“Chris Tomlin & Friends,” now available for streaming and download, features appearances from some of country music’s biggest names: Lady A, Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, Brett Young and many more.
In fact, aside from the 45-second choral intro track, a recognizable act is featured on every song.
“What would it sound like to kind of smash up the genres of what Christian music is and what country music is?” Tomlin, 48, remembered to Fox News of being an idea behind the record. “There’s some pop elements, gospel elements, all that in there, just kind of this big soup of music with some really fine artists.”
Tomlin made sure to note that the album was a “true collaboration,” having written and recorded all of the songs with the country artists.
“It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a song here, I got the famous friends, I’ll call them to sing on the second verse and they’ll email it in,'” he explained. “It was all of us together making this record and it’s so special.
As for how it came together, Tomlin confessed, “It just happened.”
The project didn’t even start as an album, but just a few jam sessions to blend country and Christian music, all without his record label’s knowledge.
“We were just doing it just for fun,” Tomlin said.
“I’ve never done anything like this. I’ve never done a collaboration like this ever.”
Luckily, the label wasn’t too upset that Tomlin had recruited the roster of stars that he had.
“Halfway through the process, I thought, ‘I gotta start bringing [these songs] to the people that actually have a say in on this,'” said the singer. “And that’s been really fun to see.”
Flordia Georgia Line, who Tomlin called “the party band of country music,” were instrumental in producing the album as well.
“These guys were in the studio with me whether they wrote the song or whether they were singing on the song or not,” recalled the “I Will Rise” singer. “They were in that studio with me working and I think that says a lot.”
Tomlin met Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line at a gym while vacationing, and they began writing after Tomlin introduced himself in a meeting that he called “God’s doing” and “a divine thing.”
“It was on none of our radars a year ago,” he explained.
While collaboration isn’t a new concept to the artist, “Chris Tomlin & Friends” took things to a whole new level.
“I’ve never done anything like this. I’ve never done a collaboration like this ever,” he said. “I’ve had a few people on my albums before, especially in my Christmas record, but I’ve never been with current superstars in a genre.”
He added: “My music’s going places it’s never gone before.’
The record was largely finished before the coronavirus quarantine sent personnel home to work individually, but Tomlin noted that now is a great time for such a record to be released.
“In this moment in our world, there’s a lot of fear and there’s a lot of unrest. I think just the beauty of collaboration and coming together, that’s pretty powerful,” he said. “I think it makes a beautiful statement … I just hope it really brings a light.”