Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Asian American Religious Music (Reprise)


Asian immigrants and Asian-American college students are among the fastest growing group of Christians in the United States, Korean Americans specifically. Three fourths of Koreans in the US and 20 percent of Chinese Americans identify themselves as Christians. Vietnamese and Filopinos tend to associate themselves more with Catholicism, influences being France and Spain [1]. The church has been a place of stability within the Asian American community since immigration to the United States since, being established early on by Korean immigrants in the early 1900s. Churches served as political, cultural, and socials centers for Asian Americans who faced discrimination from society. Most practices with the Korean and Chinese churches remain closely tied to Anglo Protestants, except for the use of Asian languages and a practice called tongsungkido, or a “call out prayer” during which people simultaneously pray, which is used is in Korean American churches, believed to have been derived from Korean Shamanism.

College campuses are seeing a huge influx of Asian American organizations pop up and converts. Many of these ethnic based Christian organizations do not reject any doctrinal or belief systems of their white counterparts, but these organizations provide Asian Americans with a sense of community, homophile relationships, and opportunities for upward mobility within the organization (Kim) [2].

Paul Yoon comments on the saturation of music through the worship service at a Korean fellowship in Flushing, New York. In the Korean American Church is “used to mark the boundary between the mundane and the sacred” (Yoon 24) [3]. Music styles within the first generation Korean American churches tend to learn towards traditional hymns and Anglo-Saxton styles of worship, while now churches are incorporation Contemporary Christian styles of music. Most consider their practices to be universal. But this is only one part of the spectrum. Asian American religious music embraces various types of American genres from R&B and hip-hop to rock. These are styles brought in by the newest generation of Asian Americans. In Paul Yoon's dissertation on Korean American church music, he discusses the musical worship style of 1.5 and second generation Korean Americans. Tongsongkido is a "cry-out-loud" prayer practiced within the Korean American church. Korean American church music among this generation could be classified as Contemporary Christian. "Every FPEM service that I attend started with guitar-based contemporary praise music and that night was no exception. The praise team consisted of a drummer, a bassist, a guitarist/singer, backup singers, a pianist, and a flutist..." (Yoon 8).

Korean American Christian Media is a website that features not only Christians artist making songs of worship, but also artist that have claimed to be Christian. They don’t limit themselves to strictly songs, films, and media made specifically for Christians.

Its mission statement is as follows

"As we strive to be the premiere network for 1.5, 2nd, and 3rd Generation Korean Americans, we aim to produce creative and thought-provoking content that genuinely serves the needs of Korean Americans today. While highlighting churches, organizations, businesses, and individuals in the Korean community, KAC Media provides services, employment, and programs to empower and develop emerging young artists in the arts, film, and media
It is our hope that with every story and with every effort, we bring people one step closer to God" [4].

Inspire is a Christian music production that features Asian American artists.
Inspire '08 is put together by Inspire, a Christian organization dedicated to giving emerging Asian American artists a platform to showcase their music. Their goal is to try to reach out to the young Asian American community with edgy music and inspire them to follow their dreams. INSPIRE was founded by youth pastor, Jeff Yoo and former singer, Hannah Lee in November of last year. "We really both have a huge heart for worship," said Lee. "We saw other organizations like Kollaboration that were targeting Asian Americans, and we wanted to do something for the community as well, Christian or non-Christian.” (kacmedia.org)

Asian American Christian Artists/Groups

Koti Hu-Taiwanese American artist [6]
AK & Jabez- Korean male rappers from UCLA
The Nehemiah Band- Male group from Los Angeles
Lyricks- Korean male rapper from Northern Virginia
Manifest- rapper from Virginia
Downbeat- Four member R&B and rap group [4]

Islamic worship music is not popular due to conflicting views on the purity of music. But, taqwacore is a genre of punk music contrived by the Michael Muhammad Knight, author of The Taquwacore. It is a type of punk music dealing with Islam. The Kominas are a Punjabi band that use this to express their attitude toward American Islam.

In an interview with Muslim Playwright Sabina England says this about the future of Tacquacore

"It's gonna get bigger. A lot of Muslim kids are tired of being told what to do, how to think, what to believe in, and how to act, by their parents. There are 'the angry muslim kids' who wanna grow beards and pray five times a day, and then there are the OTHER 'angry Muslim kids' who wanna get drunk and say a huge big 'fuck you' to the Muslim population. Or maybe they just don't care and wanna sit at home and not think about Osama's video speeches about how America is the Great Satan" (Butt) [5].

[1] Yang, Daniel. "Why Chinese and Korean Americans Adopt Christianity." Daniel Yang. 26 Apr. 2009 .
[2] Kim, Rebecca Y. "Second-generation Korean American evangelicals: ethnic, multiethnic, or white campus ministries?" BNet. Spring 2004. 7 Apr. 2009 .
[3]Yoon, Paul. Christian Identity, Ethnic Identity: Music Making and Prayer Practices Among 1.5 and Second-Generation Korean-American Christians. Diss. Columbia University, 2005.
[4] "Mission Statement." Korean American Christian Media. 28 Apr. 2009 .
[5] Butt, Riazat. "Islamic street preachers." Guardian.co.uk. 28 Apr. 2007. 26 Apr. 2009.
[6] “Interview with Koti Hu” USAsians.net. 28 Apr. 2009

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