Christian artists have embraced modern musical styles like indie rock, metal and rap, but lyrical content has been slower to change. As a result, the genre often has a negative association with the word “Christian.” This is changing as musicians are coming out as gay and expressing their views on issues such as marriage equality.
Some are stepping out of the music scene altogether. Singer-songwriter Jennifer Knapp left the CCM world in the 1990s and early 2000s to pursue a more nuanced spirituality, citing purity culture tropes and evangelical church policies as among the reasons. Now she’s back and is a prominent voice for LGBTQ rights. Knapp is joining a list of openly gay Christian artists that includes Ray Boltz, who made several hit songs for the gospel industry and won three Dove awards before coming out in 2004. Christian R&B artist Tonex, whose real name is Anthony Williams, followed suit the next year.
Many of these artists are finding new audiences with younger fans who support LGBTQ rights and want to hear their messages reframed for a contemporary audience. The Supreme Court’s upcoming hearing on same-sex marriage could accelerate this trend.
One band embracing this shift is Tow’rs, a trio led by singer Kyle Miller and his wife Gretta. Their latest release, Serenade, is an album with lyrics supporting LGBTQ rights and human decency.