Chris Tomlin is a heavyweight in the world of Contemporary Christian Music, having scored 16 No. 1 singles, sold more than nine million albums, and earned numerous awards, including one Grammy, three Billboard Music Awards and 21 Dove Awards.
Recently, mainstream country music fans may recognize Chris’ name—and vocals—from Thomas Rhett’s current Top 10 single, “Be a Light,” which also features Keith Urban, Reba McEntire and Hillary Scott.
For his new album, Chris Tomlin & Friends, which was released on July 31, the Texas native enlisted the musical talents of a host of country stars, including Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Lady A, Brett Young, RaeLynn, Chris Lane, Russell Dickerson, Cassadee Pope and more. FGL’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley collaborated with Chris on a number of the album’s songs and served as executive producers on the 13-track album.
In our exclusive interview, Chris “sings the praises” of the artists featured on his new album in a song-by-song breakdown.
2. “Thank You Lord” feat. Florida Georgia Line & Thomas Rhett; written by Chris Tomlin, Thomas Rhett, Tyler Hubbard, Corey Crowder, David Garcia
“This song has country, Jackson 5, R&B, pop. It’s just a great smash-up of everything. It was important to each of us to sing this one together. ‘For my momma and for my friends, for my babies, for my girl.’ I play it for my girls and instantly they start dancing.”
3. “Reaching For You” feat. We The Kingdom; written by Chris Tomlin, Shay Mooney, Ed Cash
“I was writing with Ed Cash and Shay [Mooney of Dan + Shay] one day and someone sent us a video of Bon Jovi performing ‘Living On a Prayer’ from a stadium show in Europe. Thousands and thousands of people with their hands raised. I was thinking, ‘Isn’t that interesting? It doesn’t look any different than a big worship event with Hillsong or at one of my concerts. The difference is who you are reaching for.’ Shay then said, ‘Oh we need to write that right now.’ ‘I know who I’m reaching for when I raise my hands and it’s not for some superstar on a stage. It’s for the Lord, for God our father.’ That’s where that song started.”
4. “Who You Are To Me” feat. Lady A; written by Chris Tomlin, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood
“This song came so fast and so easy. It speaks to where so many of us are and this idea of who God is to us. It’s personal. I’ve known the depths of who you are because I know where you pulled me from. ‘But I’ve seen you part the waters when no one else could pull me from the deep. That’s who you are to me.’”
5. “God Who Listens” feat. Thomas Rhett; written by Chris Tomlin, Thomas Rhett, Ashley Gorley, David Garcia
“When we pray to God, we’re praying to a God who listens. That is the difference maker right there. Yes, he is massive and powerful and created all things, but he also listens and draws close to you. He’s a friend to you.”
6. “Power” feat. Bear Rinehart of NEEDTOBREATHE; written by Chris Tomlin, Pat Barrett, Ed Cash
“I wrote with Pat Barrett and Ed Cash a while back, but I always wanted someone with me on this song. I had just come off a guy’s adventure trip with Tyler [Hubbard] and Bear Rinehart. Each night we’d get around the campfire and pass the guitar around. Every time Bear would sing, none of us wanted to sing after him. His voice is so unique and powerful, so I asked him if he’d like to be on it. The whole idea is about God’s power. There’s wonder working power, Holy Spirit power, great redeeming power, resurrection power, bondage-breaking power, power in the name of Jesus. It just keeps coming at you with all these different ways of saying the power of God.”
7. “Be The Moon” feat. Brett Young & Cassadee Pope; written by Chris Tomlin, Corey Crowder, Tyler Hubbard
“This is an idea I’ve had for a while. You can sum up Christianity into three words: be the moon. None of us have light on our own, but we reflect a greater light to the world. Our place is to just be a reflection of God’s light to people.”
8. “Sing” feat. Russell Dickerson & Florida Georgia Line; written by Chris Tomlin, Corey Crowder, Brian Kelley, Tyler Hubbard, Cary Barlowe
“I love Russell’s voice on this song. It reminds me of what it would sound like if John Mayer would write a worship song, just the way the guitar feels and the way the track feels. It bridges the gap between being a romantic song and a song to God. It feels different than anything I’ve ever put out before.”
9. “Chase Me Down” feat. RaeLynn; written by Racheal Lynn David, Josh Kerr, Hannah Ellis
“I was floored instantly when Tyler brought this song to me. The chorus says, ‘You chase me down when I don’t deserve it. You chase me down I cannot earn it. When I’m lost and I’m low in a place that I think you won’t go, you chase me down.’ You can’t outrun the goodness and grace of God and she says it in such a beautiful, honest and powerful way.”
10. “Gifts From God” feat. Chris Lane; written by Chris Tomlin, Corey Crowder, Tyler Hubbard
“This project started with this song. Reflecting on life and all the things that we don’t really consider gifts from God, but they really are. Gifts that money can’t buy. He’s saved you from what you thought you wanted, your plans, the grip that you had on your life. Every day is a gift from God. Celebrate the simple things.”
11. “Forever Home” feat. Florida Georgia Line; written by Tyler Hubbard, Brian Kelley, Ashley Gorley, Corey Crowder
“My mom teared up over this one and said, ‘That reminds me of my dad,’ talking about my grandfather who has passed away. I love how the chorus ends, ‘When we get to our forever home, you and I will be forever home.’ It’s so simple, so powerful, talking about heaven and being with the Lord. Such a good country lines—‘When all this gravel turns to country gold.’ and ‘We’ll leave all of our worries just like work boots on the porch.’ What a beautiful scene and picture of everything we’ve built on this earth.”
12. “Together” feat. Russell Dickerson; written by Chris Tomlin, Brian Kelley, Tyler Hubbard, Russell Dickerson, Corey Crowder
“Russell and I wrote this song with Tyler, BK and Corey. The word ‘together’ really says what this record is all about. There’s a line in the song, ‘Whatever I’m in, I know that we’re in it together.’ That is a beautiful thing knowing that God walks with us in the valleys. He walks with us in the hard times of life. There’s a scripture that says, ‘In Him all things hold together.’ When it all falls apart, he’s putting the pieces together.”
13. “Tin Roof” feat. Blessing Offor; written by Blessing Offor, Natalie Hemby
“This is an artist no one knows, and his real name is Blessing. He’s a blind man from Nigeria and is an incredible piano player, singer, and songwriter. He grew up in a house with a tin roof and the sound of rain on the roof always reminds him of home. And he’s says when he thinks of home it makes him think of heaven.”
photo by E.M., AFF-USA.com