Faith Music Stirs Sales, Souls Post-Sept. 11

Saturday, Sept. 8. The biggest problem for the contemporary Christian boy band Plus One is that it's raining in Orlando — although that's not stopping screaming girls, and their parents, from hearing a message of faith at Disney World's "Night of Joy."

Less than 72 hours later, on Sept. 11, the world changed. People soon would turn to contemporary Christian music in increasing numbers, but the along with everybody else, the genre's artists were shaken, too.

Artists Grapple With Sept. 11

On that rainy night at Disney World, Plus One's Jason Perry explained that hearing the group's message is as easy as buying its CD. (Disney is the parent company of

"They're realizing that there is truth within what we have to say," Perry said.

But four months later, Perry, who had the answers before, was looking for answers, too.

"If God is so good, then why would something so evil and tragic happen?" he wondered.

It is a tough question. How do you tell a group of fans one night to believe in God, that God believes in you, and then just a few nights later have to explain how God let those terrorist attacks happen?

For 22-year-old Jaci Velazquez, a rising superstar on the faith and Latin charts, there is no answer.

"I've never claimed to have all the answers cause I don't," she said. "You know, the thing about Christian music is that no one has the answers. We just know someone who does."

Contemporary Christian Sales Growth

And to find that "someone", many are turning to Jaci, Jason and Plus One, and contemporary Christian music. Since Sept. 11, it's the only sector of the music industry to show growth.

"They're looking for hope," said Matthew Turner, editor of Contemporary Christian Music magazine. "Christian music offers hope. It offers the message of Christ, that christians believe it's the answer."

And that's not lost on CCM magazine's owner, Salem Communications. Based outside Washington, D.C., Salem owns nearly 100 Christian radio stations and three channels on XM satellite radio. It's where many turned on the dial after Sept. 11.

"I think 9-11 has just brought a heightened awareness to everybody," said Jeff Crites, program director for Salem. "[It showed] that each day is precious and we're going to meet our maker one way or another."

It also brought awareness to bands that might normally go unnoticed by those who don't listen to faith-based music. On New Year's Eve, MTV's lead act was P.O.D., a Christian group.

"We've not experienced that before," Turner said. "As an industry, it's exciting to see a band come from a faith market and get that recognition."

For Plus One's Jason Perry, Sept. 11 sent a message.

"I do think it was a wakeup call to America to realize where we are, where we stand as a nation," he said.

And for Jaci Velasquez, it meant a question asked, and answered.

"I don't know why God would allow something like that to happen to us, to happen in the world," she said. "But I know for a fact that this is just proof that he is definitely here. And more than any time, we need him now."