The Greatest Night

I dismissed the title out of hand. “Be a part of the greatest night in Christian music history.” Right. I didn’t even bother to open the email. I figured they were going to try and sell me a cruise or something like that. Which meant I almost missed the big event this past Wednesday.

There was a follow-up email with a different title that I opened just a couple of minutes before the show began. The information there was enough to convince me to log in – and I am so glad I did.

I can only imagine what the party was like after the concert. I suspect it was even better than the three hours of music that preceded it. And I almost missed it because I get too many spam emails.

It was a who’s who of Christian music history, celebrating 40 years of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) featuring 30 artists performing 50 songs. They had me at the very beginning, more or less, when the group Love Song took the stage, with Phil Keaggy on lead guitar. (Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, Sandi Patty and Michael W. Smith had done the opening medley.) Love Song are legendary, and their appearances rare. I’ve never had the opportunity to see them live, except for some solo shows by Church Girard. The inclusion of Phil Keaggy with the rest of Love Song was a nice touch – he toured with the band for a while, but never recorded with them.

as a rocker I was never a huge fan of Sandi Patti, but I appreciate her talent.

As a rocker I was never a huge fan of Sandi Patti, too mellow for me for the most part, but I appreciate her talent and didn’t pass up on the opportunity to see her in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, in 2011.

I had other things I was planning on doing Wednesday night, but I stayed glued to my computer screen instead. The artists brought back so many memories as they dusted off the old songs and brought them new life. There was Don Francisco, looking remarkably un-aged except for the gray hair. I got chills up my spine as he performed “He’s Alive,” a song I haven’t thought of in a decade or so. And I was never an Evie fan, but it still felt good to see her and hear her voice again. I could go on and on, but I won’t.

It was definitely Nashville’s idea of Christian music. The singers were all accompanied by a big backing band with strings. Very little sweat – this was pop not rock and roll. But it was magical nonetheless. As a critic I wasn’t much impressed, I heard quite a few sour notes. As a fan I was blown away. Everyone looked so much older, but the voices were still there, more or less, and the songs were timeless. Yes there were omissions. It was a very Nashville based show. Nobody from the West Coast, where CCM got its start (except Love Song). No Canadians. No British. I was touched by the video tribute to those who are already playing in a heavenly band whose music is much missed here on earth, people like Larry Norman, Andrae Crouch, Dana Key and Dan Peek.

Yes there was a commercial tie-in, but it didn’t matter. There is a double CD and DVD of the concert that will be released soon. And a book by industry veteran Stan Moser that I definitely want to read.

This morning I received another email. This time I opened it. The concert is being streamed until Sunday at midnight, and I wanted to let you have the chance to see it for yourself. These artists were a big part of my early adulthood, even if I don’t pay much attention to most of them now. Why not check out some of the concert by clicking on the link below (or the whole thing, but that will take you a couple of hours) and let me know what you think.


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