Contemporary Christian music (CCM) is popular for both worship and entertainment. It is usually more upbeat and a bit more “rocky” than gospel music.
Over the years, many great Christian singers have come on the scene, and many have stayed for some time, becoming household names. These singers encourage, delight, and challenge through their songs and performances.
In this article, we will recognize 21 of the greatest and most famous Christian singers of worship and praise that have made their names known. Let’s get started.
1. Amy Grant
We begin our list with the Queen of Christian Pop, Amy Grant. The queen’s career began when she was still a teen in the 1980s with the hit album My Father’s Eyes. After this, Grant was unstoppable.
In the 1990s, the singer crossed over to mainstream pop. Many of her singles at this time, like “Baby Baby,” still topped the charts. Fans rejoiced, however, because with the release of Legacy… Hymns and Faith in 2002, Grant returned to her Christian music roots.
Grant is the first CCM artist to have a Christian album go Platinum. She is also the best-selling Christian artist of all time, with over 30 million units sold worldwide. In 2022, she became a Kennedy Center Honors recipient.
2. Lauren Daigle
Next up, we have Lauren Daigle. She has been singing and composing for over a decade. Born in Louisiana, her early musical exposure was to Cajun music and the blues.
Between high school and college, she worked as a missionary in Brazil temporarily, and in college, she joined the choir. She sang for American Idol twice (in 2010 and 2012) but did not progress in the competition.
Daigle continued to work on singing in events until she caught the attention of Centricity Music, who offered her a contract in 2013. Soon after, she released How Can It Be, which climbed to the top of Billboard‘s Top Christian Albums.
Her work has cemented her as one of the best Christian singers. Her 2018 single “You Say” won her a Song of the Year Dove Award, a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song, and Top Christian Song from Billboard.
3. Jeremy Camp
Our next singer, Jeremy Camp, grew up in a Christian home. He and his father, a pastor, went to prisons and boys’ homes to minister.
At 16, he had an epiphany at youth camp, understanding that God wanted him to write music, and thus began his Christian journey. Two years later, he went to Bible college, where he met his first wife, Melissa.
When Melissa succumbed to ovarian cancer in 2001, Camp was devastated, and his faith faltered. He wanted to stop singing, yet recalling his wife’s hope to inspire others to accept the faith, he continued.
Camp became more determined and toured around the country singing for both small crowds and sold-out venues, eventually meeting his second wife while on tour. Since then, Camp has released over 11 albums and won several awards.
4. Matthew West
Contemporary singer-songwriter, musician, and actor Matthew West grew up in Illinois and studied music before signing with Word Music after graduating, but later switched to Sparrow Records.
With the release of his first record, Happy, West had his breakthrough. Following this, West made big plans for new songs and concerts. But then he lost his voice. Medical testing revealed a vascular polyp and hemorrhaging vocal cord blood vessels.
This roadblock in his career questioned his faith, but West held to it tightly. After surgery and recovery, he dropped the album Something to Say. The tracks “The Motions” and “You Are Everything” immediately landed #1 on the Christian Songs chart.
5. Michael W. Smith
West Virginian musician and singer Michael W. Smith became a Christian at a young age. After high school, he moved to Nashville to try to get a record deal. When he was unsuccessful, drugs and alcohol became his solace, but a near-death experience had him returning to his faith and getting clean in 1979.
Smith got his big break in 1990 with his mainstream crossover hit “Place in This World.” It not only topped the Christian charts, but it ranked #5 in Adult Contemporary and #6 on Billboard‘s Hot 100.
Since then, Smith has recorded over 30 top-10 hits and 16 #1 albums. His influence on Christian music has led to him being credited as the cornerstone of the genre.
6. Chris Tomlin
Born in Texas, Chris Tomlin learned to play the guitar young and started writing worship songs when he was still a young teen. After college, he served as a worship leader.
Tomlin had his first breakthrough in 2004 with the album Arriving. It charted both on the Christian Albums and Billboard 200. He followed this up with See You in the Morning, which received his first Grammy nomination.
Most of Tomlin’s albums have been nominated for a Grammy, but in 2012, his And If Our God Is For Us… won Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.
Tomlin’s ministry impacts millions of people worldwide. He belongs to a group called Worship Together, which offers free content weekly to fellow worship leaders who join the free group. He continues to have a vibrant presence on social media and travels to perform at concerts.
Kevin Michael Mckeehan, known best as TobyMac, was born in Virginia and raised in a Christian home. He loved music from quite a young age.
