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3 Christian Artists Who Actually Make Incredible Music

June 1, 2021

Don’t read too much into the headline above. I’m not saying that most Christian music is bad. I’m just saying that you’re not the only person who thinks most Christian music isn’t very good. 

You know how your ear can identify Christian music before you catch the lyrics (even if you don’t know the song)? The instrumentation, vocal style, and chords almost all seem to follow just a few basic patterns. Once you do tune into the lyrics, you’re able to sing the last few words of a line of music you’ve never heard before. The same themes seem to emerge again and again: 

  • Forces of nature are cast as metaphors for life’s trials (ocean waves or storms will do).
  • Fires are lit inside of people’s hearts. 
  • One of God’s more positive-sounding and non-specific attributes is encapsulated in a catchy phrase and repeated countless times in the chorus.

I’m talking about Christian pop/worship music. The unimaginative, bland, repetitive Christian music. The kind of music that you probably wouldn’t give the time of day to if the lyrics weren’t about Jesus. The Christian music that plays on the radio. The bad kind of Christian music kind of Christian music I don’t prefer. 

Important Disclaimer 

Worship music has a huge place in our lives as Christians, both congregationally and privately. There are practical reasons that some of the song characteristics I’ve just listed should be used in worship. I realize that, so don’t @ me (unless you have a large social media following and want to disagree with me publicly in front of all of your followers, in that case, please @ me. Just make sure that you include the link to this story.) That being said, following a formula to create a hit worship song isn’t really art. It also isn’t terribly interesting to my ears. 

End of Disclaimer

Unfortunately for many people, Christian radio and church worship are the only kinds of Christian music they’ve ever heard. Fortunately for you, you’ve found this article. Stick with me and you’ll have hours of imaginative, uplifting, and unique Christian music to listen to as you work from home, commute to work, or study for that upcoming test. Listen to the music below and you might just find your new favorite jam.

 I’ll give you about 30 minutes of music to start with for each of the 3 artists I’ll be highlighting (plus some songs from a few bonus artists). Playlists on some of the main streaming services can be found by clicking on the following hyperlinks: Spotify Apple Music Youtube 

Feel free to start listening as you read!

Josh Garrels (genre: indie/folk; location: South Bend, IN)

Photo Cred: Daniel Petruska, from Facebook

Folk is not one of my favorite genres. And I’ve already established that I don’t love most Christian music. But Josh Garrels’ Home may be my favorite album, start to finish, of all time. It’s certainly my favorite singer-songwriter album. Notice that neither of those last two sentences include the qualifier Christian. Garrels doesn’t make good Christian music, he makes good music. His voice may be one of the most unique in music right now and his lyrics are true poetry. The excerpt below is from his song “Born Again” 

“Running scared in between

What I hate and what I need

Savior and enemy are both trying to take my soul

And I can’t hide no more

Stumble out into the light

Raise my fists up to fight

Then I catch your eyes

So full of love

Lord, what have I done?”

5 songs to start with:

  • “Born Again”
  • “Heaven’s Knife” (Fun fact: My wife walked down the aisle to this song)
  • “Farther Along”
  • “His Wings” (His newest release)
  • “Steadfast”

Kings Kaleidoscope (genre: alt rock/soul; location; Seattle, WA)

Photo Cred: Kings Kaleidoscope, from Facebook

Defining Kings Kaleidoscope’s genre might be even harder than spelling their band name. They definitely sit somewhere in alt rock, but they incorporate a horn section and some strings. Their eclectic instrumentation could risk becoming too much, but fortunately their frontman Chad Gardner’s soulful vocals have the necessary power to pull it all together. Over the years, they’ve moved from creating worship songs and hymns to exploring the Christian journey in a more personal, raw way. Beyond Control, with its explicit track “A Prayer”, was their shot across the bow of Christian music listeners, signaling that they weren’t going to approach faith music the same way as everyone else. The song could probably be ChristiansWhoCurseSometimes’s anthem. 

5 songs to start with:

  • “A Prayer”
  • “Safe Retreat (feat. Braille)”
  • “Most of It”
  • “The Beauty Between (feat. Andy Mineo)”
  • “A Little Bit of Faith”

Uzuhan – (genre – hip hop; location: Atlanta, GA)

Photo Cred: Michael Nader, from Facebook

Uzuhan is by far the artist with the smallest following (of monthly Spotify listeners), which is strange because he’s also probably the artist I most expect people to vibe with. While Garrels’ music is flat-out beautiful, and KK’s creative instrumentation sets it apart from other rock bands, this Korean-American rapper’s music is groovy. His song, “Gratitude” will introduce you to a sub-genre of music you didn’t know you needed – jazzy, Christian hip-hop. Uzuhan creates music that you get so excited about you want to share it with your friends.

5 songs to start with:

  • “Gratitude”
  • “Dasmababy”
  • “A Breath”
  • “Worthy Is the Lamb” (This is by AMP, a trio of Korean-Americans including Uzuhan)
  • “Shallow”

Bonus Recommendations:

If you love these artists, you’re in luck, because I’ve got a few more artists for you. 

  • For Josh Garrels’ fans, I suggest you check out Jess Ray (start with “Too Good” and “O Great Light”) In truth, her music deserves a spot in the list above, but I already told you I don’t really like folk music, so I couldn’t very well make a list that was half folk artists. That sort of thing wouldn’t be good for my (very significant) critical credibility. Plus, who writes a listicle with 4 of anything? 
  • If you dig Kings Kaleidoscope, I recommend you get familiar with the rest of the Mars Hill Music universe (if you check out the playlists I referenced above, I’ve included some songs from those bands).

For people who love Uzuhan, I also really enjoy some of nobigdyl.’s music (For you married Christians, “Shakira” is a banger!!!).

  1. Court Captain

    June 1st, 2021 at 7:09 PM

    Super bummed to not see John Mark McMillan as a fourth option! All the “how he loves” jokes aside his music is absolutely incredible and consistently focuses on the gospel!

    Also Will Reagan’s album “Tell all my friends” is amazing and not mainstream at all.

  2. Paige

    June 1st, 2021 at 7:54 PM

    Paradise Hymns is also making some cool stuff in the worship space.

  3. Christopher Edmiston

    June 1st, 2021 at 7:55 PM

    Love the recommendations. And LOVE the playlist, bro. Excited to see other artists you recommend.

    Also…

    https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3Nl8wSYGVvIONWnB0wgReW?si=642e830046df42a7

  4. Alicia

    June 3rd, 2021 at 3:10 AM

    Love Josh Garrels. Gonna check out the rest, thanks!

  5. Jason Rowland

    June 4th, 2021 at 3:06 PM

    I consistently think Reagan is Garrels when I hear “Tell all my Friends”. Super similar sound. 🙂

    Thanks for the recommendations, everyone!

  6. Maureen

    June 5th, 2021 at 4:55 AM

    Thanks for this! I’ll definitely check them all out.

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