Chart-topping Christian artist Chris Tomlin has quickly become one of the leading worship leaders of this generation with his hit song, “How Great is Our God,” among others. And while much of the world was locked down during the COVID-19 quarantine, the musician released his first mainstream country record, Chris Tomlin & Friends.
“It was born out of friendship. Some of these friendships started last year in real, organic ways,” Tomlin told Forbes magazine about the making of his new album.
“We started getting together and writing songs with Thomas Rhett, and Tyler and BK (Brian Kelley) of Florida Georgia Line, and it really started there. We were talking about, ‘Man, what would it sound like to bring our worlds together and smash up the genres and blur the lines of Christian and country and pop music?’” he said.
The Christian crooner said the songs then just started forming on there own and became something much bigger than he anticipated.
Chris Tomlin & Friends features a number of collaborations with primarily country acts, such as Thomas Rhett, Lady A (formerly known as Lady Antebellum), Brett Young, Cassadee Pope, RaeLynn and Florida Georgia Line.
“We started to ask how we could get more artists that could connect, that have the same kind of like-hearts, like-faith, and that would want to be a part of this in the same way? It started evolving that way,” Tomlin told Forbes of the beginning stages of the record development discussions with Florida Georgia Line.
“It’s the surprise record of my career, for sure. It's out of the blue where actually I didn't see it coming. I think that's what makes it really special — I wasn't looking for it. There was no pressure because I didn't even know if it would ever exist in the first place.
Tomlin said his new album crosses multiple genres including gospel, country, pop, worship, and a little blues.
“There's a closeness between the music of the church and country music. Always has been. You look at the history of country music, the history of any music, and the church is very, very close,” Tomlin said.
During a recent interview on Chrissy Met’s Apple Music podcast, Country Faith Radio the worship leader revealed how his unlikely relationship with the country party bad Florida Georgia Line developed.
Chris Tomlin & Friends was birthed after meeting Tyler Hubbard from Florida Georgia Line in a Gym.
“We met in a gym. My tour just ended last May, May 2019. My tour had ended, and I went down to Florida on vacation with my family down at the beach. I went to the gym to work out and exercise one morning, and Tyler was in there. It was just me and him, and I didn’t know him. I’d not met him, I had no idea if he knew me or anything like that,” Tomlin explained.
“So I just walked up and said, ‘Hey, man. I’m Chris Tomlin. Just want to say hello and meet you. We have mutual friends. Yada, yada, yada.’ I remember he just looked at me. He’s like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I was like, ‘No, no, no. No.’ He goes, ‘You’re Chris Tomlin?’ I was like, ‘Yeah,’” the “Our God” singer illustrated.
Tomlin added, “He goes, ‘Oh, my goodness, bro.’ He said, ‘This is full circle in my life.’ And I was thinking, ‘What?’... He goes, ‘Man, you’re one of the reasons I got in music.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ … I could not believe that. And we began just chatting. He’s telling me his story of starting to hear my music.”
Hubbard proceeded to tell Tomlin that he has been singing Tomlin’s songs since he was in youth group and while in college he saw the worshipper leading at Passion Conference and it ministered to him greatly.
“After that, the next day we started hanging,” Tomlin described. “ [We were] just dreaming about, ‘Man, what would it be like to smash up our genres together, smash up our worlds together and write some songs?” Never thinking we’re going to make an album.”