Contemporary Christian Music of the 70's, 80's and 90's (2023)

  • 10. August 2020

The Top 10 Songs of 1977 as chosen by members of the GMA and The Stories Behind Them; by Philip Mayabb

Contemporary Christian Music of the 70's, 80's and 90's (1)

Not long ago, on Vinyl Revival, we brought you the first-ever collection of ten songs nominated for the 1970 Dove Award for Song of the Year. Although most of the songs in this collection were traditional Southern Gospel songs (the one exception). The Imperials' amazing rendition of If That Isn't Love), I wanted you to hear the songs that first competed for this prestigious honor.

This week we're doing it again but with a different year... there were MANY big events that took place this year, in January Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as the 39th President in US history (let's not go there... ), while Elvis Presley, the King Of Rock and Roll, passed away in August. Disco ruled the airwaves and clubs in America, and the year's biggest entertainment events were a mini-series (Roots) and a BIG motion picture (Star Wars). The Oakland Raiders won the Super Bowl, the New York Yankees won the World Series, the Portland Trailblazers were crowned NBA champions, and the Montreal Canadiens won one of their many Stanley Cups. The world was very different then, but gospel music was alive and well and beginning to experience something of a renaissance due to a new musical subgenre called contemporary Christian music.

Now that we've discussed the genesis of CCM and how its beginnings were divided into two eras, the Jesus music movement and plain old contemporary Christian music, so we won't repeat that again, except to say that 1977 marked the era of Jesus Music over. Artists got more organized, with managers, booking agents, etc. The days when bands traversed the country and played wherever they could find a gig were replaced by artists doing full-blown tours that were very similar to their mainstream counterparts are similar, which feeds into the story of the songs on our featured album, which is the Gospel Music Association's Top Ten For 1977 LP. We're going to hear the ten songs chosen by the members of the GMA (who were still mostly people involved in Southern Gospel) to compete for the Dove Award this year, and there are some memorable hits in this one collection, so let's break this down piece by piece. We'll start with the opening of the song album, and go down the list.


One of the most beautiful things about Southern Gospel Music is that there really is no limit to how long an artist's career can last. By 1977, the Speer family had been a quartet for about 56 years. Started way back in 1921 by George Thomas (father) Speer and his wife Lena Brock (mother), the Speer family had seen personnel changes over the years. GT Speer was responsible for a number of BIG hits over the years and his children Brock, Mary Tom, Rosa Nell and Ben eventually took over the family business and continued the group into the early 1990's. In 1977, the Speers were still major players in southern gospel, and this song, written by super-producer Lari Goss, launched them into the year-ending top ten. Most CCM fans (myself included) would prefer the version recorded by the much younger Cruse family, but there's a reason the Cruse's recording wasn't used, and it's...

He was there all along - The Cruse family

(Video) Top Worship Songs of 70s 80s 90s - Best Praise and Worship Songs of All Time

Although this family group started out in Southern Gospel, they were moving towards a more contemporary sound, as were several younger artists at the time. From their major label debut album Heaven Bound, this recording of Gary S. Paxton's classic song was selected for inclusion in the 1977 Top Ten. Fun fact - on their next album Faith, also released in 1977, The Cruse Family covered a little ditty written by two guys named Keith Green and Randy Stonehill (you've probably heard of them) called Love Broke Through (me knows you've heard the song a time or two). By the late '70s, the Cruses had made the jump to CCM, much to the chagrin of their longtime Southern Gospel fans, but they never looked back when the deed was done.


Let me start by saying this right here... Dottie Rambo is one of the greatest songwriters in the history of Christian music and NO ONE can dispute that fact. She is a rarity as she has written songs that have been huge hits on the Singing News charts (Southern Gospel) and also on the CCM Magazine charts (CCM). I could spend hours writing about some of the many amazing songs this extremely talented author has penned with Singing News seeing their hit singles decline, and part of that could be due to this longtime staple of the SG world started using more modern arrangements with Dottie's great songs. Daughter Reba had already released a contemporary solo album called Lady earlier this year (it was heard on Vinyl Revival two weeks ago), and it actually won a Dove Award of its own - for Pop/Contemporary Album Of The Year, so there were already contemporary influences that Group. From the album Of Course, The Rambos were honored with a GMA Top Ten nomination for a song that is still widely used in praise and worship services to this day, Holy Spirit, Thou Art Welcome. If you can't believe this, listen to this song See if you don't feel like putting your hands up...


As mentioned, the CCM industry was just starting to take off around this time, and it got a BIG player in 1976 when pop/country star Billy Joe Thomas (B.J., to fans) announced that he Christian was born again. While he continued to record mainstream (secular as it was then called) albums (three of them in 1977), he also recorded some amazing CCM albums and his first was 1976's Home Where I Belong. Produced by an up and coming producer named Chris Christian, Home was the album that featured one of the contemporary songs in the 1977 top ten called I Wanna Be Ready, which was actually written by Southern Gospel writers Aaron Brown and Garland Craft During his time in the Christian music industry, B.J. Thomas won several awards for a category called Album By A Secular Artist, and coincidentally won the first-ever pigeon in that category in 1977... for the album Home Where I Belong. .


