Word Records

Word Records
Word Records
Label wordrecords.jpg
Parent company Warner Music Group
Founded 1951
Distributor(s) World Distribution(US CBA market)
WEA (general US market, and outside the US)
Genre Gospel/Christian
Country of origin US
Official Website wordrecords.com

Word Records is a Christian record label based in Nashville, Tennessee. It is a division of Word Entertainment (formerly known as Word Records & Music), which, itself is co-owned by Warner Music Group and Curb Records. Word Entertainment consists of Word Records, Word Music (printed music), Word Music Publishing and Word Distribution.



Word Records was founded in Waco, Texas in 1951 by Jarrell McCracken. The label's name is based on a recording by McCracken, the first recording by the label, of a fictitious American football match held at the "Great Stadium of Life," known as the Game of Life. The 23-year old KWTX sportscaster in Waco, TX, read an article by Jimmy Allen, a former athlete who became a Baptist preacher, and based his recording on the article which also is called "The Game of Life".[1] The event is based on a full length match between the forces of Good and Evil with Jesus Christ and Satan coaching the two teams. McCracken was familiar with play-by-play broadcasting, having created virtual baseball games for radio broadcast based on wire reports. McCracken originally presented his "The Game of Life" presentation on Sunday nights at various churches around the central Texas area. Everywhere he presented "The Game," he got requests for copies. Eventually, he had a short run of records pressed to offer at the churches that he visited. The fictional radio station in the recording has the call letters "WORD," so that was printed on the label of the custom record. Several months after he had begun distributing his record, a friend asked, "so when are you going to have your next release on your WORD record label?" It hadn't occurred to Jarrell that he had created a label, but he had.[2]

Subsequent records focused on other spoken word recordings, but he soon branched out into gospel music, including George Beverly Shea and Baylor Religious Hour Choir. Early employees included Kurt Kaiser and Ralph Carmichael.[1]

The label struggled initially, and Marvin Norcross became an equity partner early in the label's beginnings. Word was both a publishing house and a record label by 1954.[1]

Several subsidiary labels were started over the years: Canaan Records in the sixties, Myrrh Records (1972)[3] and DaySpring Records in 1977, and Rejoice Records in the eighties. Two of these labels no longer exist today in their original form. The Myrrh Label was resurrected in 2005 as a praise and worship record label: Myrrh Worship.[3] Canaan Records was also re-opened in early 2007 with Dave Clark at the helm.

Larry Norman's Solid Rock Records had a distribution deal with Word from 1975 to 1980. Artists on Solid Rock included Norman, Randy Stonehill, Daniel Amos, Tom Howard and Mark Heard.

In 1983 Chris Christian signed a distribution deal to move his label Home Sweet Home Records from Benson Records to Word Records, today it is still active and remains under the independent ownership of Chris Christian.

Light Records was distributed in the 1970s by Word Records before being sold to Ralph Carmichael in the 1980s.

Reunion Records signed a distribution and promotion contract in the 80s, the agreement lasted well into the 90s. Today Reunion Records is distributed through Provident Music Group.

Star Song was distributed by Word Records but left their distribution deal in the late 1980s to sign with Sparrow Records which was taken over by Chordant Distribution and then by EMI.

Distribution deals with other labels in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s allowed Word Records to rise to the top, virtually housing a who’s who in Christian Music. They distributed, promoted and advertised the biggest names in Christian Music. Artists such as Amy Grant, Michael W Smith, Rich Mullins, Russ Taff, Paul Smith, The Imperials, Petra, Sandi Patty, Kenny Marks, Wayne Watson, Carman, The Archers, Steve Archer, White Heart, Gaither Vocal Band, Bill Gaither Trio, Point of Grace, Love Song, Sweet Comfort Band, The Nelons, Happy Goodman Family, Rusty Goodman, Florida Boys, Guardian and many, many more Legendary Artists.

In the 1976, McCracken sold part interest in his label to the American Broadcasting Company.[1] Ten years later, ABC merged with Capitol Cities, Inc. and forced McCracken out of the company.[1]

From 1984 until 1990 Word Records was distributed in the general market by A&M Records, afterwards distribution switched to Epic Records until 2002.

In 1992, Capital Cities ABC sold Word to Thomas Nelson, Inc. for $72 Million,[4] and Nelson made two major changes—developing the present swirling W logo for book products which was unveiled in 1995, and also moving its headquarters from Waco, Texas, to its present headquarters in Nashville. Nelson split the record label and book publishing arms in 1996 when the labels were sold to Gaylord Entertainment.[5][6][7] In an agreement with Gaylord, Thomas Nelson continued to use the "Word Publishing" name for its book imprint until 2002, at which time it became "W Publishing Group" and retained the swirling W logo. A highly controversial ad campaign introduced at the CBA convention in 2002 created litigation, settled later.

