The concert last night was part of a 20-city tour celebrating the Lead Me On Tour/Album of 1988. Ahh. 1988. Twenty years ago. Where was I? Fourth grade and an awkward nine-year-old who knew absolultely nothing about the Christian music world. At one point, our family had visited my 'cool' (read: young, single, beautiful, fun) aunt and I came across an Amy Grant cassette (Unguarded) and I asked her who the woman was on the front cover. I don't even remember how old I was at that point but it was after 1985 but before CD's were produced (1990).
I first discovered that Christian music existed during the Christmas of 1992 when my parents bought me a single-cassette player/radio. Scanning the FM range I found KLYN, the Christian station out of Bellingham, WA. For me, it marked the beginning of my teenage years in more ways that one. I had just turned 13 and I was learning quickly that my world was quite small. The world of Christian music allowed me a place to dream of travelling, music, and the life of stardom- all under the safe cover of loving God. What more could you want? I read the CCM magazines and only dreamt of the concerts I could attend. There were little to none in Victoria and few even in Vancouver, and the closest American city was Seattle. How was I to get to Seattle without time, money, and a driver's license?
In December of 1994, KLYN was promoting the upcoming Amy Grant concert (House of Love Tour) in Vancouver, BC. It was a rare opportunity for them to promote such an artist. There was a special family pack of tickets being sold for $55/4 tickets. And I wanted to go. Boy, did I give my parents grief. Looking back, I was sure a brat about it. I sulked and complained and all the rest. Besides, the concert was a Sunday night. School was the next day. How was that work out?
Soon, Christmas rolled around. We had gathered in the living room when there was a knock on the door. A delivery man (FedEx?) delivered a large, stiff envelope that my dad handed to me in turn. I opened it. There, in my hand, were four Amy Grant tickets. Guilt overwhelmed me because of my behavior but I don't think it last long... I was going to my first big concert (my first concert was David Meece in Victoria in November '94, the month previous. My dad was wonderful and took me to that concert).
I don't remember too much now, but I know that my sister, Candice and I took the ferry to Vancouver and my Aunt Annette took us to the concert. We parked in the back alley behind the Pacific Coliseum and paid some guy $5 for the parking space. The concert was all I imagined and more. I later mailed my ticket stubs to Nashville in hopes that Amy Grant and Gary Chapman would sign them. They did, and the ticket is a blast-from-the-past because they have divorced since that time.
In talking with Dan last night, he agreed with me as well that the Christian music industry was his life-line in high-school, when everyone else was listening to secular music, he felt like he had an outlet as well. He like Margaret Becker, the Newsboys, and Stryper.
I think it helped me feel cool and self-assured, knowing I was listening to these artists like Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Margaret Becker, and the rest of the 1980-early '90's rollovers. By the end of the '90's, the Christian music world had exploded into the music it is today... more praise/repetitious music and unambiguous. I returned from camp the summer of 1998 to find that KLYN had strictly switched to a praise format and at that time, I moved my dial over to the country station and never switched back. I've lost touch with the industry now with exception of the big names like Chris Tomlin and Matt Redmond. To me, the 1980's and 1990's will always be my Christian music era.
The music took us back to another time but when all was said and done, we drove home to pick up Russell from being babysat. Memories are wonderful but today is today, and it too, is a precious time.