By Terrence Richburg © 2009

As always, JGC encourages everyone to continue to write us, provide your feedback, as well as submit any questions or comments you may have. We're very excited that since our last issue we've received a rather important question from Nate, a Gospel Jazz musician and supporter who asked the following:

Q: "Is it a sin for Christians to play secular music?"

A: Thank you, Nate, for your thought-provoking question! If you've been following Jazz Gospel Central's e-zine, you've probably noticed our in-depth interviews with Jazz and Gospel Jazz artists and musicians, during which we've only had the opportunity to scratch at the surface of this question. But now we'll take the time to briefly address what could become an involved examination of a complex issue.

The short answer to your question would be, No, it isn't a sin for Christians to play secular music. However, before answering too quickly, " Is this your final answer ?" and certainly without getting into a deep philosophical or lengthy religious discussion over every aspect of this matter, several questions relative to the correct answer come into play, such as: What is secular music? What is sacred or religious music? What is a Christian? What is sin?

Secular music is defined simply as non-sacred music. Sacred or religious music is defined as music performed or composed for the specific intent of religious (or Christian) use or through religious influence. A Christian is a person who has put their faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, including His death on the cross as payment for sins and His bodily resurrection on the third day (John 1:12). A good basic working definition of "sin" is the breaking of a religious or moral law or doing what is wrong or not doing what is right according to the rules or commandments of God (1 John 3:4). According to God, sin separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:2). However, again the important thing to remember about sin is that by accepting the gift of salvation through our faith in the finished work of God's only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, His death on the cross and by His resurrection, the penalty of sin has been paid in full and the power of sin has been completely and eternally removed from those who are believers in Jesus (or those who are Christians). Jesus is now the sacrificial substitution and propitiation acceptable to God, taking our place for what should have been our personal payment for the penalty of our sinful acts.

So based on all the aforementioned definitions, using a very basic example, I think it would be safe to say that most people in the US (Christian or non-Christian alike) have either sang or are at least familiar with the song, Happy Birthday . I would doubt that either would believe that the singing or playing of the song Happy Birthday would be a sin, although it's clearly a secular song. However, the real question on the table, is in the case of certain genres such as Jazz, R&B, Rock, etc. which have been traditionally noted to contain messages or content which is non-Christian in nature. Or the question might be is the music intended or specifically designed to promote and even celebrate non-Christian values or principles or militate against the message and person of Jesus Christ. This is where the need for spiritual discernment and careful examination is required to determine whether listening to or playing of certain songs is harmful to one's personal walk with the Lord, their example to fellow believers, or their witness to non-believers.

The components of music whether you're speaking about a melody, or harmonies, or rhythms, or beats, or instrumentation do not contain within these elements any aspect of sin or holiness or secularity or sacredness, even though they were created by God ultimately to be used to praise Him. The sound of a style of musical expression whether it's Jazz, Gospel, Blues, R&B, Rock, Hip Hop, Go-Go, Latin, Afro-Cuban, Reggae, Japanese, Chinese, African, Brazilian, Classical, etc., is not inherently secular or sacred, Christian or non-Christian. Sounds and styles were also created by God with all the diversity available to be used in the realm of human cultural expression and creativity. However, any style or genre of music can be used to convey positive messages or negative ones and it is up to the Christian musician, singer, composer, arranger, or listener to pray and ensure that they are mindful of the purpose, the effects and the power music has to communicate directly with the mind, the heart and the spirit on a conscious and subconscious level. Test yourself to see if the Spirit within you minds listening to or you playing the music that you do or if it is only appropriate when in darkness or if it is also okay if it is heard and played in the light. Even so, there are still some gray areas, and human concerns and disagreements over this issue will certainly not be totally resolved before Jesus returns. But in any case let us strive in love for understanding and for the holiness of God that He has already commended to us through the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ and His perfection on which we are eternally dependent. Again, thank you so much Nate for your great question and please continue write and support JGC. Until next time, may God continue to bless every one of you!

Current and new subscribers may continue to email questions as well as any other comments you may have for us at: info@jazzgospelcentral.com .

Thank you in advance for your response and support!


By Terrence Richburg © 2009

JGC continues to receive more and more support and interests from the Jazz and Gospel Jazz community at-large. Please continue to write us, provide your feedback, as well as submit any questions you may have. We're excited that since our last issue we received a very timely question from an avid Gospel Jazz lover and supporter. He had this important question for us:

  • Q: "Jazz Gospel Central is fine and all that but can you tell me where I can find some good Gospel Jazz Radio Stations I can listen to?"
  • A (1): It was great that JGC received this question at this particular time. We've actually received some very positive responses to our promotions, e-zine and website from radio stations that have a segment of Gospel Jazz programming, are a Gospel Jazz station or stations interested in building their Gospel Jazz music library in preparation for up-and-coming program initiatives. Based on the number and kinds of responses we've received, we decided to add an entirely new feature to the JGC magazine and site lineup, which examines and presents stories featuring those working in the trenches of the world of electronic media to promote and offer Gospel Jazz music on a national and international level. This feature will cover traditional and Internet radio as well television programming. In this issue we're featuring an interview with Tony Smith , founder and announcer of Gospel Jazzations on WFDU, 89.1-FM, in Teaneck, NJ . Be sure to check it out.
  • A (2): And in direct response to your question, we have begun to build a database of Gospel Jazz radio stations and stations that support Gospel or Inspirational Jazz formats and programming. On our list for this week are:
    • Tony Smith - Gospel Jazzations - WDFU 89.1FM
    • Brian Clay- Jazzspirations.com
    • GospelVibezRadio.com
    • Akela Teel - WLGT 98.3FM;WBOB 103.7FM
    • Synergy 1Radio/Gospel Synergy.com

We will continue to add stations as we find them or as they contact us at Jazz Gospel Central . If you happen to know of any more, be sure to let us know.