After Colin Reed took over Gaylord Entertainment in 2001,[citation needed] the hotelier made corporate changes at the company, including the ousting of longstanding president Roland Lundy, and sold off the Word Entertainment group to then-AOL Time Warner in 2002.[8] In 2002, former Atlantic Records Christian division manager Barry Landis briefly took the position of president of the label group division. Word went through a period of restructuring, closing their Los Angeles music publishing office, absorbing Myrrh Records, Squint Entertainment, and Everland Entertainment into the Word Label Group, and reducing in-house staff.[9] Curb Records also gained a stake in the company during this time. In 2004, the company was sold again as part of Time Warner divestiture of its music division, selling it to a group of investors led by Edgar Bronfman to form a newly independent Warner Music Group.

Artist roster

This is a list of artists, past and present, who have recorded on Word Records over the past several decades



Hit songs

This is a short list of some of the songs that were made hits on Word Records over the years

  • Old man's rubble - Amy Grant
  • In a little while - Amy Grant
  • El Shaddai - Amy Grant
  • Angels - Amy Grant
  • Sing your praise to the lord - Amy Grant
  • Thy word - Amy Grant
  • Emmanuel - Amy Grant
  • Find A Way - Amy Grant
  • Stay for awhile - Amy Grant
  • Lead me on - Amy Grant
  • Saved by love - Amy Grant
  • Baby, Baby - Amy Grant
  • Every Heartbeat - Amy Grant
  • Good for me - Amy Grant
  • Thats what love is for - Amy Grant
  • Breath of heaven - Amy Grant
  • Lucky one - Amy Grant
  • House of love - Amy Grant & Vince Gill
  • Big yellow taxi - Amy Grant
  • Takes a little time - Amy Grant
  • A Christmas to remember - Amy Grant
  • Simple things - Amy Grant
  • Somewhere down the road - Amy Grant
  • Sail On - The Imperials
  • Bread on the Water - The Imperials
  • Praise The Lord - The Imperials
  • I'm Forgiven - The Imperials
  • Eagle Song - The Imperials
  • Trumpet of Jesus - The Imperials
  • I'd Rather Believe In You - The Imperials
  • Stand by the Power - The Imperials
  • Lord of The Harvest - The Imperials
  • You're the Only Jesus - The Imperials
  • Here on the Rock - The Imperials
  • They See God There - The Imperials
  • Because He Lives - The Imperials
  • Rise Again - The Imperials
  • Let the Wind Blow - The Imperials
  • Jericho - The Imperials
  • Power of God - The Imperials
  • Wings of Love - The Imperials
  • Free the Fire - The Imperials
  • The Boss - The Imperials
  • Just Believe - Russ Taff
  • We Will Stand - Russ Taff
  • Inside Look - Russ Taff
  • I'm Not Alone - Russ Taff
  • Not Gonna Bow - Russ Taff
  • Walk Between the Lines - Russ Taff
  • I Still believe - Russ Taff
  • Down in the lowlands - Russ Taff
  • Winds of Change - Russ Taff
  • I Cry - Russ Taff
  • Table in the Wilderness - Russ Taff
  • God Don't Never Change - Russ Taff
  • Ain't No Grave - Russ Taff
  • Sing Your Praise to the Lord - Rich Mullins (also recorded by Amy Grant)
  • Awesome God - Rich Mullins
  • If I Stand - Rich Mullins
  • Elijah - Rich Mullins
  • Hold Me Jesus - Rich Mullins
  • Here In America - Rich Mullins
  • Brothers Keeper - Rich Mullins
  • My Deliverer - Rich Mullins
  • Long Arm of the Lord - Wayne Watson
  • Walk In The Dark - Wayne Watson
  • Friend of a Wounded Heart - Wayne Watson
  • I Love the Lord -Petra
  • Creed - Petra
  • Beyond Belief - Petra
  • Love - Petra
  • I'm on the rock - Petra
  • Prayer - Petra
  • Who's on the lords side - Petra
  • Dance - Petra
  • Destiny - Petra
  • Sight unseen - Petra
  • In the likeness of you - Petra
  • Midnight Oil - Petra
  • Good news - Petra
  • Praying man - Petra
  • Just Reach Out - Petra
  • Enter In - Petra
  • Think twice - Petra
  • No Doubt - Petra
  • Right place - Petra
  • Lord I lift your name on high - Petra
