Skip to comments.'American Idol's' Christian connection (Mega-churches across heartland serve as training ground)
Posted on 05/24/2010 10:18:53 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
She isn't employed by the show and viewers never see her sparring with Simon Cowell. But Leesa Bellesi exerts her own kind of pull on "American Idol," Fox's top-rated singing contest that has a unique if often-unstated link to Christian churches.
Bellesi, who runs a Christian nonprofit in Lake Forest with her ex-pastor husband, visits tapings frequently, has befriended numerous finalists and helps wrangle funds and scout temporary housing for families who trek cross-country to see relatives perform on "Idol." Bellesi said that churches form a base for the young singers as they try to win votes and establish fan bases. Half of the Top 10 last season were worship leaders in their churches, she said.
"Most of the kids that have been really successful on 'American Idol' have that huge support of their church that's pushed them they've had a lot of voting and things like that," said Bellesi, who has no official connection to the show (a spokesperson for the producers said he had never heard of her) but was spoken of as an unofficial patron by former finalists Danny Gokey, Jason Castro and others.
Ties to churches especially of the evangelical or Pentecostal variety are indeed a common denominator for many contestants on America's No. 1 show, including this season's Aaron Kelly, Lacey Brown and Jermaine Sellers. Castro, who placed fourth on Season 7 and just released his first album, played one of his first pre-"Idol" gigs at Lake Pointe, a suburban Dallas mega-church he attends that's known for its sophisticated musical performances.
"That was the only time I sang when there were cameras involved," Castro said in a recent interview. "Any of the larger churches you go into are really full-on performance venues."
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
With many contestants having honed their vocal skills at black churches and suburban megachurches, "Idol" has been embraced by Christian communities across the nation. Congregations have launched enthusiastic viewing parties and vote drives for favorites. Perhaps more important, the contestants' church training has deeply influenced the songs and musical styles viewers hear on "Idol" and helped launch the careers of faith-based singers, such as George Huff and Mandisa, as well as secular pop artists. The show has projected to an audience of tens of millions an image of heartland youth driven by faith and strong family values. That's an important source of appeal for a nation that according to a 2007 Pew Research Center survey identifies itself as 78% Christian.
I’m sorry, perhaps I am old-fashioned...but using the Church as a jumping-off point for fame and fortune under the guise of ‘spreading the Gospel’ is just wrong.
American Idol’s ratings have dropped because they have promote the homosexual lifestyle with Adam Lambert who looks like a woman and Ellen DeGenerate.
I canceled TV about a year ago and will not be going back. All the 5 networks support Obama 100% so if you watch TV you support Obama.
I know a conservative guy who is very involved in churches. He was talking about working with some group and mentioned Rick Warren. I laughed and told hiom Warren was a pro-Islam fraud.
Wise up, producers.
In a way, the old time churches were venues for Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Albonini and for other composers music to be heard. Mozart’s music became more secular though he was religious.
I support “entertainment” in churches with this type of music. This more modern Christian rock praise music is hokie. It is better than Catholic, Protestant and Evangeliclas filling the pews with illegals.
I’ve been to both very poor small churches and very rich mega-churches. It’s hard to find legitimacy and authenticity in mega-churches and the services are productions.
I’ll take a poor country church any-day...
Seems to me that many of these churches are trying to “be in the world and not of it”.
There is a natural connection. Most people don’t sing much in their daily life. Churches produce singers.
Some churches are a capella and people learn to sing harmony rather naturally. A lot of churches these days have increasingly high quality music worship teams. What I notice is that while a few years ago young musicians would have looked outside the church are now willing and even anxious to ply their craft within the church.
The mega-churches kick that to another level. Someone who is leading worship three times a Sunday every Sunday is going to develop strong musical chops, and they do. And they are going to be very much at home on stage. For some of these churches, and some of the musicians serving in these churches, American Idol is almost a step down. And as time goes on and the “praise music” scene comes into its own, secular music increasingly starts to look like a step down.
As Al Pacino as Scarface said about his WASP money laundering banker - “phonies.”
Mega churches become businesses. At that point, I do not need a middleman to talk to God. Small churches usually “get it.”
One of the last churches I went to was a more progressive Catholic church. It was not my choice but someone I was driving to church. I thought it was a business conference center. Where was the crucifix? The cross was invisible like the Holy ghost or something. Nutty.
IN season 7 ( David Cook and David Archuelta’s season ), the idols actually sang the popular church song -— SHOUT TO THE LORD — in one of their group performances.
Ping to the truth about contemporary worship.
Sad and tacky. One of the best churches I attanded was a small dying Lutheran church. The neighborhood was changing. People getting old or moving away. I really got the impression the pastor or reverend really got it. He was a great guy.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people go to church looking for the former.”
Are you sure about that? I think if you check carefully you might find an assumption, perhaps based in prejudice, in there somewhere.
