On an unrelated topic, I'm a terrible person...
Oh yes, I am. BarlowGirl is a group of Christian sisters with a ministry specifically aimed at encouraging young girls to maintain a high standard of purity, modesty, and love for the Lord. They are catchy, have a positive message, and they actually play their own instruments, you have to like them.
But I don't, and I hate myself for it. Rather, I feel bad for not hating myself for it...
I've tried, really, but Christian female artists always let me down. I did like Rebeccas St James for about a year circa 1997 and, apparently, I was obsessed with the song El Shaddai as a 3 year old (which is just a weird song for a toddler to sing) but aside from Breath of Heaven, since I hit middle school, Christian girl music has been consistently letting me down.
And I have tried.
I tried with Jennifer Knapp
and Nicole Nordman...
and Bethany Dillon...
and Audrey Assad (though I really like her lyrics)...
and Genevieve Falleur (dig that folky vibe)...
and Kari Jobe...
Generally, they'll give me one or two songs that make me say, "Oh, this is nice," and then I get bored. I mean, i'm sure they love Jesus and are He is honored by their ministry and, musically, they're okay, good even. Just...boring.
And before you get mad at me, you think so too! When you suggest a Christian female artist to me it usually goes something like, "try x out, she's pretty good."
Pretty good? Really, that's the standard?
I generally end up hurting or offending really nice people when I admit that "I don't really like x, she's not that great/interesting of a musician/writer," and end up looking like an impossible to please jerk. Well can be kind of a jerk, but I'm not impossible to please.
I can listen to Adele for hours and never stop smiling.
I'm not interested in "pretty good music" that gets a bye in the Christian music scene because it happens to be about about Jesus, not when I can listen to someone with an interesting, creative sound; surprising chord progressions; driving energy; outstanding, clever, deep lyrics; and dynamic vocals. I'm not looking for Avril Lavigne vanilla-pop, I'm looking for an Adele/Fiona Apple/Regina Spektor/Norah Jones/Feist grade female artist.
The only Christian female vocalist who I will happily choose to listen to (presently) is Lacey from Flyleaf. She is (they are) a very talented and creative vocalist and writer. But it's Flyleaf...and sometimes I wanna be happy.
Now I don't think there needs to be a "Christian version" of everything, I certainly don't plan on giving up my love-affair with Adele even if a Jesus-loving alternative comes along, but I'd love to be elevated to musical nirvana by a song about Jesus rather than an ex-boyfriend. And I refuse to believe that there aren't any insanely talented, creative, risk-taking Christian female singer/songwriters out there, especially because I personally know at least two.
To be fair,
Maybe I'm not being fair here, maybe I am confusing "good" with "indie/singer-songwriter/alternative/baroque-pop." That's not really fair, but I'm frustrated and not feeling particularly fair.
Any other suggestions?
Lest I be, again, labeled as impossible to please let me tell you that there are female Christian artists that I enjoy.
I happen to be a huge fan of Brook Fraser's writing for Hillsong United (Desert Song, Hosanna, You'll Come) I was excited to listen to her solo music. I love her perky, fun, and unique sound (I occasionally get a sweet Joni Mitchell vibe!). But her lyrics, while interesting and well written, are sometimes a bit ambiguous on the message. Again, that's totally cool but it doesn't do much to dispel the myth that a girl can't write creative, poetic lyrics explicitly about Jesus.
Actually, Brook has worked pretty hard to keep herself from being categorized as a "CCM artist," which may be why I like her.
So there, I've got one! And because I'm feeling generous, I'll share a secret with you.
One of my favorite Christian singer-songwriters (one of the aforementioned "two") is my friend Hannah Jean. She's in the early stages yet, but I'm excited to see the music that she produces as her career grows.