Monday, March 9, 2009


Yesterday, before church, we had a concert. The duo Alathea was in town, and they came to play for us, and then to be part of our worship music.

Several weeks ago, when we heard they were coming, some part of me worried that it would be the unlistenable kind of Christian Contemporary music. My sister and I used to get into fierce arguments about the worth of Amy Grant and her ilk. I would always claim that U2 was a much better Christian band, because they didn't sacrifice the musical skill or the lyrics. In my high school, we had a small battle when we got a juke box in the cafeteria, and a Christian group demanded that Christian songs be put on the juke box. As I recall (imperfectly probably), the punk rockers demanded certain songs that served their interest, and school officials eventually decided to just take the juke box away.

Ah, 1983, when we still had 45'' records to put on a juke box, when we had interesting groups like punk rockers and Young Lifers. It made for an interesting high school life in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Happily, Alathea was a much better group than some of the Christian groups of my youth (and some of the ones currently on tour). They play a variety of instruments, and what a novelty that seems--groups that can actually play instruments! They harmonize beautifully, and their voices don't have that grating vibrato quality that we see so often on American Idol or that warbly (or worse, glass-breaking) soprano that one finds too often dominating church choirs.

I loved their lyrics, and the way that they could seamlessly go from one of their songs to an old Gospel standard. I loved that Mandee Radford would talk about her songs, and what inspired them. I loved that they played instruments like dulcimers, mandolins, and the banjo. I loved them so much that I bought all of their CDs, and spent a pleasant Sunday continuing to listen to their music.

These women have a goal to play 150 shows this year, so they might be appearing near you. Their website has all sorts of information, like their touring schedule and their biography. It also has a page where you can buy their music--they're having a fabulous sale!

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