Music focus: Osmond announcement creates a stir for quieter category Print
Written by Staff   
Tuesday, 28 July 2009 09:26 AM America/New_York

New and general artists like Phil Stacey and Ray Stevens fill void of big-name Christian performers


marie osmondIn contrast to recent years where music companies sponsored late-night concerts and brought in their most popular artists, at this year's show, marquee Christian music artists were mostly MIA—leaving a void filled by new and general market artists like Phil Stacey, Marie Osmond and Ray Stevens.

Osmond's appearance, to promote an upcoming inspirational CD scheduled by Word Distribution, created a buzz. After greeting a large crowd of retailers at the company’s booth, she met with key retail accounts, explaining the inspiration for the project. Osmond said she felt "moved by the Spirit" to record the CD, getting on her knees in prayer before ultimately realizing it's "what I needed to do."

Osmond said she was a longtime listener of Word music artists, but had previously felt that the "barrier with me as a Mormon" prevented the possibility of a recording. She said she hoped that people would realize "it doesn’t matter what denomination (you are)," but that she wanted to bring people to "my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."

Osmond's appearance and the news of the CD sparked somewhat of an informal debate as to whether or not products by Mormons should be included in Christian retail. Industry researcher Kelly Gallagher previously reported that up to 7% of store sales come from Mormon shoppers.

Mickey Nuttal, owner of Sonlight Christian Books and Gifts in Grand Junction, Colo., told Christian Retailing that "if she’s a Mormon, I probably wouldn't stock it. If you're going to be a Christian store, be a Christian store."

Lois Friesen, owner of Faith & Life Bookstore in Newton, Kan., however, said she would judge the CD on its own merits and definitely consider it "if it's not contradictory" to Scripture.

Osmond's appearance at the Word booth was one of a few music artist appearances during the week, which also included country artist Ray Stevens, Sonicflood, PureNRG, Britt Nicole and Go Fish.

Provident Music Group artists—including Stacey, an American Idol finalist with a new Christian market release, and worship leader Matt Maher—were featured in the week's events but did not schedule signings since Provident-Integrity Music Distribution did not have a presence on the floor.

The Gospel Music Association (GMA) once again sponsored its opening night Power of Music, featuring Stacey, PureNRG, Go Fish and vocal trio Selah. GMA President John Styll introduced the event, telling the crowd that Christian retail was "crucial" to the distribution of Christian music. Comedian Jeff Allen (Apostles of Comedy) served as the evening's host, entertaining the crowd with humorous stories of family and faith.

"We present the Power of Music event ... to demonstrate music's power to move people, but also to encourage retailers personally," Styll said. "We want to make sure that they understand that the Christian retail channel is a critical component of the Christian music distribution system."

Maher, formerly an independent worship leader who signed with Provident a few years ago, also led the Sunday morning Worship Now! event. He said connecting with retailers has been the biggest benefit of being a signed artist.

Retailers curious about marketing music in their stores were also given the option to attend one of two Product Intelligence Tours on music sponsored by EMI CMG. The seminar, led by Les Coughran, gave retailers the inside scoop on the company's new Now Hear This promotion as well as tips on creating a buzz through social networking led by retailer Gunnar Simonsen.