You might be used to hearing your favorite Christian artist break out into the mainstream. From artists as far back as Amy Grant to current superstars like Lauren Daigle and for KING & COUNTRY, it’s not uncommon to see Christian market artists make a swing for mainstream audiences.
But lately, it’s become an increasing trend to see artists in the mainstream make a play for a faith-based audience.
In this article, I take a look at some artists who are known well to mainstream audiences who have recently released a project aimed at the Christian music market.
Long-time country band Rascal Flatts recently called it quits after 20 years of making music—I think. The band planned a farewell tour, which was canned due to the pandemic. But, band member Jay DeMarcus said in an interview with the Taste of Country news website that the band might stay together to perform concerts annually.
In the meantime, lead vocalist Gary LeVox is kickstarting his solo career with his first EP, One on One. It features the currently charting single, “The Distance.” Gary told NewReleaseToday that he plans to release some country music in the near future.
Canadian pop star Justin Bieber has shared his faith in God openly—in interviews, on social media, and in his music. Last year, he released “Holy,” featuring hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper.
In April 2021, Justin also released his surprise Easter EP, Freedom. ReligionNews.com calls the EP Justin’s most “explicitly religious project to date.” Freedom includes collaborations with Maverick City Music’s Chandler Moore, hip-hop artist Beam, and pop artist Tori Kelly. I want to see Justin get even more “explicitly religious” in his music–but maybe with less "explicit" language. More great sounds to our ears.
Harry Connick Jr.
The Grammy-winning artist Harry Connick Jr. grew up in a mixed-faith family (a Catholic father and a Jewish mother). When the pandemic hit, Harry turned to his faith and music for strength. The result is the raw and vulnerable gospel album, Alone With My Faith.
In an interview with CBC News, Harry stated he played every instrument and sang both lead and background vocals. He also recorded and produced the album. Check out the title track. It’s definitely worth a listen.
Similar to Justin Bieber, country singer Carrie Underwood has openly shared her faith with her fans and the media. She’s even recorded faith-based songs like her career-making hit, “Jesus Take the Wheel.” But, also, similar to Justin, she’s releasing more faith-based music.
In April 2021, Carrie released a gospel album, My Savior and recently appeared with NEEDTOBREATHE on a remix of their track, "I Wanna Remember." I definitely wouldn’t complain if she recorded a faith-based album of new original music. Here’s to hoping.
Country singer Dolly Parton says that God called her to create and participate in the Christian music scene. So far, her efforts include collaborations with for KING & COUNTRY on “God Only Knows” and folk-rocker Zach Williams on “There Was Jesus,” both of which have been smash-hits for the respective artists. I’d expect Dolly will collaborate with many other Christian artists in the future. We might even see a faith-based album of her own!
There has been a lot of controversy about rapper Kanye West’s decision to make Christian music. Much of this controversy stems because of his past music, filled with vulgarity, profanity and self-worship.
In 2019, Kanye released his first gospel album, JESUS IS KING. It was met with mostly positive reviews. Last year, Kanye followed up the album, with his new faith-based single “Washed Us in the Blood,” featuring rapper Travis Scott. Here’s hoping we get more faith-based hip-hop music from Kanye soon. Maybe with Lecrae?
Did you know that pop artist Gwen Stefani brought country singer Blake Shelton to faith in 2019? The Tennessean reported this interesting tidbit in a review of Blake’s 2019 album, God’s Country. Much of the music on that album was inspired by Blake’s coming to Christ. Two years later, Blake released “Bible Verses,” a faith-based single from his latest offering, Body Language. Admittedly, I’ve had this song on rotation since I first heard it.
Twenty One Pilots
Lead singer Tyler Joseph and multi-instrumentalist Joseph Dun bury a lot of faith in their music as the alternative rock group, Twenty One Pilots. In their songwriting, the duo moves beyond motivational music to tackle serious matters like mental health. According to Billboard Magazine, Twenty One Pilots scored a Guinness World Record for the longest music video: “Level of Concern.”
Hip-hop artist NF is similar to Twenty One Pilots. The rapper moves beyond positivity and praise in favor of societal issues and mental health. I like NF because he has achieved massive mainstream success without the controversy and language. If you dig deep enough into NF’s music style, you’ll see much of music is composed by brilliant producer and songwriter, Tommee Profitt. Tommee himself has produced music for artists Crowder, Chris Tomlin, Avril Lavigne, Colton Dixon, and Hunter Hayes.
Chance the Rapper
Hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper calls himself a Christian hip-hop artist. The lyrics in many of his songs have left this proclamation up for debate. There's A LOT of language that makes it inaccessible to many. But, while we’re debating, let’s enjoy “Holy,” Chance’s collaboration with Justin Bieber.
Special thanks to JJ Frencesco for contributing the introduction to this article.
Paul Phillips is a Canadian journalist with over 15 years of experience writing and editing digital and print content. He specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, and travel. He loves music, movies, and, of course, living for Jesus.
NEW!BEHIND THE SONG
#1077 - Phil Wickham NRT talks about the inspiration behind Phil's latest worship anthem, "House of the Lord"
NEW! #NRTWENTY EDITORIAL
The Story Of NRT NRT's founder talks about the origins of the site that's covered Christian music for two decades
NEW! NRT LISTS
Mainstream To Christian Artists known to mainstream audiences who released CCM
NEW! NRT LISTS
Best Worship Covers A list of the best covers of "Run to the Father"
NEW! THE CHH DROP
#57 - BrvndonP... What new this week in Christian Hip Hop and Rap