Every so often, a surge of younger artists make their presence known in Christian music, marking another "freshman class," so to speak, impacting the industry.
As we enter into 2018, there are a number of artists who have emerged as clear leaders in the new class of Christian artists that you need to know (if you don't already). From worship artists to pop acts to bands that find themselves in the middle of both, there's a lot of energy for and from these newbies.
1. For All Seasons (Centricity Music)
For All Seasons desires to cultivate an atmosphere of hope through their new project Clarity, no matter what season of life listeners may find themselves enduring. They are marrying artfully-crafted lyrics with rock and modern pop. Comprised of Emily Hamilton (lead vocals, guitars, keys), Johnny Hamilton (drums), Jeff Luckey (guitars, keys, vocals) and Randy Charlson (bass, guitars), For All Seasons got their start leading worship at a summer camp, and brings that mountaintop experience to listeners everywhere. Their first single, "Bigger Than" has been a veritable hit.
2. Austin French (Fair Trade Services)
Growing up in the small town of Cordele, Ga., young Austin French dreamed of being a Contemporary Christian Artist, writing songs that shared his faith and passion for Jesus. Being surrounded by a musical family gave him the opportunity to grow towards that goal and inspired his passion for writing music.
After years of hard work, long trips, and a lot of songwriting, Austin signed a record deal with Fair Trade Services, record label home for artists such as Newsboys, MercyMe, Phil Wickham, Laura Story, Hawk Nelson and others.
"At the end of the day, there are songs, productions, T-shirts, and a thousand small details that are a part of this journey, but the most important thing to me, and my reason for breathing, is to serve and worship my King and Savior, Jesus Christ," French says. "That's why I'm in this. And I hope that when people hear my music or come to a show that they see and hear the Gospel in action, saving me currently and reaching out to their reality."
3. Riley Clemmons (Capitol Label Group)
At 16 years old, Riley Clemmons might be young, but she's already an incredibly talented vocalist and songwriter. Discovered at her school's talent show in Nashville, she was quickly recognized as someone with potential for great success.
Riley isn't new to performing. She's been fervently working on her musical craft for several years, including eight years of vocal lessons and a decade of dance. Musically, she has been compared to a cross between Ariana Grande and a young Stacy Orrico with a rhythmic sound. Riley is currently writing with well-established songwriters in Nashville and continuing to work with a nationally known choreographer. Her debut single, "Broken Places" is already making waves.
4. MDSN (Integrity Worship)
Integrity Music welcomed teen artist, songwriter and worship leader MDSN ("Madison") with the release of her debut single last August, "Kerosene." The 16-year-old from Dallas, Texas, grew up singing in church alongside her worship leader parents, David and Nicole Binion, and serving on worship teams for the 10,000-member Covenant Church.
Fusing pop, EDM and acoustic styles with worshipful, praise-filled lyrics, MDSN has begun work on a new project set to release this year. The "Kerosene" single, produced by Kyle Lee and co-written by MDSN with Lee and Rhyan Shirley, offers a small taste of MDSN's joyful energy and the project to come.
"I want to see people's lives changed," she says. "To be an influencer for my generation and to make music that helps Christians deepen their faith while introducing others to Jesus."
5. Joshua Micah (Independent)
Joshua Micah grew up in Manchester, Conn., with his mom and dad and two brothers. After his first two singles, "Parachute" and "Who Says?," hit No. 1 on Billboard's Christian Hot AC/CHR chart, which is quite unprecedented for an independent artist at radio, Joshua released his new EP, 20XX, to critical praise late last year.
6. The Young Escape (Capitol)
The Young Escape has released their debut single "Good Life," an energetic pop song with a dance/electronic edge. Geared towards youth and young adults, the four-piece band from Southern California is made up of siblings Ryan, McKenna, Kyrsten, and Luke Johns who grew up watching bands like Audio Adrenaline, tobyMac, and Hawk Nelson at festivals, dreaming that one day, they could do the same thing. Fans got their first live look at the band on Crowder's "American Prodigal Tour" last fall and more music is coming in 2018.
7. Brooke Robertson (Independent)
Louisiana-based singer/songwriter Brooke Robertson has been posting covers of popular worship songs on her YouTube channel for about a year. After a risky season of learning to surrender completely to God, Brooke's music fell into the hands of Seventh Day Slumber's Jeremy Holderfield. Together, the two worked on her four-song debut EP, appropriately titled Have My Heart.
With a voice like Bethany Dillon's and the heart of Lauren Daigle, Brooke's carefully-crafted EP is an instant sensation with a worshipful pop sound. While her message is a personal testimony of how God's plans are far better than our own, it also encourages the listener to join her and step closer into God's presence.
8. Maddie Rey (Independent)
Maddie Rey was born on July 17, 1998, and is the oldest child of Pastor Luis and Tricia Reyes, founders and Senior Pastors of Church of Joy. As a pastor's daughter, Maddie Rey has always felt at home in ministry. From the moment she could walk, she participated in ministry whether she was riding the church bus with her mother and father as they picked up kids for church or spending time at Christmas to wrap gifts for at-risk children.
According to Maddie Rey, the greatest testimony "is to stay in the church and never leave...you don't have to grow up in church and go out into the world then come back." Her latest track, "Fire," showcases the diverse genre-bending talent of this young artist we'll be watching in 2018.
9. Jasmine Murray (Fair Trade Services)
Best known for her powerhouse vocals as a finalist in season eight of American Idol,Jasmine has worked hard to overcome and achieve so much at a young age. Named Miss Mississippi and placing in the Top 10 in Miss America 2015, she paid for college entirely with her contest earnings. Now at age 25, she's inspiring audiences with a fresh pop sound and a profound message of hope as an artist and songwriter with Fair Trade Services.
10. Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh (Independent)
Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh are the lone rockers on this list, an all-female "Beautycore" band made from a trio of sisters--CJ, Maggie and LuLu English. Also know as GFM to fans, the Jacksonville, Florida group is introducing a new genre to the music world by mixing hard rock and metalcore, played exclusively by women.