#BookReview: God Gave Rock And Roll To You by Leah Payne

(Mostly) Well Documented History Of the Entire History of ‘Contemporary Christian Music’ As The Term Was Known Through The Late 20th And Early 21st Centuries.

For those of us who grew up with ‘CCM’, this is actually a refreshing history that traces the roots of the music from its earliest days in 19th century songbooks through the early days of rock and roll through the heights of the late 80s- early 2000s boom and all the way to the seeming life support bed the genre currently finds itself on. Along the way, you’re going to hear tales of names both familiar and not and how they shaped or played a role in the genre and how it has been presented.

One thing to note is that the author *does* have a particular “it was always racist” bent to much of her commentary, so your mileage may vary there. But at 18% documentation, it is close enough to expected to classify as (mostly) well documented. (20-30%+ has been more of the actual norm in my experience, but I’ve noted in other reviews over the last several months that perhaps I should be revising that down to perhaps around 15% or so given more recent experience.)

This noted, I’ve never encountered a book quite so comprehensive in all my years both within the CCM community and as a book blogger, including having even worked books from Jaci Velasquez and Mark Stuart (lead singer of Audio Adrenaline) as advanced reader copies over the course of the last few years + read Jennifer Knapp’s memoir. Thus, having never come across any book quite like this one, given my own experiences, means it truly is quite likely quite rare indeed. That it is (mostly, again, see the YMMV comment above) so well written is almost a bonus given its comprehensive analysis of the history involved.

Ultimately this is one that some may want to defenestrate at times, but still absolutely a worthy read for anyone remotely interested in the subject. Very much recommended.

This review of God Gave Rock And Roll To You by Leah Payne was originally written on January 26, 2024.

Featured New Release of the Week: When God Rescripts Your Life by Jaci Velasquez

This week, we’re looking at a memoir from a Contemporary Christian Music legend from my teenage years. This week, we’re looking at When God Rescripts Your Life by Jaci Velasquez.

This was an amazing read for me personally. Jaci is a little over 3 yrs older than me, so when she burst onto the CCM scene in the late 90s as a 17yo kid, I was a 14yo kid deeply immersed in that very culture. And part of that culture was that I was actually in church 3x weekly and would thus occassionally be there for concerts from various groups making the church circuit – what Jaci herself had spent most of the previous 17 yrs doing with her parents, though in a different region. (These things tend to be highly regional, for those unaware – mostly due to associated costs, I would assume.) So even when Jaci speaks of her childhood in the back of car and later RV going from church to church singing, I’m at least familiar enough to understand from the angle of one of the people in those very churches what it could be like.

Also, I fully cop that I almost never read book descriptions for my ARC work in particular, unless it is an author or publisher I haven’t previously worked with or know. Since I knew of Jaci from 20 yrs ago, I didn’t read the description here. So when I got to the chapter about her son’s diagnosis of Autism and her reaction to it, this Autistic’s heart dropped. I just *knew* I was about to get a hard core defense of Autism Speaks, the Autistic community’s KKK. At that point I had just finished reading The Boy Who Felt Too Much and was involved in a few other discussions and was very raw.

Fortunately, Jaci doesn’t actually go that direction – I’ve seen far too many others fall into that trap at that very moment, but Jaci makes abundantly clear that she came to take the tack my own mother has taken in raising two Autistic sons. Do the best you can, be the best mother you can, and trust God to fill in the details. I can tell you from experience that this is basically the ideal way to raise an Autistic, and considering the four degrees and near 20 yrs of professional experience between my brother and I, Jaci’s son is in truly good hands there and it was thus a joy to be pleasantly surprised by Jaci’s strength.

And yes, I use her first name because you very much come away from this very conversationally-styled narrative feeling like you really know Jaci, even when your life maybe doesn’t parallel hers quite as much as it seems mine has. (Indeed, her year in London discovering herself? I call what is apparently that exact same year in Earth’s history my personal Year Of Failure, where graduating college was seemingly the only thing I did right – and had already been guaranteed 17 months prior. The year her Autistic son was born? That same year I began the professional career I’ve maintained ever since and also met and married my wife. Our anniversary is even within just a few days before Jaci’s birthday. Jaci speaks in the book about her time as a radio morning show host, I spent one football season working as the guy that presses the buttons to play the commercials when the announcer of the high school football game being broadcast declares “And now time for station identification” or whatever. 🙂 So. Very. Weird. How much we very coincidentally parallel.)

So yeah, this book was *amazing* to me personally, but honestly a truly great memoir generally. Her style is very conversational and humorous, and you’ll find yourself not wanting to put this book down… even when facing more pressing deadlines. Very much recommended.

As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release of the Week: When God Rescripts Your Life by Jaci Velasquez”

#BookReview: Facing the Music by Jennifer Knapp

Unapologetic – In all the best ways. In Facing the Music, former contemporary christian music star Jennifer Knapp tells her story, from her earliest memories growing up as a twin in rural Kansas through college into her public years as a turn-of-the-Millenium CCM star to her retreat from that life and its special hell of a rat race and ending with her triumphant yet messy return. And through it all, she maintains her honesty and integrity. Utterly captivating and soulful, just like her music. And in the end in particular, resonating very much with where this reviewer is himself right now. If you like memoirs generally, musician memoirs a bit more specifically, or were around the CCM scene at the turn of the Millenium in any capacity – or even just a generic Christian now- you’ll want to read this book. Knapp has a very powerful message that we all need to hear.

This review of Facing the Music by Jennifer Knapp was originally published on September 30, 2018.