  • We Need Jesus - Petra
  • If I Had to Die for Someone - Petra
  • The longing - Petra
  • Dr. Jones and The Kings of Rhythm - Guardian
  • Shoe shine Johhny - Guardian
  • I Found love - Guardian
  • C'mon everyone - Guardian
  • See you in heaven - Guardian
  • This Old Man - Guardian
  • Lead the way - Guardian
  • Bottle Rocket - Guardian
  • Coffee can - Guardian
  • I'll Be Believing - Point of Grace
  • Jesus Will Still Be There - Point of Grace
  • Dying to Reach You - Point of Grace
  • Gather at the River - Point of Grace
  • How You Live - Point of Grace
  • Great Divide - Point of Grace
  • Steady On - Point of Grace
  • Right where you are - Kenny Marks
  • Friends - Kenny Marks
  • The party is over - Kenny Marks
  • Soul reviver - Kenny Marks
  • Make it right - Kenny Marks
  • White dress - Kenny Marks
  • Say a prayer for me tonight - Kenny Marks
  • I'll be a friend to you - Kenny Marks
  • Next time you see Johhny - Kenny Marks
  • Running on love - Kenny Marks
  • Turn my world around - Kenny Marks
  • Like a father should be - Kenny Marks
  • Fire of Forgiveness - Kenny Marks
  • Absolutely positively friends - Kenny Marks
  • World gone mad - Kenny Marks
  • Before my last goodbeye - Kenny Marks
  • Make His Praise Glorious - Sandi Patty
  • How Majestic Is Your Name - Sandi Patty
  • Via Dolorosa - Sandi Patty
  • The Star Spangled Banner - Sandi Patty
  • We Shall Behold Him - Sandi Patty
  • Another Time, Another Place - Sandi Patty and Wayne Watson
  • The Champion - Carman
  • Back to Who I Am - Paul Smith
  • Beat of a Different Heart - Paul Smith
  • He Came Down to my Level - Gaither Vocal Band
  • No Other Name But Jesus - Gaither Vocal Band
  • Living Sacrifice - Gaither Vocal Band
  • What a Happy Time - The Happy Goodman Family
  • When Morning Sweeps The Eastern Sky - The Happy Goodman Family
  • The Lighthouse - The Happy Goodman Family
  • I Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now - The Happy Goodman Family
  • What A Beautiful Day - The Happy Goodman Family
  • John the Revelator - The Happy Goodman Family
  • I Believe He's Coming Back - The Happy Goodman Family
  • Better Hurry Up - The Happy Goodman Family
  • Oh Say, But I'm Glad - The Happy Goodman Family
  • I Bowed On My Knees and Cried Holy - The Happy Goodman Family (first time ever recorded by Michael English)
  • Home - The Happy Goodman Family
  • Leavin' On My Mind - Rusty Goodman
  • I Am - Rusty Goodman
  • Jesus Knows All About It - Rusty Goodman
  • Family Band - Rusty Goodman
  • The Woodsman - Rusty Goodman
  • I'm Standing on the Solid Rock - Florida Boys
  • When He Was On The Cross (I was on his mind) - Florida Boys
  • O for a Thousand Tongues - The Nelons
  • Mary Did You Know - Mark Lowry
  • Time Out - The Clark Sisters

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Mount, Daniel J. (2005). A City on a Hilltop? The History of Contemporary Christian Music. p. 50. http://www.danielmount.net/ccm.html. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  2. ^ Based on an interview with Jarrell McCracken, May 1997, Waco, TX
  3. ^ a b Price, Deborah Evans (2005-04-23). "NEWSLINE: Word Label Group". Billboard Magazine 117 (17): 8. 
  4. ^ (unsigned) (November 1992). "In the News: EMI Buys Sparrow, Thomas Nelson Buys Word". CCM Magazine 15 (5): 4. ISSN 1524-7848. 
  5. ^ Milliot, Jim (1996-12-02). "With Word sale, Nelson to focus on core business". 243. Publishers Weekly. pp. 12. 
  7. ^ Price, Deborah Evans (1996-12-07). "Gaylord buys Word's music companies". Billboard Magazine 108 (49): 6. 
  8. ^ Price, Deborah Evans (2001-12-08). "Sale To Warner Brings Word Into Major Leagues". Billboard Magazine 113 (49): 8. 
  9. ^ Price, Deborah Evans (2002-03-09). "Word restructures, Woos Landis". Billboard Magazine 114 (10): 6. 

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