I'm going to say something else right now... I'm not a fan of The Florida Boys at all. You may find this rude or condescending, but since I write the blog, I have the privilege! This is actually a very good song, written by Harold Lane, the tenor singer of The Speer Family, whose version is the southernmost gospel fans think at first, but since The Speers Cornerstone contributed to this album, and one artist, no more than one song in the year-end top ten, this recording was picked by the Florida Boys. It must be noted that Les Beasley, the group's owner and lead singer, was one of the board members of the GMA at the time, and I'm sure that had nothing to do with them being on that record, but in all honesty, it is the one track this album has I could have done without just saying and let's move on...


We've said it before, William J. and Gloria Gaither are the greatest songwriting team in the history of Christian music—they're the Lennon & McCartney of the genre. In 1976, The Gaithers recorded an album entitled Praise containing this track. This is a song that the Bill Gaither Trio used to wrap up their live concerts for many years, and it's a powerful song in its own right. The Gaither Vocal Band covered this classic Gaither track on the album Everything Good, which was Russ Taff's debut as a GVB baritone. This is one of those songs that might not be remembered as fondly as The King Is Coming or He Touched Me, but in my humble opinion that's how it should's a great song!

(Video) 70's 80's 90's Gospel Music | Best Songs Of 70's 80's 90's Gospel Songs


It's hard, if not impossible, to find a quartet more uncompromisingly Southern gospel than The Kingsmen. and they still sound fantastic to this day. This song is one of two tracks on the 1977 Dove Awards Top Ten record to be repeatedly was also nominated a year earlier, on the 1976 record, and one of the reasons why this is one of the the group's biggest hit singles of all time? From the 1976 album of the same name, It Made News In Heaven: is one of the songs on this album that I think our listeners will really enjoy hearing. probably not so much because of the music (that's as southern gospel as it gets) but because of the lyrics. Songwriter Gordon Jenson's views on how the angels of heaven rejoice over a soul's rebirth will move you as you remember when God saved you by his amazing grace. Great track, I think you will love it.


In the 1940s, 50s and the first half of the 60s, two groups dominated Southern Gospel Music...they were The Statesmen (which featured Jake Hess, founder of a group called The Imperials) and The Blackwood Brothers (yes, they're with Terry Blackwood related by Andrus, Blackwood & Co.). , The Blackwoods were going through tough times, partly due to a scandal involving the same Dove Awards in 1971. The scandal resulted in every single Dove Award that had been presented being annulled, causing industry-wide dismay among the group in 1976, they found made a comeback with the title track from their album Learning To Lean. This song actually holds a record in the music industry for occupying number one on The Singing News' Top 80 chart for an unprecedented 26 straight months, a record never broken by a song in any music genre. It is also the second repeat top ten contender from 1977.


Have you ever heard the expression next big thing? He indicates that something or someone will be an important factor in his field for years to come. It has been used in athletics, fashion and all sorts of other industries, and music is no exception. The Telestials were considered one of the next big things in Southern gospel in the mid-'70s, but they never got beyond one tiny fact... they sounded WAY too much like the group that was the best dog on their label, Calvary Records, and that was The Hinsons. Being on the same label and with the same record producer, some fans could overlook the similarities, but it wasn't long before most SG fans considered The Telestials a HInsons knockoff, and the group quickly faded from view. One Way Flight, from the album of the same name, was The Telestials' biggest hit of all time and one of the top chart-topping hits of 1977.


FINALLY, think...a song I know!!! This song needs no introduction to anyone who is a halfway serious CCM fan, as it is one of the songs that bridged the early gap between CCM and Southern Gospel - it was loved by both camps. Of course you know why, it is one of the most powerful Easter carols in the history of Christian music and is still sung on Easter Sunday in churches around the world. Recorded before a small gathering of friends in Lindale, Texas, Rise Again is widely considered the best song Dallas Holm has ever written, and I tend to agree. Success is hard to argue with, and the Dallas Holm And Praise Live album has sold over 500,000 certified copies. For this accolade, Dallas and the other members of the band have RIAA gold records hanging on their walls, demonstrating the position of CCM and Southern -Gospel fans to view this iconic song.Dallas Holm is a member of the GMA Hall of Fame and this song is one of the many reasons he's rig all the way there.

Okay, we've covered them all, and I bet you're probably wondering which of these songs won the pigeon for song of the year in 1977? Well I have the answer for you... drum roll please - the winner of song of the year 1977 is...

(Video) 70's 80's 90's Gospel Music ♫ Best 70's 80's Early 90's Gospel Songs Hits Playlist ♫


Finally, before I get any comments or messages saying I thought Rise Again won the song of the year dove, that's right. Rise Again did indeed win a Dove Award for Dallas Holm for GMA Song of the Year, however the following year was...1978, a repeat nominee. In 1977, however, The Blackwood Brothers were again the toast of the doves with their record-breaking chart-topping act. So there you have it - the Gospel Music Association's Top Ten of 1977, all in their vinyl glory this week on CCM Classics Vinyl Revival.


Page 1-

1. Cornerstone – The Speer family

2. He was there all the time - The Cruse family

3. Holy Spirit, you are welcome - The Rambos

4. I want to be ready - B.J. Thomas

5. I'm Standing On The Solid Rock – Die Florida Boys

(Video) 30 Minutes Of 80s/90s Gospel Music

Page 2-

1. It's Done - Bill Gaither Trio

2. It Made News in Heaven - The Kingsmen

3. Learning Lean – The Blackwood Brothers (Winners of the Dove Award)

4. One-way flight - The Telestials

5. Rise Again - Dallas Holm & Lob

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