Have you ever wondered how the top 20 Billboard Christian Artists got their start? We were curious too, so we dug deeper to find out how some of your favorite K-LOVE and Christian artists rose to fame, family friendships, and fortune.
1. Lauren Daigle
There is no surprise that @Lauren Daigle is the number 1 artist on this list. If you have been following along with the series these last few weeks, you will begin to see a theme in the number one spot. No, we don't like her more than everyone else, she is just that gifted.
Daigle grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana where you could hear the gospel, blues, and even cajun music at almost every corner and worship house. Lauren was always singing, she began singing in the church choir and went on to lead the choir at LSU. In 2010, Daigle tried out for the acclaimed hit vocal TV show, American Idol as well as in 2012. Her family has always encouraged her singing and good thing they did!
Read More about @Lauren Daigle here.
2. Kanye West
Making music a priority early in life, @Kanye West started writing poetry as a child which led him down the path of composing music and eventually rapping. West befriended local artists and producers early on in High School and soon after developed a unique sound that sped up vocals from classic gospel and soul records. West met Producer and DJ No I.D. who became his mentor, and the rest is history.
3. Elevation Worship
Worship leader Steven Furtick wanted to form a church with seven other Christ Covenant Church families in Shelby, North Carolina. As those dreams turned into reality, and the church grew, Furtick uprooted them to Charlotte, North Carolina, where Elevation Church was born. Furtick's vision for creating a worship culture that was unified over a place for people to connect with God, and inspiring his worship team through his sermons, he and his team began writing songs and eventually started releasing albums as @Elevation Worship to the general public for all to enjoy.
Read More about @Elevation Worship here.
4. Casting Crowns
When you have @Steven Curtis Chapman as a contact, you are sure to find success in the Christian Music industry. @Casting Crowns formed in Daytona, Florida in 1999 as a student worship group. The Contemporary Christian rock-influenced band is now located in Stockbridge, Georgia, where additional members have joined the band since its youth group days.
Read More about @Casting Crowns here.
5. For KING & COUNTRY
The sibling trio was no stranger to fame, as their sister @Rebecca St. James became a successful Christian music artist at a young age. The brothers spent many of their teen years on her road crew to keep the family close and together. Luke Smallbone was just 19 and brother Joel, 21 years of age when the duo began writing and recording songs for a short EP calling themselves Joe and Luke. In 2012, Billboard named them as one of the New Artists to Watch, as they began their journey with a new name, @for KING & COUNTRY.
Read More about @for KING & COUNTRY and @Rebecca St. James here.
6. We The Kingdom
Multigenerational family and organically formed worship group, @We The Kingdom began late one evening while family member Scott Cash had asked his pedigree for assistance in leading worship at a Young Life camp in Georgia. The four family musicians, Ed Cash, Scott Cash, Franni Rae Cash, Martin Cash, as well as a lifelong friend and gifted musician Andrew Bergthold began writing a song that evening, that was later released on their debut EP in 2019.
Read More about @We The Kingdom here.
7. Zach Williams
Walk-on Basketball scholar @Zach Williams wouldn't have found music if it weren't for the difficult challenges he has already faced in his life. Great at his sport, Williams tore 5 ligaments in his ankle before the season even started his freshman year in college. Not knowing what to do next, he was gifted a guitar to getthrough the drowning downfall of depression. Teaching himself how to play, Williams began focusing on what could be his next career move. The singer/songwriter was then diagnosed with a form of brain cancer that pulled him toward prayer. He decided to rededicate his music and his life to Christ.
Read More about @Zach Williams here.
Lead singer of @MercyMe, Bart Millard began as a youth ministry intern in Florida, where his grandmother didn't approve of his job title, and used to say to him when she called, “Well, mercy me, why don’t you get a real job?” As he pursued football like every other normal teenage boy, Millard simultaneously began creating music with his youth group's worship band. Well, football didn't pan out for Millard, but a stand-in audition for the lead singer of his worship group ended up going more than well for the artist, landing him a gig across the world, where he and soon to be bandmate/pianist Jim Bryson decided music was their calling. In 1994 after moving to Edmond, Oklahoma, Millard's grandmother's words "mercy me," would become the band's namesake.
Read More about @MercyMe here.
9. Jeremy Camp
A life filled with growth and determination to keep moving forward, @Jeremy Camp got his start in college, when he was playing music with some friends inside his dorm and was discovered by a worship leader urging him to join their music ministry. Camp traveled up and down the California coast singing with his ministry and eventually branched off to make a name for himself.
