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Singing Christians instead of Christian singing

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 13:30 14/01/2014
Parachute
CHRISTIANS SINGING: Parachute's line-up focuses on Kiwi singers this year.

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The Parachute music festival is back, with a new ethos.

Parachute chief executive Mark de Jong said the Christian music festival had moved away from overseas musicians who sang overtly Christian songs. It now wanted to highlight high-profile New Zealand musicians who happened to be Christian.

That has meant bands like Grammy and Dove award winners Casting Crowns and Grammy and Gospel award winners like Third Day will not headline this year.

But Stan Walker, who won the seventh season of Australian Idol in 2009, and legendary singer-songwriter Dave Dobbyn, will.

"It's not a cost thing," de Jong said. "But the average young Christian does not listen mostly to Christian radio stations or Christian musicians.

"There's a deliberate move to not have some of the traditional artists we have had in favour of much higher profile commercial New Zealand artists."

Parachute 2014 is being held from January 24 to 26 at Mystery Creek Events Centre, near Hamilton, where 80 different artists and bands will take to five stages to share their music.

"Culturally things have changed and we are trying to adjust to that. We think that's exciting."

De Jong is expecting another sellout event this month.

The 17,500 tickets were selling at the same rate as last year's event, he said.

"We are doing very similar to last year. Ticket sales have gone well for us over the last couple of weeks. Last year we did well and this year is tracking well."

It's the second year numbers have been capped to 17,500, due to on-site space restrictions, but the number attending will be closer to 20,000 once the organisers, bands, stallholders and volunteers have been taken into account.

And, for the second time, the festival will end on a Sunday night instead of a Monday morning.

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