In his early 20s, Mckeehan and some friends created the Christian rock group DC Talk. When the band decided to take a break, TobyMac began a solo career.
All eight of his albums charted, with six topping the Christian Albums chart. Six of his singles also became #1 hits, including “Lose My Soul,” “Gone,” and “Made to Love.”
Much of Mckeehan’s music is based on personal experiences. He uses his music to commiserate with and encourage people dealing with similar situations to his.
8. Rebecca St. James
Born Rebecca Jean Smallbone in Australia, Rebecca St. James is the oldest child with six younger siblings. She was the lead vocalist in her Christian school choir at age 13. About that same time, she began to open shows for Carman, a CCM artist.
Though St. James’s first two albums were released to moderate success, her breakthrough came with the third, God. It landed at #6 on the Christian Albums chart and crossed over to #10 on the Heatseekers. She has since released seven more successful albums.
Her latest single, “Kingdom Come,” was released in 2021 in collaboration with her brothers’ group For KING & COUNTRY. It’s a song of revival for those who need a boost in their faith.
9. Danny Gokey
Our next singer, Danny Gokey, has a strong Christian background, having grown up in a Christian family and singing in church services when he was young.
Influenced by his late wife, Gokey tried out for the eighth season of American Idol and won third place. Thus began his career as a country singer, releasing three singles ranking in the Hot Country Songs chart.
In 2011, however, Gokey’s songs began to gravitate toward Christian themes. From then on, he began dropping #1 hits on the contemporary Christian music charts, including “Hope in Front of Me,” “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again,” and “Haven’t Seen It Yet.”
10. Tauren Wells
Texas-born Tauren Wells was a member of Royal Tailor, a Christian band, until 2015. As a solo artist, many of his songs, like “Hills and Valleys” and “God’s Not Done with You,” have charted, and these have been nominated for Grammy awards.
He and his wife, Lorna, have performed together as well. They have four children and are very open about their relationship struggles. Wells wrote and performed a song called “Love’s Worth the Fight,” inspired by working through their marital difficulties.
Wells’s hard work has paid off. Aside from the Grammy nominations, he’s also won a number of Dove awards, the latest being Short Form Video of the Year for 2022’s “Fake It.”
11. Cory Asbury
Florida singer-songwriter and musician Cory Asbury became a worship leader at his local church when he was only 17. As an adult, he worked with Kansas City’s International House of Prayer.
Asbury collaborated with fellow Christian music artist Matt Gilman in 2008 and released “Holy.” He followed this up with his solo album in 2009 called “Let Me See Your Eyes.”
After moving to Michigan, he released “Reckless Love,” arguably his most famous song, in 2018. It received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song.
Asbury went on hiatus after this for about a year, waiting for inspiration from God to write. Soon though, “The Father’s House” came to be and was released in 2020 to critical acclaim.
12. Laura Story
Musician and singer-songwriter Laura Story began her musical career as a bass player in the band Silers Bald. In 2002, she left the band to pursue a solo career.
Story married her husband, Martin Elvington, in 2005. Sadly, soon after, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was expected to have devastating effects, potentially terminal.
This twist in her own life reinforced her trust in God and brought her to the realization that no matter what happens in life, He is faithful. She wrote the song “Blessings” in a response to this realization, which won her a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song.
13. Steven Curtis Chapman
Most Christian music fans are probably familiar with the name Steven Curtis Chapman. The five-time Grammy-award-winning CCM singer-songwriter is known for having over 40 #1 songs, including “Dive” and “Do Everything.”
In 2008, Chapman’s five-year-old daughter passed away after being accidentally run over by their son. The aftermath was harsh on the family, yet their faith in God held them strong.
Chapman’s 15th album, Beauty Will Rise, was created to help deal with the grief and is dedicated to his daughter. As with many of his albums, it topped the Christian Albums chart and sold over 80,000 copies.
14. CeCe Winans
Born in Michigan, CeCe Winans has nine siblings. The whole family is talented in music—her parents have albums under Mom and Pop Winans, and four of her brothers perform together as the Winans.
Winans and her brother Benjamin did duets as BeBe and CeCe Winans before she ventured into a solo career, releasing Alone in His Presence in 1995. The album won her a Grammy for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album and two Dove Awards.
Winans and her husband are co-pastors of their church, and their son and daughter are both on staff. She also speaks at events, and her goal is to spread the gospel of Jesus.
15. Michael Card
Christian musician and singer-songwriter Michael Card began his musical career when two of his friends, who had set up a production company, needed someone to record. He released 38 albums beginning in 1981.
