Phillips, Craig & Dean

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Phillips, Craig & Dean

Contemporary Christian group

Phillips, Craig & Dean is a contemporary Christian music group consisting of three Pentecostal pastors known equally for their humor and harmonies. The group was formed by Randy Phillips at the urging of StarSong, a Nashville-based record company. Phillips contacted Dan Dean and Shawn Craig to join him. The group's first concert was held in November of 1991. Each member writes music and sings. The three started their career as a group performing at Pentecostal youth camps throughout Texas. They developed quite a following based on such shows and on their appearances at churches.

"Heavy synth, drum programming that goes on forever and harmonies stacked higher than a Dagwood sandwich have been this trio's stock in trade for a decade," wrote Derek Wesley Selby in In the past, their sound could have been described as "a male version of Wilson Phillips," according to the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, which went on to say that "by the end of the '90s, the best description would probably be 'an adult version of the Backstreet Boys.'"

With their 1997 release Where Strength Begins, Karly Randolph-Pitman of said the group "shucked the heavy synthetic feel of its past albums and adopted the current direction in Christian musica lighter, crisper, more organic sound." The members say this represents an evolution in their music as well as a conscious decision to keep people interested in their message.

By 1998 the group was considered "among Christian music's most popular acts," according to the Arlington Morning News. During the 1990s, the group had 15 number-one songs on the Christian adult contemporary charts. To mark this accomplishment, a dozen of these songs were released in a 1998 14-track compilation, Favorite Songs of All.

Although popularly admired, not all Phillips, Craig & Dean projects have been accepted blindly by the critics, including Let My Words Be Few, released in 2001. "The combination of material on the record is awkward," wrote Selby in a review for "Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig and Dan Dean have made the bold choice to take a stab at co-writing a few worship songs of their own and put them on a record alongside some of this generation's most recognizable worship songs. In the end, though, it's not that the original songs are bad, but instead just out of place within this collection. As an inspirational pop record, Let My Words Be Few excels. As a worship project, it falls short."

Russ Breimeier, of, concurred, saying the songs on Let My Words Be Few were ones "my church youth band regularly performs, even the same arrangement! The real question that needs to be asked is why does an album like this get made? I'm not questioning the sincere desire to give praise to God, nor am I saying it's a badly performed album (far from it). I don't mean to single out this trio and Sparrow Records, but why does a ten-year act like Phillips, Craig & Dean put out a worship recording now? And why fill it with covers of songs that appear on many other recordings? The simple answer seems to be because it's popular right now."

Craig is music pastor at South County Christian Center in St. Louis, Missouri. He is completing his Master of Divinity degree. Craig has written songs that were recorded by a variety of Christian artists such as the Archers, the Gaither Vocal Band, Point of Grace, Michele Wagner, Glen Campbell, and others. He also wrote "In Christ Alone," which was recorded by Michael English. Craig has written a book of devotions called Between Sundays.

Dean is senior pastor at Christ Temple, a church in Irving, Texas. He previously served as the congregation's music minister. He is also a member of the Irving Board of Christian Counseling. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Becky, and their three children, Dusty, Devin, and Danielle. He has written songs that have been recorded by the groups the Cathedrals and Two Hearts.

Phillips is pastor of the World of Pentecost, Promise-Land congregation based in Austin, Texas. He and his wife, Denise, have worked with the church since 1988. In addition to his ministerial duties, he assists with the church's Heart at Home AIDS ministry. His song "Crucified with Christ" was voted the leading inspirational song of the decade by CCM magazine. He and Denise have two daughters, Garland and Lily Pearl.

As of 2003, the group had recorded nine albums and had 16 songs reach number one on the contemporary Christian music charts. Their 2003 release, Let Your Glory Fall, combines songs written by group members with hymns and praise songs popularized by other Christian artists from songwriters including Chris Tomlin and Stuart Townend. The group has also created PCD Ministries, which acts as a clearinghouse for information about their musical commitments.

Because of the subject matter of their music, Phillips, Craig & Dean are frequently categorized in a subgenre of contemporary Christian music known as praise and worship music. "Since worship music is an integral part of their individual ministries, it's no wonder this project resonates with such depth and integrity," wrote Deborah Evans Price in a Billboard review of Let Your Glory Fall in 2003. She went on to note that this is "another strong collection marked by the trio's stellar harmonies and keen song selection."

Phillips, Craig & Dean "have described their ministry goal as being 'to affect and change hearts toward God,'" according to the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music. They have clearly said their calling is to work within the church rather than proselytize, and, as stated in the Encyclopedia, they recognize that their audience comprises "baby boomers rather than teenagers within the church."

Because they all are full-time ministers, the group keeps a commitment to "missing Sunday services no more than once a month," according to their biography on the Capitol International Productions website. Dean stated, "As artists we don't really get to become part of a person's life except for that one evening. Here at home we get intertwined in people's lives."

For the Record . . .

Members include Shawn Craig (married; wife's name Denise; children: Garland, Lily), vocals; Dan Dean , vocals; Randy Phillips (married; wife's name Becky; children: Dusty, Devin, Danielle), vocals.

Group formed, 1991; recorded numerous hit singles, 1990s; began to change sound, 1997; released hits compilation, 1998; released Let Your Glory Fall, 2003.

Addresses: Record company Sparrow Records, P.O. Box 5010, Brentwood, TN 37024-5010, website: Booking The Breen Agency, website: Business PCD Ministries, P.O. Box 110747, Nashville, TN 37222. Website Phillips, Craig & Dean Official Website:

They view their touring as an extension of their ministries at home rather than as a full-time calling. "We're pastors. We're not evangelists. In the beginning, we tried to do altar calls," Craig told Randolph-Pitman of "We felt pressure to be like Carman and dc Talk who are drawing a wide range of people. We had to realize that our music was reaching the church. And we had to realize that just because we're reaching out to Christians, that didn't mean our ministry wasn't valid."

Selected discography

Lifeline, Capitol, 1995.

Phillips, Craig & Dean, Capitol, 1995.

Trust, Chordant, 1995.

Repeat the Sounding Joy, Chordant, 1996.

Where Strength Begins, Chordant, 1997.

Favorite Songs of All (compilation), Sparrow, 1998.

Restoration, Sparrow, 1999.

Let My Words Be Few, Sparrow, 2001.

Let Your Glory Fall, Sparrow, 2003.



Powell, Mark Allan, Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, Hendrickson, 2002.


Arlington Morning News (Arlington, TX), October 21, 1998. Billboard, March 15, 2003, p. 34.


"The 5th Element,", http://www.ccm (September 5, 2003).

"Let My Words Be Few,", http://www.ccm (September 5, 2003).

"Let My Words Be Few,", (September 6, 2003).

"Phillips, Craig & Dean," All Music Guide, (August 21, 2003).

"Phillips, Craig & Dean," Capitol International Productions, Inc., (September 5, 2003).

"Phillips, Craig & Dean,", (September 5, 2003).

"Ten Questions with Phillips, Craig & Dean,", (September 5, 2003).

"Who Are These Guys?" Phillips, Craig & Dean, (September 5, 2003).

Linda Dailey Paulson