Christian Record Label - Sparrow Records

Sparrow Records logo
Sparrow Records logo. Sparrow Records / EMI

Sparrow Records

The Christian record label known as Sparrow Records was founded in 1976 by Billy Ray Hearn. Hearn was no stranger to Christian music, having already worked in the industry for eight years.

Billy Ray Hearn - Before Sparrow Records

After graduating from Baylor University with a degree in Church Music in 1954, Hearn went to work as a music minister, working in various churches. Fourteen years later he was offered a job by Word Records in Waco, Texas and felt like God was giving him the opportunity to reach larger groups through the label than he could through a single church.

Myrrh Records was his brain-child, and he convinced Word’s leadership to let him start the contemporary label in 1972. Artists like Honeytree and Petra helped make the label popular during the "Jesus Movement." Before long, Myrrh made up a large portion of Word’s sales.

Sparrow Records is Born

Billy Ray was happy with Myrrh, but he wanted the chance to start his own label. His chance to do just that came in 1975, when a book publisher in Los Angeles wanted to start a label and asked him to do it.

Sparrow Records began in February of 1976 in Canoga Park, California. Hearn signed Annie Herring from 2nd Chapter of Acts, John Michael Talbot, Keith Green, and Matthew Ward and the label began to grow.

In 1989, the warehouse was moved to Jacksonville, Illinois, and in 1991, the offices relocated to Nashville. Sparrow's roster had grown to include BeBe and CeCe Winans, Margaret Becker, and Steven Curtis Chapman.

Sparrow Records Joins the EMI Family & Billy Ray Steps Down as CEO

EMI Music, the third largest music company in the world, let Billy Ray know that they wanted to buy Sparrow. After much prayer and counsel, Hearn decided that the move was the best way to take the Sparrow artists to the next level.

In 1995, after emergency heart surgery, Billy Ray Hearn decided to semi-retire. Bill Hearn, his son, had grown up with the label, working everywhere from the shipping department to customer service and telephone sales, before moving into the role of Marketing and Sales VP and then on to President. Bill was the obvious choice for CEO, and he took the job with a prepared heart.

Bill Hearn Takes Sparrow Records to New Levels

Soon after his transition, Bill Hearn grew his father's dream even more when he oversaw the creation of EMI Christian Music Group. Through a series of partial and full label and publishing catalog acquisitions, the label got even larger while retaining the quality they were well known for.

EMI's labels include Sparrow, Forefront, and EMI Gospel, in addition to joint ventures with Gotee Records, Tooth & Nail/BEC Recording and sixstepsrecords. EMI CMG Distribution distributes third party music and video products and has been the market leader since 1995. EMI CMG Publishing represents more than 300 writers and 35,000 songs.

Sparrow Records Today

In 2013, the big news was that Universal Music Group was buying EMI. Now known as Capitol CMG Label Group, the move means there are now three major players in the record industry: Capitol CMG, Sony and Warner.

The Musical Style of Sparrow Records

Sparrow artists aren't easily wedged into one specific style of music. The sounds of Sparrow range from adult contemporary and Praise and Worship to soft/modern rock and pop contemporary.

  • Essential Music by Sparrow Records Artists

The Artists of Sparrow Records:

Christian record label Sparrow Records has always had a strong artist roster, but some of their artists stand head and shoulders above the rest.

  • Signature Sparrow Artists

Sparrow Records/Capitol CMG Roster - 2016

Sparrow (EMI) is also the label behind the WOW Series, the Worship Together series, Here I Am To Worship and the Passion Movement music series.

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Your Citation
Jones, Kim. "Christian Record Label - Sparrow Records." Learn Religions, Aug. 25, 2020, Jones, Kim. (2020, August 25). Christian Record Label - Sparrow Records. Retrieved from Jones, Kim. "Christian Record Label - Sparrow Records." Learn Religions. (accessed January 25, 2021).