My childhood was not replete with the sound track of Contemporary Christian Music . We went to a Spanish speaking church, where hymns of old were sung in our mother tongue. I'd like to know who was the fair missionary who translated "Amazing Grace" into Spanish. I can just imagine them among the sugar-cane fields, sweating from the heat and with fever but persistent in their mission to spread the Good Word. When it was not "The Old Rugged Cross," it was a corrito, a shorter song sung with the vivacity of the islands my parents had left behind. I heard plenty of congas and maracas in the praise and worship music of my youth.
Living in the culturally diverse city of Chicago, however, meant my parents could not inculcate me absent from mainstream America. My father especially, having moved here as a child, was fond of tuning to the local gospel station. Now I heard "Amazing Grace" sung richly from great African American voices. My mother, not having an inclination for music, or perhaps not having English enough to understand the words, complained that the gospel music sounded like noise.
I am convinced that it was her lack of English that made her accuse the genre, for years later when I discovered CCM, she made the same accusation. Just noise. But I filled my ears with the music. To her, the music sounded wholly secular and nothing like what praise and worship music should sound like. To me, it was something novel and modern sounding. Something more American than what I knew. Sure, many of my classmates were listening to Brittany Spears and The Backstreet Boys, music that both of my parents had banned from the house, but CCM at least had some semblance of mainstream pop. I spent hours recording down the lyrics of songs and trying to commit them to memory. The words "Jesus Freak" now adorned the pages of my notebooks.
As I've gotten older, I've become aware of the complaints contrived against CCM and with some contemplation I can give some of these merit, but over all when I think of what role CCM has played in my life, I cannot reach any conclusion other than to say it help extricate me from believing that God can be worshiped only one way. Surely, CCM did not do this alone, as the germs of this idea were already there as I heard multiple versions of "Amazing Grace" but it did help further the idea-push it to the limits.