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The A&R privilege : Great Christian songs you won’t find on CCM radio

January 28, 2010

When your job is to listen to music for a living, or even if you’re the occasional background listener, you’ll be sure to hear: some bad, a ton of average, some good, and occasionally, you’ll hear a song that really excites or inspires you. I’m so blessed, not only to be inspired by songs I hear at work, but to also have a small creative part in the music that Centricity puts out.

I wanted to share a few of these song gems with you that I’ve run across in the last year or so. These might, or might not normally pop up on your Genius Sidebar. This is not intended as a plug for any of these artists. (Therefore, I’ve omitted our own.) These are just some songs that have really impacted me, and maybe they’ll hit you as well.

Brad Hooks “O How I Love Jesus”

When you take on a task as delicate as re-writing a classic Hymn you better deliver on point. To my surprise, this entire record is one of the most creative and ambitious works I’ve ever heard. When I typically think of “O How I Love Jesus” I think of my grandma singing in the choir at Fountain City Presbyterian Church in 1986. Her hands at her side with the local pipe-organist on accompaniment. Don’t misunderstand me, I absolutely love and adore the classic hymns. Somehow, Hooks transforms this song into a hip, epic ride, without changing the beauty of the message. I had another of Brad Hooks’ songs sung at my wedding, which was a beautiful version of “Doxology”. However, I think “O How I Love Jesus” takes the cake on this hymnastic song.

Carolina Liar “Show Me What I’m Looking For”

This song was featured as the itunes free download of the week a few months ago. When I first heard this song I thought, ‘Wow! Killer mix, unique sound and a great Christian lyric. I wonder if they’re signed?’ Unfortunately, they were signed. Even more unfortunately, a Christian lyric in “Show Me…” doesn’t coincide with the rest of Carolina Liar’s work from a Christian perspective. Regardless, this song could probably be played on most Christian radio stations from a lyrical standpoint and it’s just a great song.

Twenty One Pilots “Addict With a Pen”

This is something I came across after someone tipped me off to these guys after seeing them at a live show. This is outside of my typical listening box. It is not one of those songs you’d hear right away and think CCM Christian lyric. It’s there though. “You hear me screaming Father,…Wash me with Your water”. Halfway through the song there’s a rap, (hence out of my box) but the dude can flow.

Ben Shive “Rise Up”

The first time I heard this song I was scouting another artist at a local Nashville club called the Rutledge. I had heard of Ben Shive as a producer and session player, but I had no clue he was also a brilliant songwriter and artist. For me, this song delivers the gospel as well as any pastor I’ve ever heard preach. Ben’s sincere vocal tone, and with the words “He will rise up in the end…” really are a perfect picture of how powerful the gospel can be when presented through a song.

Jillian Edwards “Songbird”

This song came across my desk about two months ago. Part of my inspiration and excitement when hearing a song that I really like is to pass it through the filter of my wife. When she likes a song that I play for her, I get fired up. This was one of those songs that I just knew she’d like. Something about Jillian’s voice just locks you in from the first note. Not as vertical lyrically as some of the others on my list, but it paints a really cool picture.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2011 3:58 PM

    I have Christian songs for you to listen.

  2. Craig Hartneck permalink
    January 23, 2013 12:42 AM

    If you have time, here is one I wrote. http://youtu.be/DEOcCv2GEvs
    Would love your critique. Thank you, Craig

  3. July 12, 2013 12:01 AM


    Keep up the Good God Bless

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