World-renowned Christian artist, Chris Tomlin, released his brand-new record titled “Chris Tomlin and Friends,” July 31, 2020. The project brought together multiple artists and merged genres, a feat which Tomlin described to American Songwriter as one of his long-time dreams.
What started as simply a desire to get together and write songs with individuals who Tomlin always hoped to work with, including Thomas Rhett, Lady Antebellum and Florida Georgia Line, the tracks blossomed into a full-length album that Tomlin said is a musical picture of the DNA of everyone involved.
“It’s been a surprise year,” Tomlin said. “It’s been nothing I saw coming, nothing I was trying to do, nothing that was on my radar. So much so that just a little over a year ago I didn’t even know most of the people involved (in the album).”
Many of the artists Tomlin partnered with for the project, he met by chance—backstage at a show in 2019, at a gym while on vacation—the collaborations that amounted to the full album were totally orchestrated by God, according to Tomlin.
But the success of the collaboration came by way of personal relationships, Tomlin said. Rather than oriented by labels or managers, it was simply people who loved Jesus wanting to work together and make music.
“These songs just started coming, so quickly and so easily,” Tomlin said. “It was beautiful to see the smashing up of all our different worlds and what that sounded like—of country and the Christian worship genre coming together. Mixing that DNA up, you have this interesting sound in the music. You hear a lot of my DNA on it, and the more country style on it. It’s really cool.”
The members of Florida Georgia Line actually produced the entire record with him, Tomlin noted. They were in every studio session.
“It feels like a real collaboration. We’ve been in this together,” Tomlin said. “We were all doing this together and so it has a real family feel to it that I think people will sense.”
“It’s definitely a variety of sounds. It’s not like anything I’ve ever done before, by a long shot, and I think the other artists would say the same,” Tomlin continued.
But one of the best parts of working with artists outside the typical Christian genre, was hearing about their heart for ministry and for the Lord, Tomlin said.
“The beautiful thing with this album is the opportunity with this music to break down walls between genres. It’s just great music, and the goal would be for my music to reach an audience it’s never reached before,” Tomlin explained. “All of us doing something that really brings glory to God together, is pretty special.”
Tomlin noted he hopes the friendships created in the process of making this album continue on for future projects and musical collaborations. Being able to include country music influences in a project of his fulfills a desire he’s had for quite some time.
“I’ve been saying since day one I’d love at some point to make some kind of country music record, because I’ve loved that music for so long,” Tomlin explained. “It’s really full circle in my life, so that’s been a real fun thing to see. I think these friendships that have happened with all these new guys, (are) so good and (I’m) so blown away by these guys who are behind the scenes. Their heart for their family, their heart for God and their heart for people is just beautiful to see.”
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