Worship leader Charles Billingsley releases new album 'solely aimed at people who don't go to church'

Charles Billingsley
Charles Billingsley album cover, The Shadow of your Smile, 2022 |

Beloved worship leader Charles Billingsley has set out on a mission in this season of great turmoil in the world to make people smile by reimagining American and Broadway classic songs for his new album, The Shadow of Your Smile.  

After three decades of releasing worship music, the performer wanted to record his own versions of some of the biggest songs in Broadway and pop culture. The 15-song collection features the tunes "Bring Him Home," from Les Misérables, and "Time to Say Goodbye," originally sung by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, to name a few.

Following a worship release titled I Was Made for This, this new album is his first record created after being hospitalized in 2020 due to health complications from COVID-19.

"I finally get through all that stuff and then over the course of the next year, I just really felt like I wanted to make a record that was truly just a singer's record, like songs that people love through the past," Billingsley said in an interview with The Christian Post. "I've always wanted to do it!"

"For 20 years, I wanted to make this record. And so, I just decided I would reach out through the last several decades, find some of the greatest songs ever written and do orchestrated arrangements of them, and put out a record [that would be] full of just wonderful, beloved American classics," he added. While Billingsley noted that "they're not Christian songs," he maintained that "many of them have Christian overtones in the sense that we're talking about love, peace, joy, happiness, goodness, kindness, all of which come from the Lord." 

He wanted to make the record because he "hadn't seen anybody's face in two years" and  "just wanted to see somebody smiling again" following the COVID-19 pandemic. Billingsley told CP that he "wanted to do a record that would put a smile on people's face." 

"And I wanted it to go outside of the church," he asserted. "I wanted to do a record that would reach a broad audience and hopefully just open their hearts and minds to a greater truth."

Billingsley told CP that this record is "solely aimed at people who don't go to church and people who are not part of the faith" in an effort to "put a smile on their face." Of course, "Christians like this record too," he said, because "these are just great songs.”

Billingsley insisted that he "did this record with such a heart of ministry," adding, "I really do want to just be in front of a larger audience. I'm not going to preach to them, but I am going to sing about hope to them and I'm going to give them a glimpse of what real love is about, and it's beyond just a physical thing."

Additionally, the artist wishes to give the audience "some truth" without "being offensively Christian" as part of an effort to open the listeners' "mind and heart to what could be very much a biblical truth."

Billingsley said his fans appreciate that his "motivation is not fame, it's not riches," and expressed a desire to "earn the right to be heard in front of an audience that doesn't know the Lord at all."

"I'm not going to be overly aggressive, but at the same time I won't back down from what I believe, and the fact that I'm a Christian before I'm a singer," he added. 

Billingsley, who's involved in his church and helps to train worship leaders, added that he  views his mission as a "salt ministry," which, as the name suggests, works to "bring salt to the world that is definitely needing some hope." 

In his interview with CP, the acclaimed singer encouraged people to continue to smile in life despite the numerous tragedies happening around the world.

"It is hard to smile sometimes. In fact, I don't watch the news late at night because I can't sleep," he said. "When you look at all that's going on in this world, it's hard to smile and it's hard to be happy. But there's a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is temporal, joy is eternal. Happiness is based on what happens, joy is based on who you are."

"What keeps me smiling is something that's deeper, it's a joy that only comes from the author of that joy and His name is the Lord Jesus," he testified. "I may not be able to share that in a secular interview, but in the end, I know this: that the joy that I have in my heart comes from the Lord and I can smile and rejoice in the midst of even the deepest, darkest valleys of my life, simply because I've got a hope that's beyond what I'm going through right now."

Billingsley urged people to "put a smile on their face, too, even through the midst of tragedy," and remind themselves that authentic joy "comes from Him and Him alone."

That most people in the world base their joy "off something that's only right here and right now," leaves people "in pure misery" when "that's taken away from them" he added. That's why "a kid like Salvador Ramos will go into a school in Uvalde, Texas, and shoot and kill 21 innocent people who didn't do anything to him."  He suggested that the teenager committed the mass shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead because "his source of joy and happiness or self-sufficiency or whatever has been broken."

"It's because he didn't have something that was deeper; he didn't have a joy that's eternal," Billingsley said of the gunman. “He didn't have a hope that's everlasting. And unfortunately, he's an extreme example of millions of people around the world." 

While most unhappy people are "not going to take a gun and kill somebody," they would still "live in misery, simply because they're basing their entire life off something temporal, instead of something that's eternal."

Speaking about his album, Billingsley described The Shadow of Your Smile as a cross between the music styles of Michael Bublé and Andrea Bocelli. It's a combination of classical tunes, Broadway numbers, Jazz songs and classic big band music. 

Billingsley recalled that it was a challenge for him to sing these songs without breaking out into a worship moment because he's strictly focused on creating praise music for 30 years. At the same time, he offered praise for the messages conveyed in the secular songs on the album. "A few of these songs, like 'Bringing Him Home,' say for instance, from Les Mis, that's such a story of redemption. It was almost a worshipful experience in the studio recording that."

Billingsley maintained that although "songs like 'You'll Never Walk Alone'" don't mention God, "it might as well because it's such a song of hope." Another song, titled "Let There Be Peace on Earth," could qualify as a Christian song because "it certainly talks about God."

At the album's release concert in Lynchburg, Virginia, Billingsley, who was accompanied by a full symphony, said it was a challenge for him not to use "Christian lingo" the entire time. 

"It was a challenging night because for the first time in my life I did a concert full of songs that are not worship songs," he said. “I'm trying to express the hope of these songs in a way that's more horizontal than vertical."

Billingsley, who's a teaching pastor at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, expressed hope that his new mainstream release would "creak open the door of hope" into the souls of secular listeners.

"After 30 years of doing Christian music, I expected a little bit of a backlash. Surprisingly, we've had very, very little, I think partly because of the nature of these songs," he explained. Specifically, he stressed that rather than "singing about shacking up with some woman or doing drugs or whatever," he was "singing about things that are ordained by God."

He concluded his interview with CP by sharing one piece of advice: "You know what, if you're ever going to smile for a lifetime, the only way to do it is by knowing Christ. And so for us to get our smile back as Americans, it's going to take a lot more than just a good economy or lower gas prices, it's going to take something more. It's going to take a revival of the spirit. It's going to take a change that comes from within, and only God can bring that."

The Shadow of Your Smile is now available to stream. 

Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic

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