Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Asian American Religious Music

While there is much information available on the various practices of different religious worship styles, little information is available on the music of Asian American specific worship. In that respect, it's important to highlight not only artist that are creating religous music, but artist that are affecting mainstream music that claim to be a follower of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or other religions.

The Korean American Church in America is a forerunner of Asian American Christian practices. 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 prais team consited of a drummer, a bassist, a guitarist/singer, backup singers, a pianist, and a flutist..." (Yoon 8).
Also, there appears to be a wider acceptance of secular styles of music within the Korean American church. The Korean American Christian Media website, which caters to young Korean Americans states their mission statement as follows

Korean American Christian Media (KAC Media) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that is committed to spreading the message of God's love and grace through online and television media.

"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" (kacmedia.org).

The KAC does not just feature artist making Christian music, but Christian artists using a variety of mediums such as famous rock band Seriously

While much information about Islamic worship music in the US in scarce, there exist other artists who use Islam as the topic of their music. Taquwacore is a type of punk music dealing with Islam and The Komainas are a Punjabi band that use this to express their attitude toward American Islam.

Yoon, Paul, "Christian Identity, Ethnic Identity: Music Making and Prayer Practices Among 1.5 and Second Generation Korean-American Christians"

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