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Opinion | Pop Culture

Christian Female Musicians, Missing in Action

What accounts for the surprising dearth of women in today's CCM scene?

Do you know Becky? If you are a Christian woman in your 30s or 40s and married with kids, you are Becky. Becky, I was fascinated to learn, is what Christian radio stations have named their ideal listener, and most everything you hear on K-LOVE, WORD FM, or your local Christian radio station is chosen to appeal to her.

Becky doesn't seem to like other women very much, at least not when they sing. "[Women] feel threatened by and possibly jealous of a female artist," says one Christian radio executive. "My guess is that they can't even put it into words. My joke is: If the artist's name is Becky, then 'Becky' does not want to hear her on the air!"

According to Mark Geil's article for Christianity Today on the gender balance in contemporary Christian music (CCM), exactly zero women made Billboard's lists of the past decade's top 10 Christian songs and top 10 Christian artists. (Billboard compiles their lists based on record sales.) Only two women made the top 50, at numbers 40 (Francesca Battistelli) and 50 (Stacie Orrico). The surprising statistics highlight how difficult it can be for women in today's Christian music industry.

That women in CCM are outnumbered 2:1, possibly even 3:1, certainly doesn't help. But this has not always been a problem. In the late 1990s and early '00s, the time I was most in tune with CCM, I listened to a good number of female artists, many of whom I still enjoy: Sara Groves, Jennifer Knapp, Rebecca St. James, Jaci Velasquez, Kendall Payne, Sixpence None ...

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