So in 1993-1996ish, everyone I knew, and I mean everyone, was really into two musicians: Carman and DC Talk. Whenever we went to our Christian Bookstore and checked out the music section, we’d find large cardboard cutouts of Carman grinning at us and inviting us to buy Radically Saved or The Champion. The bookstore had an area where they put up their top ten selling albums of the month and the top spot was ALWAYS Carman or DC Talk. Personally, I couldn’t stand either of these acts. Carman was cheesy and smug and DC Talk was rap (which I couldn’t stand) and I hated that they were self-referential in some of their songs. So I remember looking at the top ten albums and noticing that another artist was often the #2 on the chart: Steve Green. And hey, green was my favorite color. I decided maybe I should be a Steve Green fan. My parents actually had a few Steve Green tapes around, so I started listening to them.
Steve Green, for those of you who are unfamiliar with him, is a solo tenor. He’s one of those guys who just gets up there and belts out a bunch of songs. Nothing flashy, just a strong voice and a big smile. His parents were missionaries. He was once part of Bill Gaither’s group before breaking off and actually singing in the Christian rock band “White Heart”. Then he went solo and really made it big. His hit albums included He Holds the Keys and Find Us Faithful. He was even fluent in Spanish and put out a number of albums in the language (who doesn’t remember En Vivo!). I even saw him live in Rochester once at the John Marshall High School Auditorium, just him and a piano player. He strolled the crowd at one point and asked for requests. Then he’d launch into them and the piano player would have to find the key he was in and back him up. In spite of this improvisational craziness, you could probably say Steve Green is just about as vanilla as you could get in the Christian music world of 1996.
I owned about 8 of his cassettes and listened to them pretty often. I guess you could say that my fandom was based on the fact that Steve Green was as different from Carman as you could get. I didn’t like Carman and I wanted to prove it by liking the opposite instead. And the opposite happened to also be #2 on the locals sales chart, so I could feel like I was part of some popular fan group too, even though I knew none of these people who bought Steve Green’s albums. Basically, in my circle of friends I was oblivious to the fact that the alternative choice was also the most mainstream one. But that didn’t matter, it was important to me that I didn’t just like what everyone else liked – that I had my own opinion. Proto-indie snob I guess.
I haven’t listened to Steve Green in years now, but I still remember a lot of his lyrics. Here’s a sample: “May all who come behind us find us faithful. May the fire of our devotion light their way. May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe. And the lives we live inspire them to obey.”