Reba Debuts, J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise Reign on Christian Charts

Justin McIntosh
Reba McEntire

Plus, tobyMac breaks "Thru" with his latest top 10.

Country icon Reba McEntire's "Back to God" -- the proper first single from her first spiritual album, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope, due Friday -- debuts on Billboard's Hot Christian Songs chart (dated Feb. 11) at No. 17. It's fueled by its No. 3 arrival on Christian Digital Song Sales, selling 4,000 downloads in its first week (ending Jan. 26), according to Nielsen Music. The song's official video debuted Jan. 24.

"God," was written by another country artist, Randy Houser, and Dallas Davidson. The track was first released on Houser's 2008 debut album Anything Goes (which hit No. 21 on Top Country Albums).

Another track from Sing it Now, "Softly and Tenderly," featuring Kelly Clarkson and Trisha Yearwood, spent a week on Hot Christian Songs at No. 43 on the chart dated Jan. 7, marking McEntire's first Billboard chart appearance in the Christian genre.

Over her more than 40 years in country music, McEntire has rolled up 24 Hot Country Songs No. 1s, starting with 1983's "Can't Even Get the Blues," among her 59 top 10s. "Back to God" also bows at No. 49 on Hot Country Songs, her 103rd entry on the list.

WELL-DESERVED No. 1: On Hot Gospel Songs, J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise's "You Deserve it" climbs 3-1, giving the Hairston-led gospel choir its first No. 1 on the survey.

Supporting its push to the top, the track gains by 9 percent on Gospel Airplay, where it rises to a new peak (4-3), and debuts on debuts on Gospel Streaming Songs at No. 8. It dips to No. 2 on Gospel Digital Song Sales (1,000 sold) after seven nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1.

The act reigns in its 10th visit to No. 1 on Hot Gospel Songs. It earned its first of six top 10s with its first entry, the No. 6-peaking "Incredible God" in 2006.

BIG BREAK: Following the Jan. 18 premiere of the song's official video -- on Billboard.com -- tobyMac's "Love Broke Thru" storms into the top 10 on three Christian songs charts. The track climbs 12-7 on the airplay/sales/streaming-based Hot Christian Songs, powered by leaps on Christian Digital Song Sales (16-8; 3,000 downloads sold, up 20 percent) and Christian Airplay (11-4; 8 million audience impressions, up 14 percent).

Notching his 18th Christian Airplay top 10, seven of which have hit No. 1 (to go along with 19 top 10s on Christian Digital Song Sales and 18 on Hot Christian Songs), tobyMac maintains his traction at Christian radio; he notched his first top 10 on the airplay ranking with 2005's No. 10-peaking "Burn for You."

KCBI Dallas program director Joel Burke praises the "melody and powerful message" of "Love," while WAY-FM Network PD Rob Wagman concurs, saying, "While tobyMac has been a mainstay in the Christian format for years, there's no question that the songs from his latest album, [2015's] This Is Not a Test, have again proven his value to the format. Not only was WAY-FM one of the first to add 'Love Broke Thru,' but [we're also] playing another song from the album, ' 'Til the Day I Die' (featuring NF), which is our No. 2-researching song with women -- right behind 'Love Broke Thru.'" ("Day" reached No. 26 on Christian Airplay in November.)