Zach Williams Makes History as 'Old Church Choir' Crowns Christian Airplay
Also, Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed & Maranda Curtis score No. 1 album debuts.
Singer-songwriter Zach Williams' second solo single "Old Church Choir" rises 2-1 on Billboard's Christian Airplay chart (dated Aug. 26), increasing 1 percent to 11 million audience impressions in the tracking week ending Aug. 13, according to Nielsen Music.
Williams, based in Jonesboro, Arkansas, formerly fronted the rock band Zach Williams & The Reformation before beginning his solo Christian music career. "Choir" is his second entry in the Christian genre and his second Christian Airplay No. 1, making him the first artist to notch consecutive career-starting leaders. His launch single "Chain Breaker" topped the Christian Airplay chart for 15 weeks, starting on Nov. 12, 2016.
"It is such an honor to know that God is using my songs in this way and to be accepted by radio and the fans as a new artist," Williams tells Billboard. "I was honestly blown away to find out that ["Choir"] went to No. 1."
Notably, veteran group MercyMe also earned No. 1s with their first two Christian Airplay appearances (not counting holiday fare), in 2003; the chart began that June, however, and the band, founded in 1994, had already scored notable success, including its crossover hit "I Can Only Imagine," which peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart later in 2003.
Still, upon the chart's origin, MercyMe sent "Word of God Speak," the group's first Christian Airplay appearance, to No. 1 on Aug. 16, 2003, ruling for a record 23 weeks. Second proper entry "Here With Me" also led, for 13 weeks, in 2004. (In between, Christmas single "O Holy Night" reached No. 24.)
TIP OFF: Christian/hip-hop artist Andy Mineo banks his third Top Christian Albums No. 1 (and No. 1 debut), as Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed Present Magic & Bird bows on top with 11,000 equivalent album units earned in its first week (ending Aug. 10), with 8,000 in traditional sales. Concurrently, the set arrives at No. 3 on Rap Album Sales and No. 23 on Top Rap Albums.
For the 29-year-old Mineo, originally from Syracuse, New York, Magic & Bird, which is based on the rivalry between former NBA greats Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics and Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers, is the first collaboration with Wordsplayed, who along with Mineo are part of the same artist collective known as Miner League. Wordsplayed earns its first Top Christian Albums No. 1.
Magic & Bird follows Mineo's previous LP, Uncomfortable, which began atop Top Christian Albums on Oct. 10, 2015 (32,000 sold) and his debut album Heroes for Sale (May 4, 2013; 28,000). EP Never Land became the second of Mineo's four Top Christian Albums entries; it started and peaked at No. 2 (Feb. 15, 2014; 26,000).
THIRD DAY No. 2: Also on Top Christian Albums, veteran band Third Day's 13th full-length studio release Revival enters at No. 2 (7,000 units). The Marietta, Georgia-based band has heralded the new set as a return to its Southern rock roots, having recorded it at the iconic Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Among other renowned acts, Mac Davis and Aretha Franklin have also recorded there.
Revival marks Third Day's 15th Top Christian Albums top 10, a total that includes seven No. 1s. The new album's title-track first single climbs to a new peak on Hot Christian Songs (32-27).
NEW 'EXPERIENCE': Finally, the debut EP from Maranda Curtis, The Maranda Curtis Experience, bounds in at No. 1 on Top Gospel Albums (3,000 units) and enters Top Christian Albums at No. 5. The set marks the first Billboard chart appearance for the worship leader from Miami, Florida.
Curtis is also part of The Church Choir, an ensemble of vocalists that includes John P. Kee. The Church Choir's If God Be Us peaked at No. 2 on Top Gospel Albums in November 2016.