Every summer, I compile a list of quality Christian artists who I think should be on your radar (and playlists) if they aren’t already. (See my lists from 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.) I try to pick artists who are both musically interesting and unambiguously Christian in authentic yet noncheesy ways.
I focus on artists in a diverse array of genres who are newer and under the radar and who have released new music in the last year. I also look for artists making music in different nations around the world.
There’s no shortage of excellent indie Christian music today, and I’m always on the lookout for who I should be listening to. If there are artists you recommend for future lists like this, please share them on the TGC Arts and Culture Facebook group.
In the meantime, check out the music of the 16 artists below (listed alphabetically). I compiled a playlist sampler on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music that will give you a good introduction to their music. Give it a listen, and if you like what you hear from a particular artist, dig deeper into their music online.
This diverse collective of musicians (diverse generationally, ethnically, and stylistically) is a breath of fresh air in the worship space. Not only are their songs (both originals and covers) excellent musically and lyrically, but they’re also joy-filled and an encouraging expression of the sort of Christian unity music-making can facilitate. Check out Anchor Hymns’s debut EP, Sing, Sing Sing.
Songs to sample: “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “By the Savior’s Power,” “All I Have Is Christ,” “Be Unto Your Name”
Denver-based Joel Ansett combines folk and R&B to create a rich, textured sound that at times reminds me of Josh Garrels or John Mark Pantana. His songs are weighty and honest, yet infused with wonder at the beauty of life, creation, and the light streaming through the dark night. Check out his third full-length album, Layers, released in May.
Songs to sample: “Dwelling Place,” “If You Really Knew,” “Pull,” “Lost for Now”
Jazz-folk-soul artist Victory Boyd has come a long way from the Detroit choir of her youth and the days she spent busking in New York City subway stations. She’s now a Grammy Award winner who collaborated with Kanye West on Jesus Is King and is signed to Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation. Her sophomore album, Glory Hour, is phenomenal, with a dynamite voice that channels Nina Simone and Roberta Flack, yet with its own flavor. Check out the video for “El Shaddai.”
Songs to sample: “El Shaddai,” “One Thing,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” “Just Like in Heaven”
A collective of creatives based in Ottawa, Canada, Bridge Music combines Afrobeats, R&B, alternative, and hip-hop sounds in their songs, with lyrics exploring the honest struggles of life as well as the hope we find in Christ. It’s like little else in Christian music today, which is refreshing. Check out their 2020 album, Vulnerable, Vol. 1.
Songs to sample: “Vulnerable,” “Taking Over,” “Pour It,” “Thirsty”
Born and raised in Nigeria, Samuel Nwachukwu (who uses the musical moniker CalledOut Music) is now a worship pastor and artist based in the U.K. His joyful music blends Afro-gospel vibes, acoustic worship, and R&B to result in an infectious sound. Already popular in Europe and Africa, CalledOut deserves a bigger audience in the U.S. Check out his most recent EP, Blues and Roses, released earlier this year.
Songs to sample: “Take Over,” “Thank You Lord,” “My Prayer (Yahweh),” “Walk with Me”
I first discovered Kyle Church’s music last summer while assembling a playlist for a family road trip in Alberta, Canada. Church is an Alberta native and makes lovely, easy-listening acoustic folk about the life of faith. This year he released his second full-length album, Plant a Garden, exploring the Christian’s calling to local stewardship in a world where our attention is sometimes everywhere but where we are.
Songs to sample: “Good Life,” “On the Vine,” “Time to Be Found,” “Plant a Garden”
Candace Coker is one of my favorite recent discoveries in Christian music. The Trinidad-born folk singer-songwriter has a refreshing sound that blends a diverse array of influences (jazz, blues, gospel, negro spirituals, folk, country, soul, and more), paired with poetic devotional lyrics. The result is honest, haunting, and often quite beautiful.
Songs to sample: “Desert,” “Bare and Bones,” “Honest,” “Creed”
Fyr Fytr are North Carolina–based Chris and Jessie Miller, a married couple with three kids who are part of a faith-and-arts community called Cageless Birds. Their sound is unique in Christian music, blending 80s-style synth with acoustic folk and alternative. Their new album, The Glorious In-Between, explores the liminal spaces “in between seasons of serving and making, dating and marriage, love and loss, the birth of one child and the arrival of another,” and more.
Songs to sample: “Salt Water,” “I Know That It Won’t Be Long,” “The River is Runnin’ Dry,” “Santa Fe”
Hey Barnabas! (a.k.a. Sunday Morning Songs) is a collective of songwriters making music for the church, with the goal of helping leaders and their congregations “feast on God’s goodness more richly through the gift of song.” The gospel music–infused collective released their debut album this year, Gather, Pray, & Eat, and it’s both worshipful and fun.
