One of the downsides of Christian music becoming a big business is that artists are now bound to the all-powerful bottom line at music labels. Artists that don’t appeal to the majority (and the majority appears to be youth group friendly rock or easy listening praise and worship) are squeezed out at the edges. In a city like Nashville where it seems like everyone is an aspiring musician, a group of artists have banded together to support and promote each other, because apparently no one else will.
For a while now, Andrew Peterson and his friends have gathered together to play songs for each other, discuss their careers, and talk about life and family. Peterson has often described this gathering of friends as “The Weaklings” playing off of the group “The Inklings”, a gathering of writers including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkein that would meet at a pub and critique each others writings. In the last few months these artists have decided to give themselves a name, a brand, an identity to increase their visibilty.
Introducing The Square Peg Alliance!
All of the artists may not be household names (in fact, none of them may be), but the talent is apparent. The group roster initially includes Katy Bowser, Jeremy Casella, Billy Cerveny, Randall Goodgame, Andy Gullahorn, Matthew Perryman Jones, Chris Mason, Sandra McCracken, Andrew Osenga, Eric Peters, Andrew Peterson, Jill Phillips, and Derek Webb There’s no telling if more artists will be added later, or if artists might “graduate” to mainstream success, but for now the group is what it is.
The name is an appropriate moniker because all of these artists have tried to “fit” into the round hole of the music business. At some point all of them have at individual times in their lives discovered that they were square pegs trying to fit into round holes and stopped trying to fit into what they were not. Some, like Webb, have left mainstream Christian music success to venture out on to their own. Some, like Webb’s replacement in Caedmon’s Call, Andrew Osenga, still have one foot in the mainstream Christian music business and one foot in independent songwriting and performing. Others prefer to write songs for artists who have more visibility. All of them have one thing in common. They love their music and love performing for people. The best part of this alliance is that there is no label behind it, no advertising push, no big budget pushing it on us, the listeners. This alliance is a chance to perform together and raise awareness about themselves and about each other. There’s no telling what will come out of the alliance. Maybe a tour of some of the artists? Maybe an album compilation (or a series of compilations?) Who knows? The most exciting part is that all of this is still in the nascent stage and the potential is boundless.
I’m excited to see some of the artists I love working together and eager to learn about some of the ones that I’ve never heard before. Look for an increased web presence for this alliance soon and who knows, yours truly might have a hand in some of it.