Emerging Artists Spotlight: I Am They

Ariel Renae
I AM THEY

Welcome to Emerging Artists Spotlight, a new Billboard series where we highlight a musician or act who has recently made a debut on the Emerging Artists chart. Whether they are new to the industry, or have been around for a while but are just starting to have a chart impact, the intention is to showcase where they are here and now. This week’s pick is pop-acoustic worship group I AM THEY, who debuted at No. 30 on the chart dated March 9.


I AM THEY have carved out places for themselves on numerous Christian Billboard charts over the years, but their recent single “Scars” making such waves that it’s become the group's highest-charting hit ever.

The piano-based ballad, which appears on their sophomore album Trial & Triumph, is a gospel song that carries a message of redemption, as vocalist/guitarist Matt Hein explains. “It talks openly about pain and the stuff we face in life as human beings, but then challenges us to recognize the beauty in our scars. I think that's relatable to a lot of people out there,” he says. Indeed, the song is at a No. 13 peak on the Hot Christian Songs chart, and is still gaining momentum.

The band also considers Trial & Triumph to be their most introspective record yet, showcasing their collective experiences of “incredible highs and painful lows.” Says Hein, “It pours out an honest anthem of our own journey, [including both] victory and loss. The process of surrender requires a lot of trust; it’s about letting go of the past and reaching forward to what lies ahead with open hands.” That heartache and relief is tangible throughout the record, which also reached No. 23 on the Top Christian Albums chart.

However, I AM THEY’s message isn’t limited to a song or an album -- each band member lives a philosophy of honesty and trust, daily. “Life can feel short, unfair, and just as painful as it is miraculous. Our music faces these realities head-on, offering relief through a source that's greater than any of us,” adds vocalist Abbie Parker. “When we're honest about our shortcomings, we open a door to everyone to admit their struggles, which is the first step to find healing and peace.”

The members of I AM THEY hail from various cities and towns around the U.S.: Matt and Justin are from Carson City, Nevada, while Jon is from Humble, Texas, Abbie is from Morton, Illinois and Nicole is from Yakima, Washington.

Learn more about I AM THEY below.

Names: Matthew Michael Hein (Vocals/Guitar)

Jon McConnell (Vocals/Guitar)

Abbie Parker (Vocals)

Justin Shinn (Keys)

Nicole Hickman (Drums)

Ages: 30 (Justin) to 34 (Abbie and Nicole)

Recommended song: “Scars”

Passion outside of work: “Unity. More than ever before in my life, I see a world that is fiercely divided and people that choose to walk away from each other instead of learning how to love each other through our differences. We are also very passionate about Blue Bell Cookie Dough ice cream.” -- Matt

“I have been building a few businesses, encouraging people to see their full potential, and pursuing my love for film and photography.” -- Jon

“I've become passionate about my own mental health, and have committed to care for myself this year through therapy. It's incredible to see yourself change in real-time, and this simple practice has allowed me to treat myself with greater compassion and grow in empathy toward other people.” -- Abbie

“The recording process and learning how to produce music at a professional level. I would love to someday help artists who can't afford a big studio recording and give them a commercial quality product without it being a financial burden for them. A lot of people helped us out early on and I would love to pay it forward someday.” -- Justin

“Developing intentional personal and vocational core values for myself. It's made me a better human.” -- Nicole

What’s next: Working on the next album, playing festivals in Switzerland, Amsterdam and the UK, recording Christmas singles for the first time, heading to Scotland to see Justin (keys) get married, and a first-ever headlining tour in the fall.


Past Emerging Artists Spotlights: J.S. Ondara | Delain | Mabel | Kiana Lede