Songs to sample: “Happy in Jesus,” “Do Not Lose Heart,” “Genuine Love,” “May the Grace (Benediction)”
Houston-based Sam McCabe has been part of church worship teams since he was 11, even as he’s developed as a singer-songwriter with a folk aesthetic reminiscent of John Mark McMillan. His new music synthesizes these two genres, and he’s now prepping a Kickstarter-funded album that will explore the idea of faith reconstruction in a culture of deconstruction.
Songs to sample: “Jesus Loves the World,” “I Want to Serve God,” “Fields of Glory,” “Christ Be in My Heart”
I was floored when I first heard Ethan Nathaniel’s song (with Taylor Armstrong) called “All Things New.” Behind the song—and especially Nathaniel’s incredible falsetto reminiscent of Jeff Buckley—it felt like there was pain pouring out in the direction of hard-earned hope. I found more of that when I listened to his gorgeous debut EP, Corners of My Room, a brutally honest, intimate expression of faith in the vein of Andy Squyres.
Songs to sample: “Cannibal,” “All Things New,” “Break My Heart,” “Picking Me Up”
Seattle-based Anna Palfreeman’s music wrestles honestly with the struggle of living with faith in a world of suffering, worshiping God in seasons when he seems silent, and loving the church even when it hurts. Her debut album, Certain, is musically rich and lyrically relatable—the sort of record that successfully engages lament and doubt without becoming cynical or despairing.
Songs to sample: “Change,” “Blessed,” “Haze,” “I Am Certain (That I’m Glad I Chose You)”
Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Andrew Peterson’s daughter has become a lyrical and musical force in her own right. Still, as I listened to Skye Peterson’s 2023-released debut album (Where The Winter Was), I was blown away by its poetic and theological maturity. If this is what her music is like now, her future is astonishingly bright. No wonder the Gettys have taken notice, having brought her on board to write modern hymns while she was still a teenager.
Songs to sample: “Suburbs,” “I Am Not My Own,” “Real Love,” “Searching for Us”
The Soil and the Seed Project
I love how The Soil and Seed Project describes their mission: “Creating music, art, and ‘Little Liturgies’ to nurture faith.” Indeed, the Virginia-based collective’s work is a great example of artists leaning into the pedagogical potential of songs and art to plant seeds of gospel truth (in listeners both young and old), without compromising on beauty and excellence. Read more about the project and explore their musical collections on their website.
Songs to sample: “Come, Ye Sinners,” “For the Tired and Alone,” “Holy Spirit Love Divine,” “Before You Formed the Highest Mountain”
Founder of Amen Worldwide, British producer Stephen Bradley releases lo-fi and chillpop music under the moniker sxxnt. (pronounced “saint”). Often instrumentals or collabs with indie Christian artists from around the world, Bradley’s tunes are the sort of thing you’d hear in a hipster Shoreditch cafe. Check out his excellent new 23-minute mixtape, Hymns in High-Fidelity (releases Aug. 25), which samples classic hymns like “I Surrender All” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
Songs to sample: “Nothing Else,” “What a Beautiful Name,” “Lead Me to the Cross,” “Holy Spirit”
Madison Ryann Ward
Before she became a rising talent in faith-based R&B-pop, Madison Ward was a multisport athlete who played collegiate volleyball at the University of Oklahoma and had options to play professionally overseas after graduation. But when a casual clip of her singing Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” went viral on Twitter, she landed a music deal with Rick Rubin and launched her music career. Check out her debut album, A New Thing, released earlier this year.
Songs to sample: “A New Thing,” “Prodigal,” “Anchor,” “Unknown”
Artists Highlighted in Previous ‘Quality Christian Music’ Lists
- Kelsey Breedlove
- Will Carlisle
- Elias Dummer
- Davy Flowers
- Garden Friend
- Land of Color
- Joshua Leventhal
- Mr. and Mrs. Garrett Soucy
- James Paek
- Leslie Perez
- Pyramid Park
- Darla Baltazar
- Former Ruins
- Gable Price and Friends
- Ellie Holcomb
- Eliza King
- Taylor Leonhardt
- Maverick City Music
- Phil J.
- Bear Rinehart
- Andy Squyres
- Yaz Williams
- Montell Fish
- Jon Guerra
- Claudia Isaki
- Loud Harp
- Cole McSween
- Medical Morning
- Sajan Nauriyal
- Tenielle Neda
- Jonathan Ogden
- John Mark Pantana
- The Pharaoh Sisters
- Chris Renzema
- Sarah Sparks
- John Van Deusen
- Antoine Bradford
- The Corner Room
- Greg LaFollette
- Isla Vista Worship
- Jess Ray
- Josh Gauton
- Latifah Makuyi
- Parallel Stereo
- Russ Mohr
- South of Royal