Chris Tomlin has risen from singing in his rural, small town Texas church as a kid, to being one of the foremost modern Christian music singers, songwriters and worship leaders today. His songs are played on Christian radio and in churches all over the world every day due to his rich catalog of worship-focused pop songs.
CCMmagzine.com recently connected with Chris and this is what he had to say…
Contemporary Christian Music, Pop, Worship
Grand Saline, TX
Capitol Christian Music Group
Hobbies/Interests Apart from Music:
Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard
CCM: If you had only five words to describe your new album, it would be…?
Chris: Love creating music for Christmas!
CCM: Do you have a favorite song from the new album? Why?
Chris: “Hope of Israel.” This song was a collaboration with Ben Fielding, Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan, who to me, would be hall of fame songwriters for the church. The chorus sings so right to me. Feels so worshipful and classic Christmas. Plus, Ed Cash singing opera in the instrumental section may be my favorite thing on the album.
CCM: What led you to pursue a career or ministry in music? Do you remember that moment when you realized you wanted to make an actual career out of music?
Chris: As a young kid I had given my heart to God and said, ‘whatever you want me to do.’ I didn’t pray to be a songwriter or worship leader. I just wanted to be available to go wherever God would lead me. He started opening doors for me to lead worship and I was going to walk by faith through those doors. He gave me songs to write and people began to sing these songs. Doing music as a career was never a direct decision but God made the plan unfold.
CCM: What are your hopes for the new project?
Chris: Christmas if my favorite time of year and there is nothing more satisfying than creating new music for the reason we celebrate this season.
CCM: If you could tell the world about another artist/band to check out, who would it be?
Chris: Last year I formed an imprint record label, Bowyer & Bow, with Capitol Christian Music Group. Singer/songwriter Pat Barrett was the first artist signed. We began working together when I recorded his song “Good, Good Father” and he’s been on tour with me for the last 2 years. Pat’s got every gift you would want in an artist—an amazing singer, charisma, great songwriting—and the heart to lead the church in worship.
CCM: Name a song that you wish you’d written (and why).
Chris: “Good Good Father.” I don’t know another song that touches people like it does instantly. It helps people connect him as the Father. There’s no other greater name for God than Father. The reason I love singing this song is because it’s a song you can sing and receive at the same time. This song is a God song that has gone all over the world and what a privilege it is to sing every night.
CCM: What can listeners expect in terms of the sound, style and lyrics?
Chris: When I write songs or want to record them, that’s the lenses I see it through. Is this a song people can really sing to God? That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, is just write songs that people can sing to God. I hope these songs will find play in all these different kinds of places and go beyond me as an artist, and just become songs that people will worship with.
CCM: Who are your biggest musical influences?
Chris: I was born in Texas so country music was my biggest influence growing up. Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson were some of my dad’s favorites and mine too. My dad bought me a guitar around age 9 and taught me how to play some of their songs.
CCM: What was the songwriting process like on this record?
Chris: With songwriting, it never turns off for me. I keep a collection of songs and try to find the best songs for each record. I’m not just trying to put out songs that are my preference. I’m really praying and asking God for the best songs, (laughs) always hoping to wake up with the perfect song but it hasn’t quite happened yet. I’m thinking, ‘If the churches could get a hold of this it would be so powerful for people.’ If it moves me, it could move other people too.
CCM: How important is your faith or spirituality within your music?
Chris: Worshipping the Lord with music is to help us see and understand that we are God’s special child. Through music people will lift their eyes and see what’s really true. There is a God who loves them and is looking out for them.
CCM: What message do you hope listeners will take away from your music, regardless of what they believe?
Chris: I’m always trying to write songs that give people a voice to connect them with the Lord. I’ve never strayed from that. It’s not about show or entertainment. I love when people have a good time, but the greatest thing about it for me is those moments when people really feel like they’re connecting with the Lord and expressing their gratitude to God. I often think of myself as the moon, the moon doesn’t generate light, it reflects. If I can be the moon in these situations and just reflect light and get out of the way when it comes to people encountering God, then I feel I have done my part.