Friday, September 14, 2012

Flashback Friday: WWMT - The Tribe

Welcome back to an entirely revamped Flashback Friday. We are going to rotate this column among three subjects for the near future. We start with "The Commonwealth of CCM", where we will cover some artists within the British Commonwealth. Christian Music isn't just a US Centric Phenomena after all.

Take a group of Christian Evangelists, add Public Schools, and add a bit of Music to it. What do you get? Here in the USA, nothing, because  All Crazy Liberals United (a better acronym for the ACLU) would be invoking the fictional "Separation of Church and State" faster than you can say Activist Judges. (Any actual idea of separations would have been trying to protect the Church from Government Control, not the other way around. The founding fathers always figured this would be a moral country). Rant aside, in the more enlightened UK, they had no problem with the arrangement, and the result was THE TRIBE.

Officialy the World Wide Message Tribe, Christian Music's most influential dance band grew out of the Message 88 and Message 89 Youth Meetings in Manchester, England, that were put on by brothers Andy and Simon Hawthorne. Those meetings grew into the Message to Schools Trust, and from there the tribe was formed, which had at its core
  • Mark Pennels
  • Zark Porter
  • Cameron Dante
and others, including Beth Redman (Matt Redman's Wife) who was in a band named Storm at the time. WWMT burst onto the scene with WWMT - Take a long hike with the Chosen Few (1993), but they are best known for their multi album and friends series Jumping in the House of God. All together from 1993 until 2004 when they broke up Chistians everywhere danced with a full dozen releases. Here's a promo video for WOW 1998 with them in action. All I can say is I wish we had stuff like this when I was in school.

Mark Pennels and Zarc Porter weren't content to just create dance music themselves. They were always on the lookout for the next generation. One of the most promising of these new acts, at least from my perspective, was a US/UK duo by the name of V*ENNA. The Christian Music world was in a mad rush to create an "alternative" to Britney Spears and other boy and girl bands. Unfortunately they weren't alone in the chase. Sparrow/EMI brought out the big guns (Nichole Nordeman, Clay Crosse, Carman) to support their choice, ZOE girl. If the big co-stars weren't enough, they also had Rebecca St. James producer in their corner. Lucy Britten and Sharnessa Shelton lost out to the trio of Alisa Girard, Kristin Swinford and Chrissy Conway.

Now in the interest of full disclosure I wish to mention that during the 2001 Festival Season I was working with Sparrow Records and had to push ZOE girl, but I listened to both CD's and, while the trio vastly improved their work in later albums, their debut is almost unlistenable. The power of PR.

As always, click on the links to go to Amazon and help support The Night Beat by buying through them. Next week we will switch gears and go to our next group, which I am calling The Industrial Revolution. Until then, I am Awaiting Your Reply.