Frontline Records was a dynamic and progressive Christian record label founded in 1985 by James Kempner. Kempner had a background in concert promotion and was the primary Saturday night concert evangelist at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa in the late 1970s. 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 musicâ€ and HM editor Doug Van Pelt would call "the lion's share" of classic hard Christian music.
The label officially took flight by the signing of local bands from the Orange County California area. In that first year Frontline released 16 records. 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. Frontline Records soon transitioned to Frontline Music Group (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.
Frontline handled mainstream pop and rock artists such as Crystal Lewis, Idle Cure, Jon Gibson, Altar Boys, Shout and Rick Elias. Alarma Records was created to feature alternative music acts like Mad At The World, Jacobâ€™s Trouble, The Swirling Eddies and Poor Old Lu. Itâ€™s sister label, Alarma World, was home to international-based acts like Edin-Adahl and Walk On Water. Intense Records housed metal based stalwarts Tourniquet, Bloodgood, Sacred Warrior and Deliverance. Myx Records was a dance/hip hop label headed by former New York club DJ Scott Blackwell and represented many of Blackwellâ€™s own creations and other rap/hip hop artists like the Gospel Gangstaz, P.I.D. and D-Boy.
Frontline saw massive growth from 1986-1991 where the company especially dominated Christian media outlets and radio airwaves. 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 Carole Huston, the label spiraled down until it could no longer keep itself afloat and by the mid-90s closed its doors.
FMG and all of its assets were acquired by Nashville based record producer and publisher, William â€œBuddyâ€ Killen, under Killen Music Group in 1998. KMG released double CDs to infuse the marketplace with the top-selling Frontline artists. Things went well until 2002 when Diamante, the distributor for KMG Records, folded and the label went down with it. Buddy passed away in Novemer 2006 of cancer. In 2010 Carolyn Killen, Executrix of his Estate, sold the Frontline publishing catalog to Meis Music Group; and in 2011, the KMG, Frontline and Damascus Road Records master recordings.
Meis Music Group was founded by president, Adel Meisenheimer, music publishing and record label administration specialist since 1979. Back in 1998 Buddy contracted Adel to manage licensing and royalties for KMG records and its publishing affiliates when he purchsed FMG assets. Meis Music Group serves over 100 artists who recorded approximately 300 albums.