Is 40 Over the Hill for Christian Music?

Last year, I was excited for the opportunity to audition for “Gospel Dream,” the Christian counterpart to “American Idol” on the Gospel Music Channel. I spoke to my wife and received the green light to visit Chicago for the nearest audition.

I anxiously visited their Web site as the opportunity was nearing. Suddenly, I hit the proverbial brick wall.
The show’s disclaimer: “Unfortunately, you must be between the ages of 18 and 40 to be considered a contestant of our ‘Gospel Dream’ competition. Other rules and regulations apply.”


Are you considered as over the hill beyond 40? My voice is better today at 46 than it was at 18.

Amy Grant will turn 49 this year.

Michael W. Smith will be 52 in October and Casting Crowns lead singer Mark Hall would no longer qualify next year. Think of the loss of God-given musical talent if like me, Amy or Michael attempted an after-40 career move.

I find it surprising.

I understand “American Idol” with its 28-year-old age restriction. The young are hungry and willing to give up everything for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Additionally, an 18-year-old has decades to further his or her career. In 20 years, they can solidify their position as an icon (no Christian pun intended) in the industry. In 20 years, I’ll be a confirmed AARP member!

Why 40?

I’m not picking on the Gospel Music Channel. I think they’re getting the raw end.

The talent in Christian music over 40 is there. We’re not trying to recapture our youth; we’re singing for an audience of One.

As someone over 40, I have a lifetime of experiences, metaphors and stories to share. Let’s face it, an 18-year-old doesn’t have the same life lessons. It’s not an easy age but at 18, one is more likely confused about his or her identity and excited about exploring life. Beyond 40, your confusion is limited to how you accidently brushed your teeth with hemorrhoid medication. (Hint: To avoid senior moments, place the toothpaste in a different drawer.)

I will have other opportunities.

Some of them are offered by the Gospel Music Channel, and I am in pursuit. As I mentioned in my previous blog, there is big money in Christian music and some heavy-hitting music and management companies are deeply invested.

So, are they running by the same rules as our secular/mainstream counterparts?

Or do they believe the Christian audience would rather see under 40, than over the hill?

Does anyone consider a singer’s age before buying a CD or downloading an mp3?


Be First to Comment

  1. Songleader said:

    I agree totally, being over 40 myself. It’s sort of like sports. By the time a Christian musician reaches 40, unless they have reached CCM royalty status, you can usually find them on church staff positions. Much like many athletes over 40 become tv announcers. I personally have served as Worship Leader, Music Minister and Music/Youth Pastor so far. I also run a Christian music site at, and most of the musicians I see either are young or became successful at a young age. Check it out sometime – Not that it will make us old-timers feel any better!

    April 2, 2009
  2. JasonKarpf said:

    Marketing has a lot to do with these industry choices, guided by demographic studies of who is buying the product. Salem Communications says that 71% of the Contemporary Christian music audience is between 25 and 54. That’s not a teenybopper demographic that would automatically shun 40+ artists. Still, the effects of youth culture are pervasive. Companies cling to the dictum that the young are less set in their ways and more likely to try new products, thereby making them more open to advertising pitches. Hence we have the eternal drive for “content” (music, TV shows, movies) that appeals to younger demographic groups. There has been an increasing call to cater to the interests of older demographic groups as the country’s average age increases and baby boomers do not go gently into that good night, but it’s hard to buck “conventional wisdom.” Keep singing, brother.

    April 22, 2009
  3. all of my life said:

    This is a very interesting topic for me. I often wonder what people are looking for when they are listening to Christian music. When I listen to Christian music as opposed to when I write, I want to hear something that inspires me. The age of the singer doesn’t matter as much as the content. Grant it, the style of music may color my judgement, but given time on any christian channel, something is there which does inspire. So…all 10 fingers up in place of a thumb to those who put their hearts into their music so that someone will be blessed by your testimony in song..All we can do is be a witness to what God has done and is doing in our lives. And what He’s done for others (and myself), he can do for you.

    January 25, 2010
  4. VoiceDestinct said:

    40 is definetly and un-apologetically not over the hill for christian music! Our voices only get better with age. We have become more experienced and we should be listening to the word of God more for direction. After all Christian music is about saving souls for Christ. Its not about us or our physical bodies. The Gospel never ages! Remember… is God who stregthens our inner man with his word to sing the Gospel.

    September 23, 2010

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