Frontline Records

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Frontline Records
Founded1986 (1986)
FounderJames Kempner
GenreChristian rock, contemporary Christian music
Country of originUnited States

Frontline Records was a Christian rock record label founded in 1986 by James Kempner. The label focused primarily on modern rock, rap, dance-pop, and hip-hop. The label closed in the early 1990s, and then resurfaced in 2010 to re-release its music catalog, and that of related labels, digitally.[1]


Kempner had a background in concert promotion, and had run the New Year's Eve Christian music festival series at Knott's Berry Farm, growing the event to one of the largest Christian events in the country before forming Frontline.[2]

The label officially took flight by the signing of local bands from the Orange County, California area. In that first year, Frontline released 16 albums.[citation needed] In 1986, the company signed a distribution deal with Nashville-based Benson Records to tap into their extensive sales force and distribution through Zondervan Music.[citation needed] Frontline Records soon transitioned to Frontline Music Group[citation needed] (FMG), allowing the company to create different sub-labels to promote their growing and diverse roster of alternative, punk, dance, pop, rock, gospel, metal, rap, and hip-hop artists.[citation needed]

Initial distribution was through Benson Records.[2]

Artist Terry Scott Taylor became the production manager for the label, and drummer Ed McTaggart became the primary art director, designing many of the label's album covers. Imprints included Intense Records, Alarma! Records (a resurrection of Taylor's early 1980s label), and MYX Records (a dance music label supervised by Scott Blackwell[3]).

Frontline carried pop and rock artists such as Crumbächer, Crystal Lewis, Idle Cure, Jon Gibson, Altar Boys, Shout, and Rick Elias. Alarma Records was created[citation needed] to feature alternative music acts like Mad at the World, Jacob's Trouble, The Swirling Eddies, and Poor Old Lu. Its sister label, Alarma World, was home to international-based acts like Edin-Ådahl and Walk On Water. Intense Records housed metal-based bands such as Tourniquet, Bloodgood, Sacred Warrior, and Deliverance. MYX Records was a dance/hip hop label headed by former New York club DJ Scott Blackwell.[citation needed] and represented many of Blackwell's own creations and other rap/hip-hop artists like Gospel Gangstaz, P.I.D., and D-Boy.

Frontline Records became an important label in the development of the West Coast Christian alternative music scene. Their roster included what 7ball magazine would later refer to as "truly classic alternative, rap, metal, and rock" music,[4] and HM editor Doug Van Pelt would call "the lion's share" of classic hard Christian music.[5]

Frontline saw growth from 1986-1991 where the company especially dominated Christian media outlets and radio airwaves.[citation needed] In 1992, Kempner and his executive staff decided not to renew its distribution deal with Benson and, instead, hired its own sales force and signed an independent distribution deal to garner more control over its own brands. Initially the move seemed to be working but soon FMG started showing signs of losing its momentum. The financial requirements to sustain itself were greater than expected. Even though some new artists were signed, most notably Angie and Debbie Winans, Gary V, and Carol Huston, the label spiraled down until it could no longer keep itself afloat and by the mid-90s closed its doors.[citation needed]

Frontline and all of its assets were acquired by Nashville-based record producer and publisher, William "Buddy" Killen, under Killen Music Group, KMG Records, in early 1998.[6] KMG released double CDs to infuse the marketplace with top-selling Frontline artists. Things went well until 2002 when Diamante, the distributor for KMG Records, folded and the label went down with it.[citation needed] Buddy died in November 2006 of cancer. In 2010, Carolyn Killen, executrix of his Estate, sold the Frontline publishing catalog to Meis Music Group. In 2011, the KMG, Frontline, and Damascus Road Records master recordings were sold.[citation needed]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us". Frontline Records. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "New Rock Label Debuts". MusicLine. 3 (12): 10. April 1986. ISSN 0746-7656.
  3. ^ Rake, Jamie Lee (January 1992). "House of Holy: MYX Records Debuts". CCM Magazine. 14 (7): 10. ISSN 1524-7848.
  4. ^ Well, Chris (May–June 1998). "News". 7ball (18): 20. ISSN 1082-3980.
  5. ^ Van Pelt, Doug (January–February 1999). "Reviews / Various artists Classic Archives". HM Magazine (75): 68. ISSN 1066-6923.
  6. ^ Brown, Bruce A. (February 1998). "Rock n Roll World / Sound The Alarma". CCM Magazine. 20 (8): 10. ISSN 1524-7848.

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