Amy Grant was one of the top Christian performers of the ‘80s, she was even known as “the Queen of Christian Pop.” She shocked the world when she became one of the first artists to successfully crossover from Christian music to the mainstream. The controversial move paid off big with hit single “Baby Baby” and six Grammys. She is now married to country singer Vince Gill.
Singer, actress, and reality TV star Jessica Simpson started her career singing at the church where her father served as youth pastor. She signed to a small gospel label and recorded her debut album Jessica, which wasn’t ever released by the label. That didn’t stop her though, her secular debut took command of the pop charts and she never looked back.
In the late ‘90s Chris Rice became synonymous with the softer, folkier side of Christian music. With his melodic hooks and steady piano playing he became a force to be reckoned with in Christian music. In 2005, however, he decided to broaden his horizons by signing with an independent label and not just marketing himself as a Christian artist. He has continued to make music for both formats, even releasing a hymn collection since becoming a mainstream artist.
Michael Sweet is the lead singer of ‘80s Christian metal band Stryper. Known for hits like “To Hell with the Devil,” the band toured the world with loud guitars and an unapologetic faith. While Stryper is still touring, Sweet found his way to a solo career and eventually as the lead singer of classic rock act Boston.
Pop superstar Katy Perry was born Katy Hudson, the name that her music career started under. Before huge hits like “Firework” and “Teenage Dream” Katy was a teenage Christian artist who got her start singing in her church. Her self-titled 2001 release did not fare well commercially, and Katy would eventually change her name and move to LA. The rest is on-going history.
Surf rockers Switchfoot started out on a smaller Christian label, touring around with some of the biggest Christian bands. After achieving a level of notoriety through secular film A Walk to Remember, the band caught its big break with 2002’s A Beautiful Letdown which was released through a large secular label. Even so, they are one of the only artists on our list who hasn’t changed their approach to writing music in order to be a secular success.