I was thirteen when my first copy of CCM Magazine came in the mail, crisp and shiny, reeking of the pungent ink-and-paper smell. I read it cover to cover, soaking in the articles, and running my fingers over the glossy press shots of Avalon, Plus One, and Point of Grace. I was sure I was their biggest, most devoted fan. I announced to my mom that I was going to write for CCM someday. Matthew Paul Turner was the reason I wanted to write for CCM. (He doesn’t believe me, but I always read his column first, during his stint as editor at the magazine). I was a star-struck thirteen year old, with big dreams, and the surety that I was going to change the industry singlehandedly…sure that my “making it” into the pages of CCM was the holy grail of my career. (I was wrong; more on that later…) Today, Matthew has become a friend; the one not afraid to tell me when an article is terrible, the one I can count on to humble my flighty ego.
When Matthew told me he was going to write a book about the music industry, I thought, “Here we go!” I knew it was a book he needed to write. See, the Christian music industry is a funny thing; it’s a volatile mix of injustice and community. It’s these kinds of things you will find hidden in the pages of “Hear No Evil”. It’s typical Turner humor, with biting wit alongside moments that will move you to tears. You will meet people in this book, much like his last work, “Churched”. It’s really about finding the stories. You’ll meet Tina, a young woman trying to “make it” as a singer, and you will weep as you watch her story unfold. You’ll laugh through the anecdotes that Turner shares about growing up in a Baptist church where worldly music was like dancing…not even an option. You’ll meet James, whose jaded view of the industry causes him to walk away. I found one more story in the middle of this incredible book. I found me. See, I got my dream job. I held the holy grail. For two years, it was my name in print at CCM. My byline alongside those glossy press shots and album reviews. It feels good at the top. It feels great to be respected and part of the “industry”. There is wonderful community to be found in the CCM circles. But it’s not all there is. When CCM made budget cuts, I watched my “dream career” slip away. I think I grieved a little. But there were parts of it I don’t miss. I don’t miss the industry of it, to be honest. I still work as a publicist, working to give some independent artists the guidance and expertise they need to navigate the waters and still come out unscathed, with integrity. But I don’t miss the censorship, the extra time certain artists get in the spotlight, the airbrushing. I work for a website committed to social justice now. I spent my last weekend writing articles about Haiti. It was freeing.
Turner’s humor mingles with brutal honesty and its refreshing. I read the entirety of “Hear No Evil”, front to back, in the middle of the airport on a layover...in two hours. i couldn't put it down. I think my legs were numb from sitting so long, but I couldn’t put it down. I sent Matthew an email, after nearly crying through his book, and said thank you.
Read this book. It will change anyone involved with Christian music. From the twenty something packing for Nashville to the publicist in New York City…it will open your eyes and your heart.
So thank you, friend.