Gospel music: All about Word Records
Here is a brief overview of the popular music label Word Records, which has contributed significantly to gospel music.
Word Records is a popular Christian record label which was founded in Waco, Texas in 1951. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, it is a division of Word Entertainment (co-owned by Warner Music Group and Curb Records). The group has contributed immensely to gospel music.
Word Records was founded by Jarrel McCracken. He created the gospel music industry. Today it is one of the world’s largest makers of religious recordings and publications. Jarrel McCracken was a sportscaster for a local Waco, Texas radio station.
Speaking about Jarrel McCracken, Robert Darden said, “Whatever people think of Christian music today is owed largely to Jarrel McCracken.” Robert is a journalism professor at the Baylor University.
The label’s name is based on a 16 minute spoken word recording written and narrated by Jarrel McCracken. Titled “The Game of Life”, it was the first recording released by the label.
In the beginning, the label featured spoken word recordings. But soon it branched out into gospel music by recording George Beverly Shea and the Baylor Religious Hour Choir.
The label struggled initially until Marvin Norcross became an equity partner. Many subsidiary labels like Myrrh Records, Canaan Records, Rejoice Records and DaySpring Records were started over the years.
Star Song was distributed by Word Records, but left their distribution deal in the late 1980s to sign with Sparrow Records which was take over by Chordant Distribution and then by EMI.
Word Records reached the top through its distribution deals with many labels. The label virtually housed a who’s-who in Christian music. Word Records promoted some of the biggest names in contemporary gospel music.
Rich Mullins, Sandi Patti, Amy Grant, Kenny Marks, Paul Smith, Wayne Watson, Michael W. Smith, Carman, Steve Archer and Rusty Goodman were some of the artists who worked with Word Records.
Some hit songs associated with Word Records are “In a Little While”, “Angels”, “Sing Your Praise to the Lord”, “Thy Word”, “Find a Way”, “Stay For Awhile”, and “Good For Me.”
Today Word music is the industry’s top source for church hymnals, choral music and associated instrumental music. The sounds of word range from adult contemporary and Praise and Worship to modern rock and pop.
Gospel music nourishes the soul. Its melody has a therapeutic effect on its listeners. Word Records has done a yeoman service to humanity by promoting this genre.