Current and new subscribers may continue to email questions as well as any other comments you may have for us at: info@jazzgospelcentral.com .

Thank you in advance for your response and support!


By Terrence Richburg © 2009

This JGC feature explores questions our subscribers may have for us and also seeks feedback from our audience on questions we might have for them. Our goal is to help create a dialogue, develop relationships and hopefully increase understanding and support for the Gospel Jazz genre and its artists. We're excited that we received some responses to our questions posed in our previous issue and would like to share the response of one of our subscribers, Raychelle, from the Southern United States.

  • Q: What was your first encounter with Gospel Jazz music and what was your reaction?
  • A: "When I first encountered Gospel Jazz music, I was instantly in love because I love jazz. Of course when I became saved, I became convicted of the music Ilistened to and was very careful not to listen to certain things. Ben Tankard was the artist that I really started listening to. When he came to a church in my area I realized there was really ministry behind the music. As far as your site, I was totally blown away that this site existed. I have always looked for an outlet that specialized in Gospel Jazz that could keep me abreast of the artists and the genre as a whole."
  • Q: Has listening to Gospel Jazz helped you in your Christian walk, and, if so, how?
  • A: "Listening to Gospel Jazz has helped me in my Christian walk because I can still serve God in the music I'm listening to. It's great to be able to enjoy my favorite music coupled with lyrics, if any , that are still inspiring. The tones, to me, even offer more intimacy with God in worship."

Thank you Raychelle for your answers and also for your compliments and support of our site, www.JazzGospelCentral.com!

Current and new subscribers may continue to email responses to these questions as well as any other comments you may have to: info@jazzgospelcentral.com Thank you in advance for feedback and support!


By Terrence Richburg © 2008

This new JGC feature explores questions our subscribers may have for us concerning Jazz, Gospel Jazz, JGC or music in general. It also seeks feedback from our audience on questions we might have for them, which can help create a dialog, develop relationships and hopefully increase understanding and support for the Gospel Jazz genre and its artists. To get started, here are a couple of common questions normally raised when discussing the topic of Gospel Jazz.

  • Q: Is Gospel Jazz considered instrumental music only or does it also include vocals?
  • A: Vocalists normally don't have many problems with opportunities to minister on several levels within the church and in the music industry as a whole. However, Gospel Jazz is a genre that has opened many doors for instrumentalists to share their God-given talent and ministry too with local, national and world audiences. The repertoire performed by Gospel Jazz artists during live events and on their CDs may be entirely instrumental or contain a mixture of instrumental songs with some vocals (backgrounds or occasional leads) added to either emphasize the original song familiar to the audience (such as church hymns or contemporary covers), or they may be used to define the Gospel nature and thematic content of an original Gospel Jazz composition. Nevertheless, JGC's definition and scope of "Gospel Jazz" is inclusive of the contributions produced by vocal artists who minister in a predominantly "Jazz" style to convey a Gospel or inspirational message in an original song setting or in a fresh Jazz arrangement. Probably the most renowned Gospel Jazz vocal group in the world today is the incomparable Take 6, but there are many others established on the scene and still others awaiting their season to be discovered.
  • Q: How can Gospel Jazz be used effectively within a church setting to minister to the people?
  • A: Many church goers are in fact Jazz lovers, although it's still relatively taboo in some church circles to be open about it. Nevertheless, several progressive church bodies are now learning to accept Jazz as true art form (just as with classical or other ethnic song styles). Churches are beginning to embrace Jazz as a valuable ministry tool. Jazz and, particularly, Gospel Jazz can be used extensively during church fellowship functions, as well as with couples and singles ministry events. Gospel Jazz concerts are also being sponsored to showcase some amazing, anointed talent and to minister to audiences as an alternative to nights traditionally reserved for "night-life" activities. Moreover, Gospel Jazz is now being used effectively during worship services as instrumental versions of Gospel and Christian songs (including Praise and Worship) and is performed non-apologetically with strong, authentic Jazz-style harmony and rhythm arrangements. These fit right in with the extraordinary Gospel music arrangements of today. However, the core issue is the intent of the music and the maturity level of the audience to look at Gospel Jazz just like any other style of music--as a container or vessel used simply to transport the message to the audience, whether it's edification of the congregational body or sincere worship offered to God.

A couple of questions we would like to ask our audience are:

  • Q: What was your first encounter with Gospel Jazz music and what was your reaction?
  • Q: Has listening to Gospel Jazz helped you in your Christian walk, and, if so, how?

You may email your answers to: info@jazzgospelcentral.com Thank you for all your responses and support in advance!

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