Chris Tomlin could easily perform in the mega-churches that have sprung up in recent years, but even the large houses of worship cannot contain the hordes of fans drawn to Tomlin, who has been dubbed the “king of the sing-along.”
Tomlin is touring to promote his Burning Lights Tour, so named for his 12th album, Burning Lights, released Jan. 8. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard top 200 albums chart - only the fourth album of contemporary Christian music to do so.
“I think this record is touching something powerful,” Tomlin says from the road. “We’ve been touring all year, and it’s not just a performance, but an experience where we all are there to worship God. I hope those who come to see us leave lifted up by God.
“And we hear that some folks are calling the shows ‘God’s dance floor.’”
Born in 1972 in Grand Saline, Texas, Tomlin, who had learned to play guitar by listening to Willie Nelson records and playing along, wrote his first worship song at age14, and later attended Tyler Junior College and Texas A&M University. After college he found a way to combine his love of the Lord and his love of music when youth speaker Louie Giglio invited him to work with the Passion Conferences, which Giglio had created as spiritual gatherings for college students.
It was 1997, and within four years, Tomlin was writing songs, leading a band and rapidly becoming the most successful composer in the world of worship songwriting. By 2007, Tomlin had five songs on a copyright list of the top 25 worship songs in the country: “How Great Is Our God” at No. 1; “Forever” at No. 5; “Holy Is the Lord” at No. 7; “We Fall Down” at No. 12; and “Indescribable” at No. 22.
Worldwide, churches used 128 songs last year that Tomlin wrote or co-wrote, and on any Sunday, the people at Christian Copyright Licensing International, who compile music statistics, say from 20 million to 30 million people are singing Tomlin songs in their worship services. Other statistics reveal that Tomlin has sold 4.2 million albums and 6 million digital downloads.
On Oct. 29, Tomlin will release Live From Red Rocks, recorded at a Colorado venue known more for its outstanding acoustics than for hosting jam bands.
“It’s the most beautiful place to play I’ve ever seen,” Tomlin says. “We played there the last week of our spring tour and it’s our first DVD, and it has a CD with it.”
Tomlin and his wife, Lauren Bricken, whom he married in November 2010, have a daughter, Ashlyn Alexandra, who turned 2 on Sept. 22.
“Sometimes I take the family out on the tour,” he says, “but after two or three days, [Ashlyn’s] ready to go home, but she does love music. She just goes crazy for anything that’s music.”
Tomlin’s Burning Lights Tour will also feature a couple of special guests, Giglio, with whom Tomlin started the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, in May 2008, and DJ Promote, whom Tomlin describes thusly: “He’s just so much fun, he’s playing records, just getting people dancing and having a great time.”
Openers: DJ Promote and Louie Giglio 7:30 p.m. Friday, Verizon Arena, East Broadway and Interstate 30, North Little Rock Tickets: $42.50, $35.50, $31.50, $24.50 (discounts for groups of 15 or more: call John Dippel at (501) 975-9131 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org) (800) 745-3000 ticketmaster.com
Weekend, Pages 35 on 10/03/2013
Print Headline: Tomlin to illuminate Verizon Arena with Burning Lights