NASHVILLE — Christian music superstars including CeCe Winans, Lauren Daigle, Michael W. Smith, Danny Gokey and Third Day’s Mac Powell shared wisdom for the next generation of CCM artists, highlighting the importance of following God’s lead and remaining scripturally sound in a rapidly changing culture.
Christian music veterans and newcomers alike gathered at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House Sunday for the K-LOVE Fan Awards, a night defined by hope, inspiration and comradery.
Ahead of the show, nominees, performers and guests spoke with pressmen on the red carpet about their hope for the future of Christian music and the next generation of believers.
Matthew West, who hosted the night’s show alongside Tauren Wells and was also nominated for Male Artist of the Year, walked the red carpet with two of his daughters. The 45-year-old Dove Award-winner told CP that the best advice he can offer up-and-coming artists is to “stay humble, stay focused on the lane that God has put you in, and you’re going to have a major impact on society and culture.”
“I hope I’ve been a positive role model for other young artists who come in,” he said. “And I’d say the biggest encouragement I can give is always put God first in your life. And don’t worry about comparing yourself to others. You know, artists can be just like everybody else on social media, where you’re comparing, ‘What does this artist have going on? How high is this song on the charts?’ And you can let that stuff rule you. And when it rules you, it robs you of the true understanding of how God is using you in life.”
Winans and Daigle, who performed together at Tuesday’s show and have countless awards and chart-topping singles between them, both encouraged younger believers to “just be who God has called you to be.”
“God has empowered them to be more than enough for this generation,” Winans said. “I think, God is so amazing that every generation, He gives the talents, the gifts, exactly what they need. I just want the young people to be who they are, and take all the limits off. … God will take you further than what you could ever imagine.
”Daigle added that God has “wired each person so creatively,” adding: “There’s a thing called a ‘zeitgeist,’ which is where time and culture intersect. And it’s when God … decides to say, ‘This is the one I have appointed. This is the one I’m calling out. Let’s go; come on. This is how we get the people ready for what’s to come.’ He sends the ones that are uniquely available, I think.”
“If you feel like God is calling you to this or that, He’s touched your life in some sort of way. Ask Him to open doors and see the places that He’ll take you,” she added.
Winans said she hopes CCM “keeps growing” and “covers the world,” stressing that “the world needs to hear” the Good News of the Gospel.
“That’s what it’s all about,” she said.
What started as a niche genre in the 1960s at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California, CCM is today a multibillion-dollar industry, with many artists finding huge crossover success. According to the Berklee School of Music, the fastest-growing radio market in the United States today is Christian music.
Smith, of the most recognizable names in CCM for the last four decades, told CP he believes humility is the key to truly honoring God. The artist, who’s won three Grammy Awards, 45 Dove Awards, one American Music Award and was recently inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, was nominated in the Book Impact category for his book, The Way of the Father.
“Stay humble. It’s not about you. And that’s the key. … I’d rather humble myself; being humbled by God is not a lot of fun. So I just think that’s the key. And I think God will exalt you and I think He’ll give you a favor and I think He’ll do extraordinary things if you stay humble,” the 64-year-old artist said.
Mac Powell, the former frontman of Third Day who is now a solo artist, encouraged artists to remain biblically sound, stressing the importance of not watering down the message of the Gospel.
“I think as an artist, you’re always wanting to make music that will reach people outside of the walls of the Church, but at the same time, we all often think about that term, ‘we’re preaching to the choir,’” he said. “I’ve gotten criticized in the past for making very Gospel-forward music because you go, ‘Well, you’re just preaching to the choir.’ Well, I know I was in the choir, and I needed to be preached to. So … artists can do both. We can do music and art that reaches outside of our walls, but at the same time, encourage our brothers and sisters that are within the Church.”
“American Idol” alum Danny Gokey, who was nominated for Male Artist of the Year and was also a presenter, encouraged the next generation to “seek first the Kingdom,” adding: “A lot of us, we want to be famous for Jesus, but He doesn’t need our fame, He needs our hearts and our obedience.