It’s easy to make judgments about public figures, according to Chris Tomlin, the award-winning Christian artist.
Tomlin said this proved to be true in the process of writing and recording his latest album, “Chris Tomlin and Friends,” a collaboration with multiple country music artists. He said he enjoyed partnering with Thomas Rhett, as well as members of the groups Florida Georgia Line and Lady Antebellum, in part because he was able to hear their individual faith stories and to experience what God was doing in their lives.
“Especially when they’re in the public eye and in country music, sometimes [the view] is just partying and alcohol and whatever comes with it all,” Tomlin said – who said he found something very different.
“Getting to know everybody on this record, from top to bottom, just where they come from, the influence that the church has been on their life, and faith, and God, and [how] so many of them grew up in the church leading worship or have parents and family members in ministry and just have a real heart for the Lord has been beautiful to see,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin noted that Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard leads a Bible study for musicians in Nashville, while Rhett and his wife Lauren Akins are engaged in adoption advocacy.
“[These are] things that you would never know that these guys are doing and their heart and their faith, and it’s been amazing and something that’s been really beautiful to me,” Tomlin said. “It just shows me that you can never judge a book by its cover. You may think or see one thing but when you get beyond it, you see, ‘Wow, these guys have a really beautiful, genuine heart for the Lord.’”
The album was written and produced entirely in partnership with the country artists. It features fun hooks and choruses in songs like “Thank You Lord,” as well as deeper connections to God’s relationship with the world and people in tracks such as “Be The Moon.” Tomlin said the album served as a new launching point for a goal he’d always had: merging his country roots with his faith.
Tomlin said as the group worked on or recorded each song, the conversation centered around how the music could bring glory to God.
“[They were] conversations of being a light in these times, and every conversation revolved around that in making this record,” Tomlin said. “The overall theme of this record is collaboration. We wrote the songs together, we recorded them together. This wasn’t like I had some famous friends on to sing a second verse. … We wrote these songs together, we recorded them in the studio together. If you listen to the album there’s songs where I barely sing. We were just trying to find the right thing, the right voice, for the right song.”
The album is available for streaming on all music platforms. Tomlin said he would like to collaborate again with the country artists, and would love someday to perform live with them.
Regardless, he said the friendships formed through the creation of the record have taken flight – even leading to a joint vacation. Tomlin said he does not anticipate the relationship ending with the release of the album.