The King of Country Gospel
Country Gospel Music has been around for generations. It originated as a blend of early mountain music, cowboy music and the music from the plantations of the Deep South. It was out of this blend of music that Southern Gospel music was birthed and was found primarily in the southern states. Today, Christian country music has blended with a new brand of music called Positive Christian Country music. The music tends to deal with life's problems and God's answers to those problems, and it doesn't sound like the religious music of years past. It has attracted extraordinary talent and quality in production, thereby making it palatable to the ears of the un-churched who like the sounds of today's country music. It's becoming a tool for evangelism all over the world and through it many churches have sprung up around the country with country gospel as their main musical format. They are known as Cowboy churches
Country Gospel(sometimes marketed as Christian Country Music or Inspirational Country) is music that is written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as (in terms of the varying music styles) to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music. Christian country music is a form of Christian music and a subgenre of both Gospel music and Country music.
Many secular country music artists have recorded country gospel songs or have performed them on their radio and television programs. From 1956-1960, two network shows usually concluded with a gospel number, which was popular with viewers: The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show and Red Foley's Ozark Jubilee.
Other shows like Hee Haw, the Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters Show, and the Statler Brothers implemented the same programming style. The Grand Ole Opry, one of country music's longest running and most popular shows, has always included gospel music as a part of its program.
In the past, most Christian country music was recorded by groups with southern gospel flair like the Oak Ridge Boys, The Cook Family Singers, Ray Price, Red Sovine, The Louvin Brothers and The Carter Family.
Many Christian country organizations have been around for a great number of years. These organizations were founded in hopes of helping to further artists careers much in the same manner as the GMA, NARAS or CMA. Many of these organizations have yearly conventions which hosts music showcases and awards shows. The oldest Christian country organization is the International Country Gospel Music Association. This organization has been in existence for over 50 years and the current president is Da Other notable organizations are the Christian Country Music Association headed by its president Gene Higgins The Country Gospel Music Guil started by W.C. Taylor Jr, the Country Gospel Music Association headed by Billy Hale and the newest organization, The United States Association of Gospel Entertainers and Musicians. Although these organizations are under different titles and their membership may vary, their functions are primarily the same. One should note that the CCMA was sued by the CMA for award name right infringement. The CCMA renamed their awards show after a federal judge ruled that they could no longer use the name. The new name is the ICM Music Awards' which stands for "Inspirational Country Music".
Radio personality Bob Wilson was one of the first radio personalities to see the potential of the genre. His weekly show Gospel Country Round-up aired for many years playing southern and Christian country music. Many Christian country stations today are going the way of Internet stations. That is a positive move for this genre, however, because there are few terrestrial radio stations that play a strictly Christian country format. Many mainstream country stations only have a weekly Sunday Country Gospel show.
While there may be few 24 hour Christian Country stations, this musical genre is showing a strong presence in syndication. The Country Gospel Countdown hosted by Les Roberts has broadcast since 1984 and syndicated since 1988. It airs weekly across North America, Australia and Philippines. Other shows include Ken's Country Radio Show hosted by Ken Mann, The Radio Hour hosted by Gene and Micki Farington of the Country Gospel Connection, Country Messenger by Radio CIA, Tommy Smith's The Ranch radio show on KKUS, and Canadian produced Riverside Country hosted by Jason Farris. The Country Gospel Music Guild also airs a weekly radio program while Circuit Rider Radio airs on conventional and satellite radio worldwide. XM Satellite Radio has a weekly one hour show called Stained Glass hosted by Dan Dixon that features both Southern and Country Gospel music and is heard all across the continental United States on XM-10 "America" channel.
Other syndicated weekend shows that feature Inspirational and Positive Country music are WRBQ-FM's "Rise Up", hosted by John Ritter, Power Source Top 20 hosted Rich Miller, and finally, the American Christian Music Review hosted by Linda O'Brian for United Stations Radio Networks. These programs are aired nationwide weekly on both Country and Southern Gospel radio stations