Skip to main content

The Year In Gospel Charts 2021: Kanye West, Maverick City Music & CeCe Winans Lead

Plus, the top new gospel artist of 2021 is Dante Bowe.

Billboard’s Top Gospel Artist of 2021 is superstar Kanye West, repeating from his wins in 2019 and 2020 as the genre’s top artist as well as top male. West is also the Top Christian Artist of 2021.

West carries the year on the strength of his second faith-based album, Donda, which is the Top Gospel Albums No. 1 LP for 2021.

Billboard’s year-end music recaps represent aggregated metrics for each artist, title, label and music contributor on the weekly charts dated Nov. 21, 2020, through Nov. 13, 2021. The rankings for MRC Data-based recaps reflect equivalent album units, airplay, sales or streaming during the weeks that the titles appeared on a respective chart during the tracking year. Any activity registered before or after a title’s chart run isn’t considered in these rankings. That methodology detail, and the November-November time period, account for some of the difference between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by MRC Data.


Explore All of Billboard’s 2021 Year-End Charts

On the Billboard charts dated Sept. 11, Donda stormed in atop the all-genre Billboard 200 plus Top Gospel Albums and Top Christian Albums with 309,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S., in the week ending Sept. 2, according to MRC Data.

It marked West’s 10th Billboard 200 leader and his second No. 1 on Top Gospel Albums (as well as Top Christian Albums).

The set also earned the biggest unit week on Top Christian Albums and Top Gospel Albums since both charts adopted a multimetric methodology in February 2017.

As Donda awarded West his second No. 1 set on Top Gospel Albums and Top Christian Albums, it followed his maiden spiritual LP, Jesus Is King, which crowned both lists plus the Billboard 200. That album started with 264,000 units in November 2019, which was a record at the time on the two faith-based tallies.

It led Top Christian Albums for eight frames and Top Gospel Albums for 67 weeks.

On the 2021 year-end Top Gospel Albums chart, Jesus Is King ranks at No. 3.

Meanwhile, Donda lead track “Hurricane” is the top title of the year on the streaming-, airplay- and sales-based Hot Gospel Songs survey. It also takes the top spot on Gospel Streaming Songs.

When Donda arrived at No. 1, 23 of its tracks dominated the top 23 spots on Hot Gospel Songs, setting a record.

Meanwhile, the No. 2 gospel artist of 2021 is the Atlanta-based worship music collective Maverick City Music.

Old Church Basement, the collaborative project with popular Christian act Elevation Worship, ranks as the Top Gospel Albums No. 2 LP of 2021. Maverick City Music is also No. 1 in Billboard’s year-end Top Gospel Group or Duo category.

On the charts dated May 15, the 13-song Old Church Basement arrived at No. 1 on Top Gospel Albums as well as Top Christian Albums. Basement is Maverick City Music’s lone No. 1 on both charts to date among nine top 10s.

Released April 30, the album earned 19,000 equivalent album units in the week ending May 6, according to MRC Data.

The act’s 10th top 10 came in July when Jubilee: Juneteenth Edition arrived at No. 2.

The leading woman in gospel music this year is CeCe Winans. Her single “Believe for It” is the No. 4 track of 2021 on Hot Gospel Songs and No. 1 on Gospel Digital Song Sales.

“Believe” ascended from 3-1 on the Hot Gospel Songs ranking dated June 12, then leading for 12 frames. Winans co-wrote “Believe for It” with Dwan Hill, Kyle Lee and Mitch Wong.

“Believe” became Winans’ second Hot Gospel Songs leader, after “Pray” dominated for two weeks beginning in January 2006.

“I’m honored and humbled by the love, support and the testimonies for ‘Believe for It,’” Winans told Billboard that week. “I pray our faith will continue to arise for the impossible.”

“Believe for It” was also promoted to gospel radio, peaking at No. 6 in November, granting Winans her fourth top 10.

Plus, Winans’ “Never Lost” topped Gospel Airplay in May, becoming her second leader on the radio-powered list. “Lost” ranks as the No. 5 track of the year on Gospel Airplay.

The No. 1 Gospel Airplay song of 2021 is Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s “In Spite of Me,” which topped the tally on June 12 when it climbed from 2-1.

Plus, “In Spite of Me” hit No. 7 in March on the multimetric Hot Gospel Songs chart (where Ciara is credited as a featured artist, thanks to a mix with the pop/R&B star that was not promoted to radio).

Cobbs Leonard comes in as the No. 2 female gospel artist of 2021 and No. 4 overall.

Finally, the Top New Artist of 2021 is Dante Bowe. The singer-songwriter from Rockingham, North Carolina, is a member of Maverick City Music as well as a solo artist.

Bowe is featured on a number of songs on Old Church Basement, the team-up between Maverick City Music and Elevation Worship.

“Wait on You,” featuring Bowe and Chandler Moore, debuted at No. 1 on May 8, giving Bowe his first leader. Another Bowe feature, “Old Church Basement,” the LP’s title track, arrived at its No. 4 high on the May 15-dated list.

Plus, Bowe’s unaccompanied song “Joyful” reached No. 3 on Hot Gospel Songs on Aug. 14.

To date, Bowe, who also serves as a pastor at Addereth Church in Columbus, Georgia, has notched seven Hot Gospel Songs entries with one No. 1 and four top 10s.

He also released his first solo album this year, Circles, which opened at its No. 7 peak on the Top Gospel Albums ranking dated April 10.