I have been to churches large and small.
The church with the best music was a mega-church... hands down. The church with the worst music was the smaller and more “religious” one.
I for one do not long for the days growing up when I was forced to sing old hymns to an out of tune piano being played by an overweight woman wearing support hose.
Not starting a flame war. To each his own.
music does not mean there is not “hard core scripture”.
We shouldn’t get into an argument here, we have too much in common otherwise, but I think you should go back & Read Matthew 7:3-5 & consider carefully the attitudes of Jesus before condemning other Christians.
When in doubt, consider Jesus opening his arms & smiling to you “good job my good & faithful servant”. Can you honestly see him doing that for condemning the worship of other churches?
Many people learn skills in the church that they go on to use in their professional lives.
Many of the musician in our symphony grew up playing their instrument in church. I know a youth leader who after college went on to use his leadership skills in business.
Why should singing be any different?
Of the genuine, believing churches, different churches have different personalities.
Different preachers have different specialties you’ll find. While any good preacher can preach on any subject inevitably they have a gift for one area or another.
Some churches are what I call gateway churches, they are adept at attracting new believers. Others are teaching churches, the preaching and the atmosphere seems to promote a good understanding of scripture and theology. Others are more spiritual, and seem to be more focused on the growth of the spirit. Others are more action oriented.
At various times in your life you may find yourself drawn toward one, and then later another. This may mean a shift from one denomination to another, it may simply mean another congregation of the same denomination. Early in your walk God may direct you to where you need to be for your growth; later you may find yourself in a church that needs what you have to offer.
I agree with what you said.
I simply reject the idea that suggests that if a church has outdated music, they must be spiritual. And if a church has modern music, they must be bad.
Music is a lot like Bible translations- some favor the tradition of the King James Bible. Others prefer accurate modern translations.
Like I said, to each his own.
Interesting comments in this thread. Some of my own:
1. Many church singers are trained really well. They are taught how to sing correctly and, this is important, they are taught to sing persuasively, to project their feelings for all to see.
2. Church choir singers are outstanding singers after they have been in choir for a few years. Secular choirs are made up entirely of church singers. By secular choirs I mean pop through classical choirs.
3. Western music would be very different if it had not been the result of heavy church involvement.
4. Music can motivate people to come to Jesus in a ways that can be gentle or positively crushing. I can give you names of people who came to Jesus through music. Several involved a single song that changed their hearts. We see this almost every week.
5. Contemporary music strikes a chord with many people in ways that hymns from the 19th century do not. Just another change in church music.
6. There are three main divisions in church music like and dislikes (most congregations break down at about 1/3 each):
a. Traditional - They like the hymns from the book and are uncomfortable with contemporary church music. The songs are about God and His Son.
b. Contemporary - Very popular now and it has brought a lot of people to Jesus. Basically love songs to God and His Son. Many of the themes and words come straight out of Psalms.
c. Southern Gospel - “Boy, Southern Gospel is what they sing in Heaven and if you don’t start singing it now, you’re going straight to Hell.”
Motivations for going to a church can be very different from person to person and can be profound or shallow, they’re all good.
As Dennis Rainey (AFR) says “If your 16 year old son, out of the blue, insists on going to high school Bible Study, it is probably because there is a cute girl he wants to get close to. Take him. It won’t hurt him, he will learn a great deal and maybe his heart will be changed.”
There are Christian men all over America who were brought into the kingdom by a cute girl.
Exactly right. I am part of an acapella Church of Christ congregation, and when I was a teen, we were sent off to "singing school" to learn how to read music, to sing and to lead singing. Sure, there are exceptions, but most of the people I go to church with sing pretty well, because we've been trained, and we do it for a half-hour (at least) twice a week. I love it!
The very best musicians and singers you’ll find in church choirs and especially in the worship bands in the larger churches. But for the best singers out in the pews, look to the a capella churches.
I didn't know that.
A.I. will continue its downward spiral if it continues to mock and insult its Christian viewers
Do you really think that’s the reason for the shows diminishing audience?
I think it’s just nature taking its course. How many times can a snarky Simon Cowell amuse? After a while, it’s just boilerplate commentary. Read: boring and predictable.
We Americans need a new shiny object to attract our attention every few years. AI’s time is past for no other reason that it’s shopworn now. A new coat of paint (new judges) didn’t cut it, because the issue was bigger than that.
We have this one up the road from us.
I'm....speechless. What is that place?
Google “Touchdown Jesus”
< hushed tone> Are you the Maestro?
Size is not the sign of a health congregation. In America we don’t get that.
The story of the Word of Life mural at ND.
“60 Minutes” has rarely been out of the top 10 in over 40 years. All shows have formats and formulas, but some shows become traditions. Ya never know. However, not insulting your core audience is key.
No place on the ministry team for a "taste coordinator"?
Amen from a fellow dunkin' Campbellite! :-)