Friday, July 20, 2012

Flashback Friday: The Turning of CCM

If you were here from the start of this blog, or at least from the first Platinum Vinyl Awards, you found out about the Fallen Award. The Fallen Award was named for the debut album by Evanescence. Soon after the CD was released an interview with the band surfaced in Entertainment Weekly in which they swore. Quell Horror! (Hey, I have to make High School French work for me). Evanescence CD's disappeared from Christian Bookstore shelves faster than you could say witch hunt. Evanescence was the most famous, but it certainly wasn't the last (Jennifer Knapp and possibly P.O.D.). It also wasn't the first.

While I can't be absolutely certain about such things (It can be awfully hard, if not impossible, to track down EVERY friendly fire incident), it is probably true that the first witch hunt of the modern era was Sam Phillips, who in the early 1980's as a rising Christian pop star, recorded under the name of Leslie Phillips.

Leslie Ann Phillips (born January 28, 1962) released five albums in the Christian Market: Beyond Saturday Night (1983), Dancing With Danger (1984), Black and White In A Grey World (1985), The Turning (1987) and Recollection (1987), which was a best of album. We'll start with Heart of Hearts from her debut album.
Leslie Phillips "Crime" was to criticize the Christian Music Industry. While she was marketed as the Christian Cindy Lauper, in a long tradition that there must be a "Christian Alternative" to every secular genre or artist. Phillips didn't want to be squeezed into the mold and left the fold, going from Myrrh Records to Virgin Records. This is a youtube audio of Strength of My Life from Dancing With Danger (duet with Russ Taff of The Imperials) I figure I should close with a "Now" video. Suffice itself to say that Leslie's life as "Sam" has been longer than "Leslie". Since assuming the moniker with The Indescribable Wow (1989). she has recorded eight studio albums and five digital EP's. And there have been a few brave Christians out there. From time to time my local Christian Concert Promoter has advertised a Sam Phillips appearance at a Boston area club. This is Holding On To The Earth from The Indescribable Wow.

So a special Night Beat round of applause to all those trailblazers who proved that Christians could make music that crossed the Sacred/Mainstream Divide. Sorry you had to dodge some arrows while doing it. I guess an honorary Fallen Award to Sam Phillips is in order. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.