Chris Tomlin has been called “the most often sung artist in the world” as his music has inspired and uplifted an entire generation of believers, reportedly being sung by 40 million worshipers every Sunday.
Along the way, the Christian artist has scored 17 No. 1 singles on radio, placed 29 top 10 hits (more than any other Christian artist), sold more than nine million albums with 5.6 billion career global streams, earned a Grammy Award, three Billboard Music Awards, 27 Dove Awards and become a two-time BMI Songwriter of the Year honoree and an ASCAP Songwriter of the Year. In 2016, he was named one of only four artists ever to receive the Sound Exchange Digital Radio Award for more than 1 billion digital radio streams, alongside Justin Timberlake, Pitbull and Garth Brooks.
Now, he’ll cohost the annual Dove Awards Oct. 18 in Nashville.
Among his best-known and most-sung songs are an arrangement of “Amazing Grace” that adds a section that begins, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free,” a worship song titled “How Great Is Our God,” plus “We Fall Down,” “Holy Is the Lord” and “I Will Rise.”
In a recent interview with BNG, Tomlin discussed his new album, “Always,” and his gratitude that his songs have resonated with churchgoers.
“I’m just grateful for the passion and the heart that God has put in me for these songs. And, I really feel that for the longest time I’ve just wanted to write songs that help people connect to God that give people a voice to worship him,” he said.
And he acknowledges that with that influence comes responsibility.
“I feel more grateful every time to think, ‘Wow, God, you’re good. You’ve been so good to me and given me so many opportunities in allowing me to see things and do things I never would’ve dreamed. Just beyond my wildest dreams.’ I come to this from a very grateful place, to know that God would allow me to lead his people in his worship to him.”
When he leads people to worship in concert settings or in Sunday morning services, knowing others are worshiping God along with him ignites the creativity to keep writing songs he hopes people always will want to sing.
“The process has not changed for me,” he said. “It never turns off. My phone’s full of voice memos and ideas. However, the best things come from God that go way beyond me.”
Also: “I try to get around people who have a real intention of worshiping God when I’m in the process of recording a new worship album. Over the years, that’s been the strength for me, bringing these simple ideas and bringing them to songwriters that are better than me and getting in the room and see what happens.”
As a songwriter, Tomlin is known for his collaborations with other writers, which often results in shared credits. He recently collaborated on two country music albums.
The new album traces his roots growing up in East Texas, where he was influenced by the music of a then-young Christian artist named Keith Green. For the last three years of his ministry, before his life was cut short by an airplane crash, Green and his family lived in East Texas.
“Keith’s ministry headquarters was in East Texas 10 miles down from where I grew up,” Tomlin explained. “This is the 40th year of his passing. He died in a plane crash in 1982. I was just a little kid when he died, but I still knew about the things he was doing and singing.”
The new album pays tribute to Green’s spiritual influence with a remake of Green’s “O Lord, You’re Beautiful” now sung by Tomlin with Stephanie Gretzinger.
“Bringing that song back for me and singing it with Stephanie was amazing,” Tomlin said.
That song, like all the songs Tomlin writes and loves to sing, is focused on the worship of Jesus. And that’s the main message he wants to convey in the new album: “This is the core of who I am, a worshipper of Jesus.”