I only remember a little about 1993, being a year old. But as I’ve delved deeper into Christian music history, I’ve come to appreciate the quality of 1990s Christian music. Even if much of it sounds dated now, you can feel how Christian music was coming into its own with each passing year of the decade.
Thirty years from 1993, we look back at Contemporary Christian Music in that year.
Top of the Charts
Top Christian Hits listed the most-played songs on Christian Adult Contemporary Radio in 1993. “Love Takes Time” by contemporary artist Bryan Duncan took the No.1 spot on this chart, followed by the signature Rich Mullins ballad “Hold Me, Jesus.” Listening to this classic, it’s easy to see the raw honesty resonating in the songwriting of the legendary singer Rich Mullins that made him famous in Christian music.
The veteran artist David Meece has multiple songs from his Once In A Lifetime album, released in the same year that are among the most played, including the title track and “Inside Out.” Many female solo artists, including Margaret Becker, Twila Paris, Susan Ashton, and iconic mainstays like Amy Grant, received notable airplay. The Christian rock band Whiteheart’s Good Friday song “Once And For All” and several cuts from the famous ever-reliable Michael W. Smith crashed the ranks.
Remember bands like 4Him and Out of the Grey? They both had multiple hits in the Top 30. Other Top 30 perennial favorites included Petra, Newsboys, dc Talk, and NewSong. Code of Ethics and East to West became prominent during the ’90s. Even if you were a fan of Christian music at that time, you might have needed to become more familiar with some of these artists. Do you remember artists like Pam Thum or Scott Springer? Or their songs “Starting to Rain” or “Anytime”? If not, look them up. Exploring Christian music history can lead to discovering hidden treasures, like finding new music.
It is interesting to look back and see which artists continue to make music 30 years later while also feeling sadness for those who have gone radio silent since their songs were regularly played on local Christian radio stations.
No. 1 Albums
Regarding album sales, icon rock band dc Talk’s Free At Last dominated the year with the most weeks spent at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart. Le Voyage by veteran artist Sandi Patti and Hope by contemporary artist Michael English took the top spot for several weeks.
The latest released from contemporary artists Carman and Michael W. Smith stole the crown toward the end of the year.
While Free at Last is arguably overshadowed in the band’s catalog by its 1995 follow-up, diehard dc Talk fans will remember that album as a defining moment in the band’s career. Meanwhile, Michael W. Smith’s The First Decade was a solid bookend to one of the most successful first ten years of an artist in Christian music. And even now, 30 years later, Smitty is still a respected and active Christian music veteran. And while artists like Michael English and Sandi Patti have more or less retired, and Carman has passed on to God, their contributions to Christian music remain a vital part of Christian music history.
A Different World
It’s incredible how different the music industry looks in 30 years. In 1993, the radio was still the primary way people discovered artists. Most albums were purchased on CD or cassette. With vinyl having fallen mostly out of favor by then, the individual single was scarce and mostly reserved for radio promotion. As a result, although radio singles were still popular, artists’ albums held greater significance.
Yet, a lot has stayed the same. There was still an undeniable power to seeing your favorite artist performing live. Artists still attracted controversy, whether it be the unprecedented crossover appeal of Amy Grant or protests at the concerts of Margaret Becker because she belonged to a Catholic church at the time. While the specifics and artists involved may differ, human nature remains stubbornly unchanged.
And despite the changing of fashionable music styles or production techniques, the power of music remains an ever-present constant. Few things, like a rousing melody or a thoughtful lyric, can speak to the soul. If you want to relive a past time or discover a new musical frontier you might not have been around for, look up some of these songs from 30 years ago. And did we miss something you remember fondly from 1993? Could you hit us with your best Christian music memories from that year?
J.J. Francesco is a longtime contributor to the NRT Staff. He’s published the novel ‘Because of Austin’ and regularly seeks new ways to engage faith, life, and community. His new novel, ‘When Miracles Can Dream,’ is out NOW!