for them very skillfully in order to catch them, clean them, mount them, fillet them, get them to do fish tricks, etc. 

 

Well the old paradigm is NOT working here in Austin, Texas where only 17% of the population attends church regularly (and 83% do not attend Church regularly).  I think you understand this from your sermon about “How to Influence People”. 

 

 

 

Being realistic, we do not expect people to listen to this CD and immediately get saved.  We trust that it can play one tiny part in the process of plowing, sewing, watering, fertilizing, weeding, and reaping a harvest.  A big process that only God can orchestrate and manage in each soul.  So for this tool to be effective, we understand that many people/ministry’s must come along to help the seed sewn among good soil (good because it’s honest) grown to fruition.

 

 

We decided that something needed to be done to re-capture the essence of what was quickly becoming a lost art form of the most spiritual music created in America, by Americans who suffered mightily during the building of the nation.  More importantly, we saw the unique opportunity that this form of “roots” music held for presenting “the Word in song” to folks who wouldn’t darken the doors of a Church.

 

As Austin continued to hold tight to its musical roots in the midst of each nuevo music fad, we also noticed that many secular music fans held a tremendous appreciation for “roots” Gospel music. 

 

By 1999, we became convinced that Gospel music, due to its honesty, rootsy, lively nature, had a strong appeal among secular Austinites.  At the same time, we perceived a general decline in the same qualities among Contemporary Christian music as it was tending toward rehashed, over produced models of recently successful secular music (or recently successful CCM music). 

 

We decided that something needed to be done to re-capture the essence of what was quickly becoming a lost art form of the most spiritual music created in America, by Americans who suffered mightily during the building of the nation.  More importantly, we saw the unique opportunity that this form of “roots” music held for presenting “the Word in song” to folks who wouldn’t darken the doors of a Church.

 

What is the “roots” of Gospel music.  To us it is the simple “good news” that:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit (those who need a savior)… which applies to us all.

  • Jesus was/is the Christ, the Messiah, sent to re-reveal God to all, and reconcile all to God for eternity (no matter how spiritually poor, depraved, hopeless, or sinful).

  • He gave/gives himself freely … to folks who will only believe Him.

  • Jesus was/is 1st and foremost the friend of sinners.  He’ll do everything to help us.

 

This “good news” message that was so eagerly embraced by the common, unlearned sinners of his time, is not offensive to people today.  It is still “good news”. 

 

 

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