Over the last year and a bit, the Haystack has been networking with and keeping tabs on young Seventh-day Adventist creatives who are writing and releasing original music. The most surprising part of this journey has been discovering just how much talent is out there in this denomination with recorded music available to the world. The untapped potential of our artistic talent is remarkable. But it has been a privilege to begin to see this huge network of creative people, to to hear so many great songs.
We have also begun to curate playlists on Spotify to highlight this remarkable pool of talent. These playlists cover a broad spectrum of genres, to an extent that possibly has never been done in Adventism before. Everything from Gospel to Rap, from Folk to Rock, we are keeping an eye on it all. We are partially indebted to ministries like One Sound Music in the UK and WaymakerTV in Australia, who have done a great job at highlighting the Adventist musicians in their countries. Through connection with them, we have been exposed to Adventist music "scenes" - wow, it feels cool to say that - across the world.
In a time when quite a few people are struggling with what young Adventists have to be proud of, our wealth of independent recording artists is a bright spot.
My personal goal with these playlists, artist interviews, and release announcements has been to foster a greater sense of living, contemporary arts culture in Adventism. So many Adventist artists exist in isolated social bubbles that don't often expand beyond their regional borders. But there is a lot of music being made within our proverbial denominations walls, to the extent that there has to be something in this mix for everybody. And that, I think, is inherently exciting.
In a time when quite a few people are struggling with what young Adventists have to be proud of, our wealth of independent recording artists is a bright spot. They represent (often strongly) the theological perspectives that exist in our denomination, while also usually working independently of church support (or even in the face of misinformed opposition). These artists come from countless walks of life, and if we as a community can learn how to rally around them, I think we'll find that there is immense devotional and evangelistic potential in our midst, just waiting to be put into action.
We update the playlists regularly - as often as there is new music being released. And we are experimenting with taking time to highlight specific artists at the top of the playlist and on the playlist cover photo (similarly to Spotify's curated playlists). Here are the current iterations of these playlists this week. Hope you'll find something there to be both your Sabbath soundtrack, and the tone-setter for the rest of your week as well.
Independent Adventist Worship highlights music that is intended explicitly for praise and devotional purposes, and artists who are, for the most part, independent of major record label support. It's our most popular and what you might consider our "flagship" playlist.
Potluck Party Night was the second playlist we put together. It's meant to be the soundtrack to youth group or school socials, Saturday evening "game nights," or other high-energy, fun-spirited church social events that need some suitable background music. This may be the first time Adventist music has ever been collected together with fun in mind.
Advent Alternative leans less on the "churchy" side of Christian music and more on the artsy side. In fact, not all of the songs on this playlist have explicitly religious themes, though many do. This one leans more towards a feeling or a sound than a theological perspective, though all of the performers here are Adventists. But while the feeling is artsy, the musical styles are still all over the map here.
Haystack Hip-Hop is our first genre-specific playlist. Despite being often maligned and misunderstood, there are many rappers weaving their rhymes into the Adventist cultural fabric. This is our way of giving acknowledgement to those artists in a space where they are often either unseen or actively discouraged. And for all the stigma around Christian Hip Hop ... a lot of these rappers are quite good at what they do.
The Haystack Rock is exactly what it sounds like: a collection of young (and old!) Adventists who have dared to create Rock Music in a way that is integrated with their faith life. You'll find a pretty broad mix of sub-genres here, and these artists tend to be less explicitly religious. But there's plenty of depth to be found for those willing to listen beyond first impression.