When you say the name Chris Tomlin, it’s likely that a catalog of great music from over the last two decades immediately comes to mind.
Recently, Tomlin sat down for a rare interview with Christian Headlines to talk about his new album and to offer some insight on what he has learned over the last two decades.
Tomlin’s new album, Chris Tomlin & Friends, came out on July 31, but the Grammy Award winner shared that a year ago, the collaborative album could not have exists because “I didn't know any of these people a year ago."
Chris Tomlin & Friends is Tomlin’s 13th studio album. It has a cast of some of country music's greatest artists from Lady A to Florida Georgia Line.
This is where the story starts for this album. While on vacation, Tomlin decided to go to the gym. While there, he recalled, he ran into Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line.
Little did Chris know that Tyler had been a fan of his for years and even used some of Tomlin's music when he led worship while attending Belmont University. This, Tomlin shared, is when things for the new album started to fall into place.
Tomlin would connect with other artists who would come to be featured on the album – which debuted at number on the Billboard charts – in similar ways.
For many of Tomlin's fans, they may not be aware of his roots. Tomlin grew up in East Texas where he was surrounded by country music. "I can remember watching my father listen to country music and me as a teenager trying to play some of those songs," Tomlin shared, noting that the album brought him back to how it all began.
For Tomlin, he sees this new album as being one that his audience will embrace while at the same time welcoming in a new audience that he has never met before. When asked if he is up for it, Tomlin points back to a sign that God gave him months prior to the album’s release.
Out of nowhere, Chris and his wife saw an owl swoop down on a stoplight and with his piercing eyes looked at Chris and his wife in the car. Lauren said to him, “I think that's a message from God.” They looked it up on their phone and found that seeing an owl could indicate a shift of season. Tomlin believes that this album is a shift for him that will allow him to reach people that he never would have reached with the gospel before. Every song on the album has a gospel message that Tomlin wants people to walk away with.
Although Tomlin started writing the album before coronavirus lockdowns, he believes the message in the songs can still strike a chord. When asked what he has learned during the COVID-19 quarantine season, Tomlin is quick to point out that God is teaching him some important principles. "God is teaching me, asking me and reminding me that my identity needs to be in Him and that the most important things in life is Him, my family and my friends."
Tomlin wants it to be known that although he loves what he does and that his new release was exciting and uplifting to work on, his true identity is not being on stage, but is found in Christ. “When things are stripped away, my identity is not about being on stage, but realizing that every day is a gift from God and a day for me to love Him, and love people," Tomlin shared.
This may explain why his fans have once again placed his work at number one on Billboard's Christian music chart, because Tomlin, at the end of the day, wants his work to count for Christ.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Dia Dipasupil/Staff