During the late 1980s, the Japanese karaoke phenomenon gained its first foothold in the United States. By the end of the 1990s, karaoke had become extremely popular as a form of entertainment, leading to the opening of numerous karaoke bars and private mobile karaoke services. Advances in technology, such as the more affordable CD+G compact discs, allowed more singers to invest in their own favorite genres of music. While the initial karaoke craze may have waned in recent years, it is still popular with amateur singers around the world.
One major concern for Christians who enjoy karaoke singing, however, is the nature of the venues which provide it. Karaoke is commonly used by bars and nightclubs as a gimmick to attract new customers and sell more alcohol. Even if a Christian's only intention is to perform, being in a bar may be distinctly uncomfortable. Many of the songs are adult in nature, and other patrons may not appreciate gospel or contemporary Christian music. Here are some ideas on where to find Christian karaoke music and acceptable venues for performing it.
- Many of the major karaoke labels now produce traditional gospel and contemporary Christian songs in karaoke form. To find these selections, you may want to search online for the websites of karaoke labels such as Priddis, SoundChoice, Chartbuster, and Music Maestro. There are also online companies which offer selections from all of the major karaoke labels. Look for names such as Ace Karaoke or Karaoke Warehouse. Many of these companies allow customers to create custom CD+G (compact disc plus graphics) or MP3 discs for private use at karaoke venues. Some labels also offer their own compilations of Christian music, such as bluegrass gospel songs or the gospel songs performed by Elvis Presley.
- Before the advent of karaoke and CD+G technology, many Christian performers used backing tapes of individual songs. These cassette tapes often featured a guide vocal side and an instrumental side for performance. Many Christian bookstores still carry these backing tapes, or their more modern CD equivalents. If you're looking for older titles by Christian performers of the 1980s or earlier, these backing tapes may be your best bet if the tracks are not available through karaoke companies.
- Department store music departments may carry Christian karaoke along with other genres. Smaller karaoke labels such as Karaoke Bay may offer their products directly through outlets such as Wal-Mart or Kmart. Many of these selections would be suitable for congregations or choirs, since they are faithful renditions of traditional hymns. Again, there may be compilation discs of contemporary Christian or gospel music available through these smaller labels' websites.
- Finding a family-friendly venue for karaoke singing can be a challenge. In recent years, a number of private event centers and alcohol-free karaoke clubs have opened around the United States. These family-oriented venues are often operated by Christians or others who choose not to patronize nightclubs and bars for entertainment. To find these clubs, browse through the entertainment listings of local newspapers for karaoke venues. Churches in the area may also know of family-friendly karaoke outlets or may even offer their own karaoke events. If no such venues exist in your area, you may still be able to rent karaoke equipment for private use or hire a professional karaoke service for a private event.