Friday Five: My Favorite Worship Music Artists
Friday Five: my favorite worship music artists
This Friday, I wanted to do something a little different. I’ve been a fan of Christian music since the early 90s and have only recently gotten on the worship music bandwagon. I’ve always loved singing (slightly off key) at church and like to listen to music that helps me pray and worship on my own too. I was recently listening to a talk about a “lifestyle of worship” where everything you do in life, whether it’s laundry, or homework, or sitting in traffic, can kind of be its own kind of worship if you’re doing it in the right frame of mind. Some people find meditation and mantras helpful to keep them focused and mindful throughout the day. Living a “lifestyle of worship” is my own way to do that.
(For my non-believer friends, feel free to jump over to some of my other posts on home-making, style, and all the other little things I write about. I’ll be back next week with more homekeeping tips!)
Worship music is its own little niche genre. It’s slightly different than typical Christian and Gospel music and more like what you would sing at a contemporary church service. Lest you think that these artists are a blip on the radar, the 2013 Passion Conference and concert had 60,000 attendees! Kari Jobe’s 2012 tour sold over 165,000 tickets. These albums even break into Billboard and itunes overall charts. This is a music trend that isn’t really going anywhere.
If you’re not familiar with worship music or want inspiration to check out some new artists, I thought I would make a simple Top 5 list of my favorite female worship artists. I really admire all of these ladies and think they are doing some truly beautiful things with their art.
Kari Jobe – I was shopping at a Family Christian bookstore that was closing and randomly found Kari Jobe’s debut album “Kari Jobe” on sale. I’ve been a big fan ever since. I’m going to see Kari for the first time on her tour with Rend Collective Experiment in March. I’m beyond excited. I like Kari because she is very honest and abandoned in the Presence. I read an interview once where she said that for some time when she was first leading worship, she was going through the motions and leading others more than worshipping herself. God put it on her heart to praise Him first and leave the worship leading to Him. She said that this really changed how she approaches worship. Her songwriting is rich and creative with less repetition than some other worship acts/artists. In addition to her music, she is just an adorable personality – her active twitter account and instagram pictures really bring her worship lifestyle to life. She also happens to have excellent taste in clothing.
Here’s a video clip from a Relevant Studio Session version of one of my favorites “Find You On My Knees”: Find You On My Knees
Sarah Reeves – Sarah Reeves is a cute southern belle from Alabama. I found out about her from her sister’s (now-defunct) band on twitter. Funny how that works. I have to say, I’ve been listening to Christian music for a long time and nobody sounds like Sarah. Her voice is expressive and heartfelt. She has a gift of prophetic worship and spontaneous song writing (something that has to be authentic or sounds flat and affected). She plays a vintage RMI Electra Piano on a few of the covers and there’s something genuine and sweet about her sound and how she makes music. She used to be on a big label, but has recently started releasing her own music and making youtube covers of other well-loved worship songs. I would like to see and hear more from her in the future!
Here’s a recent video clip of Sarah Reeves covering Hillsong’s “Oceans.” I think I like her version better than the original! Oceans
Kim Walker-Smith – Kim Walker-Smith is really in her own astonishing little universe. She’s the female voice behind Jesus Culture, the youth worship band from Bethel Church in Redding, CA. In one of their local conferences, she recorded a cover of John Mark McMillan’s “How He Loves” that went viral and has since logged over 10 million views. She comes from the modern charismatic tradition of Bethel and that’s definitely reflected in her music. She has released two solo albums and recently completed an album with her husband, Skyler Smith, called “Home.” Kim definitely has a voice for stadiums and is absolutely a vocal powerhouse in the genre. She’s also an incredibly gifted speaker and her talks online are where I first heard the term “lifestyle of worship.” She is a believer through and through with no artifice or filter. I’m a big fan.
Here’s a video clip of Kim Walker-Smith singing “Waste It All” from her second album “Still Believe.” Waste It All
Barlowgirl – Barlowgirl is the now-retired band of Rebecca, Alyssa, and Lauren Barlow. They very recently “broke up” and I get the feeling they are going to move past their rock band past and move into more worship music and ministry (where I think their heart really is). I saw them live in Denver a few months before they broke up at a church in an airport hanger. I was second row to their acoustic renditions of well-loved Barlowgirl songs with a few new mixed in. My husband had never been to a show like that before and was a little put off by their more charismatic-style worship. Both of us appreciated their undeniable talent though. The girls harmonize so naturally and each has her own particular sound. For those turned off by the idea of a girls-only rock/worship band, I’m sure you’ll like their Christmas album, “Home for Christmas,” with lots of old favorites and some sweet original songs. I would have to say they’re my favorite voices in Christian music and I’m sad to see them go. I’m sure we will hear more of them in the future!
Barlowgirl called this song “This Is Not Forever” before they put it on their last album as “Stay With Me” and released to radio. Alyssa has a lot of beautiful things to say beforehand and it gives you a good glimpse of their sound when I saw them last. Stay With Me
Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger – Ah, Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger. Hm. What do I say about her? There really is only one Steffany. She is, without a doubt, more committed and abandoned to worship than any of the other ladies on this list put together. Her label says it best, “As a worshipper, she does not seek personal gain or even to move the hearts of God’s people; her worship is for God alone.” I’m posting clips to some of her tamer worship sets with her band Bethel Music (from the same music family as Kim Walker-Smith). She has a gift for prophetic praise and spontaneous worship, but does it with such wholehearted dedication that she stands alone in the genre. She is working on a solo album with songwriting help from Kari Jobe, and I am anxiously awaiting that release. I love her voice, her worship, and her ministry. Just an astonishing young woman.
For Steffany, I’ve included two clips I love. The first is on a live album with Bethel Music called “For the Sake of the World” (the song is called “Closer”). The next is from a Bethel Music album called “The Loft Sessions” because they were recorded live in an old loft. It’s a song called “You Know Me” and it is a really intimate and restrained version of her other live worship sets. Closer and You Know Me
Well, that’s the round up of my top 5 favorite worship artists! I’m excited to head out to see Kari Jobe in March and look forward to more albums and more singles in the future.
What’s your favorite music genre? Do you have your own top 5 list of favorite artists? Who have you see live recently?
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“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all the earth.”