One of the leading artists and activists within contemporary Christian music, Chris Tomlin is a successful singer and songwriter whose 2005 album Arriving has sold over 500,000 copies, and whose compositions "Holy Is the Lord" and "How Great Is Our God" are among the most popular contemporary songs in the world's churches, being sung by millions of Christians at worship services every week. Born in Grand Saline, Texas in 1972, Tomlin grew up listening to country music and learned to play guitar from his father (Tomlin has cited Willie Nelson's Stardust as a key influence). At the age of nine, Tomlin accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, and at 14 wrote his first song of praise.
Tomlin enrolled at Texas A&M in the early '90s to study medicine, but he became active in a campus worship and Bible study group called Breakaway, led by an ambitious young pastor named Louie Giglio. As Breakaway grew, Tomlin became increasingly active with the group, and he eventually became a worship leader as well as performing his own songs at meetings. As Giglio's Breakaway group evolved into Passion, a nationwide organization for young Christians on college campuses, Giglio started a record company, Six Steps Records, to record youth-oriented Christian artists. Tomlin, whose songs had become mainstays at Breakaway and Passion services, became one of Six Steps' first signings, and The Noise We Make, released in 2001, was Tomlin's first album. The band Tomlin assembled while serving as a pastor at Woodland, Texas's Harvest Ministry -- Daniel Carson on guitar, Jesse Reeves on bass, and Ryan Sandlin on drums -- began touring, often appearing at Passion events around the country as well as headlining its own concerts. (In 2004, Ryan Sandlin left the group, and Travis Nunn took over behind the drums.)
In 2002, Tomlin moved to Austin, Texas, and became a pastor at Austin's Stone Community Church, where he helped guide a congregation of 1,500. As Tomlin's songs and recordings found a wider audience, he was nominated for two Grammy Awards for his 2006 album See the Morning (which rose to number one on Billboard's Christian albums chart and number 15 on the overall Top 200), but the songwriter continued to emphasize that his mission was more important than his own music. Tomlin's fifth studio album, 2008s Hello Love, was certified gold. It was followed in 2009 by the holiday offering Glory in the Highest: Christmas Songs of Worship, in 2010 by And If Our God Is for Us..., and in 2013 by Burning Lights. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi