|Parent company||Curb Records|
|Distributor(s)||Word Distribution(US CBA and general markets)|
|Country of origin||United States|
Word Entertainment is a Christian faith-based entertainment company based in Nashville, Tennessee. It is owned by Curb Records. Word Entertainment represents Francesca Battistelli, for KING & COUNTRY, Switchfoot, Skillet, Sidewalk Prophets, Chris August, Big Daddy Weave, in addition to many others, and is home to Word Distribution, 25 LIVE, Word Music Publishing and Word Label Group’s Word Records and Fervent Records.
Word Records was founded in Waco, Texas, in 1951 by Jarrell McCracken, Baylor business major Henry SoRelle and radio and television executive Ted Snider. The label's name is based on a 16-minute spoken word recording written and narrated by McCracken, the first recording released by the label, entitled the "The Game of Life". The 23-year-old KWTX sportscaster in Waco had 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". 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.
Subsequent records focused on other spoken word recordings, but Word soon branched out into southern gospel music. Early employees for the label included Tom Norfleet, Kurt Kaiser and Ralph Carmichael.
The label struggled initially until Marvin Norcross became an equity partner. By 1954, Word had become a publishing house as well.
Several subsidiary labels were started over the years: Canaan Records in the sixties, Myrrh Records (1972) 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.
Light Records was distributed in the 1970s by Word Records before being sold to Ralph Carmichael in the 1980s.
Distribution deals with other labels in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s allowed Word Records to rise, representing Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Rich Mullins, Russ and Tori Taff, Paul Smith, The Imperials, Petra, Sandi Patti, Kenny Marks, Wayne Watson, Carman, The Archers featuring Steve Archer, White Heart, Gaither Vocal Band, Bill Gaither Trio, Point of Grace, Love Song, Sweet Comfort Band, The Nelons, Happy Goodman Family featuring Rusty Goodman, Florida Boys, Guardian and other artists.
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.
In 1992, Capital Cities ABC sold Word to Thomas Nelson, Inc. for $72 Million, 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. 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, 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. 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. 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. Canaan Records was re-opened in early 2007 with Dave Clark at the helm. Canaan Records was eventually shuttered.
In March 2016, it was announced that Mike Curb acquired 100% of Word Entertainment (excluding the print music division) from Warner Music Group. Also in 2016, it was announced that Joseph Prielozny, the former Reach Records producer, would be in charge of the hip-hop imprint which is to be called 4 Against 5. They announced the name of the imprint when they signed Steven Malcolm to their roster.
This is a list of artists, past and present, who have recorded for Word Records over the past several decades
- Meredith Andrews 2006-present
- Chris August
- Sidewalk Prophets
- For King & Country (band)
- Jason Castro 2010-present
- Love & the Outcome
- Point of Grace 1993 - Present
- Dara Maclean
- Francesca Battistelli
- Skillet (band)
- We as Human
- About a Mile
- Big Daddy Weave
- Group 1 Crew
- Steven Malcolm
- O'landa Draper and the Associates 1990-1994 Word, 1996-2001 Warner Music Group
- Jaci Velasquez 1996-1998 Myrrh, 1999-2006 Word
- Anita Bryant
- Mark Schultz
- Charles Billingsley
- Chris Sligh
- George Beverly Shea
- Rich Mullins Reunion Records
- The Imperials 1977-1984 Dayspring, 1985-1988 Myrrh
- Russ Taff 1983-1991 Myrrh
- Paul Smith 1986-1989 Dayspring
- Gaither Vocal Band 1980-1985 Dayspring
- The Archers 1975-1980 Light Records, 1990 Reunion Records
- Steve Archer 1983-1988 Home Sweet Home Records
- Happy Goodman Family 1964-1982 Canaan, 1990 Word Records
- Howard & Vestal Goodman 1983-1984 Word
- Rusty Goodman 1977-1987 Canaan
- The Florida Boys Canaan
- The Cathedrals Canaan
- The Inspirations Quartet Canaan
- The Lefevres Canaan
- The Kingsmen Canaan
- The Hemphills Canaan
- The Nelons Canaan
- The Lewis Family Canaan
- Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters Canaan
- The Hoppers Canaan
- Amy Grant 1977-2006
- Michael W Smith Reunion Records
- Sandi Patti
- Sixpence None The Richer
- Michael Omartian
- Petra 1974-1977 Myrrh, 1983-1986 StarSong (under Word) 1989-1994 Dayspring, 1995-2000 Word Records
- Dakota Motor Co 1994-1996 Myrrh
- Guardian 1990-1994 Pakaderm, 1995-1997 Myrrh
- Rusty Goodman
- Mike Warnke - 1975-1986 Myrrh, 1987-1992 Dayspring
- Mark Lowry
- Babbie Mason
- Bryan Duncan
- Greg X Volz
- Love Song
- Wayne Watson
- Billy Ray Cyrus (Word/Warner Bros./Curb) (2003–2004)
- David Phelps
- Building 429 (Active on INO Records)
- Stellar Kart (Active on INO Records)
- Randy Travis
- Bruce Carroll
- Wes King
- Clay Crosse
- Carolyn Arends
- Ashley Cleveland
- Across the Sky
- John Gimenez
- Rachael Lampa
- Shirley Caesar (Word/Rejoice/Myrrh) (1980–1991)
- Kenny Marks
- Thurlow Spurr and the Spurrlows
- pureNRG 2006-2011 Fervent
- Bruce Greer
- The Vernon Daily Record, Tue, Dec, 4, 1951, Page 3
- Mount, Daniel J. (2005). A City on a Hilltop? The History of Contemporary Christian Music. p. 50. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
- Price, Deborah Evans (2005-04-23). "NEWSLINE: Word Label Group". Billboard Magazine. 117 (17): 8.
- (unsigned) (November 1992). "In the News: EMI Buys Sparrow, Thomas Nelson Buys Word". CCM Magazine. 15 (5): 4. ISSN 1524-7848.
- Milliot, Jim (1996-12-02). "With Word sale, Nelson to focus on core business". 243 (49). Publishers Weekly. p. 12.
- "GAYLORD ENTERTAINMENT COMPLETES PURCHASE OF WORD RECORDS AND MUSIC FROM THOMAS NELSON". Business Wire. 1997-01-07. p. 1071302.
- Price, Deborah Evans (1996-12-07). "Gaylord buys Word's music companies". Billboard Magazine. 108 (49): 6.
- Price, Deborah Evans (2001-12-08). "Sale To Warner Brings Word Into Major Leagues". Billboard Magazine. 113 (49): 8.
- Price, Deborah Evans (2002-03-09). "Word restructures, Woos Landis". Billboard Magazine. 114 (10): 6.
- Rau, Nate (2016-03-02). "Curb Records acquires Word Entertainment". The Tennessean.
- Word Records website
- Word Distribution
- Word Records History with artist roster, Billboard pop performance, photo gallery, more.
- Word Records role in The History of Christian Stand-up Comedy
- Chris Christian Entertainment - Home Sweet Home Records