An interesting phenomenon has occurred recently in the Christian music industry, growing even more frequent with the increase of worship releases in the past two years. Artists who have been well-established for years or even decades in the pop or rock genres have drifted towards worship, both in the music they're releasing and the way they structure their concerts.
Here are 13 of the most noteworthy pop artists that have released or plan to create worship albums and, in some cases, completely rebranded themselves as worship artists.
1. Kerrie Roberts
After releasing My Heart's Lifted in 2014, Roberts began writing worship songs, and has recently transitioned to being a worship artist with March's release of Boundless. Her style explores the congregational side of worship as well as the pop-worship subgenre. This new side of Kerrie Roberts is perfect for any fan of powerful female worship artists such as Kim Walker-Smith, Lauren Daigle and Melissa Helser.
2. Aaron Shust
Shust has always had one foot in worship music and the other in CCM, but the release of his live album Love Made a Way in March signaled a shift in focus for the prolific artist. We should definitely expect to hear a lot more songs geared toward corporate worship from him.
3. Francesca Battistelli
This vocal powerhouse may not be making the switch from CCM to worship, but she recently toured with Bethel Music as a guest worship leader on their Starlight tour. Her vocals are also featured on two songs from Starlight: "There's No Other Name" and "God I Look to You." She plans to release a new album next year, so we'll see if this direction carries over to her new tunes.
4. Dawn Michele (Fireflight) Fireflight's 2015 release of Innova showcased a turning point in the rock band's sound with a lighter, more synth-pop approach to their music. Recently frontwoman Dawn Michele hinted at a worship project she is working on. It will be exciting to see what the "Unbreakable" singer will sound like singing in the worship genre.
5. Stephen Christian
Known as the former frontman of Anberlin, and more recently as the solo pop act Anchor & Braille, Christian is scheduled to release a worship album titled Wildfires on July 28th. This may come as a surprise to many of his fans, considering the fact that both Anberlin and Anchor & Braille are known for their alternative rock and ambient electronic music, but the project is a natural fit for Christian, who has been working on church staff as a worship leader since Anberlin's dissolution.
6. Meredith Andrews
Even though she has led worship as part of Vertical Church Band since it began, Andrews has been more well-known for her CCM releases as a solo artist. However, her 2016 album Deeper is filled with worship songs rather than radio-ready A/C. She is definitely an artist to watch when it comes to singers who write music for the local church.
7. Michael W. Smith
When Smitty's career first started, he wrote many '80s and '90s pop songs with Christian messages. His turning point came in 2001 when he released Worship, a live album with a Christian artist-filled backing choir. He hasn't looked back since then, continuing to release worship albums and hymns collections. He was recently featured on The Beatitudes Project by Stu G.
8. Steven Curtis Chapman
Always a staple of the Christian music industry, Chapman has released 23 studio albums to date. But only his last one, Worship and Believe, was worship-focused. Even though the 2016 release is stylistically different from its predecessors, it has already touched listeners' hearts with original worship songs like "More Than Conquerors." Chapman definitely does not disappoint in the area of worship, and is another artist to watch.
9. Plumb Plumb's transition from Christian alternative/rock/pop to worship has been a gradual one. From 2013's Need You Now to 2015's Exhale, Plumb has slowly incorporated more and more heartfelt, vertical cries out to God with every album. Her lyrics are honest and genuine, which is refreshing for worship music in this decade.
10. Jaci Velasquez
As one of the most successful Christian artists to date, Velasquez started her career as a pop artist who recorded her songs in both English and Spanish. She still releases albums in both languages, but as of 2017 she has started the process of rebranding herself as a worship artist. Her latest album, Trust, reflects this change. However, even though the lyrics are more worshipful, the music stays true to her classic style.
11. The Neverclaim
As the six members of The Neverclaim have grown as a group, the edge their music once possessed has faded into CCM pop, which has in turn morphed into congregation-friendly worship (as heard on their newest release, Encounter: A Live Worship Experience). Time will tell whether or not their music ventures into any other genres in future releases.
12. Emily Irene Fertig
Many fans know the versatile vocalist for her upbeat personality and energetic pop music to match as half of SHINEBRIGHT. This summer however, she officially begins her solo side project as a worship artist with the release of her new single "Whole." Her strong, uniquely raspy vocals bring an emotional depth to her worship music that is rarely heard in the music of her contemporaries. It will be exciting to hear more worship releases from Fertig in the future.
Born and raised in New England, Kaitlyn Gosnell is a 21-year-old songwriting major at Liberty University. She is passionate about seeing the Christian music industry expand to reach even the most spiritually dry parts of the United States. She's also passionate about new experiences, avocados and cats.
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