This story was first printed on Faith Information Service on Feb. 10, 2021.
(RNS) — For the second straight day, an brazenly queer Christian artist has the highest Christian album on iTunes.
“Preacher’s Kid” by Semler, the artist identify of Grace Baldridge, hit No. 1 on Tuesday (Feb. 9) in Apple’s iTunes retailer, dethroning “Look Up, Little one” by Lauren Daigle, which was launched in 2018.
“It’s unbelievable. I maintain making an attempt to pinch myself,” Baldridge, 30, informed Faith Information Service.
“I truly bought a tattoo final night time to try to pinch myself to see if this was actual.”
However don’t count on to listen to the eight-song EP on Christian radio anytime quickly.
It carries a parental advisory for specific lyrics and at turns lacerates youth group lock-ins and short-term mission journeys — staples of an evangelical Christian upbringing — whereas professing a sophisticated religion.
“I’m a baby of God, simply in case you forgot, and also you forged me out each single probability that you just bought, and that’s your loss, not mine. I’ll be higher than effective,” Baldridge sings on the opening observe, “Bethlehem.”
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The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter has described the album as a “venture about popping out as a queer individual of religion” and its success as “an underdog story.” One commenter likened its rise on iTunes — pushed by one thing of a social media marketing campaign amongst LGBTQ-affirming Christians and ex-Christians — to “GameStopping” the Christian music business, referencing the sudden rise in GameStop inventory after Reddit customers purchased shares en masse to drive up its worth.
“I’m right here for it,” Baldridge mentioned in a video posted online.
“I need to seize the No. 1 spot on the iTunes Christian music chart and declare it for anybody who has been forged out within the identify of God.”
The concept for the album got here to the musician partially whereas she was interviewing Dan Haseltine, the lead singer of common Nineteen Nineties Christian band Jars of Clay, for her Refinery29 documentary series “State of Grace,” which explores the intersection of human rights, sexuality and religion.
Baldridge created the album with out a label, importing it to iTunes earlier this month as a Christian album as a result of — whereas it could not play like a Hillsong worship album — that’s what it’s, she mentioned.
“The Lord works in bizarre methods, my buddy,” the artist said.
The musician talked to RNS about her religion, the way it feels to have the No. 1 Christian album on iTunes and why she thinks it’s necessary for Christian music to incorporate voices like hers.
This interview has been edited for size and readability.
What was your religion like rising up? Had been you a preacher’s child, because the album title suggests?
My dad is an Episcopal priest. I grew up within the rectory. I truly grew up in Waterloo, Belgium. I’ve been very lucky in that, whereas we didn’t ever explicitly discuss something, I used to be raised in an accepting surroundings.
However even that didn’t spare me from outward church tradition. So it was form of like unbeknownst to my dad — my very candy dad, my well-meaning dad doing his greatest — anytime I’d be despatched to sure youth actions, sure mission journeys, sure conferences, all of the form of love and acceptance I used to be experiencing at dwelling, which I’m so grateful for, was simply being chipped away at by the identical faith I used to be being raised in. That was a very exhausting factor as a youngster to reconcile.
How would you describe your religion now?
I’d describe myself as a faithfully skeptical Christian. I positively battle with lots of doubt. I’m the individual that stands up at Communion, happening the aisle, and in my head I’ll be like, “This can be a cult, proper? This can be a little bizarre.”
The place did the thought for the album come from?
My earliest recollections are writing music from after I was like 5 or 6. Previously three years, I’ve actually been taking myself extra severely as an artist and form of checking into artistically what I need to say and what I need to write about. I’ve been form of sifting by way of and sifting by way of, and I believe quarantine afforded me sufficient time to essentially do lots of deconstructing and processing I perhaps wasn’t able to do earlier than, or perhaps I didn’t have the time to do earlier than. That resulted in “Preacher’s Child.”
I recorded all the pieces at dwelling on my USB mic on my laptop computer. It’s simply uncooked. Now it’s slightly embarrassing as a result of I didn’t suppose this many individuals would hear it.
Why categorize it as a Christian album?
All these songs — their frequent thread is that they’re about faith. Then I completely second-guessed myself. I used to be like, “No, you may’t do this. That’s not going to work. Nobody’s going to see it or care about one of these story. Don’t do this. Simply listing it as, like, “singer-songwriter.” However then I saved coming again to this concept of what I’m speaking about — that is an expression of my religion. That is the place I’m as a Christian proper now. This can be a Christian file.
I don’t need folks to suppose it is a gimmick. However then my favourite data rising up have been Relient Okay, Hawk Nelson, Switchfoot. I really feel like, apart from the swearing, this material actually does line up with different initiatives and bands that have been underneath that Christian style. Why not me?
What has the response been?
I’ve by no means seen one of these response earlier than for an brazenly queer artist in Christian music. After all, there have been many LGBTQ-plus performers which have come earlier than me, however as quickly as they got here out, they have been form of ostracized and forged out from the business, which was fairly daunting. However I believe I’ve come to date in my very own private journey that I felt fairly stable to launch this. I simply didn’t count on it will discover the viewers it has.
I simply thought it was so private to me and so particular to me, I didn’t know if anybody would relate to it. Simply to say one thing and for different folks on the market to grasp your expression, it’s all you need, and for years it was what I dreamed of. It’s simply loopy probably the most particular writing I’ve accomplished seemingly is connecting with so many alternative folks.
Some folks on social media are calling it “GameStopping” Christian music. What do you consider that?
I’m right here for it, to be trustworthy.
I believe once you say the time period “GameStopping,” it’s form of forcing the hand of the folks in energy in favor of those that have been shut out for therefore lengthy. So I believe that’s actually what we’re getting at. Whether or not or not you’ve been burned by purity tradition or poisonous masculinity that’s been enforced and by inflexible church teachings, or whether or not you’re a member of the LGBTQ-plus group and informed you aren’t priceless and you don’t deserve the identical dignity as different folks, we’re talking up for ourselves. I believe in some methods, by way of this venture, we’re in a position to take action by holding up slightly little bit of a mirror to Christian media, like, we’re right here. You’ll be able to’t ignore us anymore. We’re No. 1 proper now.
That’s form of what the “GameStopping” Christian music joke is about. It’s additionally not a joke. It’s a joke, and it’s additionally not a joke as a result of I believe it’s fairly thrilling.