Unique from other singers on this list, Card’s albums have themes based on the Bible. For instance, the Pentateuch is the theme for The Beginning.
Books of the Bible are often subjects of his songs as well. His most well-known is “El Shaddai,” which was also covered by fellow CCM artist Amy Grant.
Over his career, Card has sold millions of albums, and 19 of his songs reached #1. Despite his success, the singer considers his musical career secondary to his role as a teacher of the Bible.
16. Twila Paris
Twila Paris was born in Texas and grew up with Christian parents. Her mother was a songwriter, and her father founded Youth with a Mission. She was surrounded by music throughout her childhood.
After Paris’s breakthrough with her album Knowin’ You’re Around, she went on to release over 30 songs that reached #1 on contemporary Christian music charts, including 1995 Song of the Year Dove-award winner “God is in Control.”
Paris has quite the blessing story: She and her husband had been married for 15 years with no child in sight. She had given up on having any, focusing instead on recording children’s songs to bless others’ children.
Four weeks after mailing in her demo album, she found out she was a month pregnant, reinforcing her faith in Him.
17. Jamie Grace
Born in California, Jamie Grace has been acting and singing since she was young, participating in programs at school and church. In her teens, she created a YouTube channel, where TobyMac found her and later signed to his label.
Grace’s first single, “Hold Me,” was an incredible success. It received a Grammy nomination and won the New Artist of the Year Dove Award in 2012. She increased her following with a Christmas album, followed by Ready to Fly, which landed at #3 on the Top Christian Albums chart.
The singer uses her struggles with Tourettes Syndrome and OCD to encourage others. Her experiences have resulted in the recent 2020 song “Marching On.”
18. Francesca Battistelli
Singer-songwriter Francesca Battistelli was born in New York but now lives in Tennessee with her husband and six children.
The release of her second album in 2008, My Paper Heart, was her breakthrough. It climbed up to #1 on the Top Christian Albums chart and was certified Gold. After this, Battistelli went on to release five more charting albums.
She travels less now than she did previously due to her family responsibilities, but she still writes and records music. Battistelli’s recent song “God Is Good” (2021) was written in response to a friend’s devastating loss and offers the encouragement that God is good no matter what comes in life.
19. Zach Williams
Florida-born singer Zach Williams grew up in Arkansas in a Christian family. His parents, church, and community were supportive and loving. Despite this, he dabbled in drugs and struggled with alcoholism.
However, Williams turned from the vices of drugs and alcohol back to the God of his youth with the help of his wife and now lives a renewed life.
His music career has also been doing great. Many of his singles, like “Old Church Choir,” “Fear Is a Liar,” and “There Was Jesus,” have topped several Christian charts. The latter song, which also features Dolly Parton, won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song.
20. David Crowder
Second to last on our list is Texan CCM singer David Crowder. He studied at Baylor University and was surprised that many students at the Christian college did not go to church. To remedy that, he and his friend Chris Seay started University Baptist Church.
His musical career began as the lead vocals of the David Crowder Band. After the group’s disbandment, Crowder went on to a successful solo career. He’s released three #1 albums and several #1 singles, including “Come As You Are” and “Good God Almighty.”
In his over 20 years of active career, Crowder has received 4 Dove awards and 16 nominations, with the latest being Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for his 2021 album Milk & Honey.
21. Britt Nicole
We will culminate the list with singer-songwriter Britt Nicole. Nicole was brought up in church and sang in the church choir as soon as she was able. She took piano lessons and learned to play the guitar.
She began writing music as a teen and self-released a CD under the name Brittany Wadell in 2003. In 2006, Nicole signed with Sparrow Records, and the following year, her first studio album, Say It, was released and charted at #40.
Both her second and third studio albums, The Lost Get Found and Gold, respectively, got even better reception, both reaching #1 on the Top Christian Albums list.
In 2017, Nicole took a break from her career to focus on her family. She came back recently to drop the single “Keep Looking Up” in 2022.
Summary of Our List of Greatest Christian Singers
If you enjoy contemporary Christian music, you have likely heard of most of these Christian singers. Even if you have not heard songs by some of these before seeing this list, you are likely to enjoy their performances.
Most of the music is related to pop, rock, and hip-hop, but country or folk sounds are some genres mixed in from the artists above.
Whatever genre they represent, one thing is certain: their goal is to glorify God and lift His name. Check out their music if you need inspiration or something to lift you up.