Sunday, August 02, 2009

Rise of the Mormon Singers

When Mormons are asked to name famous Mormons in music, Gladys Knight and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir might be the first that come to mind. Recently another name might be the pop sensation David Archuleta, the American Idol second place winner. There is a growing diversity of Mormon musicians who are, if not proud, at least not shy about their Mormon faith. It isn't the lip service recognition of Mormon roots such as the Hollywood actors who mention upbringing as an afterthought. They express that they are still practitioners, even if imperfect.

More surprising is up and coming Mormon singers are coming from a traditionally hedonist genre; the Rock band. The most famous of them is Brandon Flowers of "The Killers" who has been mentioned before. At least two articles about almost famous bands have interviews were his name comes up almost as a comparison to them. Alan Sparhawk of The Low said, "There are a few of us [Mormons] here and there. It would be fascinating to meet him," when Independent.IE seemed to bring up the subject of any relationships. More directly, reported that Neon Trees has been touring with The Killers after the drummer spotted them and enjoyed what he heard.

The juxtaposition of Mormonism and the Rock Band lifestyle is a constant theme in the interviews. As Sparkhawk stated, "He [Flowers] is an odd one. He's not at all perfect. There are plenty of instances where he's shown his ... ah weaknesses." Yet, Brandon has acknowledged those weaknesses, but also expressed his Mormonism is part of his life. More surprising is that Mormons in both The Low and Neon Trees declare that they are reserved in their behavior. In a business where drinking, drugs, and sexual promiscuity are considered part of the life, for some reason they haven't fallen victim. It is true that Tyler of Neon Trees said, "we all kind of dabbled in our teenage years . . ," but they are apparently no longer involved with the more party element of the work.

What makes it easier for members of a Rock band to be practicing Mormons where Hollywood actors fail? Perhaps its because singers have more of a hand in creating their roles. They aren't stuck with the script handed them, but often are the ones writing the lyrics and making the music. If they don't want to do something, there isn't as much pressure from a director, writer, and producer telling them they must for the integrity of the production. There is also a niche called "straight edge" that rebelled against the hedonistic lifestyle if not the music. A similar movement is unheard of in the cloistered Hollywood movie hills. In fact, the Bishop in the Hollywood area said, ""The honest truth is when people call me, I attempt to persuade them to go elsewhere . . . This is an extremely tough, tough town." As he stated, they have to compromise and make the career their lives.

Maybe it is just a coincidence that the music business has more admittedly practicing Mormons in the spotlight. Whatever the reason, there is something to be learned. Art doesn't have to get in the way of Religion. They just have to be placed in proper perspective.

There are still some holes to fill. None of the work done by the mentioned artists (other than Gladys Knight and obviously the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) seems to have any Mormon influence. Secondly, on politics they also lean toward the Left; such as supporting Obama or attacking George W. Bush. It is still unbecoming to be Republican and Conservative, even if Mormonism isn't a problem.

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