His success is partly due to the painful loss of his college love and first wife Melissa Henning. Cancer took over their livelihood, but not their faith. When Melissa passed, Camp was unimaginably lost but realized he could help others by singing about his story. Camp now holds the most ranking solo songs on the Billboard Christian charts and continues to sing about the challenges he has been faced with.
Read More about @Jeremy Camp here.
Forming in 1996, vocalist John Cooper and Guitarist at the time, Ken Steorts formed a small band they dubbed @Skillet. After the launch of their first self-titled EP, and a few lead guitar changes, Skillet is now a certified multi-platinum and platinum album artist comprised of lead guitarist Seth Morrison, vocalist, and drummer Jen Ledger, Lead vocalist John Cooper and keyboardist Korey Pingitore, who later married John Cooper.
The American Christian rock band originated in Memphis, Tennessee and has received several GRAMMY nominations, and is currently on tour in the United States.
Read More about @Skillet here.
12. Chris Tomlin
Accepting Jesus as his savior at the age of 9, @Chris Tomlin was given his first guitar from his father and became self-taught listening to Willie Nelson records. At just 14 years old, Tomlin wrote his first worship song and went on to lead his High School worship youth group. By 1997, Tomlin began collaborating with Giglio and formed Passion Conferences. Now, Tomlin not only is a veteran in the Christian Music scene but is the definitive worship leader for the worldwide church.
Read More about @Chris Tomlin here.
13. Bethel Music Label
Founded by @Brian & Jenn Johnson, the husband and wife couple launched the label in the northern town of Redding, California. The music label started in 2001 as a collective of singers, songwriters, and musicians. They have produced and written over 16 albums for the collective.
Read More about @Brian & Jenn Johnson here.
Born as Kevin Michael McKeehan in 1964, Virginia born @TobyMac met @Michael Tait in 1987 at Liberty University and formed the band @DC Talk. In 1988 they released their first single and recruited fellow classmate @Kevin Max. After asking Max to join the duo, turning it into a trio, the band began gaining traction. Releasing their first album as a trio in 1989, the album went certified platinum and shot them straight to fame.
Read More about @TobyMac here.
15. Tauren Wells
@Tauren Wells began singing at 15 years of age immediately knowing he wanted to inspire and lead worship in his church. After joining the choir, he took up piano and began writing songs. After High School, Wells went on to Indiana Bible College at which point he had to decide between finishing college or pursuing his music career. The Christian singer and songwriter clearly chose to walk with God on his musical journey where pop and R&B infused beats have paved the way for the 2017 GRAMMY nominee.
Read More about @Tauren Wells here.
16. Matthew West
Found collapsed from intensive bleeding on his had after attempting to shatter a window at his house due to locking himself out, the Illinois native and 5-time GRAMMY nominee @Matthew West was told he would never play the guitar again. Three months and intensive physical therapy later, he fully recovered. Always seeing himself as a committed musician, the music scholar landed himself in the finals of a songwriting competition in 1999. After writing hit songs and albums for mega-country artist Billy Ray Cyrus, he decided to branch off on his own starting his own mega-Christian solo career.
Read More about @Matthew West here.
17. Cory Asbury
@Cory Asbury found music at the age of 14 when he began leading worship at his local church. Fast forward to adulthood, and Asbury continued to follow his faith journey, as he spent 7 years forming the International House of Prayer ministry in Kansas City, Missouri. In 2009, Asbury released his first solo debut album. The GMA Dove award-winning artist for Worship Album of the Year has continued to soar to the top of the Billboard Christian Albums chart as the newer Christian artist continues to discover his musical capabilities and show us just how much more he has to offer.
Read More about @Cory Asbury here.
18. Danny Gokey
A man who has certainly explored many different genres of music, and placed 3rd on the 2009 season of American Idol just 4 weeks after the death of his High School sweetheart and wife at the time, Sophia Martinez, continues to wow fans with his determination and faith in God. @Danny Gokey grew up in a very large and loyal Christian family where gospel and soul music were front and center. Religion mixed with music became a staple in Gokey's life, as he became the music director for the Faith Builders International Ministries in his twenties. After his stint on American Idol, Gokey transformed from gospel to country to contemporary Christian pop. I am sure we haven't seen all that this man can do.
Read More about @Danny Gokey here.
19. Big Daddy Weave
Mike Weaver, otherwise known to friends growing up as Big Daddy or Weave from his football days, had always wanted to spread the gospel through music. In 1998, the mixture of Weaver's nicknames formed the band's namesake @Big Daddy Weave and the original 4 began preaching through song to small groups after meeting at the University of Mobile Alabama.
Read More about @Big Daddy Weave here.