The Year in Christian & Gospel Charts: Hillsong Worship & Tamela Mann Lead Lists
Plus, Lauren Daigle leads ladies at Christian for a third straight year.
Praise and worship collective Hillsong Worship is Billboard's Top Christian Artist of 2017, as well as Top Christian Duo/Group, thanks in part to its genre-smashing single "What a Beautiful Name."
Concurrently, Jonesboro, Arkansas, native Zach Williams rules as both Top New Christian Artist and Top Male Christian Artist. For the third straight year, Lauren Daigle is Billboard's Top Female Christian Artist.
On the gospel side, Tamela Mann rules as Top Gospel Artist of 2017 (and Top Female). Finishing No. 1 in the Top Gospel Duo/Group category, and at No. 2 overall, is J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise. Veteran singer-songwriter Travis Greene is Billboard's Top Male Gospel Artist and choir GEI is the Top New Gospel Artist.
'What a Beautiful' Year: Sydney, Australia-based Hillsong Worship scores the No. 1 Hot Christian Song of the year with "What a Beautiful Name," sung and co-written by group member Brooke Ligertwood.
The song is from Hillsong Worship's 25th live album, Let There Be Light, which debuted atop Top Christian Albums on the chart dated Nov. 5, 2016, and ranks as the No. 9 album of 2017. The track topped Billboard's Hot Christian Songs chart (which blends airplay, streaming and sales data) on Feb. 25 and has led for 28 weeks (through the chart dated Dec. 16).
"We gratefully accept this on behalf of our pastors and wider team at Hillsong Church, who endeavor to create a sense of home and welcome for all people, everywhere we gather," said Ligertwood upon hearing news of the act's year-end chart honors. "Our songs and this sound are a key part of how we do that, and our prayer is that anyone in need of peace or hope today might experience the wonder of the very presence of God as they hear this music and the name and message of Jesus Christ therein."
Concurrently, "Name" is the No. 1 song for 2017 on Christian Digital Song Sales, No. 3 on Christian Streaming Songs (where it peaked at No. 2) and also the No. 3 song of the year on Christian Airplay. "Name" ruled Christian Airplay for nine weeks starting on April 8, becoming the group first leader on the list.
With its 27-week domination, "Name" is the second-longest-leading No. 1 on the 14-year-old Hot Christian Songs chart. The longest belongs to sister act Hillsong United's "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)," which ruled for 61 weeks from December 2013 through January 2016 (and remained on the chart in the top five through May 2017).
Lauren, Leading Lady: The Top Female Christian Artist of the year, and third act overall, below Hillsong Worship and second-place finisher MercyMe, is singer-songwriter Lauren Daigle, who also led as the genre's top female artist for 2015 and 2016.
Daigle's holiday set Behold: A Christmas Collection hit No. 1 on the Dec. 31, 2016-dated Top Christian Albums chart and has spent three weeks on top to date (through Dec. 16, 2017).
Although the 26-year-old from Lafayette, Louisiana, has not announced a new album yet, her first full-length, How Can It Be, which arrived atop the Top Christian Albums chart dated May 2, 2015, is the Top Christian Album of 2017, having topped the weekly chart for 11 weeks (through Oct. 7).
Daigle earned four Hot Christian Songs top 10s in 2017 (bringing her career total to eight), including one No. 1, as featured on country icon Reba McEntire's spiritual hit "Back to God," which topped the Feb. 18 tally. Daigle's other songs that made it to the chart's upper tier this year: "Jingle Bells" (No. 7), "Come Alive (Dry Bones)" (No. 6) and "O'Lord" (No. 5, as of Dec. 16).
Williams' Successful Switch: The Top Male and Top New Christian Artist of 2017 is Zach Williams.
Williams, who formerly fronted secular rock band Zach Williams & The Reformation before starting his solo Christian music career, began two-for-two in the genre, as his first two Christian singles topped both Hot Christian Songs and Christian Airplay. "Chain Breaker" crowned Hot Christian Songs for its first of nine weeks on Nov. 19, 2016, while "Old Church Choir" hit No. 1 on Nov. 25, 2017.
When "Choir" topped Hot Christian Songs, Williams became just the second artist to place his first two entries at No. 1 since the chart adopted a multi-metric methodology on Oct. 20, 2012. He followed Jordan Smith, the 2015 winner of NBC's The Voice, who went on to lead in his first three appearances (with "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," "Hallelujah" and "Mary Did You Know," in 2015-16).
On Christian Airplay, "Chain Breaker" ruled for 15 weeks and "Old Church Choir" passed it with its 16th frame on top (Dec. 16). The tracks are from Williams' debut genre LP Chain Breaker, which peaked at No. 4 on Top Christian Albums in August.
Mann, What a 2017 for Tamela: Billboard's Top Gospel Artist of 2017 (as well as Top Female) is Tamela Mann.
The 51-year-old genre vet adds the year's Top Gospel Album, as her fourth studio set, One Way, led the weekly chart for 20 weeks.
In July, Mann broke the record for the most No. 1s in the history of Billboard's Gospel Airplay chart, when "Change Me" became her sixth leader, pushing her past James Fortune & FIYA and Kirk Franklin, (five each). The track is No. 5 for the year on Gospel Airplay and No. 2 on Hot Gospel Songs.
Well-'Deserve'd: The No. 1 song for 2017 on Hot Gospel Songs is J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise's "You Deserve It," which is also the No. 1 Gospel Airplay track of the year.
On the Hot Gospel Songs list dated Feb. 11, "Deserve" hopped 3-1 becoming the act's first No. 1. It spent 26 weeks at the summit, tying for the fourth-longest reign in the chart's 12-year history. On Gospel Airplay, "Deserve" dominated for 10 weeks.
Travis Is Tops: The Top Male Gospel Artist of 2017 is inspirational singer-songwriter and pastor Travis Greene. His 2015 LP The Hill is No. 3 on Top Gospel Albums for the year, after spending almost all of 2017 in the weekly Top Gospel Albums top 10.
Greene earned his second Top Gospel Albums leader in September with the No. 1 debut of Crossover: Live From Music City, recorded in Nashville.
Greene also scored his second and third Gospel Airplay No. 1s in the 2017 chart year: "Made a Way" and "You Waited." The former became his second No. 1 on Hot Gospel Songs.
GEI Rules Rookies: Finally, the Top New Gospel Artist of 2017 is choir GEI, which stands for Greater Emmanuel Institutional.
GEI's "Hang On," featuring Kierra Sheard, topped Gospel Airplay (on April 22) and reached No. 3 on Hot Gospel Songs, marking the group's first appearance on both charts.
Billboard's year-end music recaps are based on chart performance between the Dec. 3, 2016 and Nov. 25, 2017-dated charts. Data registered before or after a title's chart run are not considered in these standings. That methodology detail, and the December-November time period, account for some of the differences between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are compiled independently by Nielsen Music.