Play with me, Jesus
I've known about Christian music for a while. I knew that psalms and organ music were being replaced by drums, keyboards and electric guitars in worship in many churches. It wasn't until recently I discovered that some awesome blues musicians also worship the Lord and preach the gospel every day.
First, let us take a look at some background information about blues.
History of Blues
Most consider the first blues song ever to be recorded as "Crazy Blues" from 1920. Clearly, however, that was not the beginning of the blues. It had started long before in the deep South of the United States among slaves around or after the time of emancipation. Although technically free, living conditions were still pretty miserable. Traditional slave songs, work songs and spirituals, began to meld into a simple form of blues with lyrics reflecting the life of the singer.
The instrument of choice was the acoustic guitar until Muddy Waters replaced it with an electric one and added bass and drums giving birth to the rhythm and blues genre. Bands like the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and artists like Eric Clapton and B.B. King commercialized it and seriously influenced the popular music we know today.
With that, there is not much left of the negro spiritual roots of blues, but a few artists continue to use the genre for worship music. We will meet some of them below.
History of Worship Music
Following the exodus God gave the Jews a great deal of specifics about how they should worship him. It is mostly about offering and sacrifice, not much about music. We do know that David played the lyre, sang songs and wrote most of the Psalms.
By the time of Jesus, the focus of worship had tilted towards teaching and studying the law. Vocal chants had largely replaced musical instruments. Music was a very small part of Jewish worship if at all.
The first Christians were simply Jews who followed Jewish worship customs. Gradually, as they were banned from the synagogues and persecutions followed, they grew in their understanding of the gospel and their form of worship became more informal and adopting customs of the gentiles.
So it is today, churches have adopted forms of music that are relevant to their reality.
The Role of Blues in Worship
Not many churches use blues exclusively as their worship music. That's OK, because worship is not something we do for us anyway. It is the most important thing we do and we do it for God. And it is not just something we do on Sunday mornings. We do it all day, every day. This is the form blues worship takes for most people.
1. Glenn Kaiser
Glenn Kaiser is arguably one of the most influential Christian blues artists. He is from Chicago where he got involved in the music scene at an early age. He became a born-again Christian around the age of 18 and is now himself a pastor. He was the leader of Resurrection Band, quite possibly one of the most influential bands in this genre.
He is also well known for his involvement in the Jesus People USA movement, Back 2 the Blues and Cornerstone festivals.
Glenn Kaiser Video - Since I Laid My Burdens Down
2. Darrell Mansfield
Darrell Mansfield got his musical start in 1976. He has released over 30 albums, toured extensively on several continents. He has also contributed to albums from a number of other artists.
Darrell Mansfield Video
3. Mark Farner
Mark Farner is from Flint, Michigan and is best known for his role in Grand Funk Railroad. Mark plays high-energy, guitar-laced blues. If you are a fan, you will surely enjoy this one.
Mark Farner Video
4. Brooke Lambkin
I know you're wondering what Brooke Lambin is doing here. Her music straddles a wide range of genres and she is accomplished in all of them. When I first heard this blues, I was hooked.
She and her sister, Charlene, were discovered early on and recorded their first album while still in their teens. Although she had a bright future as a studio singer, she felt unfulfilled and nearly gave up her music career. Until she met Jesus.
Brooke Lambkin Video
5. Larry Carter Video
So you want to know more about this guitarist/preacher? Try to Google his name. You'll find about two pages with links to this video, but not much else, no Wikipedia article, no biography. I finally found a link to his homepage larrycarter.com on one of the videos.
Turns out the guy is playing/ministering somewhere just about every week of the year. He has a recording service and has played on numerous projects.
Enough about my favorites - Your turn
SHIRLEY COOK on April 21, 2018:
Looking for Blues Night Concert cd with Everybody Wants to go to Heaven. Some of the best Christian Blues ever.
TanoCalvenoa on July 22, 2013:
I love blues artist Ronnie Earl, who has many albums with Christianity-related titles. Stuff like "Spread the Love," and "Healing Time," and "Living in the Light." Super great, highly recommended.
Birthday Wishes from Here on May 13, 2013:
So many beautiful songs... Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful lens!!!
halloweenprops on March 12, 2013:
Great coverage of all these blues rock artists!
Deborah Carr from Orange County, California on February 23, 2013:
I am so glad that Christians can enjoy good, modern music, too!
Deb Bryan from Chico California on February 16, 2013:
I am delighted to find this Gift Guide for Christian Blues Rock Music Fans! Many of the artists are new to me so this is especially a treat to find them. This page will help people find fabulous music gifts for people who enjoy Christian music. Great Gift Guide!!
Shelly Sellers from Midwest U.S.A. on December 09, 2012:
Nicely done! I haven't heard most of the Blues Christian songs before! Thanks for sharing :)