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God Gave Rock and Roll to You is a substantial treatment of the Contemporary Christian Music industry that first developed in the 1970s and became a major economic force in the 1990s. In this carefully researched book, Payne, a professor of American Religious History at Portland Seminary, weaves the story of how pastors and other Christian leaders fought against music with a beat, tried counter-programming with youth musicals, and finally embraced Christian rock and pop as a good alternative to what mainstream music was offering to young people.

The story is complex, and Payne takes us through many of the twists and turns of what was going on both in music and in the broader evangelical community. Reading this book, for those of us old enough to have lived through much of this history, is an exercise in thinking, “I remember that!” and “I had no idea those things were connected!” While Payne highlights a number of artists, no one of them gets more than a few pages. Many important artists just get name checked. Her aim is to tell a bigger story than that.

There are a few surprises, like how the industry focused so heavily on marketing to moms who would buy music for their children, and how closely patriotism and politics were connected to many parts of the CCM culture. Payne has accomplished much with this thoughtful and well-written book. If you lived through any part of this history, you will be fascinated by God Gave Rock and Roll to You. (Oxford University Press)

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