Those who haven’t spent much time in a church pew lately might be surprised to learn that the hymns most folks were raised on have been replaced by modern worship music, and the guy responsible for the lion’s share of those anthems is Chris Tomlin.
As the Texas-born singer/songwriter prepares for the Oct. 26 release of his new Holy Roar album and book, he is announcing news of his spring Holy Roar tour. The 2019 trek kicks off March 7 in Kent, Washington and will include opening acts Tauren Wells, Pat Barrett, Nicole Serrano and Tomlin’s pastor Darren Whitehead, Billboard has learned exclusively.
“During the night everybody will have their own moments, but a lot of the night is us together because it’s so powerful when we’re all doing it together,” Tomlin tells Billboard. “This past year, we had the Worship Night in America [tour] and Tauren and Pat were both on that. Those two got together and created something special. They could do the whole night themselves. This next year we’re going to cover a great amount of cities that we didn’t get to before and I thought we’ve got to do this again. It was just the best ever.”
Wells is enjoying considerable momentum right now. Last week, he took home four Dove Awards, including new artist and contemporary Christian artist of the year as well as earning pop/contemporary album for his 2017 release Hills and Valleys. Barrett has been garnering a lot of attention since he became the flagship artist on Tomlin’s imprint, Bowyer & Bow, earlier this year.
“What I want to do with Pat is expose as many people as I can to his music because it’s so good and so powerful,” says Tomlin whose previous tours have sold out such prestigious venues as New York City’s Madison Square Garden, The Forum in Los Angeles, Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and Red Rocks in Denver. “I love Pat’s music and he has such charisma. And I love what Tauren brings. He is so special and it feels like everything around him is growing and building. What a singer and what a performer! He’s an incredible communicator.”
The tour will hit arenas in more than two dozen cities, including Sacramento, San Diego, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Tampa and Grand Prairie, Texas. Tickets go on sale Nov. 1. Serrano will round out the bill. “Nicole is a female worship leader and she has been leading at Red Rocks Church out in Denver. She’s done a lot of different things and she’s been on my Christmas tours the last couple of years,” says the Nashville-based artist whose Chris Tomlin Christmas: Christmas Songs of Worship Tour will run Nov. 30 through Dec. 16, wrapping at New York City’s Beacon Theater. “Nicole is so special. She is an incredible singer, so she’ll be a part of the night too, and she’s on my new record as well. People will hear her on Holy Roar. She’s singing on ‘I Stand in Awe.’ I really feel there’s a big future for her.”
Tomlin’s endorsement means a lot. He is one of only four artists ever to receive the Sound Exchange Digital Radio Award for over one billion digital radio streams, placing him in the company of Justin Timberlake, Pitbull and Garth Brooks. The Grammy winner’s list of accolades also includes an American Music Award, three Billboard Music Awards, 21 Dove Awards and BMI’s Christian Songwriter of the Year. Time magazine proclaimed him likely “the most often sung artist anywhere” because of the number of Christians who sing Tomlin songs such as “How Great is Our God” in churches all over the world.
“It’s a very kind quote, and to me, what it speaks of is the power and the really grandness of the church,” Tomlin says, modestly deflecting the praise. “Every week not millions, but billions of people are gathering around the world to worship God together and there’s always music involved. To be a little part of that is just amazing, so I don’t think that speaks to me as much as it speaks to the church and what’s really happening around the world.”
Tomlin’s new album, Holy Roar, is once again targeting those church-going masses, but his music isn’t confined to the pews. His current single, “Nobody Loves Me Like You,” is currently climbing the charts. “I love ‘Nobody Loves Me Like You.’ We just made this a video, and it’s my favorite video I’ve ever made of any song,” he says. “We did it in Colorado out in the mountains and it was this epic thing. If you see the video you’ll understand. I’m on the top of this mountain, on these massive rocks. In the comments, everybody thinks it’s superimposed and I was doing green screen, but it was real. It was all drones shooting. I was trying to capture the greatness of God with that song, the majesty of God and all his creations.”
In addition to the album, Tomlin has co-written a book titled Holy Roar: 7 Words That Will Change The Way You Worship with Darren Whitehead. “Holy means set apart completely, unlike anything else. It’s a word really reserved for God,” Tomlin says. “And the word roar, you instinctively know what that word sounds like, what it feels like. Webster’s Dictionary says it’s a long, full prolonged sound or to sing and shout with full force. The world knows what a roar is. People let a massive roar out for different things, but when you put ‘holy’ in front of it, it changes everything. It’s this set apart roar. It’s this completely other thing and that’s what worship is. It’s a completely unique thing.”
He hopes the phrase becomes synonymous with his life and career. “When I think about these two words, ‘holy roar,’ I feel these two words describe what I would want to be said about my music,” he shares. “If you ask people, ‘What does Chris’ music sound like?’ That’s what I hope people would say that it sounds like a holy roar. When we gather with my music, it’s not that we’re just singing, shouting, dancing and celebrating for just anything. It’s a holy thing. It’s a powerful thing when you are connecting with God’s spirit and his holy presence. It’s holy roar.”