Contemporary Catholic music is finding a growing audience, suggesting a growing affinity between young Catholics and their evangelical counterparts. National Catholic Register (June 22-28) reports that the “paradigm is shifting” from the contemporary Christian music category being overwhelmingly dominated by evangelical Protestant performers.
“Until recent years, Catholic music distributors primarily geared their offerings to the tiny liturgical music marketplace. Today, the leading contemporary Catholic music distributor, Heartbeat Records, based in Donnellson, Iowa, offers CDs from more than 50 contemporary artists.” The growth is found in Europe and Latin America as well, particularly as Catholic performers are headlined in music festivals nearly every month. Poland’s Song of Songs Festival held at the end of June is one of the largest.
Observers say an important factor in the growth of the music is the influence of and youth devotion to Pope John Paul II and the rise of Catholic TV programs geared toward youth. “The increased enthusiasm among Catholic youth for matters of faith is…somewhat attributable to seeing their friends attend [evangelical] contemporary Christian music concerts,” says Bob Halligan of the Catholic band Ceili Rain.
But Catholic contemporary music is unlikely to rise to the level of its evangelical counterpart because of the difficulty in reaching the Catholic audience and its distinctive emphasis on the Eucharist rather than acting as a central focus of evangelical worship and praise services.
(National Catholic Register, 432 Washington Ave., North Haven, CT 06473)