The year 2000 was a banner year for Christian music. New artists came to the forefront. Seasoned veterans dropped new albums. As we headed into late November, the U.S. found itself in the midst of an uncertain presidential election outcome. Confusion reigned supreme. For many, in times of turmoil, recourse to music is a lifesaver.
November is often a dry time of year for non-seasonal releases, as many artists either get their releases out in earlier months or save them until the following year to avoid having to promote them during the holiday months. November 2000's release slate looked more niche than previous months. But, there are still some nuggets of Christian music history to appreciate, as these projects turn 20.
dc Talk - Intermission: The Greatest Hits
During the latter half of the 1990s, legendary hitmakers dc Talk was at the top of the Christian music industry, fueled by the unprecedented impact of 1995's Jesus Freak. As the success pulled its members in different artistic directions, the band decided to take an intermission from the dc Talk label and pursue solo interests (That intermission is still going to this day). It's hard to argue with the success of their individual ventures. TobyMac is a legendary solo artist. Kevin Max consistently puts out some of the best arthouse music in the genre. While Michael Tait's venture as Tait produced only a handful of moderately successful hits. Stepping into the frontman role for the Newsboys nearly a decade later would reshape the band and reignite their presence in Christian music.
Still, fans clamor for the return of Toby, Michael, and Kevin to the band that made them legends. We've had tastes and teases. We've got a cruise. We've got a few tracks over the years on the respective solo projects. To this day, we still wait for a proper reunion.
This greatest hits compilation itself is noteworthy on its own. It's a fine collection of many of the band's most iconic selections. That said, despite only producing five albums worth of music, no singles collection can properly hit every standout track from the dc Talk catalogue. Especially their later albums, these are projects meant to be enjoyed from start to finish. Still, for those who prefer to dive into the band with their most known hits first, Intermission is a solid place to go. As we hit two decades since the band went their separate ways, loyal fans still wait for the day they will see the headline that the intermission is over and dc Talk officially returns.
Michael W. Smith - Freedom
Michael W. Smith is known for his classic hits in Christian music. Some of his more ardent fans may also know he has a knack for strong instrumental music. His Christmas albums are full of some of these gems. In November, Smitty released his first fully instrumental album, Freedom. This collection is full of cinematic and sweeping orchestral pieces. These songs would be great for a Hollywood epic soundtrack. Imagine Smitty score a film; Freedom would be a great fit. The music fits today's day and age, as it turns 20.
Wilshire - Second Story
Duo Micah and Lori Wilshire had an interesting musical journey. Starting as backing vocalists, the married couple eventually got noticed and signed by Michael W. Smith's music label, Rocketown Records. After one album, Wilshire left the label and released a second album independently. The duo signed to a mainstream label for one final project. For this article, we focus on Wilshire's second album, Second Story. Wilshire's romantic pop sound fit in well with what was popular around the turn of the century. They aren't a recognizable name. But, their music is definitely worth a listen.
Hillsong United - Best Friend
Hillsong United is a leading powerhouse of worship music, with hits such as "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" becoming a legitimate cultural phenomenon. Best Friend was their sophomore live album, with a slew of worship songs that didn't achieve a high level of fame. But, these songs should satisfy fans of the genre. It also offers fans a look into the megachurch band's early output.
Sandi Patty - These Days
Sandi Patty is one of the leading ladies of old school Contemporary Christian music. Her powerful voice is legendary and the core of many a worship standards in the '90s Christian music. In November, Sandi released These Days, an album that leaned heavily into the popular contemporary sounds of the time. Those looking to relive signature Sandy Patty can do so with These Days, an album definitely worth a revisit.
J.J. Francesco is a longtime contributor to the NRT Staff. He's published the novel 'Because of Austin' and regularly seeks new ways to engage faith, life, and community.
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