So I’m on the road to meet my girlfriend for a date in the infamous Atlanta traffic with nothing but time to burn. I remembered that my mentor tagged me in an article someone posted on Facebook captioned, “Bono wants Christian music to get more honest”, it was the same article that an industry friend inboxed to me earlier that day. I figured what better time than now to read the article while I was in traffic (I know I know, I’m not suppose to be reading in traffic. I have three words to reply to you for your swift judgement – MIND. YOUR. BUSINESS.) Ok – so now that we got that out of the way, I was pleasantly surprised that there was a video attached to the article. So with my phone connected to the speakers in the car, I pressed play. Well let me say, I got way more than I bargained for. I was thrown into deep thought that almost ruined my date night. Once I arrived at the restaurant, I was tempted to sit in the parking lot and jot down some notes from my thoughts that would turn into a blog, but I didn’t want to trouble my relationship. Now that I’ve setup the story properly, let’s get this started.
Bono (lead singer of mega group U2) and Eugene Peterson (the creator of The Message Bible) had a very candid conversation concerning the book of Psalms and the authenticity of the message. Interesting enough, the fact that a rock star and a bible translator would be sitting at the same table discussing the world and her culture through the lens of the book of Psalms is amazing. The question is how did they meet? Bono a lover of the Psalms, happened across Eugene Peterson’s Message Bible translation and fell in love with it and sought Peterson out. The Message Bible was a breath of fresh air when the 1st edition was released in 1993 – It was real and raw, it was connected, it was organic. In the course of the discussion, Bono begins to say how David was honest, not perfect, but honest, he goes on to say how he wishes Christian music was as honest as it was in the book of Psalms. When I heard him say that, I could have screamed. I have been saying this for many months now that the issue with the Christian Music (The Gospel and CCM Format) industry is we have become fake. Our songs don’t tell the real story anymore, our artist are not required to be real. We only won’t them to be what our fantasy has created, anything other than that and they are deemed unacceptable. This has created at best a faux message that can only stay within the perimeters of fantasy, but never meet you in the dead heat of your reality.
As I said before, this threw me into deep thought about honesty. I begin to examine myself – wondering was I living an honest life? Was I creating from my honest place as an entrepreneur or was I status quo in my production. I thought about the kickback of being honest, having to show your vulnerability, having to expose yourself and your weakness to the world. In the stop and go of traffic, 5 minutes seemed like 30 minutes as I was lost in thought, I wondered if the music we have out right now would sound different if creatives would flow from their honest place. Would the lyrics be Happy – Happy – Joy – Joy or would it be Happy – Happy – Lost my Joy. As I sit here and write while simultaneously thinking I’m wondering why is it that no one wrote a song about Eric Garner, Tamir Rice from the Christian Genre – why is it that Beyonce beat the Christian Genre and producing a very HAWT record called “Formation” that spoke to the injustices in our community? How did we miss the opportunity to raise awareness? How are we comfortable watching someone else do what we are suppose to be doing?? I think we are too busy trying to create a “sound”, trying so hard to be right and have the proverbial “oil” that we forgot to include the message. Everybody wants to be “church anointed” no one wants to be relevant.
I remember just a couple of months ago as I was in the thick of an emotional battle. I was determined to not use porn, food, anger, or any other distractor to ease my pain. I was going to just deal with it head on. I would search for songs from our top Gospel artist that would speak to me where I was at. I knew eventually I was going to come out of this emotional battle on top, but I knew if that was to happen I would have to spend sometime in it. (That is a another blog for another day folks!) I couldn’t find any music from the Christian creatives of the genre that spoke of what you do when you’re in it. So I had to look outside the genre, because K. Michele knew exactly what I was going through when she released a song called, “God I Git It”. Let me introduce you to some of the lyrics so you can see for yourself.
Always loving what don’t love me
Put my trust in things I don’t need
My poor heart should be mad at me
I just leave my wounds to bleed
Haven’t I learned anything
You showed me signs to help me see
But I love so blindly
I’m taking full responsibility
God I get it
I’m a mess & I admit it… whoa
I keep learning the same lessons
While I’m missing out on blessings
God I get it… whoa whoa
That song had to be one of the most played songs in my playlist. Why? Because the lyrics spoke DIRECTLY to me. I wasn’t given some pseudo spirituality that I can’t do nothing with in the middle of the night when my mind is racing and my failure list is increasingly taken over my consciousness. I just wanted to hear real. That is what drew Bono to Eugene Peterson, his translations made the scripture real. Interesting enough he called it, “The Message Bible”.
I have one more thing to say and I’ll conclude. Often times when I’m in a consultation with a burgeoning entrepreneur that is Christian, I have to stop them in the middle of the consult and request, “Do No Mention Jesus”. Ok, so I know you are like huh??? (I wrote a very long paragraph – that I have decided to edit out of this blog. Not sure if everyone is ready just yet. Just use your imagination on why I tell my clients to leave Jesus out of it LOL)
Christian Creatives, we have to change the appetite of the masses. We’ve done so well watering down message that it’s what is preferred now. I hear someone saying, well all music is watered down now. I have to say that is true – generally speaking, but if there is any genre that is suppose to bring real, authentic message to the world, it’s suppose to be the genre of the Christian creative. I’m not talking about the message of Jesus Christ, we’ve brought that and apparently it’s only working for us. The world at large isn’t interested. How about you bring YOUR message to them? Let us behind the front doors of your proverbial home and see the darkness you fight – give us lyrics that talk to us about the pain of the abortion, the drudgery of mental illness, the intoxication of sexual misconduct. Give us lyrics that tell how you were being raped for years, and you were too afraid to tell. Tell us how you felt the first time you were physically abused by your mother and the last time she hit you before you ran away because you couldn’t take it anymore – and tell us the story without mentioning Jesus. Tell us through song, what you said to yourself, not what the preacher said. Empower us to take a stand against social injustices. Sing to the young black men that want to do right but are fighting against a broken system. If you have an album and you haven’t specifically, purposely and DIRECTLY addressed any of the above I have one question for you – WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING?