CCM’s 100 Most Important Artists

After the long labor of love with the Top 500 Albums in CCM History blog I decided to a bit of a different direction. I first considered the Top 100 Songs but gave up after the letter “H” and I was at over 11,000 songs to choose from. But the more I considered the next blog the more i came back to the artists themselves. Not only the bands, the singers, the songwriters and musicians, but those who moved from the spotlight to boardroom or production booth.

Here you will find well known names of best-selling acts, pioneers of Jesus Music, rock gods who broke down barriers and little known artists who dared stretch the boundaries of CCM. Most will be from the first three decades of CCM, as it would be unfair and much too difficult to consider the lasting impact of those who are currently gaining notoriety and carrying the torch.

But like the previous blogs there are rules…and there are those who break them (me). For someone to be considered on this list they must be an artists. That means songwriter, band member, musician. Though they may have made their greatest impact on the industry wearing a different hat, they must be known for their album releases as well. That means a major record company owner like Sparrow Record’s “Billy Ray Hearn” will not be included. Others like Peter York (who was a member of a Band Called David) would also not make the list (though very much deserving) because he was not known as an “artists” in the popular realm.

Paul Toberty, owner of the famed KYMS RADIO in Orange County, CA would also be a great one to include because of the station’s impact and barrier breaking. Pastor Jimmy Kempner started Frontline Records. Jim and Betty Willems bought the old Calvary Chapel and turned it into a monstrously influential store called Maranatha Village. John Styll, a one-time manager of Maranatha Village, went on to start CCM Magazine. Pastor Chuck Smith opened the church doors to Jesus Music bands and started the “worship music” phenomenon. The list could go on and on.

There is ONE EXCEPTION! His inclusion will be detailed when we reach the spot in the countdown. But for those who have followed my previous countdowns, having only one exception is actually pretty good. I will make no defense other than to say his role in making some of the greatest albums and shaping some of the most significant artists could not be ignored on this list.

Also, a band that contained several artists that went on to have solo careers or impacted the industry in other ways will be considered one artists. Groups like Sweet Comfort, DeGarmo & Key and Love Song will be considered a single artists and their members contributions will be considered within that single placement on the list.

I am sure there are plenty of people who will be left off. Fans of Sufjan Stevens can get it over with right now; he didn’t make the list. But if someone would like to make their own competitive list, it is a big internet.


~ by low5point on January 7, 2013.

13 Responses to “CCM’s 100 Most Important Artists”

  1. A new year and a new blog, Happy New Year everybody!

    My prediction for your exception is……. Keith Green
    🙂 sorry couldn’t resist.

  2. Dave,
    Your text on the theme that you have used is a touch on the small side.

  3. Cool! Looking forward to following along.

  4. I’m definitely interested in seeing your take on CCM’s greatest artists. I am also currently putting together a similar list, which will consist of 100 entries. My criteria for “greatness” are impact and influence. So far my Top 10 looks like this:

    1. Amy Grant
    2. Larry Norman
    3. Michael W. Smith
    4. Stephen Curtis Chapman
    5. Keith Green
    6. DC Talk
    7. Sandi Patty
    8. Randy Stonehill
    9. Petra
    10. Twila Paris

    Bubbling under: Phil Keaggy, Rich Mullins, Jars of Clay, and Carman.

  5. OK, feeling kind of dumb here but I see the article lead but don’t see where to get to the whole list.

  6. How on heaven and earth could you omit Rich Mullins from your top 10 list!? In my book, he will always be number 1 and I’m sure I’m not alone in that judgment. To leave him out is akin to blasphemy; in fact, I almost choked on my tea!

    • Shane, you certainly could make a case for Mullins to be in the Top 10, but by my criteria (influence and impact), I couldn’t see him any higher than #7, really. How could you possibly justify him being more significant to CCM than Amy Grant or Larry Norman? Or even a group as seminal and popular as DC Talk?

  7. Has the list been abandoned or something? It’s been many months since the ‘100. Prodigal’ entry.

    Anyway here’s my take on the Top 20:

    1) Amy Grant 2) Larry Norman 3) Michael W. Smith 4) Steven Curtis Chapman 5) Keith Green 6) Petra 7) Sandi Patty 8) Randy Stonehill 9) DC Talk 10) Rich Mullins 11) Twila Paris 12) Phil Keaggy 13) Stryper 14) Carman 15) Kathy Troccoli 16) Jars of Clay 17) Charlie Peacock 18) Steve Taylor 19) Daniel Amos (DA) 20) Rebecca St. James

  8. I don’t believe in the label Christian music at all– but if there ever really was such a thing– I guess no other artist have even emulated to define it quite well than the late Keith Green.

    My personal picks as the ten best artist under the “Christian music” genre label are=

    Keith Green
    Michael W Smith
    Mark Heard
    Lee Benhken
    John Michael Talbot
    Twila Paris
    Steve Taylor
    special mention: THE 2ND CHAPTER OF ACTS

    top ten album picks for all time in the genre=
    KEITH GREEN For Him Who Has Ears To Hear
    PETRA Not Of This World/ More Power To Ya
    MICHAEL W SMITH The Big Picture
    AD Art Of The State
    IDEOLA Tribal Opera
    THE CHOIR Chase The Kangaroo
    AMY GRANT Unguraded
    Sweeter Than Honey by THE GOOD NEWS SINGERS(?)
    DREAMER Continental Singers

    special mention:
    PHIL KEAGGY’s Sundays Child
    De GARMO & KEY Communication
    DC TALK’s Jesus Freak

    and if it could be considered=
    U2’s October and The Joshua Tree
    STRYPER’s Against The Law

    • Hello all. I’m looking for audio interviews, short artist clips or radio specials from any CCM artist/band from the 1970s or 1980s. Willing to pay costs to copy your master and shipping costs if on reel to reel, cassette or CD. If you can help, please email me at
      Thank you. Dave Koch (719) 536-9000 x101

  9. I’ve just discovered this site and also the Top 500 CCM Albums listing. Really incredible content. How can I get in touch with the originator of this site? Can anyone help? Thank you.

  10. Nice to see Ideola on a list. Mark Heard solo album, very original.
    My Faves include: Steve Taylor, Daniel Amos, 77s, Barnabus (esp. Light Speed) WhiteHeart, Petra (w/ Greg Volz), Leslie Phillips, Undercover. Still pop them in a lot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: