As big-label collaborations dominate church setlists, fewer Christian women are penning hits than 30 years ago.
When songwriter Krissy Nordhoff moved to Nashville in 1996, she had hoped to be guided and supported by the women who had gone before her in the Christian music industry.
Her first musical mentor was a woman—her grandmother, who inspired her to start writing songs when she was five years old. But as she found success in the industry, penning hits including “Your Great Name” and “Famous For (I Believe),” there weren’t many veteran women alongside her.
“I prayed for 15 years for a mentor, for a female, that had learned how to navigate the industry, the ministry, and the family,” Nordhoff said.
Female songwriters are significantly underrepresented in worship music, and over the past 30 years, the number of women writing or cowriting hit worship songs has substantially declined.
According to Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI)—which tracks songs licensed to sing in churches—the last time the top worship song in the country was written by a woman was April 1994. By 2018, only 4 percent of the songs on the CCLI Top 25 were written by women.
A recent study in the Journal of Contemporary Ministry tracked the drop-off for Christian women songwriters, concluding that as the industry evolved, they have struggled to break into the spheres that produce the most popular worship music.
While some of the most recognizable worship songs of the past few decades have been written by women—Jennie Riddle’s “Revelation Song,” or Sinach’s “Waymaker,” for example—these hits are anomalies.
Back in April 1994, the song “I Love You Lord” by Laurie Klein held the top spot on the CCLI Top 25. Klein wrote “I Love You …