Mrs. CCM Classic; Evie Again by Philip Mayaab
I am just assuming that a good majority of the people who read the weekly Vinyl Revival blogs are members of a certain age group (like myself) who remember the good ole days of Contemporary Christian Music. I believe it is safe to assume also that most of us have stories we could tell about memories of our younger days involving a large number of the artists we play on CCM Classic, and buying their music. I can remember hearing a lot of the artists who are now considered veterans of the industry, and some when they first started out, and while I can't remember that far back with this week's Vinyl Revival artist, I do remember hearing a lot of her music, and the place that she has in CCM history.
This is not the first time that we have featured Evie Tornquist Karlsson (just Evie to the fans) on Vinyl Revival, and it will not be the last, I'm sure. There is a reason why, and that is that Evie was one of the first female vocalists to become a household name of sorts during the Jesus Music era of the 1970s. If you are new to these blogs, I'll very quickly recapitulate...the history of the CCM movement is broken down in to two parts by most historians and fans, and they are the Jesus Music era, lasting from the late 1960s to about 1978 or so, and the modern Contemporary Christian Music era, starting in 1978 (some would add the Praise And Worship era along with them, but that's for another time).
Evie was one of the early stars when gospel music branched out to artists who produced music with more of a modern, updated pop sound. Although she first burst onto the music scene in her native Sweden, she took her place in Christian music history in 1974, when at the tender age of 18, she released her eighth album overall (third English album) simply titled Evie on Word Records. Though small in physical stature (4'11), she possessed an amazing alto voice, and a youthful exuberance that caught on quickly in North America. Word was so impressed with the sales of her eponymous LP that they quickly moved for a follow up, and this week's featured album Evie Again was released the following year. Recorded in her home country, Again was the perfect engine with which Evie became established in America as one of the top young performers in this new type of Christian music.
By the time that this album was released, Contemporary Christian music was becoming more familiar to traditional believers, thanks to the contributions of artists such as Andrae Crouch and The Imperials. While it may have taken longer for some of the west coast based artists, such as LoveSong, Mustard Seed Faith, Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill to become household names nationwide, the Jesus Music Movement was in full swing, and Evie not only made waves with the new musical movement, but to a small degree, with a few progressive Southern Gospel stations as well. Although her music was definitely NOT traditional SG, it was nice enough, both musically and lyrically, that some music directors were playing her right alongside established acts such as The Happy Goodman Family, The Cathedrals, and others.
This album is one of those rare Christian recordings that appeals to both sides of the aisle musically, which is really saying a lot, because for many years, contemporary fans did not like Southern Gospel, and vice versa. Most traditional denominations in the 70s had the same view of Contemporary Christian Music...it's not of God, it's too worldly, it's of the devil, you get the point. Thankfully over the years that has changed, and fans of both subgenres have found albums from the other camp that they can enjoy, meaning they now co-exist more peacefully than they did in 1975.
When listening to this album, I am once again reminded of just how good the Jesus Music era really was...the lyrics were simple, Christ centered, and ministry oriented. There is some very good musical arrangements on this record, complete with great string accompaniment, and then there is Evie's voice, which is quite truthfully VERY mature sounding for a 19 year old woman. Whether the song is contemporary (such as Sunday Morning, Someone Who Can, Stop, Look, And Listen), inspirational (Give Yourself To Jesus, Welcome Back To Jesus, That Day Is Coming Closer) or traditional (Jesus Loves Me/Oh, How He Loves You And Me, Have Thine Own Way) Evie sounds comfortable tackling each style of music, and does so in a classy manner...very impressive for such a young performer. This is the kind of album I really like to listen to from time to time, mostly because it reminds me that good music can be concise, and directly to the point - no need to beat around the bush or repeat the same lines and words over and over.
For those who are not familiar with the sounds of the Jesus Music Movement, I hope you will listen to this record this week on CCM Classic. My copy is not in the best of shapes (one of the perils of buying a used copy of a record), but within the ten tracks on this album, you will hear how the genesis of modern Contemporary Christian music sounded. It is an excellent album, by a performer who was a major influence for many female Christian singers who came along after her. One of the best quotes I've ever seen about Evie was written in a 2001 book called CCM Presents The 100 Greatest Albums In Christian Music which read before Amy and Sandi, there was Evie.* You will find Evie's name listed among the inductees of the Gospel Music Association Hall Of Fame, and if you have listened to much of her music, you will understand why. If for some reason you are not familiar with this CCM giant (no pun intended), I want to invite you to listen to the album Evie Again. Sure, you can tell that it's from the 1970s, but as you listen, you will receive a history lesson on how Contemporary Christian music was intended to sound, and how we of a certain age like to remember it from time to time.
Side 1 -
1. Sunday Mornin'
2. Clean Before My Lord
3. Give Yourself To Jesus
4. Someone Who Can
5. Have Thine Own Way
Side 2 -
1. Welcome Back To Jesus
2. Stop, Look And Listen
3. That Day Is Coming Closer
4. All The Time In The World
5. Jesus Loves Me / Oh How He Loves You And Me
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